Welcome back readers.
Please enjoy a mini-issue of sorts this week, with seven new-and-cool highlights. Game Studies published their latest issue just as I was hitting publish here so I may yet have my reading work cut out for me in the coming days.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
To start us out this week, our first three selections are all engaged in some way with questions of player agency, whether that’s in opening up or limiting the influence players have on the game world (or. . . both?).
- Chrono Trigger: If history is to change, let it change! | Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi describes Chrono Trigger as a supremely confident game for the extent to which it invites the player to manipulate its world.
- How Mega Man X rewrote the player/character relationship | Eurogamer
Justin Koreis contemplates the narrative significance of X as an avowed pacifist in an otherwise finely-tuned run-and-gun action game.
- What We Make From the Ruins | Unwinnable
Phoenix Simms chats with narrative designer Kaelan Doyle-Myersough about worldbuilding, player agency, and a speculative future canon of post-pandemic games.
“The atomization of Hemera’s world is both physical and psychological, which gets at the deep feelings of uncertainty and radical hope in the tangled underpinning of the pandemic. But it’s also about highlighting how someone with a limited amount of agency, like the average player, can help during times of crisis.”
Our next two featured authors this week each situate their game-specific critiques in the context of the wider franchise, as ideas develop (or spiral out of control) over subsequent installments.
- Metroid Fusion is a must-play for Metroid Dread fans | Polygon
Maddy Myers looks back at Metroid Fusion as a more cerebral and subversive entry in the series.
- The Protracted Pacing of ‘A Plague Tale: Requiem’ | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold finds that bigger isn’t particularly better in Asobo’s follow-up to Innocence.
“Requiem cannot bear to cut anything off its bloated runtime, and the story feels less cohesive for it. No single part of this game is broken in a way that strikes me as objectively bad, there’s just a glaring issue with this game’s unblemished cutting room floor. You could clearly eliminate at least one-fourth from this game, and Requiem would be stronger for it.”
Finally, our next two featured writers use their object games in part as an opportunity to reflect on their own critical processes.
- The Writer Will Do Criticism | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy meditates on how observation of games-as-product and speculation on games-as-process inform and contextualize the work of the critic.
- An Analysis of Material Fatigue | Electron Dance
Joel Goodwin closes the book on INFRA; a photography exploration game that resists easy categorization whether by genre, struture, tone, or player enjoyment.
“I liked the gentle photography game but stubbornly ignored the signs that INFRA was eccentric until, finally, the dam broke. There was no going back after that.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!