A new episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror debuted on Netflix just before the new year. Unlike most previous examples, Bandersnatch is not a cautionary tale of how current technologies might evolve to further ruin our hearts, minds and communities. It is, rather, a period piece set in early-1980s Britain, when young video-game programmers were becoming millionaires selling their games in WH Smith. Unlike all previous Black Mirror episodes, Bandersnatch is a nonlinear film that allows the viewer to steer the plot using simple A/B choices at key moments in the drama. Like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the period, these choices range from the mundane (“which cereal would you like for breakfast?”) to the life-imperilling, and each path winds to one of a number of possible endings. That Netflix should choose to invest in the required technology, then use it with one of its prestige shows is, regardless of how you judge the results, thrilling, and demonstrates … [Read more...] about Bandersnatch: a tipping point for games in 2019?
Root privilege is needed game killer
12 minutes Amid the onslaught of announcements during Sunday’s Xbox briefing, it would have been easy to miss this fascinating experimental game from coder and artist Luis Antonio, who previously worked on Jonathan Blow’s acclaimed adventure The Witness. You play as a nameless man stuck in a 12-minute time loop involving his wife, their apartment and some unexpected visitors. Seeing things from a neat top-down perspective, the player has to untangle the series of events, discovering more about the mystery with each short lifespan. Channeling Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow, this is a truly intriguing project. Spiritfarer Considering how large a role death plays in video games, it’s rare to find one that explores the concept in a meaningful way. Here is one rather beautiful example. In Spiritfarer you play Stella, whose job it is to row the recently departed across the river into the afterlife. But Stella’s passengers (represented by their animal spirits) have … [Read more...] about The 16 best games of E3 2019
Most of the games industry would describe a seven-year development cycle as hell on Earth. It brings to mind tortured, much delayed projects like Duke Nukem Forever and Daikatana – the sort of games that sink studios. So when asking Jonathan Blow to describe the process of making The Witness, the critically acclaimed puzzle game he started way back in 2008, you may expect horror stories. But you won’t get them. “It was very chill,” he says. Apparently, over those several years, Blow and his team at Thekla, Inc brought on extra help from architects and sound designers when they needed it, but for the most part they were just “six people in a room” with lenient working hours. They generally turned up by about 10:30am. Thursdays and Fridays were optional. While Blow acknowledges that indie development is difficult, he doesn’t think that translates to the same kind of taxing work you can expect at some AAA studios where tales of endless … [Read more...] about The Witness: how Jonathan Blow rejected game design rules to make a masterpiece
This was how it happened for me, and I guess for a lot of people at the time. In 1993 I was working part-time at a game development studio while studying English and Drama at Warwick university. The studio, Big Red Software, was five guys in a small office above a printers in Leamington Spa. We ate, drank and breathed video games. If we weren’t making them, we were playing them. One day, we got Doom working across the office computer network. It meant that we could play together, co-operatively. That was 10am in the morning. We played for 16 hours straight. When I got outside, I saw every garage door as a potential demon entry point. Today, More than 20 years later, Id Software is releasing a new version of Doom. It is throughly updated, with high-end visuals and contemporary design sensibilities – early word is that it’s a successful modernisation. But it can never do what Doom did back then. There had been other first-person games before it – Id itself made … [Read more...] about Doom was video gaming’s punk moment
Home • PC Game Hardware • Cheap games, graphics cards, SSDs and more Katharine Castle Hardware Editor 13th December 2019 / 1:30PM It’s a grim old world out there this morning, but do not fear, intrepid deals hunters, for your ever faithful deals herald is here to help guide you through these oh so troubled times. On the game front today it’s all mince pies and festive cheer with loads of Christmas themed sales going on, while on the hardware side it’s all a bit, well, sack of coal-like. There are a couple of decent deals to be found here and there, but with Black Friday and Cyber Monday having already ripped a giant hole in everyone’s stockings this year, it’s all a bit leftover carrots and half-drunk glasses of sherry right now. Still, if you’re looking for a bit of virtual escapism this weekend (and by golly don’t we need it), your deals herald has got you covered, because there are more game deals than I can count. … [Read more...] about Best PC gaming deals of the week – 13th December 2019
Astro Bot Rescue Mission: ‘Came as a revelation’ A 3D platformer in actual 3D. As someone who has often struggled with judging depth in 3D games, this came as a revelation. The game requires you to duck or lean with the headset to navigate and avoid obstacles while guiding your tiny robot to the goal. Incorporating the player into the gameplay in this way ensures that you’re consistently engaged. Levels are cheerful, alive with animation, and always inventive. I found myself completely drawn in. Sam Nichols, 32, London Iconoclasts: ‘Like being a kid again’ My gaming time is basically half and hour here and there during brief moments of down time, so this, on my well used PS Vita, is my game of the year. It fused interesting and engaging platforming/puzzling with an intriguing storyline based on ideas of totalitarianism, religion and the environment – that sounds pretty heavy, but it’s not. The writing is witty and fun, with some great … [Read more...] about ‘A hidden gem!’: Readers on their top video games of 2018