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May 25th

…There must be a new Kentucky Route Zero chapter, because my browser tabs are full of references to it. For Popmatters, G Christopher Williams talks about the performance of “Too Late to Love You Now” as a postmodern, performative experience. At Storycade, Amanda Wallace pens an open love letter to KRZ.

Over at the Escapist, Robert Rath examines what bugged him about Halo 4: when your story ends with a sleeping messiah who’s never meant to re-awaken, what happens when they do? Contrasting this hero’s journey, Sande Chen writes about the heroine’s journey in games and the identification…

Bioshock: Infinite

…effort turned gargantuan tragedy, like the city of Columbia itself.

Without further ado, I am proud to present Critical Distance’s Bioshock: Infinite Critical Compilation.

1. There’s always a lighthouse, a man, a city: The Launch of Bioshock: Infinite

Before the release of the game proper, a longform interview with Infinite’s lead designer, Ken Levine, was ran on Polygon, with reporter Chris Plante. Among other things, they discussed the journey that led to the creation of Infinite, including some quotes by Levine. “The way I create video games, it’s more like sculpture.”

On March 25th, 2013, one…

July 9th

…or even This War of Mine . To say The Line is trying to be anti-war is to miss the point of what The Line is actually expressing. Not a clear moral message but a nihilistic frustration at its own existence within the blockbuster publisher-studio model. This is a game that hates itself.”


Moving on to perspectives on game development, we have two video essays on design techniques and one piece of investigative journalism looking at Sony and Microsoft’s divergent approaches to indie games.

  • Journey: The Story in the Score | Game Score…

July Roundup: Denouement

…Some stories were crafted to end where the journey leads them, even if it’s a journey or ending that come at great, even narratively unfulfilling, costs. Rob Haines takes a look at games which could—or arguably should—have ended without a happy ending.

Read it now

Seth Tomko

Denouement in Video Games

Seth Tomko explores how games struggle to marry narrative and mechanics, particularly where climax and denouement are concerned, and offers examples from Diablo III, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. The challenges present are not insurmountable though, and sometimes…

August-September Roundup: Oceans

…a handful of games that represent that sense of being shipwrecked more literally. Ultimately, Hancock looks most deeply at Final Fantasy VI, in which the hero Celes is stranded on an island with her sick grandfather and their waning hope.

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Simon MN

Denouement in Video Games

On the subject of being stranded: Simon MN takes to his personal blog to describe The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening as perhaps Link’s most personal journey to save the world. As committed as Link is to escaping the island, there is a sense…

February-March Roundup: History

…Hui. The protagonist of All Our Asias, Yuito, spends most of his highly abstract journey wrestling with the racial and class tensions of his identity. Wang’s social theory, that Asian identity is constructed to bolster European self-assurance, seems apparent in Yuito’s struggle with his identity as a man who identifies as both American and Japanese.

Read it now

Seva Kristskiy

On the Egypt of Assassin’s Creed: Origins Discovery Tour

The second of Kriskiy’s pieces featured in this roundup looks at the Discovery Tour mode recently added to Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which allows players…

ReadySet Zam archive


January 20th

…results that she wants.”

A GRIS-ly Postmortem

Artful indie title GRIS has been out for a little bit now, and sober reflections are starting to emerge, with a common theme being one of frustration. Comparisons to Journey appear to be inevitable, and for the most part it seems that critics find the newer work wanting.

  • GRIS: Her Journey | Unwinnable Jeremy Signor finds GRIS to be enjoyable to experience but silent to a fault.
  • Gris and the problem of symbolic hurt | Unwinnable Malindy Hetfeld walks away dissatisfied from a game that neither…

The Last of Us

…the game to succeed:

The game is designed with an understanding that the immediate, task-based nature of flow does not lend itself to the ever-expanding ‘signifying chain’ of the narrative as a plotted journey over time.

Gender Bites

Perhaps the most sustained and contentious critical discussion of the The Last of Us revolves around its representations of gender. Some critics found the women of the narrative, especially Ellie, compelling, complex, and relatable. Others writers saw incredible potential in these characters but were disappointed that Joel’s emotional arc came before their own agency.


Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

March 22nd

…good meal.

  • Neopets is the Safety Blanket Millenials Reach for in These Trying Times – Uppercut Caitlin Galiz-Rowe discusses how virtual economies generally and Neopets specifically simulate an idealized, equitable, and comforting vision of prosperity for all which has never actually existed in reality.
  • Climbing Mount Celeste Is Aiding My Own Mental Health Journey | Sidequest Emily Durham climbs the mountain and makes peace with the difficult but worthwhile journey.
  • “I’ve had to be patient through my difficult adjustment to my medication, and Celeste has given me something to focus on that isn’t my side…