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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. …


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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. …


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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. …


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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…


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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. …


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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…


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Video game preservation is about more than archiving code

There’s an unavoidable tragedy at the heart of our beloved pastime: games get old — quickly. It’s a testament to the people toiling with pixels, polygons, and processors that games just a few years apart often feel much more widely separated. These leaps bring the opportunity to update the titles we love — but with that comes the risk of denigrating and debasing what we used to love.

And still do.

This rapid advancement isn’t without potential cost: the abandonment or alteration of some truly historic stuff.

In broad strokes, Square Enix is taking the right approach: re-release a game…


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Arkane’s “Prey” asks the player to live with the consequences of their decisions

See that semi-colon all the way down there? You can actually scroll down to that semi-colon. It may not actually be all that interesting — it’s there solely for the sake of a silly post introduction. But it is there. You can put your cursor over it, too.

Said semi-colon isn’t an especially well-developed, mechanically rich piece of punctuation, mind you. But at least it’s something to do; it racks up the numbers: number of quests, amount of time, number of characters — it’s all about time, size and selling points.

Enter Prey: a game in which side quests actually…


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You were a star in the story, not just a cog in some calculated machine

It was a soap opera — it was always a soap opera. Each match marked a new episode in a long-running saga, with a returning cast of characters playing their parts to a backdrop of improbable sets and props: the weapons and maps of your favourite video game.

That cast included a guy who could solo an entire team in one match, only to stack it on the first door in the next — or the guy whose connection would mysteriously falter around the time of a missed shot or dodgy grenade. …


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Its true horror lies at the edge of our imagination, beyond zombies and monsters

Resident Evil VII marks a true return to form. Specifically, a first-person mutation of the series’ original form. Hallways, herbs, pistols, shotguns, puzzles — the 2017 entry in Capcom’s long-shambling series is a slow-paced trek through a veritable house of horrors.

Absent from the list of things many consider classic Resi is the series’ pervading sense of tragedy, something that’s almost impossible to itemise. A half-decent crack at it might include its foreboding musical score, its identifiably human foes and those small, seemingly inconsequential notes.

At a closer look, those notes reveal a world of unspoken tragedies brought solely by…

Adam Meadows

Loves video games. Loves writing. Loves writing about video games. Absolutely fascinated by speedrunning.

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