February 2nd

Welcome back, readers.

I find myself at a mild loss for witty introductions this week, but that’s okay, because quality critical games writing never sleeps and there’s plenty of great stuff to be had this week. So just know that I’m glad you’re here, because your presence and readership is a reminder of why this writing and these writers matter!

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

Once More on the Zero

There’s probably some Critical Distance rule somewhere I’d be in violation of if I let the release of Kentucky Route Zero‘s final episode pass without any kind of inclusion in the roundup, so we’re starting things off this week with a big bloc of some of the best, from some of the best. Oh, and when you’re done here, you can check out our Critical Compilation on the game here.

“Specifically, it is a game about the violence an uncaring system enacts on the impoverished people who live in it. It asks what Conway will give up to survive; as a result we watch it take and take until, at the end of Act IV, Shannon turns around, and Conway is simply gone, and three indistinct skeletons are disappearing from the screen without a word.”

Outer Whatsit?

I am aware that I am tempting fate by antagonizing the well-established name confusion between Outer Wilds and The Outer Worlds by grouping articles on both of them together here, but each of the three articles gathered here extends one of those games–or the other–with a novel connection, be it architecture, artistic movement, or the state of space exploration.

The Outer Worlds provides a reminder that quick fixes often become permanent solutions when it comes to architecture.”

Lorecraft

A big chunk of my dissertation-that-I’m-totally-going-to-finish is to do with how games handle, engage with, and make effective use of lore, which is probably a term I should be obliged to define, but which is somewhat nebulous in usage, so let’s just go with the items, information, and anecdotes which fill out the completeness and depth of a world, be it real, fictional, or otherwise. So I’m excited to see so many engaging discussions of lore this week, some of which will probably end up in my works cited eventually.

“Naturally game design often involves tidying up reality to turn it into something even slightly playable. However, there are a lot of interesting things about the construction of ancient pantheons that could help you enrich your mechanics and tell a more interesting story about your in-game universe.”

Genreflection

We’ve got two pieces this week that are about specific games, but also about the genres, trends, and movements those games inhabit, what those games have to say about those genres, and some of the challenges of writing critically about genre(s) in the first place.

“It is hard to say if Ian MacLarty intended any subtext beyond the obvious mockery of open world games, but it’s hard not to see Red Dead Render as a meditative ‘Long Time Memetic Waste Warning Message‘, a reminder that in time these ideas may be reclaimed by later generations when the dust finally settles.”

Game Feel

Three articles this week all examine the affective, emotive, social, and introsective design qualities of their respective games.

“But what it lacks for clarity, The Quiet Sleep makes it up by being a compelling and even frenetic experience, as you try not to crumble under the pressures conjured by your own mind. If you’ve ever felt paralyzed by the immense weight of anxiety or sadness, that’s what playing The Quiet Sleep can sometimes feel like, especially with its mounting challenges in the later chapters.”

Critical Chaser

Bless Uppercut’s listicle game this week.

“Whether or not people in the Pokémon universe eat their pocket monster pals is no longer up for debate; we have plenty of hard evidence that they do. But which ones would be the best to eat?”


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