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the last guardian

If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, I would have guessed that either The Last Guardian would never be finished or else it would come out as somewhere between a disappointment and a disaster. And I would have been wrong: The Last Guardian is a Team Ico game through and through, not least […]

the legend of zelda: breath of the wild

Breath of the Wild is, of course, a stunning game. And a surprising one, both in how it departs from Zelda tradition and in how I reacted to those departures. No more progressive unlocking of weapons/tools/areas, no more restricting those areas to your specific skill set / power level (at least after the first two […]

returning to shadow of the colossus

After returning to Ico, I returned to Shadow of the Colossus. And, of course, they’re both phenomenal games; I appreciate Ico more after replaying it than I did the first time through, I think, while Shadow of the Colossus is less of a surprise this time. In particular, playing Shadow of the Colossus right after […]

returning to ico

I really enjoyed Dragon Age: Inquisition, but it was a bit of a mess. That mess was, however, not specific to that game: it’s entirely typical for a AAA game to throw in a kitchen sink of gameplay mechanisms. Some AAA games manage to escape that pitfall: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are particularly […]

dragon age inquisition: miscellaneous thoughts

Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s glorious, but it’s also a bit of a mess, in a AAA-ey way. Which means that I have no idea how to talk about the game in a coherent manner! So, in absence of that, a randomly ordered list of topics: The Scale of Its Story In Dragon Age II, you […]

tomb raider

I’d never played a Tomb Raider game before the 2013 iteration of the series; that playthrough was also the first time I’d played a newish AAA game in something like two years, so I’d gotten a bit unused to that sort of polished spectacle. And, I will say: it was a very well-done polished spectacle, […]

returning to bioshock

After my unpleasant experience with System Shock 2, I moved on to BioShock. I wasn’t worried that I might have the same problems with BioShock that I had with System Shock 2: I remembered from my prior experience that BioShock took the Easy difficulty setting seriously (enough so that I was thinking of trying Normal […]

jet set radio

If you’d asked me not too many years ago what my prototypical idea of a video game was, I probably would have come up with some sort of RPG-ish thing. Single player, with the story standing out more than anything (and with that story being excessively grandiose); but also with a lot of time spent […]

games and my soul

I’ve always been an unconventional video games blogger, because of the low volume of games that I find time to play, but that’s become much more the case over the last year. I was surprised to look at my recently played games list and realize that I didn’t finish any games for five months solid […]

time to read

As is doubtless clear from this blog, for the last several years most of my time interacting with art has been spent with video games. And that’s been wonderful, no question. What is less clear from this blog, however, is the extent to which that wasn’t always the case: while I’ve played video games regularly […]

catherine

I’ve already talked about the puzzle gameplay in Catherine; what about the rest of the game? For me, the tone was set with the very first question I got asked in the confessional: “Does life begin or end at marriage?” Which is an analysis of marriage that I would never for a moment consider performing: […]

another world

Another World‘s opening cut scene shows an experiment gone awry, with my character being transported to another world, where I got dropped into a pool of water. At which point I died. On my next attempt, I moved out of the water; after a bit of trial and error, I killed the slugs on the […]

yakuza 2

There was a time towards the end of 2008 when it seemed like everybody in my twitter feed was talking about Yakuza 2. It was apparently a Shenmue-style action RPG (also published by Sega), but (as Steve Gaynor so eloquently outlined in the 2008 holiday confab) filled with delightfully quirky side missions, missions that added […]

combat fatigue

I recently replayed BioShock‘s first couple of hours as part of a VGHVI gaming session. And I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting those scenes with the perspective that I’d gained playing through the game, and gaining new insights by listening to the other participants. But I was also sad, especially in the initial bathysphere descent. That descent […]

games that have stuck

Every year brings with it its collection of lists of top N games; I mostly enjoy reading them, though I have misgivings about their existence, but I’m not very well positioned to create one myself. This year is special in that it has also brought ‘games of the decade’. About which I have fewer misgivings: […]

shadow of the colossus as living structure

When I finished playing Shadow of the Colossus, I was impressed by it, but no more than by several other games from around the same time. Then at some point, perhaps a year and a half later, I was browsing the web and came across a picture of the game. And I gasped, I shuddered. […]

the evolution of platformers

My current spate of video game playing began in grad school when my friend Wayne gave me his old NES, together with Super Mario Bros.. If I’m remembering correctly, Jordan later found a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 at a yard scale, after which I was doomed to several years of platforming addiction. Not […]

twilight princess

I just finished the latest Zelda. Summary: a good game, quite well done. But not a great game, for two reasons: the previous games in the series, and a certain other game in the genre that came out the same year and that is much much better. The good: it’s a Zelda game, with all […]

okami

Okami is an amazing game. In some sense, it’s quite derivative: it’s working well within the Zelda genre (complete with sonic homages to its predecessor), so it’s not as novel as some recent games, but there’s more than enough new presentation in the game to keep me happy, combined with a thorough rethinking and improvement […]

killer 7

If memory serves me well, about a year and a half ago I was feeling kind of down on video games. The start of this generation had been quite nice (largely because of the Dreamcast), but for the last year or two, it had seemed like the best I could hope out of a game […]