trenchant.org

by adam mathes
archive · subscribe

Video Game Consumption, Q1 2016

SUPERHOT

A deceptively simple mechanic (time moves when you do) that is taken to genius levels with incredibly precise and fun gameplay, a slick and beautiful aesthetic.

I’ve unlocked like everything in this game and I’m both proud and ashamed of that.

KATANAONLY mode is impeccable and Would Play Again.

★★★★★

American Truck Simulator

ATS is a meditative experience.

What is the American Dream? What does it mean to drive? Is the open road an illusion?

What is driving, even in a world that will soon be awash in Ubers and automated drones and cars.

Why am I in virtual Bakersfield?

I turned off all the cops so I could drive as fast as I wanted and strapped into my Oculus Rift DK2 and it’s like, whoa.

★★★★

Firewatch

A first person interactive dramatic experience thing with an emphasis on conversation and a drop dead gorgeous cel shaded-ish/cartoonish aesthetic?

I should be all over this shit and yet I was totally not into it.

  1. I thought the story was boring
  2. I wanted open world adventure and exploration and got something that felt like it was on rails

Wish I liked this as much as I had hoped I would but left feeling empty and bored.

The Witness

A game where you solve constraint satisfaction problems by hand in order to unlock pretentious segments of 30 year old videos.

There’s a cool boat you can eventually unlock, but it’s stuck on rails.

Wish I could have just gone sailing instead.

Maybe if I spent another 100 hours unlocking things and uncovering “deeper secrets” of the island I’d have liked it more at the expense of hating myself? I don’t know.

I’m glad I spent the money on this game because I want to support art and auteurs in video games and Jon Blow is one of them, but this game seemed like anti-fun much of the time, like being lectured by a college freshman who just finished reading their first Nietzche assignment and I’m like, dude, shut up, there is no amount of drugs that will make this conversation fun.

I felt like I was grinding instead of exploring and learning.

★★

Life is Strange

Beautiful, emotional, and with an attention to detail in characters, moments, and cinematography rarely seen in video games Life is Strange had me in tears at the end.

Episodic gameplay and forced cliffhangers made some of it a bit uneven, but overall a huge triumph in storytelling and experiential gameplay.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I felt it was some of the most authentic displays of the challenges, weirdness, and emotionally wrenching existence of youth ever put into video games.

★★★★