Welcome back readers.
Our newest selections are presented here as four couplets spanning new indies, evolving genres, whole vibes, and more.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
There’s an intriguing new indie exploration game on the scene and we’re opening this week with a bit of writing on it.
- Tchia review: a gorgeous open-world adventure bursting with heart | Rock Paper Shotgun
Rachel Watts celebrates successes of exploration and traversal in Tchia.
- Tchia is inspired by GTA, Zelda, and the island nation of New Caledonia | Polygon
Nicole Carpenter chats with developer Phil Crifo about the design and influences of open-world adventure game Tchia.
“Tchia is filtered through the lens of a fantasy childhood in New Caledonia, dripping with the islands’ culture and influences. It’s adventure and exploration and nostalgia wrapped up in a singular culture.”
A Whole Vibe
I don’t have a better word for it–sometimes a game is simply a whole vibe. And so a new tag on the site is born.
- Thinking about that Moose Life (and gathering a lot of years of thoughts in one place) | Punching Robots Club
Rob situates the latest arcade-style game from Llamasoft in relation to their decades of output.
- Ys [1987/1989] | Arcade Idea
Art Maybury tucks into what is–narratively, mechanically, audiovisually–a sublimely vibes-based RPG.
“Ys is a relaxing experience, and inviting the player to frequently pause for a short moment is congruent with that. There are some games that are all frenetic activity all the time and no rest, and though that might be the Most Video Game, I don’t think that’s an ideal all games should trend towards but an entirely different mood being aimed for, a panicked and frenetic one that I personally don’t even particularly like.”
Lots of games are collapsed into “souls-like” as a descriptor these days, but that tends to efface the new iterations on and mutations from the form these games are making, whether it’s from other studios or even from From themselves. As such, here are two reflections on two such iterations and mutations.
- 4 Years Ago, ‘Elden Ring’s Developer Released the Perfect Ninja Game | Inverse
Willa Rowe looks back at Sekiro A.K.A. The Hard One.
- Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and the long shadow of Dark Souls | Canon Fire
Amr Al-Aaser contemplates Team Ninja’s distinct refinement of the souls formula across four games.
“We’re over a decade removed from the first Souls series release, and half a decade from Team Ninja’s first entry in their own interpretation. The “Soulslike” genre has matured now, and it’d be disingenuous to frame games playing in this space exclusively by what they steal from the Souls series, rather than their own interpretations on a shared understanding and design language. The same way that “Metroidvania” and “Doom-clone” can limit our understanding of what’s permitted in a space, holding Fromsoft’s blueprint as the ideal can prevent us from approaching new works on their own terms.”
Our closer this week brings together reflections both silly and sentimental.
- The Subversive Delights of ‘Take Me or Leaf Me’ – A Houseplant Dating Simulator | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold wends her way through a *checks notes* *checks them again* houseplant dating sim.
- The Angel Looking Backward–On Gardens of Vextro | Grace In The Machine
Grace Benfell engages a series of interconnected microgames in conversation.
“We can treat each other’s ideas with dignity and humanness, because someone else made this, someone we know, someone we love. Tending to a mutual garden.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!