Welcome back readers.

I’ve got two around-the-site updates for you before we dig in. Kaile published both our Patreon-exclusive monthly review (to which you can get access by supporting us :)) and our latest TMIVGV within an hour of one another. Go check them out! It’s an absolutely stacked weekend here at Critical Distance!

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


A bunch of really good high-profile indie games came out this past week, but don’t let this one slip you by! If the early impressions we’ve collected here are any indication, 1000xResist might end up having the longest critical legs of the bunch.

“Sunset Visitor’s debut stretches the clean lines of video game metacommentary into a concentrated ludonarrative taffy. There is no gotcha moment, to 1000xRESIST’s credit. The struggle for meaning is long but not fruitless. Characters slowly learn to survive in—and maybe even love—the fractured world they’ve been given. 1000xRESIST will leave you with questions, but ultimately the resolution is yours alone. The game is infinitely better for it.”

Critical Connections

Our next few sections follow a sequence zooming in on progressively narrower topics. To start out with, let’s look at a broader sweep of games making critical connections to family, culture, and land.

“Maybe it doesn’t need to be; humans have always edited the space around them. Even the Amazon rainforest is a kind of garden. To reject a human tendency for order and enjoyment of outdoor spaces might be a mistake, a stumbling over the Enlightenment insistence that culture and nature are diametrically opposed.”

Resisting Hegemonies

Now let’s narrow the focus a bit, with studies of the intersections between games and protest, revolution, and allegory.

“I am not making the case here for some kind of inherently liberatory element in “games,” writ large. As Hamza Bashandy argues over at Futuress, many games, especially big-budget ones, cast protesters as mobs of apolitical NPCs who serve as a passive backdrop to the hero’s journey. Also, it is obviously the case that protest organizers are already adept at forecasting repressive scenarios and planning for multiple outcomes in the physical world of consensus reality. But I think that, while it has its flaws, UATW,M! offers the compelling suggestion that the way we play can prepare us for the way we agitate. The riot cops are simulating ways to oppress us (see page 13 here), but we know what they’re up to. We have the tools to beat them at their own game, and we’re going to write the rules ourselves.”

White Check

Now let’s linger on a single game with a long critical tradition–Disco Elysium. These first two selections are part of a longer series published under the same initiative, but I’m choosing to spread out my reading. We begin with inquiries into the literary and reading practices with which Disco is engaged.

  • Reading Games | Post45
    Sadek Kessous examines Disco Elysium‘s turn away from the cinematic towards a recursive and internal literary and readerly mode.
  • Bad Reading / Bad Gaming | Post45
    Hayley Toth interrogates the ways in which we ascribe value to different reading practices through a save-scummer’s approach to Disco Elysium.

“In granting player-characters powers of self-determination, save scumming appears at odds with the game’s fractured protagonist and forking narratives. At least in relation to Disco Elysium, save scumming can also appear to be a somewhat redundant practice both because there are different, successful paths through the game’s many dialogue trees, and because consequently the game can only ever be played partially. Yet, by thinking about save scumming as a reading practice, it’s possible to identify a distinctive ethics within its motivations, orientations, and interpretive protocols. Always “good”? Almost definitely not. But save scumming is worthy of attention precisely because it raises questions about how we confer value on acts of reading.”

Just the Way You Remember It

Here we’ve got three explorations of different contours of nostalgia, examining coziness, contradiction, and catharsis.

“It may seem like the content of Sexton’s poetry is incompatible with the joy and optimism of Super Mario World, but that is far from accurate. This juxtaposition of melancholic, meditative poetry and a bright, happy video game demonstrates a loss of childhood innocence. It shows how we approach games that we once loved as children differently in adulthood. The sorrows of Sexton’s life were unavoidable, and they greatly shaped his person. As such, he can never play Super Mario World in the same way that he played it as a child in 1998. It can still provide a sense of comfort and nostalgia, though. It can remind him of his childhood and of his mother.”

Critical Chaser

This week our closing segment has range, bringing together poetry, humour, and just a dash of childhood trauma.

“On the eighth day, a storm brews delivering torrential rain. For your cousins, this is a perfect opportunity to continue their binge. In their fervor and adoration of Final Fantasy and Disney icons, they forget to save. While they play, the storm causes a power outage. The lights go off immediately after Donald says, “The curse – it’s gone!” All their progress is lost. They never return to play. Kingdom Hearts is lost to them.”


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