Feb 172016
One Hand Clapping

A curious feature of games that seem to be the least bit intelligent is that they inspire people to believe that one True Meaning™ can be found in them. It’s a little bizarre. Games, like any work of art, tend not to be about One Thing; that’s not how creation works. Any work of art contains multitudes, not only because the creators have more than one idea in their heads but also because the interpreters are of wildly divergent backgrounds. Regardless, the temptation remains, especially when one auteur is primarily (and often erroneously) identified with the work. This approach has [Read more…]

Syndicate, and the Future of the Creed

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Jan 042016

A rumor is now circulating that Ubisoft will, after holding to an annual release schedule for several years now, not release a new flagship Assassin’s Creed game in 2016, giving its next game extra time to possibly rebuild the series from the ground up. If true, I can only commend the decision. The series has been coping with exhaustion for some time, as its most recent entry makes clear. Still, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is… not bad. Which, coming after the flaming fiasco of Unity, is a welcome turn for the better. Unfortunately, despite being fun most of the time, Syndicate [Read more…]

Foundering in Skellige’s Seas

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Aug 182015
Foundering in Skellige's Seas

With different degrees of success, Velen and Novigrad use their structure, their quests, and their storylines as an integrated whole to project Geralt’s inner life into the game world. In Velen The Wild Hunt airs Geralt’s worries that his “family” won’t fit back together after their long time apart. In Novigrad the game threatens the relationships that have already been working in The Witcher games. Once he reaches Skellige, the game turns its attention back to Yennefer and Ciri. In this region, however, the game loses coherence and as a result feels much more ordinary and even dull. Skellige’s failure [Read more…]

Fear and Loathing in Novigrad

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Aug 122015
Fear and Loathing in Novigrad

I called the emotion Geralt feels in Velen “anxiety” because he’s really fretting about something he hasn’t got anymore, and wondering if he can get it back. This sense of dispossession is shared most specifically by the Bloody Baron, but it broadly afflicts everyone in Velen, whose old lives have been swept away by the war and may not return. Velen is a land afraid that things will not get better. In contrast, Novigrad is defined by its fear that things will get worse, and it attempts to inflict this fear on Geralt. Velen and Novigrad are shown separately on [Read more…]