IRL, Reviews

You’ve Got the Love: 6 Upcoming Games From #EGX2017

Last week, I spent Friday and Saturday at EGX. It’s the biggest games event of the year in the UK with blockbuster publishers such as Ubisoft, Square Enix, SEGA, and more set up alongside the varied and exciting indie contenders. Live national eSports tournaments are broadcast and talented cosplayers enjoy the spotlight all crammed into Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC). I came, I saw, and I played some really excellent games from odd gems to triple-A giants. Here are six of my favorite upcoming releases from the festival. I hope you find something that catches your eye, too!

Etherborn

What’s it like? A mind and gravity bending puzzle platformer that offers challenging and rewarding gameplay, supplemented by a meditative soundtrack.

Etherborn is not only gorgeous to play, but watching it over someone’s shoulder is similarly captivating as the glowing figure traverses low-poly ethereal environments. At the beginning, there is a bit of trial and error to understand where gravity lies, but as the puzzles become increasingly intricate, it’s a quietly gratifying experience. It’s never punishing – in fact, I really appreciated the beam of light underneath the character, as it shows where you’ll land and enables you to quickly rectify a mistake. Spinning the cubic levels around really showcases every angle of Altered Matter’s achievements, and it’s like the player enjoys an integrated photo mode as a tourist to these dreamy worlds.

Fans of Monument Valley, Proteus, and Portal will feel absolutely at home in Etherborn.

When’s it out? 2018.

Continue reading “You’ve Got the Love: 6 Upcoming Games From #EGX2017”

Advertisements
LGBTQA, Reviews

‘The Arcana’ Developers Cast a Spell Over Fans & We’re So Here for It

When it comes to mainstream gaming, being late to the party is not usually considered a badge of pride. Although attitudes are thankfully shifting, it can sometimes feel as though the flurry of initial engagement has waned for players who discovered an older title too late. Reviews, livestreams, Easter eggs, entire walkthroughs of each and every ending — they’re published with such immediacy that the impact of all this content can bleed into the expectations for a game way before the player has even reached for a controller.

By contrast, The Arcana welcomes latecomers with a gripping episodic storyline, enchanting setting, and gloriously enthusiastic community of fans. And that fandom is still going strong for one very important reason.

The development company is Nix Hydra, which is based in L.A. and founded by women. They are committed to “making magical, colorful, bold products for young women and anyone else traditionally ignored by the gaming industry,” as per their Kickstarter. One of the team’s latest ventures is The Arcana, which is an otome-inspired visual novel for iOS and Android that flirts with a sinister mystery beneath its rich illustrations.

The player character is an adept magical apprentice, honing their natural gifts in fortune-telling. The wandering, secretive Asra is your mentor, and while packing up to leave on another mysterious journey, he entrusts his prized tarot deck to you. Whether you challenge Asra’s repeated disappearances or defer to his judgement, he becomes dreamy and melancholy, tangled up in thoughts of words he should have said.

Continue reading “‘The Arcana’ Developers Cast a Spell Over Fans & We’re So Here for It”

IRL, Reviews

‘Even the Ocean’ Offers a Message of Hope When We Need It Most

Even the Ocean

[Author’s Note: I was generously given a key to the game by the developers.]

Three years in the making, Even the Ocean is the artistic successor of Anodyne, and the result of talented developers Joni Kittaka and Sean Han-Tani-Chen-Hogan. The protagonist, Aliph, is a young power plant technician who is subjected to a mysterious event that places her on the frontlines of an energy and environmental crisis. It probably takes about ten to fifteen hours to complete both gameplay and narrative, but this estimate could vary wildly due to the multitude of features.

Checking the options against the moody backdrop of the opening menu offered settings to turn off flashing or shaking scenes, change controller mapping, player immortality, and more. In addition, there are narrative and gameplay style choices. Whether people prefer to just hear the story, want to speedrun, or give the default way a try, there’s a preference for all kinds of players. Personalization of playstyle is paramount.

Even the Ocean’s primary gameplay mechanic is a double-edged sword. To complete the levels, a balance of light and dark energies must be maintained and manipulated to access areas, up and down, left and right. Energy is radiated from mists, plants, and ghosts — to name but a few sources — and these energies permeate everything in the world. Everything has its place on the continuum, and the balance is Aliph’s life bar. Exceed too much light or dark energy, and she will die.

Undoubtedly, it’s a challenging platformer, and perfecting a particularly foxing puzzle is very satisfying. The levels are varied and constructed with an admirable attention to detail, and save points are sprinkled sufficiently. Some instances of leaping and sliding and timing are a little ornery, but there is an option to turn on helper blocks if you’re stuck. The fusion of platforming with the romantic and atmospheric soundtrack makes for an introspective playthrough.

Continue reading “‘Even the Ocean’ Offers a Message of Hope When We Need It Most”

Analysis, Community Response

Thick as Thieves: Your Analysis of Video Game Siblings

Mass Effect Andromeda

I tabulated, categorized, and scrawled down all your thoughts and hope to present them in a somewhat coherent format in this followup to part one of “Thick as Thieves.”

It might seem like investigating the theme of siblings in games seems less relevant in comparison to other representation problems. I argue that it could be equally as salient, seeing as ‘family’ is a particularly complex sociological concept. Ask anyone who they consider their family to be, and wholly differing answers will be received. Change the question to what they consider a family to be, and once again, definitions will vary massively with each interpretation.

And that doesn’t even get started on the question, ‘What does family mean to you?’ The only commonality to be found in countless translations of the concept is the theme of “emotional bondedness and ‘we-ness.'”

What players and audiences are shown as ‘family’ can challenge and reinforce societal convention, both within the individuals who comprise those concepts and by holding up a mirror for the player to examine their own relationships. As one respondent identified, some players view their favorite characters as family, and others have found family in gaming communities and fellow fans.

All in all, family is an abstraction that also interacts with the intersection of gender, race, sexuality, disability, and other identifiers, and should be considered as seriously as the aforementioned markers in media.

Now for your comments! To begin, let’s look at what you like about sibling characters in games right now.

Continue reading “Thick as Thieves: Your Analysis of Video Game Siblings”

Analysis, Community Response

Thick as Thieves: Your Favorite Video Game Siblings

Tales From the Borderlands

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to all of you! I am pleased to present the results of FemHype’s latest survey! We had 160 respondents to the question of who your favorite video game siblings are, which I am totally floored by. Your interpretations and thoughts are so valuable to this investigation, and an impressive 46 examples of video game siblings were brainstormed.

We’ll be splitting your feedback into this fun little (well, actually pretty long) list, “Thick as Thieves,” and a more in-depth analysis of the whys and hows of sibling relationships will be coming up next. If you don’t see one of your choices represented here, you may see them in the next article — so stay tuned for that.

Without further waffling, here is the data on just who your faves are! As respondents could choose multiple answers, these percentages won’t tot up to 100%.

Continue reading “Thick as Thieves: Your Favorite Video Game Siblings”

Analysis, IRL

Poser Status: Gaming With Imposter Syndrome

Pokemon GO

Twitter is now my favorite place to consume gaming content. Quick, easy, visual, and the ability to 1v1 anyone on their very literal latest opinion or creation. I was nonchalantly scrolling on my battered phone (probably ten centimeters from my face because I have no depth perception) before coming across this tweet by Girl Tribe Gaming.

IMAGE1

I tapped it, ready to input my two cents by replying to the tweet as I don’t have a Reddit account, and then froze, mentally reprimanding myself. I couldn’t answer that question. My horde of 100 followers couldn’t know that the first time I ever played Street Fighter was in my first year of university, or that I caught my first Pokémon ever in 2016. They couldn’t know that I was a fake! I even have an illustrated Twitter icon, the hallmark of ‘I’m professional, yet hip; approachable, but discerning in the ventures I have dotted about in my bio.’

And then I realized that I should probably address this.

The year 2016 has definitely been a year for the reboots, remasters, remakes, sequels, and prequels—even before we talk specifically about gaming. At E3, Tekken 7 was announced and Microsoft Studios showed off the Gears of War 4 demo in all its high-def glory. Naughty Dog bestowed the huge news of a Crash Bandicoot trilogy remaster and release on PlayStation 4, which sent long-lost fans into a completely understandable frenzy.

Continue reading “Poser Status: Gaming With Imposter Syndrome”