Welcome back, readers.
Man, I don’t know if anyone else is just hitting a wall this week, but that’s where I’m at. We’re gonna play a little bit fast and loose with the categories this week, but there’s some great stuff lined up for your reading pleasure, as always. Hope you brought your, umm. . . reading. . . eyes. . . sorry, sorry, I’m trying to delete it.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Cyber Punks and Disco. . . Techs?
Somebody will get it. Probably. Anyway, our opening segment of five pieces deals with critical tensions in cyberpunk worlds and other assorted dystopias. Check ’em out!
- CD Projekt Red catered to its edgiest fans with Cyberpunk 2077’s marketing | Polygon
Stacey Henley observes that desptite its professed overtures to inclusivity, CDPR has kept its big game in the news by dogwhistling to edgelords.
- Shadowrun for Sega Genesis: Please Tip Your Proxy Warriors — Gamers with Glasses
John Ferrari looks back at the economic politics of what I have been assured is the *good* Shadowrun videogame.
- 2800 words on Ready Player Two | Unwinnable
Amanda Hudgins finds Ready Player Two to be a book that. . . tries to make course corrections on the original and show its inclusive, progressive credentials, but ends up coming off woefully out of touch and out of its lane.
- Surveillance and Voyeurism in Deus Ex: A Criminal Past — Gamers with Glasses
Don Everhart thinks through a politics of seeing and watching in Mankind Divided‘s final DLC episode.
- The World is Ending and So Will We: Revolution, Faith, and Despair in Disco Elysium – Uppercut
Grace Benfell seeks out the revolutionary spirit in a world where the revolution has failed–a world like that of Disco Elysium.
“The promise of communism and even Christ’s return is not that all will be solved, but that we will have the time to heal. In Disco, Harry finds that healing in the margins, in small choices, but I do believe that this can be our lives.”
Doom 3 counts as old now, right? I mean, it’s definitely a game of a certain time. Anyway, here’s three retrospectives on retro titles, with a bit of design-minded focus sprinkled throughout!
- Sokoban  – Arcade Idea
Arcade Idea spends time this week with a puzzle design so intuitive and so elegantly constrained that it has been duplicated wholesale in imitator after imitator.
- Doom 3 is the Best Doom Game | Cole Writes Words
Cole Henry returns to the underrated Doom 3, examining its mechanical restraint, its occasional jank, and its peerless atmosphere of horror.
- Field four from From – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi takes King’s Field IV as it is–and what it is is pretty good.
“At first blush this PlayStation 2 exclusive seems to be a successful sequel simply because it’s such a superficially safe and gentle update of the now established King’s Field’s formula: You’re once again dumped goodness knows where clutching nothing that will help you live even a second longer and there’s an unceremonious death-by-environment lurking just a few steps away from your starting position – so far so familiar. However this isn’t the thoughtless churn of the same old content slightly polished and repurposed to hoodwink the next batch of unaware consumers but proof of a game totally at peace with itself – King’s Field IV knows exactly what it wants to achieve and how it wants to do it, modernity be damned.”
Look, if we’re still on 2020 time, then Jedi: Fallen Order came out about a month and a half ago. So here’s two critical looks at recent titles.
- Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Review Part 1 | I Need Diverse Games
Tauriq Moosa finds in the latest Assassin’s Creed a muddled narrative and a compelling world.
- Jedi: Fallen Order Got Me To Care About Star Wars Again – No Escape
Kaile Hultner finds that Star Wars, in game form and elsewhere, continues to do best when it’s focused on smaller stories, characters, and found families.
“I don’t expect we’ll hear from Cal Kestis, Cere Junda, Nightsister Merrin or Greez Dritus again, not like we’ve heard from Ahsoka Tano or other principal characters in the universe. They were never going to save the galaxy, even though it felt like that’s where the story might go. Instead of each character being potential Chosen Ones, they’re simply bit players in a much larger war, and they know it. We get a chance to see them interact with each other like regular people in wartime. They’re all suffering from trauma of some kind, and it’s the relationships they build with each other that helps them soothe those tortured moments in their past, not the destiny they have to fulfill.”
Arch Characters and Character Arcs
Sorry, I broke the pattern two lines short of a wedding dress, I know. But hey! We’ve got two cool character studies here, looking at a Dragon Age favourite, and a collective cultural nemesis, respectively.
- An Ode to Isabela on Dragon Age Day | Gayming Magazine
Aimee Hart reflects on the thief who came back.
- ‘Karen: An Outrage Simulator’ is The Most 2020 Game You’ll Play This Year | Epilogue Gaming
Blake Andrea finds a little bit of catharsis in asking to speak to the manager.
“Ultimately, the concept of building a game around the contemporary notion of Karens is cheeky but wouldn’t work at any scale larger or more ambitious than what is present with Karen: An Outrage Simulator. The runtime of the game, as well as the limited scope of six locations that Karen encounters, contributes to the overall punchiness and humor of the game. I am reminded of the aphorism, brevity is the soul of wit, and Karen matches that pith perfectly.”
We close out the week with two artsy pieces for your feels-ing pleasure.
- The First Silent Hill | Videodame
Rachel Tanner, Silent Hill.
- Fire Keeper | Unwinnable
Melissa King writes a letter to the unsung heroine of the Souls games.
“Tiny flames dance in the distance, this time created by those who link the fire. With the vision of your predecessors, you hold the power of rebirth in your hands.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!