Welcome back, readers.

This week’s around-the-site announcement is that the new Keywords is live! This episode’s guests are Regina Seiwald and Ed Vollans, speaking on the topic of paratexts.

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

Hero Mode

Our opening section this week unpacks mythmaking, heroism, ideologies of play, and more.

“Ultimately, the world Destiny 2 envisions, despite all of its smaller and less permanent stories which deepen and complicate our viewpoint, puts Guardians on top of a very tall vertical hierarchy—a tower if you will—below which reside other (Lightless) humans, Cabal, Eliksni, Vex, and Hive. As Guardians, we are allowed to use any and all forms of power in our reach—Light, Darkness, Golden Age tech, arcane Hive weaponry—to accomplish our goals and defeat whatever Big Bad is in front of us. Our designated enemies are not afforded this flexibility, and there is no room, ideologically or mechanically, for us to do anything but point … and shoot.”

Surviving Horrors

Conversations on survival horror are, fairly or not, routinely dominated to this day by a handful of 20-year-old games, even at the expense of their own sequels. How and why do these games enter and remain in collective cultural memory?

“Some games, once they get their hooks in you, don’t come out cleanly.”

Limit Breaks

Final Fantasy games over the years developed a reputation for pushing technological boundaries, but what about the side-projects and spinoffs? To understand these smaller titles, it’s important to situate them in their respective times, places, and platforms, like our next two featured writers do here.

“As whirlwind as all that is Mystic Quest doesn’t feel shallow for it, and the reason for that has already been demonstrated by those repetitively obvious manual entries I mentioned earlier: The game never makes the mistake of trying to pretend it’s any more complicated than it really is.”

Between Lands

Next up, three meditations on design in virtual worlds.

“The reward is in the mayhem, turning a corner into a dead end. Smashing a squad of powered up Garden of Eyes and then backing into a hallway to nowhere only to barely survive a Winter Lantern encounter where the frame rate drops to the teens as I bring the wheel down on that tremendous head. Muck-drenched, blood spattered, and covered in soot, Lady Caroline smiles with textures never meant to be upscaled to 4K by a cheap 55” TV. We go back, we do it again. There’s no traversal. No getting from one dungeon to the next. We leave, we go back. Effortlessly pursuing more friction to surmount.”

Critical Chaser

A short, sentimental reflection closes out our issue this week.

“When I turned off the console, I listened to my sea of trees outside.”


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