“This Town Is Full of Ghosts!”: The Power of Atmosphere and Landscape in Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods bike

(via ZAM)

You first meet the protagonist of Night in the Woods, twenty-year-old Mae Borowski, when she arrives at her hometown’s bus station after dropping out of college. She remarks that the bus station is probably the newest and fanciest building in the town of Possum Springs, all the better to give people coming through the best first impression possible. However, we soon see that the bus station, with its shiny floors and glorious sunny mural advertising prosperous life in Possum Springs, is just a façade, and as soon as Mae arrives in the town proper, we see that it’s crumbling inside and out.

As Mae explores her childhood home, the game’s use of color, landscape design, character dialogue and atmospheric music all help to build a rich, vivid, sensory picture of this once-great but slowly dying coal town, injecting so much personality that the setting almost feels like a character. Which not only makes it a fantastic backdrop for the unfolding story, but a neat metaphor for what’s going on with Mae herself. And… also a little bit of something deeper and darker.

Spoilers for the end of Night in the Woods ahead!

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Cute Demon Crashers Set to Return with Cute, Comfy and Consensual Queer Content

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Screencap of Cute Demon Crashers’s main menu (once you’ve completed all the routes… which I did, because I love)

I don’t normally seek out erotic visual novels, but if I did, I doubt I’d leap to describe them as “delightful”. But Sugarscript’s Cute Demon Crashers proved the exception in both of these, by not only getting me to play a sexy dating sim but leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling that (you’d think) would be uncharacteristic of the genre. If you look at the creators’ mission statement, though, you’ll realize that was the point:

In our team, we felt there was a need of consent and safe spaces in 18+ VNs for women, and NaNoRenO 2015 was the perfect excuse to make a game to fit those needs!

Consent and comfort is a massive, integral part of Cute Demon Crashers. College student Claire (who the player can rename) accidentally summons three incubi and one succubus who sense that she’s lonely, and over the course of the game she can bond with them and learn about them, and, if she wants to, pick one to have sex with that night. Whichever adorable sexy demon she picks, the ensuing sex scene is sweet, gentle, sometimes funny, and each demon is lovely in their own unique way. Because consent is an integral part of the development team’s mission, it’s an integral part of the gameplay: plenty of options pop up throughout the scene, with Claire’s lovers asking her if she wants to do this, or that, or stop. And indeed, a big stop button is available in the corner of the screen at all times. If you hit the button or want to back down, the demons never make Claire feel bad about it, and they do everything they can to make sure she’s physically and emotionally comfortable throughout the whole process.

There are no bad ends in this visual novel. It’s entirely about having a good time and exploring sexuality in a fun, safe, and comfortable way, with the magical love demon aspect managing to be adorable rather than skeevy like it could be. The whole game was a delightful and fun experience, which is why I’m super excited that Sugarscript has announced that they’re working on a “Side B” sequel/spinoff for the game.

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Trailer Tuesdays: The Assassin’s Creed Movie

This is the trailer that got me to jump right into the Assassin’s Creed fandom, and I am so excited to go see it. That said, as much as I want this movie to be amazing, a really big part of me worries that it won’t be. The movie is supposed to premiere in December, right around the time Rogue One comes out—with that kind of competition, I can’t say I have too much hope the movie will do well. Mostly, however, while the Assassin’s Creed movie looks awesome, game-to-movie adaptations are rarely good, and I’m concerned the same will be true this time around as well.

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Flirting With Danger in Undertale

Even though I’m not an avid gamer, my brother always keeps me up-to-date with any indie games he finds interesting. The newest game he’s told me about is called Undertale. Unfortunately it’s still in development at the moment, but you can play the demo to get an idea of what the game will be like. There are numerous reasons I’m excited for this game, one of them being the lack of detail to the main protagonist. There’s a unique gameplay that allows you to fight or befriend characters, and the style of the game is very reminiscent of other games like Earthbound. Everything about this game is precious; I’ve even re-watched the trailer video to death at this point:

Spoilers ahead! Seriously though, check out the demo, it’s free!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Discussing Gender and Genre within Portal 2

Glados_AwakensI love the Portal series, especially the sequel. The gameplay is solid, the narrative is pretty funny, and it has a great atmospheric soundtrack. But I always thought the series had a little more to it. I found the games’ takes on gender to be interesting and subversive.

Spoilers after the jump. Continue reading

One More Post About The Last of Us. Muahaha!

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So I struggled for a long time with what to write about for this post. To be perfectly honest, most of my morning was spent letting my brain be melted by the stealth-bomb gesamtkunstwerk that is Beyoncé’s newest album, which if you haven’t heard, appeared at midnight on Friday the 13th, without being announced or leaked at all. Spooky, but awesome.

Speaking of things that are spooky, yet awesome: The Last of Us. If you don’t know, The Last of Us is a highly rated zombie-survival third-person action/adventure which tells the story of a jaded mid-aged smuggler and a young girl making their way across a United States awash in fungus-zombies and bandits. It is also a game that I am completely obsessed with and have talked about in no fewer than three other posts. I had said something about not doing any more posts about The Last of Us, but I am completely untrustworthy. 2.5 months have passed since I last wrote about it, and so much has happened. Continue reading

On Games and Giving

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Gentle readers, I was raised Catholic, by a mother who believed that you could pray all you want, but if you weren’t going out and actually doing good work, then your faith was half-hearted, and that half was the easy half. Now, that’s just an opinion, and it may not be shared by all reading this. But since Sundays were the day we went to church, they were the days also devoted to charity and volunteerism. I wasn’t always psyched for it, and for much of my childhood I wished that I could play video games instead of volunteering. As it turns out, you can do both! So today I’d like to tell you about some good deeds being done at the intersection of gaming and good intentions.

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