Welcome back readers.

I promise you that I did not pull a Bilbo Baggins this week by deliberately making sure there were precisely 13 selections for our closest issue to Halloween; it really just did happen that way by chance. But now that that’s the final tally, I may as well run with it! OOooOOOoooooo. . .

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

Spicy Bayo

The last few weeks of run-up to Bayonetta 3 have been, regrettably, a pretty painful roller coaster of discourse, but now the thing is out into the world. We might consider this week’s selections to be, constrained as they are by review embargoes, a preview of a fuller conversation, but what’s here so far points to disappointment and heartbreak for fans who saw something queerly subversive in the first two installments.

“If all you care about is button-ramming combat that’s similar to Devil May Cry, you’ll have a ball. But if you ever wanted to believe that there was something deeper to Bayonetta’s story — some grander statement about femininity and sexuality and power dynamics — you’ll find the truth to be quite a disappointment.”

Autumnal Crit

Our next section this week explores seasonal art palletes and themes.

“With an artist unable to see their value and a young scholar stubbornly struggling to find tuition money, the park had a depth that I was not expecting. Both plights also feel at home in the sensation of change and acceptance that autumn is often associated with.”

Victory Lap

We look now at the narratives being revised and re-revised at the triple-A end of the industry.

“See, Modern Warfare 2 will do all this sportive, kindly teamwork stuff, but then it’ll go the other way, and seem to, as it were, stamp on these pedals labeled Meaning and Theme and Imagery, and suddenly you’re crossing the Trump wall over the U.S.-Mexico border, or playing as the actual missile that kills Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. But then there’s a reversal or a refraction, where everything you think you just experienced that may have been meaningful or thematic or pertaining to any kind of real-world image gets transfigured and undermined. It’s kind of genius.”

Space and Place

Next up, game worlds are unpacked along artistic and navigational axes.

“Drawing people’s attention using design is a fraught subject in the internet age. Sites like Hot or Not? changed the way our brains work online, while the invention of pop-up and banner advertisements helped to monetize those rapid page changes. But Immortality combines classic-looking, seamless cinematography with the interactivity of a traditional point-and-click game; and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to know what everyone was looking at.”

Included Is Who

Here we have a pair of writers making representational connections in games both narratively and allegorically.

“In order to survive in a world that wants us dead, we often find ourselves having to shift aspects of our identities, constantly adapting to reflect the circumstances we find ourselves having to deal with. In one way this can be tragic: queer people having to restrict or hide entire aspects of themselves in order to be in certain settings without feeling threatened. And yet at the same time, the freedom to change your identity in ways that those in power don’t allow is an equally empowering experience.”

Horror Picks

Our holiday coverage continues with two more horror-tinged examinations of games and play.

“In co-operative multiplayer, the screen orbits a dark polyhedron, surrounded by other particles. Each CPU is given a zodiac theme. They are the guardians of the stars, great, terrible, yet also predictable. Players face them together, out in the cosmos. And the cosmos wields weapons that we do not.”

Critical Chaser

New Elden.

    Skeleton and Jack move on to the next Land Between, the Land of pretty screenshots and mouldering class antagonisms.

“Here we are: Raya Lucaria. Torch in hand and ready to burn down the over-classed. A tower packed with the seething glares of a magical privileged class. Held up in many ways like the desperate climb into bunkers and make plans to pay security guards. Letting the world burn around them, while killing anyone who’d attempt to interrupt the private world they maintain must go on among themselves. Peppered throughout the overworld are small references to it: Old Lords hunker down in silent towers, waiting for opposition. Fields of mercenary soldiers do battle like only they know how. There’s so much about class in Elden Ring that comes out here first, setting the stage for the rest of the game afterwards.”


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