Welcome back readers.
There were a lot of layoffs this week in games and culture press, as well as the games and wider tech industries. “Support independent crit”, a drum we beat fairly regularly here, is pretty cold comfort when tens of thousands of people are suddenly out of work. It did not have to be that way; it never does. We’re very fortunate here to have our own community that supports the work that we do, a fact that we’ve been reminded of very recently. It’s my hope, when you come across a name you haven’t seen before in our weekly issues, that sometimes you’ll follow their work, maybe even see if they have a Patreon. We are nothing without the outstanding critics and creators we strive to highlight.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Playing with Time
Our opening segment this week brings together games of time travel, themselves produced in very different time periods.
- Time Loop of Trauma | Unwinnable
Alma Roda-Gil unpacks Returnal‘s subversive, metatextual spin on the rougelike.
- A Mind Forever Voyaging: The Good Ending | Gold Machine
Drew Cook closes the book on Perry Simm and AMFV.
“Ultimately, A Mind Forever Voyaging insists that, above all, we must commit to fulfilling our existential duty as human beings, to resisting the fascist tendency in American conservatism, and to serving as diligent witnesses to truth. It suggests, in a way brazen for its time, that we must remain faithful in the face of encroaching white supremacy, corporate greed, and state-sanctioned violence. Meretzky’s critique calls us to become more human, even as the state grows increasingly inhuman.”
Out of Time
Continuing with the theme of time, we now look at a few games about uncomfortably near futures.
- Year of Games #3: Waste Eater | No Escape
Kaile Hultner plays a game about sustainability and sacrifice.
- A Conversation about the Conversation about Videogame Adaptations | Paste
Mik Deitz finds that the current discourse around videogame adaptations is asking the wrong questions.
- Norco: Mourning Under Refinery Lights
Nicanor Gordon meditates on NORCO and grief (content notifications for cancer, bereavement).
“Norco is about communication with what we’ve lost. My mother didn’t leave behind a grand mystery for me to solve. She left behind books and people. I thumb through her journals?—?loose observations and indecipherable hieroglyphs?—?and demand stories from all the people who knew her, and whose condolences trip on their tongues out of their mouths.”
Let’s switch gears now to a pair of thoughtful meditations on battle mechanics.
- ‘Vampire Survivors’ and The Glory of Floor Chicken | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold goes deep on the evolving and dynamic CHICKEN META in Vampire Survivors.
- Stagger and “Paradigm Shift” in FFXIII and GITCL | Cohost
Christine Love offers a developer’s perspective on inspiration, iteration, and the design legacy of Active Time Battle and Stagger mechanics.
“I want to make a game inspired by a particular JRPG because I loved it, and therefore want to show WHY I loved it. Get in the Car, Loser! is basically a persuasive essay on why I think FFXIII rules. That means figuring out what decisions are part of what I loved, which ones aren’t, and what context informed both!”
Greatest of All Time
Finally, we loop back around to a pair of RPG standouts from decades past.
- 14 Years Later, I Still Can’t Forget the Most Underrated Persona Love Story | Inverse
Willa Rowe looks back at a fleeting connection that leaves a lasting impression.
- Taking an old series to new depths | Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi digs in as King’s Field does dungeon crawler, and despite From’s reputation for difficulty, the results are highly playable.
“There’s always some way to fight back, some way to learn and improve on the last attempt, something else I can try. It’s thoughts like these that push Additional I’s players ever further into the darkness, death something the game dares you to conquer rather than merely avoid.”
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