Now I’ll begin the long climb toward salvation, or the aerial of death.
There’s a chaotic level of intentional ambiguity built into the script of Dear Esther, an indie game by thechineseroom, which plays wonderfully against the serene environments and direct, simple controls. The narrative in Dear Esther doesn’t contain direct allegories, but rather sets up loose, extended metaphors that communicate tone and relative meaning without committing to either. However, I’m assuming that the correlations between the stories of Saul on the road to Damascus, the wife murdered in the car crash, the lonely shepherd and the journaling explorer (among others) were not accidentally placed into the narration, and as such have some significance in how they relate to each other and the stoic island. As the narrator says, “All these things cannot, will not, be a coincidence.” (more…)
To open a sci-fi horror story with a suicide note is bold, and even bolder to disguise it as a love letter. “How else,” the writers behind Dead Space must have asked each other, “can we introduce an industrial future space station plagued by zombies, beset by religious fanatics and explored by a silent engineer with hallucinogenic dementia?” The panicked recording by Nicole, leading man Isaac’s space girlfriend, sets up part one of the impetus. Isaac is on a mission – a mission of love. (more…)
Paper Mario, a 3D game series with 2D characters, has called me a nerd and rubbed my face in it. The series hit a particularly upsetting note with Super Paper Mario, an RPG shaped as strongly by homage as it is by a rare combination of self-awareness and self-deprecation. But I was willing to let Mario and Bowser poke holes in their thin narrative canvas because hey, at least it wasn’t taking its own nonsense too seriously (I’m looking at you, Star Fox Adventures) and they were leaving me out of it. Then there was Francis. (more…)
As Metro 2033 moves underground, the camera pans out from a postcard of Big Ben and the Venetian canals, stuck angled to the walls of the protagonist’s subway cell. Someone strums a few baroque guitar chords and picks a melody, leaving silence between each note. I’ve already known I’m playing in bombed-out future Moscow, and the bleak soundtrack confirms it.