Welcome back readers.
We’re running a slightly shorter issue this week, with a conspicuous density of horror games represented in the selections. As it should be.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
We’re starting this issue off with three examinations of art, style, and fashion.
- Acronym’s cyberpunk techwear has inspired numerous video games | Polygon
Alexis Ong explores the relationship between games and the often-gamefied world of techwear.
- Tetsuya Nomura’s designs embraced Y2K fashion and never let go | Polygon
Kazuma Hashimoto unpacks the origins and influences of Tetsuya Nomura’s post-millennial zipcore drip.
- Scorn Is True To Giger’s Work, But Needs More Dicks | Kotaku
Claire Jackson finds the Gigeresque Scorn to be productively frustrating. Mostly.
“As a trans woman who’s spent most of her life closeted, I’ve found HR Giger’s work viscerally communicates an ambience of doomed sex, sexuality, and physical forms, a general sense of unease and confusion that resonates with how I’ve seen the world for most of my life. His images provide meditative spaces that are much more cerebral and in tune with my feelings of the world than the more simplistic, gore-for-gore’s-sake utility Hollywood has often reduced it to. It’s why I’m drawn to this game. And while Scorn ain’t for everyone (not for most, probably), so far it is managing to mirror what I get out of Giger’s art by refusing to bend to “AAA” gaming expectations of being easy to play and understand.”
Games which deliberately recall prior forms both visually and mechanically are nothing new (lol), but there has been something of a boom in them lately. Here are two reflections on some of the recent notable ones.
- Things Go In Circles – Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light and Live A Live (2022) – PixPen
Sam Howitt dissects Square Enix’s evolving design approach to the retro RPG.
- Gloomwood Echoes the First-Person Stealth Horror Games of the Late ’90s | Paste
Grace Benfell comes away with positive impressions of the throwback Thieflike Gloomwood.
“It’s not a world of holes for you to crawl through, with vents placed exactly for your convenience. Instead it’s a world that is constantly tightening its grip on you… but never tight enough that you can’t slip from its grasp.”
Our next two selections this week weave connections from virtual to material, across media, genre, and tropes.
- On Naive Readings of A Mind Forever Voyaging | Gold Machine
Drew Cook unpacks how AMFV got the spirit of American fascism right, if not the letter.
- Implicated in the Ritual | Bullet Points Monthly
Yussef Cole explores the interplay between horror, interactivity, the found-footage format, and the player-protagonist divide.
“Devotion forces us to inhabit a dark and disturbed form, and suffer for it. We must, to witness the story, become that story’s villain. We want to see his (our) victims, see what violence he (we) may have wrought, even as he struggles and attempts to turn away from it all in unseeing disbelief. We want to see how far Feng-yu might go in order to control his child, how far Ronan might go to rescue hers; all the while remaining stubbornly hopeful that we would never go so far, that we are only here to observe from the other side, holding the camera, hiding behind the lens.”
We move now to play meditations on grim and unsettling worlds of the past and future, neither so very far removed from our own.
- Bloodborne Will Always Be My Game Of The Year | Kotaku
Ashley Bardhan’s read on Bloodborne, the Doll, and the uncanny whips. That is all.
- Heart, Kidney, Pancreas, Shard | Unwinnable
Madison Butler observes Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator at a crossroads between the mechanical intracacies of space 4X games and the withering anticapital critique of more contemporary dystopian adventure games.
“Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator understands that there is no single commodity on Earth simultaneously cheaper to procure but more valuable to an economy than blood.”
A little poetry now to ease the tension.
- Game Enjambment: Where in the Zoo Is Carmen Sandiego? | Sidequest
Katherine Quevedo steals the Chaser.
“Imagine that red coat belted, collar upturned.
But I get to hide in plain sight. What a relief.”
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!