Welcome back readers.
Special thanks this week to Julián Ramírez for providing the fish pic.
This week the around-the-site news I want to highlight is the opening of submissions for our end-of-year review! Kaile’s taking point this year and they’ve got the lowdown on rules and submissions in this post here.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
While this is this week’s industry-oriented segment, it’s also a bit wider-reaching than that, looking at dev histories and layoffs as well as games’ unstable and sometimes-uncomfortable relationship with the wider world in which they are made and played.
- Some Thoughts on Howl: A Tactical Escape into A Grim World of Living Ink | Aguas’ Points
Luis Aguasvivas tucks into a recent indie tactical gem that invites reflection on the nature of escapism in games.
- Molyneux And Minter – The Story Of The Lost GameCube Exclusive ‘Unity’ | Time Extension
Jack Yarwood serves up a history lesson on the troubled development of what might have been fondly remembered as a weird GameCube gem.
- Why Me? A Narrative Feature About Games Media Layoffs | Unwinnable
Jess Reyes offers a personal account of layoffs across the games media landscape.
“So, why me? You never really know. Even if HR says they picked people because they worked the least hours or they didn’t get enough hits on their articles, many will still back their laid off colleague, saying that’s barely an excuse to lay someone off.
They will say you deserved to stay.“
We just hit the 20th anniversary for Final Fantasy X-2. For anyone who cares to know, in a little over a month we’ll hit the 20th anniversary of me white knuckling it in front of the television screen on Christmas morning as my parents got their first bewildered look at that Final Fantasy thing their kid was into via a gassed-up playable Prince concert.
- The Most Controversial Final Fantasy Sequel Is Still Proving Its Haters Wrong | Inverse
Debopriyaa Dutta leans into the camp and levity of Final Fantasy‘s first direct sequel.
- Final Fantasy 10-2 at 20: how breaking the series’ golden rule changed Final Fantasy forever | TechRadar
Cat Bussell looks back at Final Fantasy X-2‘s productive contradictions.
- I Don’t Like Your Plan: The Masterpiece Final Fantasy X-2 Turns 20 | Paste
Jackson Tyler reflects on the sequel Square got right, and the lessons they’ve still yet to fully learn from it.
“At its most extreme, X-2’s commitment to refusing the easy way out is somewhat of a thematic door slam on the franchise that the series struggles to move past, to this day. The game’s final act features its protagonist loudly stating that there is no silver bullet, there is no act of violence or sacrifice large enough to solve our problems. There is in reality no god to kill, and to invent one is turning your back on reality when you could be helping people. I don’t like your plan. It sucks.”
How about a look at some recent horror titles–both good and, um, not-so-good?
- Alan Wake 2: ¿Qué es la Presencia Oscura y el Lugar Oscuro? | GamerFocus
Julián Ramírez examines the Dark Presence–both the one in Alan Wake II as well as the one we all carry within us.
- What’s the deal with Silent Hill: Ascension? | Eurogamer
Vikki Blake has a look in on Konami’s groundbreaking pay-to-win TV show.
“I don’t believe that “Team Silent” – a fabled group of OG Konami developers that never really existed (only sound director Akira Yamaoka worked across all four inaugural games) – is sacrosanct any more than I believe a Western team can’t make a genuinely unsettling Silent Hill adventure. But right now, Ascension’s wobbly infrastructure and uneven progression system make it hard to enjoy and painfully difficult to recommend to anyone other than the most ardent Silent Hill fan, and even they’re a vanishing breed right now.”
Next up we have a pair of critical examinations of recent AAA titles.
- Dashing Bore – Forspoken | Pixpen
Sam Howitt really tried to like Forspoken.
- Couples Therapy and ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’ | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold breaks down the superpowered conflict resolution at the narrative core of Spider-Man 2.
“Even though Scream has too many health bars for a boss fight, it’s my favorite moment in Spider-Man 2, because I think of this lengthy exchange as a twisted version of couple’s therapy. That is, what happens in this Scream fight is unpleasant and hurtful, but it provides the necessary backdrop for the rifts within this romantic partnership to finally heal.”
Here we’ve got two more critical postmortems, this time of games irrevocably altered by time and experience.
- Never To Return | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy takes the long view on strategy and narrative uncertainty in a revisit of Pyre, a game I really should play.
- Desert Strike EP | canon fire
Amr Al-Aaser brings together a Gulf War arcade shooter and the synth EP it inspired in a reflection on media constructions of destructive American interference in the Middle East.
“I keep playing war. I keep picking up the gun. But sometimes the toy looks too much like the weapon, and I find myself hesitating.”
Another great sendoff this week from Spine.
- The Behavior of Language | Into The Spine
Justine Ferko reflects on the language of discovery and the labour of translation.
“The language we use shapes our view of the world and our experiences in it. Bridging the gaps in our communication requires willingness to connect.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!