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Archive for October, 2017

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Video games are often less than the sum of their parts. For me, all the time and effort that goes into crafting individual elements is often impressive but never seems to come together as a cohesive whole. However, sometimes one or two well-executed individual elements in a game can still make the whole thing worth playing.

Dishonored (2012) hardly counts as recent, but it’s the last title I played out of the modern game development era. While I enjoyed it as a dip back into the gameplay model from some of my favourite games, Thief and Thief II, the play experience hasn’t overcome my general antipathy towards AAA games. I could immerse myself in the stealthy gameplay but the narrative as a whole wasn’t as deep or meaningful as I’d hoped. Much has been made of the moral choices and framework in the game, but the nonlethal options that led to the “good ending” sometimes seemed worse than just plain killing the target. Though I do appreciate a game where you play an assassin but can complete the game without murdering anyone.

Where Dishonored (still) excels is in the material outside its narrative and gameplay choices—the meticulous worldbuilding and devotion to an atmosphere of industrial dread. Dunwall is well-realized through every detail: architecture, handbills, the class and social structure, the material culture of its whale-oil based technology. Background characters shine when you overhear their brief snippets of conversation. The plague of rats and infected citizens progresses as you play and the city itself transforms in subtle ways as you revisit the districts. I found myself standing on rooftops just appreciating the artistry of Dunwall as the sun sets over labyrinthine streets and tumbled-down ruins of urban decay. There’s a sublime beauty to this setting built around the exploitation of Lovecraftian whales despite the inhabitants having character designs that are often deliberately grotesque. (more…)

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ut-1987-pb

In which we speak of books we never finished, or wish we had never finished. Normally, I would provide a list of the novels we talked about. But this time, I think it’s better if you go in blind.

Download the Podcast (archive.org page)

Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

 

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