The Flame in the Flood
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The Flame in the Flood’s post-disaster journey begins on February 24th

Boy, videogames sure do want out of the narrow, crate-filled corridors of their youth, nowadays! First-person hiking simulator Firewatch has been receiving critical praise all week, in no small part because of its beautiful renditions of the American Northwest. Now The Flame in the Flood, a game about a little girl surviving a post-disaster America, is also striking out for the wilderness with a release date: it’ll be out on February 24th for Windows, Mac, and Xbox One. But it isn’t emotional hardship behind Scout, the young protagonist of The Flame in the Flood; it’s torrential rains, which will be…

Jalopy
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Jalopy will take you on a ramshackle road trip through the Eastern bloc

If the “racing game” is about the ticking clock, the turn rate, the time it takes to get from 0 to 60, maybe the “driving game” is about the little things—losing track of time on a long trip, deciding to stop at the next hotel, turning on your windshield wipers instead of your turn signal. Greg Pryjmachuk used to work with the folks who make more traditional racing games like DiRT (2007) and GRID (2008) and the F1 games, but now he’s making Jalopy (previously called Hac), which doesn’t look particularly “traditional” at all. The physicality of maintaining the car…

The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti
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Prepare for an “artful escape” into the world of psychedelic folk singers

The weight of artistic expectations, particularly in the era of peak content and endless aggregation, can be crushing. A story about the next big thing and why you should care (what to expect when expecting an album?) lurks around every corner. While some reactions to this scenario are better than others, no sane person can be expected to react with utter nonchalance. This question of how an artist responds to these pressures is both the text and subtext of The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti. Let’s start with the former. Developed by Beethoven & Dinosaurs, The Artful Escape follows Francis Vendetti,…

BreakVVVVVVOut
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What if all videogames were Breakout?

Pippin Barr is a stalwart example of a videogame scientist. He’s one of only a few who fit that title—people who constantly experiment with videogames, testing their boundaries, remixing their components, taking curious lines of thought to their furthest iteration. Take his latest as an example. Called Indie Bungle 2: Breakout Indies, it imagines for us the games that a “shitty cloning company” (specializing in clones of games to turn a profit and not, say, sheep or humans) would make had it only the technology to produce variations of Atari’s 1976 arcade classic Breakout. This idea didn’t come out of nowhere.…

Monarch Black
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Monarch Black to bring grace and lasers to the flight of a butterfly

It’s a shame Monarch Black isn’t more committed to going slow. When it does, as in the first 30 seconds of its trailer, it almost has an Ozu-like sense of the beauty in stillness (or, to be correct, a slow-tracking camera). We watch a butterfly, tiny in the widescreen demarcation of the frame, distant enough from us so that it is not more than a focal point for our journey through the game’s procedurally generated, alien wonderscapes. We pass by glowing pyramids and forests cold with blue; fractured tops of urban towers and spiraling architecture in the sky; Japanese blossom…

Caffeine
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A beautiful 3D platformer to celebrate our worship of coffee

It’s almost surprising that there isn’t a giant Starbucks logo to be found among the pastel-colored environments of Caffeine shown in its first trailer. If it were made back in the ’90s, during the height of the genre it belongs to—the 3D platformer collect-a-thon—it would likely have some form of corporate backing. Like that Zool platformer I played on my DOS computer; the Chupa Chups logo shining like a flowery beacon next to the candy cane meadows and green jello mountains. I was four, maybe five, and highly impressionable. I licked a lot of lollipops that summer. But Caffeine isn’t from that…

Gone Home
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Gone Home heads to consoles on January 12th with behind-the-scenes commentary

It’s fair to say that we’re quite fond of Gone Home. It was our Game of the Year when it came out for PC back in 2013. And its mark has been left not only on our own minds, but in those of other creators, with Gone Home‘s intimate exploration of household objects manifesting in various game narratives over the past two years. Of course, there’s more to it than that; the moment of genuine terror it manufactures, the homage to the 1990s and teen angst, its housing of one of gaming’s prominent queer relationships, exploring themes of aging and growing…

Bellular Hexatosis
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Save your dying sister by exploring this strange 3D world through words

I remember reading once that a good fiction writer will paint images in your mind. This is vital to the craft; not just stating “a tree” so readers imagine a tree, but describing it so that this is uniquely a tree of your creation, one that will be remembered with intense detail if, say, referenced later in the text. Porpentine has not only injected my mind with everlasting and often gruesomely detailed images (being penetrated by a cyberqueen will never leave me) with her Twine work over the years, but has caused visceral feelings to thrive around my body, contorting…

ana
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Anamorphine and the rise of the first-person narrative game

Georges Méliès discovered filmmaking’s jump cut by accident. By cutting out some of the frames in a single, still camera shot and splicing the two separate parts, it seemed as if objects were teleporting through space when watched back in real-time. In his 1898 short The Temptation of St. Anthony, he uses the jump cut to have women magically appear around the titular character, attempting to seduce him from his faith, before disappearing just as suddenly. Méliès used the jump cut to become the great cinematic illusionist he’s now known as, producing what appeared to be magic through editing alone, and…