The walls of The Oldest House are a veritable pressure cooker, a place of almost unbearable unknowns

Remedy has accomplished something so many before have failed to do: craft a world that feels consistently inconsistent, a place governed by a set of rules far, far beyond our mortal comprehension. Rules we can feel but never truly know.

That feeling — that sense you can nearly almost define the world of Control but not quite — is the enigmatic engine that drives Remedy’s latest.

On its cold, angular surface, Control is a typical third-person shooter with some throwy-throwy bits and an endless cacophony of grey. But things aren’t what they seem. …


Digital experiences can leave indelible marks on the story of the self

Video games propose a thousand ways to be. We live, we breathe, we dream the experiences they gift to us — either across an eight-hour campaign as the titular hero or through months as an alter ego in massively-multiplayer world.

Become what you want, when you want. Become a beefed-up supercop that chases green orbs across a darkened cityscape, or a bow-wielding hunter that slays giant mechanical dinosaurs. …


Reflections on a time when play experiences were uninterrupted by ubiquitous, invasive connectivity

Video games used to be a meditative experience. It was just you and the box, with controller and cord as the connective tissue. Those thoughts — those pesky mental constructs — vanished to the experience in the moment.

It’s why there’s a soothing silence to consoles of yore. It’s you and its world — or it’s you and its world and the friend sitting next to you. It’s a date who leaves their phone in the car or, more aptly, doesn’t have a phone at all. …


NieR: Automata’s opening hours are an eerie parallel to our post-virus world

Everything is changing. The advent of COVID-19 is transforming how we live now — and how we might live for years to come. The world we knew yesterday won’t be the world we know tomorrow.

In NieR:Automata, everything has already changed. The sun shines on a desolate land, a place where tranquility makes the world feel immediately safe yet forever in peril. A sunstricken cityscape once teeming with people, now littered with machines waiting to be slaughtered by androids, built and controlled by humans who retreated to the Moon.

It’s a premise you can’t quite trust. We’re told the machines…


The famous franchise had its share of growing pains

We used to be the parents. We were their guardian angels, the commander of our own private army of ensemble characters with wild hair and crazy costumes who burped giant boxes of text from their mouths as they talked about giant monsters and time-travelling wizards.


Why world-building and narrative supersede inconsistency in the message

In Mass Effect, the Reapers are absolute killing machines. Waaaaaaah, they cry, telling you just how killy they really are — and presumably that they’re going to be killy at you, too. These killy-killy machines are specifically designed, we’re told, to erase all life capable of using Twitter from the galaxy.

But when placed against a lone, bipedal mammal, that Reaper — again, made solely to disintegrate those Tweeting digits of yours — can’t quite manage it in a series that spends a fair amount of its run time imparting the message: big robots, killy-killy bad-bad.


Looking back at Kojima’s enigmatic second “Solid” entry

So, like, in Metal Gear Solid 2, there’s this guy who attached another guy’s arm to his very much arm-free elbow. The transplant apparently included a hidden extra: the spirit of a dead terrorist who’s the genetically identical twin of this guy’s sworn enemy. Ghost terrorist — using this guy’s body — then steals a giant, sea-faring robot that makes animal noises right from under the nose of the US military.

Describe it as inventive storytelling, describe it as amateur schlock, but I totally buy it — I’m totally in. This poor man has been possessed by a sentient appendage…


Do you think its possible to make suffering before death a happy thing? Or, at least, a less terrible thing?


The pursuit of power in our gaming lives

Be the better of your world and everything in it — that’s power. The child staying up past bedtime, the worker telling their boss to get lost: people enacting their will and breaking the rules, free from comeuppance and consequence. Video games, they say, are made to bring that fantasy to life.

And that’s almost right: video games do empower us to act in ways we never could have before, freeing us from those pesky real-world constraints. But that’s wrong, too. …


It preserved shooters of the past and could revitalise their future

Years later, one franchise remains trapped in time — a relic held in a stasis of circumstance and corporate reluctance. It seems forever stuck in the mud of its sixth-generation origins, defined almost as much by its unwillingness to move than it is by its ability to enthrall.

But the history of what got stuck where and why is only the first part of the TimeSplitters story. That story in a sentence: staff from GoldenEye-developer Rare splintered into Free Radical who, after the commercial failure of PS3-exclusive Haze, was bought and turned into Crytek UK.

In doing so, Crytek assimilated…

Adam Meadows

Loves video games. Loves writing. Loves writing about video games.

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