Welcome back readers.

25 articles this week folks! I am now, as the cool kids might say, well and truly eepy. If you’d like to make my reading list even longer next week, come say hi on our Discord.

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

Senua’s Sequel

The big new release this week is Hellblade 2, and we’ve collected some critical impressions from some of our favourite writers in the biz. I’m looking forward to seeing this conversation continue, as I know folks who played the first one have a lot of investment in the series.

“By shifting the focus from the small and personal to the grand and epic, Ninja Theory wound up changing something fundamental about the series. Though we still hear the gallery of psychosis-generated voices who add commentary to Senua’s actions, they don’t feel as important to a story that is far more interested in what she’s doing, rather than what she’s thinking or how she’s feeling. Here, she’s taking on tremendous tasks and facing impossible odds, and the dramatic tension lies simply in whether she can accomplish what she’s set out to. It’s less nuanced than the first game, which exists in a constellation of trauma and memory and the ways in which her psychosis impacts her life.”

Storied Stakes

Our next section collects close thematic readings of recent top-end titles, exploring what they have to say about the worlds in which they have been produced.

“Shinra may be a fictional world government from a video game about magical twinks with giant swords, but it draws vividly from a history of real-world imperialism. That history shows us that sometimes, states must be pushed to the brink in order for any real change to occur. Before being assassinated by Israeli forces in 2017, Palestinian activist Bassel al-Araj wrote, “The beginning of every revolution is an exit, an exit from the social order that power has enshrined in the name of law, stability, public interest, and the greater good.””

Like a Fine Wine

Lots of interesting games are celebrating numerically significant milestones this year (10 years, 25 years, err, 21 years?). This naturally invites critical reflection on how these games bridge two points in time and space. Here are five highlights.

“In February 2020, Rick May suffered a stroke, and was moved to a nursing home. Two months later, he was gone. After his death, Jeremiah Foglesong, a gamer, whose father-in-law was May’s cousin, informed the family of the wealth of tributes that had been posted online: art, poems, Valve’s memorial inside Team Fortress 2. For Diana Lilly, May’s widow, an actor herself who wasn’t particularly tech-savvy, Foglesong printed hard copies of everything. “I did have to explain the lists of ‘F, F, F, F,” Foglesong says. He didn’t know the reference was from a Call of Duty game, but he told her it was “like throwing up a heart emoji, or a thumbs up.””

Cinema Sims

Here we’ve collected reflections on the intersections between play, performance, games, theatre, and film.

“They consider the differences smoking outside the theatre one night, each distinction they draw there’s a frame they can think of to make it so that really they’re the same. No distinction. No need to separate. Entertainment fictions. They finish their smoke and head back inside.”

All by Design

Next we’ve got a selection of pieces approaching different axes of design, including theory, practice, critique, culture, and claymores.

“Despite the myth building, despite all the cutscenes, the world of Metroid gets smaller and smaller with each release. It’s like a star collapsing under it’s own gravity. We can’t escape Metroids, we can’t escape biomes, we can’t escape colored doors. Metroid has calcified. It’s about playing the Greatest Hits. It’s about Shinespark puzzles(Speedbooster was a mistake), and fighting the same bosses, and canned pre-designed sequence breaks. Because you see, ages ago we lost the plot.”

Have You Played These?

Maybe you should. Looks like a good week over at Gamesline.

“There’s a trend recently to make expansive games filled to the gills with capital C Content to try and create justification for inflated price tags. Rather than drone on and on about this being an injustice, which it surely is, I’ll just say Felvidek is less than 5 hours to get through and costs eleven bucks. The countryside is calling, and your lord awaits the aid of your sword!”

Meta Critics

Apparently someone has invented formalism in media criticism again and we have to talk about it. But not just that! Let’s also talk about critical practices in games media more generally.

“My dream job? My dream job is meticulously sorting a spreadsheet back and forth, back and forth. There are numbers and associated meetings with words like “frictive” and “essential storytelling”. We will invent new courses of anguish to describe camera a shake and 3D spit splatter effects. These are words that can mean numbers, I swear to god: and I’ll swear to the audience next. You can be right about videogames, about movies. Follow the well forever until it gets so dark not even the flick of a lighter can register on the cave wall. This is a great way to live – and that’s a deep-hell.com promise.”

Critical Chaser

You made it to this week’s checkpoint! Nice work. Take a load off with our closing picks.

“Places, tastes, sounds and feelings fuse together in a sensuous synesthesia – the magic of ancient gods at work. Listening to the soundtrack, I am transported instantly back to that glistening realm, and against my better judgment, I find myself succumbing to its strange sorcery.”


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