Welcome back readers.
I’ll keep the preamble short this week, but we did receive one submission put together by the folks at Deep-Hell that I wasn’t quite willing to include on account of my having contributed to it in very small part. But I do think it is worth your time so I’ll link it here as a plug, out-of-competition so-to-speak (editor’s note: Critical Distance is not a competition [editor’s note to the editor’s note: yeah it’s still just Chris here]).
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Our opening section this week deals in large part with bodies in all of their tired, busted-up, and occasionally necrofied glory.
- Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, Aging, and Agency | No Escape
Kaile Hultner reflects on Kiryu’s inability to escape from the Yakuza life, and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s inability to escape Kiryu.
- Your Brain is Made of Meat | Bullet Points Monthly
Julie Muncy conceives of the original Dead Space as more fixated on dead bodies than living people, and sees productive dissonances in the remake now that Isaac Clarke has found his voice.
“Minds can decay, as well as bodies, because they’re the same thing. Isaac Clarke is not an avenging spirit. He is not an automaton, no matter how much he may look like one. And neither are you. You are a brain.”
Two more perspectives on the Wizard game and how its already-inseperable context poisons its own artistic goals.
- Hogwarts Legacy Is J.K. Rowling’s Legacy, Summed Up in a Feverishly Awaited Dud of a Game | Vulture
Lewis Gordon finds a middling game that does little to lift itself out of its parant franchise’s ideological paradoxes.
- Hogwarts Legacy review: Rowling’s specter hangs over a vapid open world | Polygon
Gita Jackson finds that Portkey’s efforts to build a more inclusive Wizarding World serve only to throw their game into dissonant contrast with Rowling’s original stifling, zero-sum vision.
“Where the game tries to give players anything and everything they want, Rowling’s books wouldn’t have and do not. The books are moralizing and judgmental — the dark magic spells (which the game lets you learn without consequence) are called Unforgivable Curses. Hogwarts Legacy tries to anticipate every type of player, but Rowling didn’t want her world to be for everyone.”
Now that I think of it (and really, I try not to think of it too often), the early 2010s are now often considered old school in many regards from a game design perspective. These two fine selections about games from 20 years before that will still be here when you’ve recovered from the psychic damage.
- The Indie Pop Legacy of Super Mario Land 2 | Thrilling Tales of Old Video Games
Drew Mackie investigates a fragmentary history of video game sampling in pop music.
- Is there a doctor in the Hauze[r]? | Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi explores a technologically ahead-of-the-curve 3DO game that in many respects justifies describing Resident Evil as a Doctor Hauzer-like.
“Doctor Hauzer is an impressive game with a small, clear, goal that throws everything it has towards making the most polished version of its concise idea a reality. The game’s brevity is welcome and works entirely in its favour, preventing Doctor Hauzer from overstretching itself. Obtuse puzzles tied to an admittedly slim storyline would make for a very dull way to spend a week or two, but a single casual afternoon? That’s an intriguing mystery worth seeing through to the end.”
How long will these two games from the last two years continue to enjoy the status of new school? Oh no.
- Unpapering The Past: Jewish History and the Cast of Pentiment | Uppercut
Marn Silverman considers text and context in evaluating Jewish representation in Pentiment.
- Finding Time in a Dying World | Unwinnable
Evelyn Grey fishes for the future in Unsighted.
“Fishing short circuits this loop and the creeping, imminent collapse of Alma’s world. It is the only way to gather the precious resources the player needs to beat the game without spending grains of sand from the hourglass. This seemingly innocuous activity, cleaning up the waterways for the fish to help Cleo, becomes a lifeline for a struggling player.”
Mom and dad say it’s Sonic 06’s turn in the sun.
- In praise of the 7/10 | Eurogamer
Oisin Kuhnke reflects on the state of game reviews and their attendant culture of expectations and one-upmanship, and looks to the games that only got their due with the passage of time.
“I want to be better at finding value in imperfect things, because I am an imperfect person, and yet still people are kind enough to give me space to grow, and change, and fail, and succeed. Let’s give more games a chance to succeed, even if they never do.”
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!