Sep 032014
 

I blame Daniel Day-Lewis. I watched Last of the Mohicans and got a hankering to play a game set in the Colonial frontier, one of many periods of history poorly covered by games. In fact, in a reasonably extensive library the only game that really addressed this setting was Assassin’s Creed III, a game that, to put it mildly, I did not like very much. Shorn of its only real virtue, the multiplayer component, I felt reasonably certain I would still hate the game virulently. I’ve given second chances to games I formally liked less, though, so I booted up [Read more...]

Aug 142014
 

Video games act as a gestalt between many different kinds of art. The player’s experience depends on visuals, on writing, on music, on acting, and of course on the mechanics and dynamics of the gameplay. That these elements can be in tension with one another has been recognized for a while—”ludonarrative dissonance” is a term that encompasses a subset of possible conflicts. Special terms haven’t been invented for instances where the art and level design don’t work with the narrative, or the art style interferes with the player’s assessment of dynamics, and perhaps they need not be. Developers, however, should [Read more...]

Aug 062014
 

After the tremendous success of The Walking Dead,  I suppose another comic book adaptation was in the cards for Telltale Games. These are a good match for their graphical style, and mature graphic novels have a deep bench of quality storytelling that the vast majority of the population hasn’t been exposed to. I might not have chosen Fables out of a hat, but in a way it seems like Telltale did. The Wolf Among Us uses the same approach as The Walking Dead, but the gameplay never feels like a good fit for the story. As a result, the game just isn’t compelling, [Read more...]

May 262014
 

Dragon Age II feels like the prequel to a really interesting series of games. The game seems to feel the same way, given its frame story of an agent desperately trying to find Hawke in the midst of a crisis. At some point after DA2, Thedas faces a Big Problem that only Hawke seems able to solve, but the game itself is just a string of little problems. This is somewhat unusual for fantasy generally, and especially rare for fantasy games. Fantasy works from the latter half of the 20th century on tend to resolve around a single, existential threat to [Read more...]