Welcome back, readers.

It’s a good month, I think, when the first roundup of the month doesn’t, owing to a dire lack of editorial oversight (I am both writer and copy-editor of these roundups), make its debut wearing the title of the previous month. That’s not to say that this article wasn’t still “November 5th” for a hot minute in the drafts. Anyways, onward to the good stuff!

This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.

Welcome to the Dungeon

We’re starting things off this week with the latest selections on Dungeon-RPGs, Dungeon-dates, and. . . actually, I don’t have a third item. Why did it feel like there was supposed to be three?

“Still, on its face, Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi is a game about low-level managers and the employees they supervise. It’s setting is the chaos of job sites. The real evil isn’t the monsters you face—it’s the depraviations of the c-suite, holding companies, and puppeteering shareholders.”

Any % Queergaming

Next up, we’re bringing together tight-knit play scenes and broad under-appreciated communities, united by queerness.

“The Japanese gaming industry is too vast a thing to compartmentalize as an LGBTQ+ friend or foe, our Japanese cousins have made great strides towards acknowledging and telling compassionate versions of LGBTQ+ stories while still present in their deeply conservative and heteronormative society.”


Our next section this week looks at storytelling spaces in games, with a descending zoom in focus from world, to city, to home.

“How can virtual and literal tidying be so similar and yet so extremely different? And how can different kinds of cleaning have such different valences to them, so that even when your beloved is definitely tidying, it still can feel rotten? The politics of heterosexual housework is such a tired subject. Everyone gets it, no one can solve it. We sigh and throw up our hands. Intractable!”

Power Armor/Plot Armor

Bodies are our next topic this week, as the following authors unpack what they mean in different games narratively, structurally, politically.

“Everyone identifies with their body, in one way or another. It’s a part of who we are. But for Samus, her body is her central locus of meaning, the way both in which the world interprets her and in which she, so far as we can tell, interprets herself. And it’s now, forever, changed, inextricably connected to her the threat she made her name by wiping out.”

What’s All This, Then?

We now turn to a series of critical investigation of theme in games, moving from overt, to hidden, to inconclusive or even absent.

“The ending’s ambiguity is not the kind of mystery everyone enjoys. Rather, it calls into question the specific nature of the player’s achievements. It is reasonable to want to know what, exactly, one has done and why. For many, though, the setting and mood–unique in the Infocom canon–will compensate for the narrative shortcomings of Starcross. Paired with a collection of organic and challenging puzzles, it scratches a singular itch. Starcross has many detractors, frustrated with its light implementation, deaths, and dead ends, but its dedicated fans recall it fondly even now.”

Critical Chaser

I’m with Kimimi this week in having long been more-or-less in complete awe at the people who put the time and energy into writing game FAQs. Magicians, I say.

“I’m in awe of all of you brave guide-ers, whether you make annotated maps intended to be used in tandem with a screenshot-heavy font of information, wrote down a short list of essential events to trigger, or gave up halfway through FAQ version 0.842alpha – you’ve all done the hobby a great service, and created something wonderful.”


Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?


Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!