Indie games roundup!
The best from the independent dev scene
In this Critical Distance digest, I'm bringing you three little collections of pieces published in the past week about some of the latest hit indie games. We'll be exploring action movie pacing, the awkwardness of interactivity, and how to make the familiar feel terrifying.
SuperhotThe release of Superhot has many reviewers drawing comparisons with action movies, not simply because of its violent content which directly draws on hit films, but because of the way that pacing and the gaze are used.
Superhot review | Eurogamer.net Christian Donlan considers dramatic tension and Superhot
"Turns out there is a killer trick to creating hyper-violent entertainment: do the slow stuff fast, and the fast stuff slow."
‘Superhot’ Is the Shooter Game for People Who Hate Shooter Games | VICE | United Kingdom Ed Smith explains why Superhot appeals to a different play style than other shooters SUPERHOT Review Impressions | ZAM
AnatomyKitty Horrorshow's latest release Anatomy is inspiring thrilling discussions of the meaning and experience of a house.
Uninterpretative | Short on Games: January/February 2016 How Anatomy sees the house as a body
"The theory of houses espoused in Anatomy is of the house as body. The tapes tell the story of living room as heart, bathroom as digestive tract, bedroom as mind, and basement as subconscious."
ANATOMY Review Impressions | ZAM Claris Cyarron looks at Anatomy from her perspective as an architect and game designer (full disclosure: Claris and I have a close professional and personal relationship).
FirewatchInteresting discussions about Firewatch have continued apace weeks after its initial launch, with some critics starting to push beyond the "walking sim" label to look at how actions centered around technology provide tactility, as well as how some interactive elements undermine it.
How Firewatch hearkens back to relationships on the early internet | Gamasutra (Content warning: spoilers) Kat Cross describes the interpersonal intimacy of Firewatch through the terms of another medium.
"Cibele takes on the online dimension of this phenomenon forthrightly, but Firewatch abstracts it away from even the mediating force of the Internet, instead exploring all the other ways we can have ineffable but meaningful contact with human life."
Firewatch Debrief | Experience Points: EXP Podcast #366: How Firewatch uses the physicality and immediacy of videogames for storytelling Bad Hands in Firewatch | Pippin Barr Pippin Barr offers an amusing critique that seems to have been missed in most writing on it so far (note, I'm sure the problem raised is a technical issue that will be patched in future, but I like this narrativist reading of its effect on the experience.) If that hasn't sated your thirst for great discussions on games, check out the Critical Distance website to find the full-length roundup, our podcast on neglected games which you should not miss, and more.
Commodore’s C64 had a famously decisive, if drab set of 16 colors to choose from, a note of artistic intent amid the unthinking mathematical extremities of other 8-bit color palettes. But did you know there were secret colors? Aaron Bell writes up a discovery that blew his mind many years ago and which, 26 years […]
In celebration of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Allen Pan built a wonderful home automation system where the interface is an ocarina as seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. (Thanks, Lux!)
The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it’s the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]