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ipad game roundup

Some iPad games I played recently: Paperbark A lovely art style, and lovely sound design. And I like the idea of having a world that appears as you walk around in it. The gameplay beyond that concept didn’t grab me, though. (Or, for that matter, the learning aspects: it’s an openly didactic game.) And, similarly, […]

limbo and inside

I really was not expecting my initial reaction to Limbo to be how soothing it is. But there’s something about the game (its color palette, or rather palette of greys, in particular) that made it immediately feel calming to me, like walking through a quiet evening. Limbo is not actually like walking through a quiet […]

hellblade: senua’s sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice got notice for its portrayal of psychosis: Senua, the protagonist, hears voices, and sees things that other people don’t. The developers apparently took this seriously, consulting with mental health professionals and integrating the symptoms and themes into the game. This sort of treatment is, honestly, something that I’m temperamentally not particularly well […]

kittens game

I started playing Kittens Game because of a VGHVI symposium on incremental games. I’d played Paperclips a few times, but Kittens Game turned out to have quite a different rhythm. To begin with, it’s slower paced, in fact quite a bit slower paced. Fairly soon I got to a situation where I could productively click […]

mario + rabbids kingdom battle

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is an extremely well done game that I feel like I should have enjoyed more than I did, even though I enjoyed it quite a bit. Or maybe “should have” isn’t the right phrase, but at least the question of why I didn’t enjoy it more feels worth interrogating? It’s […]

flipflop solitaire

Some forms of solitaire are always straightforwardly winnable: they give you something soothing to do with your hands that keeps your brain lightly engaged. Most forms of solitaire aren’t: you have choices to make, but ultimately you’ll only win a fraction of the time, and while those forms give you choices that you can make […]

night in the woods

It took me a little while to get into Night in the Woods. I liked the art style; I liked that it was telling a relationship-based, community-grounded story; I liked that it was a little quirky. But I wasn’t entirely sure about the basic mechanics: I kept on hitting the A button when next to […]

animal crossing: pocket camp

I played the first Animal Crossing game literally every day for a year straight. Only about 15 minutes a day — I’d pick some weeds, dig for gyroids, check what was on sale, talk to the animals, maybe leave a message for Miranda or Liesl in their mailboxes, occasionally redecorate my house a bit — […]

splatoon 2

I haven’t played shooters much since grad school, and these days I almost don’t play them at all. Part of that is that shooting isn’t a mechanic I’m particularly drawn to; part of that is that shooter games have moved more in a multiplayer direction, which means dealing with dramatic skill ranges, assholes, and no […]

yakuza 0

The only Yakuza game I’d played before Yakuza 0 was Yakuza 2. And it had been eight years since I’d played Yakuza 2, so I didn’t remember it particularly well; just a vague memory was that it had some similarity with Shenmue but that I didn’t like it nearly as much. Anyways, I started Yakuza […]

celeste

We discussed Celeste in a recent VGHVI Symposium; I was happy to have an excuse to give the game a try, since I’d been hearing good things about it. And I’m glad I spent time with Celeste: good platforming, and the story had things to say that I’m not used to encountering in video games. […]

vghvi discord

I’ve been hearing mention of Discord for a little while, but it seemed like it was focused on chat in support of PC games, and I don’t play games on PC. (And, for that matter, I also don’t generally play the sort of games where chat while playing would be useful.) But then we used […]

oxenfree

I wish I hadn’t taken almost two months to get around to writing about Oxenfree, because I’ve forgotten most thoughts I had about the game when I played it. I remember going into the game knowing basically nothing about it other than that some of the Spawn on Me folks really liked it; I was […]

rocksmith jobs to be done

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Rocksmith, but I’m still happily putting time in on the guitar every weekend; so I figured it was time for another post about the game. And, this, time, I wanted to talk about what sorts of things I might like out of the next evolution of Rocksmith. […]

super mario odyssey

The obvious points of comparison for Super Mario Odyssey are the latest Zelda game and Super Mario 64. Breath of the Wild in particular pairs with Super Mario Odyssey as a statement game: they’re the most recent entries in Nintendo’s two most important franchises, working together to launch a hugely important console for Nintendo. And […]

gorogoa

Gorogoa felt right to me from the very beginning, from this screen that begins the game:     The picture in the window is lovely, drawn with care; but look at the texture and slightly off-white color of the paper that makes up the boundary of the screen, and look at the untextured white of […]

undertale

Undertale is charming in a way that I found surprisingly refreshing: it’s telling a story, the story leads off with a major conflict but almost immediately shrinks to a personal level, and then the personal level gets a lightweight touch. And that doesn’t combine to make the game feel slight: it makes the game feel […]

console upgrade cycles

When listening to video game podcasts talking about the Xbox One X, they were generally disappointed because they didn’t see where the console fit in: there aren’t any games exclusive to the Xbox One X, and people who really want the best graphics will play games on PC, so who is going to buy it? […]

nier: automata

There was a part a few hours into Nier: Automata where I got actively angry at the game. I was going through the desert, the robots were telling us not to hurt them, and 9S was telling me to ignore what the robots were saying: they were just repeating words without any meaning behind them. […]

layton’s mystery journey and whackamon

Layton’s Mystery Journey was actively disappointing. Following Layton’s daughter was a nice enough change of pace, I suppose, and the series is a good fit for the iPad; but the game didn’t have soul, and the puzzles weren’t enough for me. For example, you start off by meeting a dog who tries to hire you […]