Welcome back readers.
Feeling a little bit on the back foot this week, having not yet played the new hotness Immortality, but that’s the senior curator life–I read all about most new popular games before I have the chance to try them myself. I will, though!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
The Hot Goss
I’m trying something new with the format here by leading the issue, when applicable, with a dedicated section for a game or topic that’s attracting a lof of writing and/or mindshare that week. This time, it’s the game Immortality, and I’ve found that there’s a lot of agreement on what it does well and what invites scrutiny, with the differences in opinion coming down to which of these elements spoke louder to the writer. Here, in four installments, is a snapshot of that conversation, which I suspect will continue into future weeks.
- Immortality review | PC Gamer
Kaile Hultner weighs the cost of art in the match-cut, as told by Immortality.
- Immortality review: a peeling apart of stories, power and film that can’t quite balance on a knife edge | Rock Paper Shotgun
Alice Bell praises Immortality‘s intent but has some quibbles about its context.
- ‘Immortality’ review: A riveting film experiment but a mediocre video game | Inverse
Willa Rowe finds in Immortality an intrguing game too at odds with itself to ultimately succeed.
- Immortality review: An experimental bridge between film and video games | Polygon
Alexis Ong’s admiration for Immortality‘s accomplishments in the micro ameliorate her frustrations with its hindrances in the macro.
“The only way to fully appreciate the scope of this project, flaws and all, is to throw all expectations of story and structure out the window, and realize that the simplistic divide between film and games is holding us back from doing so much more with either medium.”
There’s also been a fair bit of discussion around We Are OFK, so here’s two perpindicular highlights for that game, too.
- I Can’t Stop Replaying ‘We Are OFK’ | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Eloise finds herself absorbed by We Are OFK‘s musical, intimate queerness, in a period when gaming burnout is so easy and so ubiquitous.
- We Are OFK and the Seamless Game | Paste
Emily Price finds friction in OFK‘s frictionless, largely non-interactive experience.
“I think that OFK’s particular way of splitting the difference between game and show (and album release vehicle) is more interesting as a signal of where games might go in the next couple of years, as studios begin to experiment more with games that feel (thematically and structurally) like TV shows, and are therefore, in theory, more digestible to people who don’t usually play games. But this approach also loses the ways games can use player choice to build narrative in a way that’s unique to the medium, and can therefore accomplish things that TV can’t. For escapism, frictionless can be nice, but eventually I want something to hold on to.”
Ok, how about some discussion in and around genre conventions and tropes?
- Here’s The Latest Game That Captures The Classic Zelda Magic | Kotaku
Sarah Griff contemplates the state of contemporary indie Zelda-likes, in Blossom Tales II, Anodyne, Tunic, and beyond.
- Let’s Play a Love Game: Cycles of hunger | Haywire Magazine
Eric Cline delves into a boys’ love game that squanders its thematic potential with shallow gameplay and an uncritical approach to the consent issues (might as well call that a content notification while we’re here) endemic to the genre.
“Sia and Hansel’s sexual journey together is far too brief, shallowly written, and concerned with titillation to be successful as a story of a victim furthering the cycle of their own abuse. While such a character arc could be incredibly messy and prone to controversy, it would at least confront the change in Hansel’s behavior directly. It would also allow the opportunity to develop the character further beyond the limits of archetype he never manages to shed here.”
Had to Be There
Here’s a section on stories and worldbuilding, in popular games, past games, live games.
- I Thought The Last Of Us Was Better Than This | Game Informer
Blake Hester finds that a technologically stunning remake in this case serves primarily to reveal new flaws elsewhere.
- Destiny 2 has a lot of proper nouns | In The Lobby
Cole Henry is 300% speaking my language when it comes to Destiny 2‘s approach to lore and worldbuilding.
“Destiny is an unfinished sentence that feels as if it is always being added to. Why add a period to that sentence? Why close it off?”
Our next three selections this week unpack communities, both in-game, in-universe as well as out of and around games.
- “Sexuality does not belong to the game” – Discourses in Overwatch Community and the Privilege of Belonging | Game Studies
Tanja Välisalo and Maria Ruotsalainen study the mediation between queer transmedia representation in Overwatch and the tensions of belonging it provokes in the game’s fan community spaces.
- There’s Two Sides To The Story in Signs of the Sojourner | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy reflects on uncertainty and accomodation in Signs of the Sojourner‘s deckbuilding approach to conversation.
- Infinitely Full of Hope | Bullet Points Monthly
Lewis Gordon muses on Sam and BB’s shared project to build a hopeful, sustainable future in a seemingly hopeless situation.
“Death Stranding, created by Hideo Kojima, is an open world epic concerned with, amongst many things, the gig economy and the lack of value we ascribe to delivery workers. It is also a game about environmental crisis, what happens when we ravage a planet to the point that its dead fauna haunt our collective imaginations. It deals in the broadest of strokes with politics, the need to stay connected, and technology, which can facilitate this. At its very core, though, Death Stranding is a game about fatherhood, specifically the idea of bringing a child into the world that is seemingly beyond fucked, one in which there is a near-total absence of hope.”
New poetry this week. 🙂
- In a Bar, a Few Hours Before— | Videodame
Rachel Tanner meditates on the cruel march of eShop shutterings.
“Alls I know
is tomorrow marks the day a part of all our memories dies,
does that make sense? Nobody is really certain
what the fuck Nintendo is doing with this.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!