Trailer Tuesdays: Life is Strange: Before the Storm

I’ve been hearing whispers about a new Life is Strange project for a while, though I couldn’t figure out how the developers would do it. A sequel was out of the question since the ending of the game is set up deliberately to take the story in two completely different directions, so making a direct Life is Strange 2 would surely be impossible unless they wanted to make two completely different games. Lo and behold, it turns out the new Life is Strange game is a prequel, focusing not on Max and her time powers but on Chloe a few years before the events of the original story. This is, all things considered, the sensible choice, though I’m intrigued and cautiously optimistic about how it will turn out.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Dream Daddy

Near the end of Pride Month, it’s more than a little easy to feel down about returning to the rest of the year where the world around you is a little less, well, proud. (Although given the shittiness of the police and of other white queer folk this year, it’s definitely been business as usual for many.) And unlike with most other events, it may be difficult during this period to find a game that brings the lightheartedness and fun that’s needed when trying to decompress. Sure, there are games where you can be queer, but many of these games are also filled with dramatic events that aren’t exactly made to let you have a chill time. Strangely enough, the Game Grumps (a team of YouTube Let’s Players), of all people, are trying to fill this void with a cute-looking gay dad dating sim aptly titled Dream Daddy.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Two Scoops

A pervasive problem within the dating sim genre is representation. If you’re looking for a dating sim that stars attractive, thin, white or East Asian people, you’re pretty much set, but if you’re looking for anything else, you may have to look a bit harder. Recently, with games like Hustle Cat and Women of Xal, it seems like the indie dating sim scene is stepping up its game with adding more and more representation to the genre. Today’s web crush is a project that finally gives the limelight to one group of people who have been denied romantic representation in these games for too long: fat girls.

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A Few Steps Forward, a Few Steps Back: E3 Stumbles at Reclaiming Connection with Non-Industry Audience

Rin: Maybe it’s something that comes with age, but going into E3 no longer has the hype it used to. In the years before, there was at least one game I was interested in hearing about. This year, though, I came in at a hard neutral: what I knew was going to be shown I wasn’t interested in, and I had no hope about the things I didn’t know about. Yet, maybe it was this neutral stance that led to me being pleasantly surprised in some cases, and saved me the disappointment in others.

As industry veterans struggled to remember what they should even do on the E3 stages, the year’s themes of inclusion and the importance of the gamer community were surprisingly not entirely off-base. I’d even hazard to say that companies may even be starting to care about diversity, likely in no small part due to the success of other diverse titles like Overwatch. And overall, the presence of non-male, non-white people on stage and in the games shown was much higher than I was anticipating. There’s a lot to cover, so thankfully this year I’m joined once again by BrothaDom. You ready to jump in?

Dom: Yep! I was feeling a little bored and jaded going into the conference, but it definitely had some pleasant surprises sprinkled in. Let’s do this.

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“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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Far Cry 5: Hopefully a “Far Cry” from Past Games

With E3 just around the corner, it’s difficult not to get hyped up about the video game industry!

…No, I lied. Given the last couple of years, on the whole E3 has kind of been lacking on what the emerging, diverse gaming populace want to see in their games. Some game companies are trying, like Guerrilla Games and their game Horizon Zero Dawn, but still end up missing the mark; for example, with Horizon, many Native players and onlookers found that their culture was appropriated and misrepresented because there were no actual Native people serving as consultants or even on the writing team. With game companies being so strangely reluctant to actually collaborate with people from the culture their game is going to represent, I found myself keeping away from one game series in particular: Far Cry.

The Far Cry series has been around for more than a decade and the gameplay within its more recent installments (FPS with both action and RPG elements) always attracts praise from critics and players alike. However, what put me off the series is the way it seems to embody the idea that cultures not our own are in some way barbaric and in need of liberation. For instance, 2012’s Far Cry 3 stars Jason Brody—like, seriously, have you heard a more “white guy from Orange County” name in your life?—who is captured by a pirate crew during a party along with his friends and brother on an island in the Indian Ocean, and gets caught up in some slavery ring/drug cartel business because of course that’s what’s happening. 2014’s Far Cry 4 feels like it takes a step in the right direction, having its (still male) protagonist Ajay actually have ties to the Nepalese-inspired culture of Kryat, where the game takes place. However, I can’t find anything that leads me to believe that Ubisoft actually consulted anyone from the Nepal area to help with their worldbuilding, and instead simply sent their team to Nepal to draw their own conclusions. Yet with the upcoming Far Cry 5 I can’t help but be excited because for once, the protagonist won’t be restricted to being a dude. Additionally, there’s no uncomfortable feeling of going overseas and bringing American justice to foreign people. Far Cry 5 takes a controversial–or perhaps just controversial given the political climate—look at a villainous group that’s been avoided for far too long in the series: white people.

Far Cry 5 Cover

(via Polygon)

Trigger warning for mentions of suicide.

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The Short Memory of Video Games

Video games are often compared to other art forms, typically movies. One question reflective of this comparison is the question “What is the Citizen Kane of video games?” In other words, what is a video game that some consider to be the best of all time, or one that was an innovative game changer? While I look forward to experiencing a game with that level of praise, I think it is going to be difficult for the medium to come to a consensus on what that game is, due to the short memory video game culture has.

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