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Showing posts with the label Environmental Storytelling

A Solstice of Broken Worlds

I'll say it up front: I am no fan of winter, despite the fact that some media I enjoy features it prominently enough to call it a central character. It's probably no coincidence that these are harsh and violent stories of twisted motivations, revenge, and betrayal where the weather is a monster to be feared. I'm no fan of the cold, the lightlessness, the monotony... sometimes, I think being born in California might have affected me more than I realize. Recently, I discussed choosing games to match your mood and situation , and mentioned that the change in weather and real-world frustrations had led me to return to a few games I had taken breaks from: Fallout 3 and Demon's Souls . With the winter solstice just around the corner, I thought I'd explore why these games are speaking to me at this particular moment, and what I (consciously or not) am looking to gain from them. Both these games could be described as "post-apocalyptic," but a more appropriate t

Restless Dreams: Horror, Fantasy, Gaming, and Emotional Logic

The calendar tells us that it's October, and while it may not feel like it outside, this is officially the season for spooks and scares. Given the time of year and the twenty-year anniversary of its release (and also of my owning it) the next game in my backlog playthrough was obvious: 2001's Silent Hill 2 . Much has already been written about this game (there's a reason it's on so many "Best Games of All Time" lists, after all), so this post will be neither explanation nor analysis, but rather a exploration of the way horror blurs the lines between the world that we know exists, and the way we feel it exists... and the way that games, both electronic and tabletop, are uniquely capable of embodying this dichotomy. Given my love of horror and all things surreal, it's kind of surprising that it's taken me this long to actually finish the game. At the outset, it was because I felt obligated to play the original Silent Hill first, even though I was va

Control and the Alternate Reality of the Workplace

This week, PlayStation Plus subscribers got access to one of my favorite recent games of recent years: Remedy Entertainment’s Control With its fusion of cosmic horror and comedic bureaucracy (not to mention "what if gunfight... but with Jedi powers?"gameplay) this is a game that might have been custom-made just for me. Control takes the tired “secret government organization overseeing the paranormal” trope and shifts the focus towards the first part, presenting the headquarters of the titular Federal Bureau of Control (known as the “Oldest House”) as a Brutalist maze of filing cabinets, typewriters, water coolers… and twisted hallways folding in on themselves, a Ritual Department, and a power system that may be running off an imprisoned elder god. It’s a setting defined by contrasts, blending the dull familiarity of the recent past with the nightmarish and otherworldly. But what’s really unique is the care the designers took to make the Oldest House feel like place people a

The Phantom Plain: Storytelling through Landscape in MGSV

I’ve recently come to the ending (such as it is) of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain . I’d been putting it off for a while, with a whole range of reasonable excuses. I need to play Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance first! I need to make more progress in Peace Walker - sure, I’ve made it to both endings, but not the Monster Hunter missions! I can’t hog the PS3, it’s our main household media device! And I don’t have the time for a game that size, anyway… Maybe I was scared by the reviews and references I had come across - did I want to delve into the final installment of my all-time favorite game series and be disappointed? One by one, though, they all fizzled. We got a PS4, so I was able to spirit its predecessor off to my desk for solo gaming whenever I have a chance… which meant I was able to play Revengeance ... and plow away at Peace Walker until I got sick of failing to take out that damn Attack Chopper (Custom) over and over. And finally… there was COVID. I should mention an a