Aug 032015
 
No Man's Land

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is a very large game, perhaps too large. Consequently there’s a lot to say about it, especially as regards its main plot and the three principal areas where that plot plays out. Of these the first the player encounters is Velen, a contested part of the continent where the armies of Nilfgaard have fought their way to the river Pontar and failed to cross due to opposition from the northern armies of Redania. Velen also happens to be the best of the three main story areas. One reason I like Velen best is that [Read more…]

Feb 262015
 

If you have heard anything about The Order: 1886 it is probably that the game is short. A person willing to stare dry-eyed at the screen and mechanically mow down the dozens of enemies thrown at em can apparently finish in five hours or so. With rather frequent breaks for food, playing with a cat, and occasional snark-tweets, I managed the feat in about eight. This is not important data in my view; it didn’t take me that much longer to blow through Wolfenstein: The New Order and several other games I have loved. Admittedly, I’m in the lucky position [Read more…]

Connor revisited

 Critique, Open World Action Games  Comments Off on Connor revisited
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…]

Mosaic without a picture

 Critique, Immersive Explorations, Puzzle Games  Comments Off on Mosaic without a picture
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…]