Gone Home may have made exploration games look innovative and new, but they’re actually one of the oldest genres, whether they’re “escape the room” games or classic point-and-click adventure games or even open sandbox-type games. I say this because the formula of exploration games is so varied and open that people forget its true purpose: the experience. In Gone Home there was a mystery to solve, but in The Tender Cut the only purpose is to experience it–and what an experience it is.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Friday, July 10th, 2015||No Comments »|
Never has the act of eating shrimp induced so much cringe, and that’s from someone who really hates shrimp.
Long before The Static Speaks My Name introduces Objective 5, it’s clear that there is something very, very wrong. You might be able to dismiss the painting of shrimp on the wall captioned with “My Babies,” but the boarded up windows and rows of static-y TV screens serve as a pretty unsubtle note of wrongness in case you’re the kind of person who really does refer to your pets as your babies. There’s even a room lined with identical paintings of palm trees to heighten the surreality and creepiness of your house. Turn the corner and there’s a noose on the washing machine, because that’s definitely a normal thing to keep around the house.
The Static Speaks My Name is not for the faint of heart. I’ve played creepier and darker games, but there’s an extra edge added by the first person point of view. Some scenes are blackly comedic, but even the bits that make you laugh at the absurdity contribute to the overall sense of unease that permeates the game.
At the risk of spoiling the game, here are some warnings below the cut:
|Recommended by Melody Lee||Friday, March 27th, 2015||No Comments »|
I’ve reviewed games of this ilk before, but I confess, exploration games with little to do other than look at things have always puzzled me. I’m too used to narratives and conflicts and grand, overarching statements about the human condition. Nevertheless, while Even the Stars might present itself as a purposeless game about exploring, living, and dying, there’s something in it even for people like me.
Even the Stars is quite simple. Give your ship coordinates and fly through space. Most of the time, you’ll see nothing but the stars, but sometimes you’ll find a planet. Land, disembark, and start exploring. The first time you encounter people, it’s a shock. As you explore, you’re provided a map that you can leave comments on, and when you die, your map tells the story of your strange life to anyone who might be interested.
|Recommended by Melody Lee||Wednesday, March 25th, 2015||No Comments »|
Haemo is bloody, but it isn’t gory. A top-down exploration game, Haemo focuses on using blood to explore your sterile, white environment. Scattered around are enemies, blood tanks, heart tanks, riddles, and who knows what else. Your natural state is to expel blood in a big splatter around you–so how much blood can you lose until you die?
But death isn’t the end of it…dying just brings you back to the start where you resurrect and retrace your steps, trying to get a little further this time.
|Recommended by Melody Lee||Wednesday, January 28th, 2015||No Comments »|
Open-world exploration games aren’t usually my cup of tea, but Naut is definitely a winner. Naut opens with a shot of an astronaut standing on the porch of a house on Mars. From there, drive or walk or run through a soft pink, purple and red landscape.
Naut is one of those types of games that will undoubtedly provoke some questions about what exactly constitutes a game. It’s a little eerie sometimes, especially when you find your neighbors who only have cryptic or nonsensical things to say. (“You should cut your hair.” Thanks, dude; I’m wearing a helmet.) Then the sun sets and you’re back to appreciating the simplistic loveliness of the graphics.
The effect is somewhat ruined, though, by the glitchiness and suddenness of plants and rocks appearing out of the landscape to flip your car. But for stretches of time that go uninterrupted, you can slowly cruise through Mars and see what another planet has to offer.
|Recommended by Melody Lee||Thursday, January 15th, 2015||No Comments »|
The year is 1995. You’ve just arrived home after a year overseas, but your family is mysteriously absent. You explore the house, looking for clues, and try to piece together what has happened.
That’s Gone Home in a nutshell. It’s part of a growing camp of indie games, which includes games such as Dear Esther, that focuses on story and exploration rather than stabbing or shooting at people. It’s a trend that advocates for the art and experience of games, and Gone Home looks like a promising addition.
Gone Home will be available on August 15 for PC, Mac, and Linux.
|Recommended by Paul Cohn||Monday, August 5th, 2013||No Comments »|