Playing Fables: The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us, Telltale Games’ second adaptation of a hit comic book series, landed last week. Their previous work, an expansion on the Walking Dead mythos, won innumerable awards last years and was hailed as one of the greatest videogames of all time. Expectations for their Fables-themed followup were high, but muted. Recent games […]

Free online strategy game Card Hunter pushes all of my buttons.

Embracing Dragon Age’s Source Material

(The game’s) unvoiced goal is to revive the old days of role playing games. As much as it can, it attempts to cop the vibe of classic titles like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment, Dungeons and Dragons based properties

Broken Claws: When the X-Men Got Boring

This time last year, Marvel’s X-Men were mired in perhaps the most insipid event in their entire forty year history: Avengers vs. X-Men. Its name provides pretty much all of the plot: X-Men fought Avengers, because we “demanded it”. Along the way, some inane nonsense transpired, Cyclops cured world hunger, the Avengers stopped him, and […]

Pretty Pixels: The Many Explosions of Mercenary Kings

There’s precisely one reason someone would pick up Mercenary Kings, one of the newest titles on Steam’s Early Access platform (for games that aren’t quite finished): the art of Paul Robertson. This isn’t a knock on the rest of the game, a very capable Metal Slug meets role playing progression that has some delightfully engaging […]

Gods Will Be Watching: We Can’t All Be Heartless

I’ve gotten twenty days into the grueling forty day marathon that is Gods Will Be Watching, but never further. In the end, I feel like that says something more about me than it should: I know how I can survive, but I don’t do it. Gods Will Be Watching teaches that failure, sometimes, is preferable […]

Super Absurd Japanese Name: Shin Megami Tensei IV

The thing that’s kept me coming back to Shin Megami Tensei over the years has been its most Sci-Fi element: its sense of discovery. IV, the series latest entry for the 3DS, emphasizes this point; this is a game about exploring a brave new world. What that world happens to be, and how difficult it […]

The Unknown Depths of Capsule

One thing videogames are quite good at is ambiguity. An ambiguous novel is hard to pull off at best, infuriating at worst: you need to be told what’s happening in order to imagine anything, and if you aren’t told enough you’ll think of everything wrong. Film operates the same way: we want representations of things. […]

Dungeons and Dementia

Of all its many wonders, Rogue Legacy’s most enticing is that it lets you play as a archmage with dementia and color blindness who still manages to wipe the floor with an army of skeletons, evil wizards, and giant floating eyeballs. At its best it’s an action game that has something to say: that it […]

The Most Exciting Sci Fi and Fantasy Games of E3

(Ed. Note: some of the trailers linked to here may not be appropriate for all audiences.) Gaming junkies among you will note that E3—the biggest gaming news convention of the year—happened last week.  The big news was the announcement of gaming’s next new consoles: the Xbox One (I prefer the Xbone) and the Playstation 4. […]

Shadowrun Returns

This month, we will see the first fruits of the great Kickstarter flood of 2012. The four titans of that period—Double Fine’s Broken Age, Obsidian’s Project Eternity, in Exile’s Wasteland 2, and Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun Returns—haven’t given us much beyond trailers so far, but Shadowrun is set to return in June, replete with Native American […]

Howling Dogs and Gaming on the Fringes

Mainstream video games—the kinds that have massive advertising campaigns—have codified our genres.  They’ve done this much like film has.  There are superhero movies and science fiction tentpoles, much like there are fantasy RPGs or space action games.   These are enjoyable games, and they play well.  But they lack what my preferred fiction has.  My […]

The Linguistic Wonders of Fez

As a kid, I never liked Tolkien very much.  I loved The Hobbit, like anyone did, but couldn’t ever obsess over Lord of the Rings.  I could never get past the writing style heavy on description, the obsession with landscapes and language.   Now, as I get older, as I try to write my own […]

Growing Your Own Space Garden

Explaining Starseed Pilgrim, an Independent Games Festival winner about building a garden in space, is both incredibly easy and nightmarishly complex.  At its heart, you float around on flying gardens, plant seeds that produce pleasant sounds and blocks, and explore about a floating universe. But it’s harder than that.  Starseed Pilgrim starts you off with […]

The Ergodic* Nature of Games

When I was in college studying creative writing, I fell in love with a lot of writers: Haruki Murakami, Jonathan Lethem, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, all of the genre-bending literary fiction authors.  It was probably a sign of something: on graduation, I would detox with a deluge of genre work, Raymond Chandler’s detectives and J.K. […]

Weaned on Science Fiction and Fantasy

One thing that’s been abundantly clear to me, as someone weaned on video games, is how indebted we are to science fiction  and fantasy.  Final Fantasy’s core concepts―its monsters, its ridiculous evil antagonists, its specific names―come straight from fantasy authors, and those that didn’t come secondhand from Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop experiences. While […]