Welcome back readers.

With so much of social media in flux at the moment–if it’s not sites in danger of crashing entirely it’s gruelling rounds of layoffs–this feels like a timely moment to highlight that Critical Distance maintains its own community Discord server where folks chat about what they’re playing, interrogate the meaning of genre, or participate in much-vaunted Cheesecourse.

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


Let’s start this week with close critical examinations of art and authorship in a pair of recent games.

I locate a heavy vein of despair in my head, my despair at being overpowered and defeated by the Other, my reality rejected and replaced by theirs instead. I have lived this. More than once.

And also —

I am still here.

Maybe I am the truth.

F to Interpellate Respect

Three critics approach one of gaming’s tentpole blockbusters from different angles to study its art of saying nothing at all.

“The goal is to look like something and be nothing. But to look like something. But be nothing. But to look like something.”

Number Crunch

Here we have a pair of design-minded pieces focusing on crunchy mechanics with accompanying thematic payoffs.

“This is an important notion for FE4: The breadth and definition of character identity as expressed through combat stats (and especially through character skills) is one of FE4’s most unique triumphs as a large-cast RPG, and a key part, I think, of how its characters took on such a mythical quality. Magic defense is just one small part of that triumph, but the story that the game tells through and about Res speaks to an underlying ethos: Even in war, power takes many shapes, and to confine yourself to too narrow or simplistic an understanding of it is deadly.”

Memory Card

Two authors recount their formative experiences with games and their associated media.

“As I grew up into a teenager, such talks became less and less common, as gaming became a “kid’s thing,” something dorky that “only nerds did,” but there was a period where I was privy to all the latest games merely through schoolyard talks. And hearing about those wonderful games (that I knew we could never afford), I would come home and beg my mum to buy me some magazines so I could read about them and talk to kids about them.”

Once More With Character

Our next pair of featured authors focus on characters and their relationships, in games past and present.

“If the original Butterfly Soup is about coming to terms with yourself and self-acceptance—like a caterpillar in the midst of metamorphosis, sloshing around in its own enzyme fluids before emerging as a butterfly—then Butterfly Soup 2 is about growth.”

Critical Chaser

Spine is showing up a lot in our weekly closing segment of late!

“Self-acceptance and self-compassion are hard. In that memory, Zelda could use both.”


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

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