Valkyria Chronicles is a different kind of war story

We tell a lot of stories about war. The appeal is, in one sense, straightforward: war checks off nearly every box in the dramatist’s playbook, replete with high stakes, clear protagonists and antagonists, and themes of heroism and loss. But the pendulum swings the other way, as well: wars don’t just make for good stories, good stories also help us cope with war. In order to wrap our minds around these big, bloody catastrophes, fraught as they are with inscrutable ideological and economic motivations, we construct simple narratives to bring coherence to the incoherent. Videogames hold a particularly vested interest in…

Long Gone Days

Long Gone Days imagines the world of war that’s coming for us

If a dystopian novel was written about the world that we live in right now, what would it look like? Chilean game maker Camila Gormaz wants to explore that in her upcoming game Long Gone Days. Unlike dead-Earth dystopias, where human society has overreached to such an extent that what remains of our planet is barely recognizable as the remains of what we see today, Long Gone Days takes place… soon. Say, the next 10 years. Rourke, the protagonist, abandons his post as a military sniper and ventures out into the world. He’s in an isolated area and the war…


The videogame that dared to question the War on Terror

If we can associate genres and aesthetics with film-makers (John Woo and action movies; Stanley Kubrick and deep focus) IO Interactive, especially in its prime between 2002 and 2007, was a game-maker defined by concerns about player agency. By constantly placing her in restrictive and alien environments, the Hitman series challenged the player’s typical experience of casual and unbridled progression. Kane and Lynch: Dead Men (2007), starring two legitimately unpleasant characters, undercut the prototypical videogame hero narrative—rather than saving the world, cast as a selfish villain, the player committed selfish acts and with selfish purpose. “My name’s John Ford and…


The forgotten politics behind Contra’s name

Do a quick Google search of “contra.” Browsing the first few pages, you should see a saturation of links about the videogame—the now-primary version of the word—sprinkled with other definitions. Next in the deck is contra as preposition: “against, contrary, or opposed to,” suitingly enough. Then, a “contemporary New York cuisine” restaurant; contra-dancing, a folksy flirty form adaptable to many musical styles; the second album by Vampire Weekend; and eventually, peeking through before being closed out again, you’ll stumble upon the elephant in the room. Contras are the name of the group of soldiers from Nicaragua that Ronald Reagan cultivated…


The makers of Hatred’s next cheap shot takes aim at ISIS

Destructive Creations does not support ISIS. There is no reason to believe anyone ever suspected otherwise, but the developers behind the quasi-genocidal civilian shooter provocation that is Hatred (2015) aren’t taking any risks. In a Steam post, they say their latest game, IS Defense, is their “personal veto against what is happening in the Middle East nowadays.” Let us briefly set aside the fact that “what is happening in the Middle East nowadays” is not synonymous with ISIS, which is a concern in much of North Africa as well as Nigeria, and discuss how IS Defense exercises its veto. In short, it does so…

Homeworld Deserts of Kharak

The inescapable echoes of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

It might have been the cruise missiles that triggered it. One of a string of upgrades nudged towards me by my commanding officer, charting the slow expansion of my carrier’s already formidable arsenal. It was the name— cruise missiles— that was so distant from science fiction, so connected to a sideshow of images of war. It would have been the 1990s when I first saw a cruise missile launch, the flashcut plume of smoke followed closely by the hammerblow of ignition—the camera whiteout as its automatic exposure struggled to account for the solid-fuel flare that drove the missile until it was a distant…


Metal Gear Solid V’s nuclear disarmament event begins

Nuclear deterrence has long been a subject of Metal Gear Solid games: the idea that if all sides of a conflict have weapons of mass destruction, then nobody will use them. But is that really peace? That’s what a special mission in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain hopes to address. A cutscene associated with the event was datamined from the game files a few months ago, but now Konami has officially kicked off the event itself, which invites Phantom Pain players across all platforms to dispose of the nukes they’ve built or work together to forcefully disarm uncooperative…


Why Fallout 4’s 1950s satire falls flat

War may never change, but Kill Screen does. Back our Kickstarter to help support our print relaunch! Fallout 4 takes us back. Back to the beginning. Back before the bombs fell, and before the world of the Fallout series took on its mutated, feral, apocalyptic form. But what did that world look like? The Fallout series has, since its inception, hinted at a world before nuclear annihilation that resembled, in its culture and its design, the 1950s, rather than the 2070s, which is the decade in which Fallout’s “Great War,” a two-hour series of nuclear blasts that decimated the planet,…


The Dismal Western Front of The Grizzled

The First World War is often referred to as The Great War, due to its immense scope, as it incited all the world’s national powers and resulted in a devastating death toll. Set within this war is the tabletop game The Grizzled, which makes no attempt to capture such scale, and instead hones in on a small squad of French soldiers whose camaraderie is their greatest chance for survival. In this, The Grizzled prompts comparison to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which describes the war through a concise and emotional narrative. The story follows…