May 2015

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Hello my friends, another month has flown by, can you believe it? We’ve had an almost full month of rain here in Texas, which means there’s been every opportunity to hide away inside watching Let’s Plays. Thank you LPers for getting me through the month! In summation, here’s what May had to offer This Month in Let’s Plays:

Welcome to the Club

First, Critical Distance is pleased to report that two of its own have joined the rank of Critical Let’s Play creators this month:

In her new series Ways of Playing, Lana Polansky plays LSD Dream Emulator. After some historical background about the game, Polansky reads excerpts from Osamu Sato’s diary while playing the game.

Next, in the first episode of his new series Let’s Talk Trans, Riley MacLeod plays Eldritch. Cleverly, against the backdrop of this Lovecraftian stealth game, MacLeod discusses trans visibility. Importantly, MacLeod draws a distinction between media about and media for the trans people.

Interesting Failures

Chris Franklin analyzes the interesting failures of Only If. The game was an attempt at ludic absurdism but, Franklin notes, there are problems with this interpretation. (Advisory: Franklin warns that the game’s graphics can cause motion sickness. I can attest to this, personally. As a result, this summary was provided by fellow-curator Eric Swain because I could not get through the complete LP on my own. Thanks, Eric!)

Elsewhere, George Weidman, aka Super Bunnyhop, looks at the living artifact P.T. has become and how it now functions as a more valuable commodity than a finalized shipped game. Additionally, however, Weidman discusses the inevitable success the completed game would have garnered and why.

Storyworld Building and Limits

This LP on Castlecouch combines the essay by Olivier Blouchard with a voice over by Raphael Bennett to look at the storyworld of Grim Fandango in the remastered edition. Blouchard notes, “It feels like the perfect memory of the game, if you had it [the memory]”. That said, Blouchard didn’t play the original Grim Fandango, but remains impressed by the game’s ability to craft a believable world. He notes that the environments feel like real places because they offer more options than are necessary for the mere progression of the game. The spaces are big and the characters, with extensive dialogue options, feel multi-dimensional.

Heather Alexandra considers what it means and what  it entails to be “out of bounds” in games. Alexandra suggests that when players boot up a game, they “forge an unspoken contract with the game” about its rules and its limits, including the boundaries of its simulation. From this, Alexandra looks at the strong exertion of boundaries in Final Fantasy XV; the system will forcibly end the players game if they threaten the boundaries delineated by the simulation.

Death, Time Control, and F.E.A.R

This month, in another comprehensive franchise retrospective LP, Noah Caldwell-Gervais reviews all of the F.E.A.R games, including 1-3, both expansions, the DLC, and F.E.A.R Online. Personal sidenote: I always look forward to the title screen/intros in Calwell-Gervais’s Let’s Plays.

Actual Will considers whether time control is making you miserable in Life is Strange. Actual Will notes that while people want the ability to change their mind, and that while the time control mechanism in the game makes that a possibility, people are also “notoriously bad at predicting how they will feel,” and as a result, the game creates more, not less, agony as a result.

Stephen Beirne proposes that The Absence of Is is more cynical than it lets on. He suggests it is “much more interested in unknowability than themes of discovery.” This unknowability extends beyond the game too, Beirne notes, as the source material on which it is based comes from an unpublished novel.

Closing

If you didn’t see your Let’s Play in this month’s roundup, remember that we operate via submission! Send your submissions to us via Twitter using #LetsPlayCD to designate them for the Let’s Play Roundup, or you can always email us. Please don’t hesitate to submit your own Let’s Play.

Next month, I’ll be taking my PhD qualifying exams (word of encouragement can be sent here). Since I’ll be busy stressing over those, Riley MacLeod has agreed to host This Month in Let’s Play for June. So, my friends, I will see you on the other side in July!

As always, remember that we are reader-supported and you can make a monthly contribution here.