Month: January 2016

Expand: Belonging

This is a companion piece to this month’s Game Club, a write-up on my experience with Expand by Chris Johnson. There are spoilers here, and it’s a great game, so I definitely recommend you play it before reading!

expand8

I don’t belong here.

This place is foreign, its edges wrong, moving me more than I can move myself. There are no corners for me to find, no crevaces in which I can hide, no opportunity to feel as if I am somewhere I am meant to be.

Before, I had barely stopped to consider my body. It was me, I was it, we existed in this balance where my thoughts and its actions were perfectly aligned. Now I could not be more aware of this thing, this thing that is me, this thing that doesn’t fit, that doesn’t work, that doesn’t change.

I need more space. I need air, I need time, I need to finally breathe once more. As I jerk forward, I feel the walls brush against me, reminding me of how close they are and will be, of how no matter how smooth I can trick myself into being, they will always be there waiting to catch me, to push me, to guide me along. I can see the exit closing ahead of me, I can see these walls have left me behind and I know, I know that it is too late –

Everything returns to how it was before. The world rotates not around me, but towards me, moving itself to accommodate my failure. I push forward, for the shifting walls allow no way to return, and this time they close behind me. I start to glide, shifting my weight from one side to the other, the walls keeping me on track, pushing me further and further into unfamiliar lands.

And then, I lose the walls. All around they start to turn red, no longer ambivalent, and they begin their attack. This place wants rid of me far more than I want rid of it, it wishes me broken, stuck and unable to take anymore. It wants this story to remain unfinished, it wants to prove for once and for all that it is strong enough to beat me, it wants me to admit it.

No. I refuse.

I ask my body to glide, my body agrees, and together we move through the gaps in the space that were built just for us. The world shifts, grows and shrinks, moves and stops, changes upon our command. Where once it closed the path on our approach, now it opens. Even now, as its anger grows, a tidal wave of blood red making relentless chase, doors reveal themselves before it can make contact.

Ahead, I see the final clearing. It comes closer and farther all at once, as I drive my body forward on this endless straight line, allowing myself to believe that maybe I will escape. I can feel the heat of the world behind me, I can feel the air ahead, and I know that whatever happens I can’t stop. I am on this road until the end, me and my body, my body and these walls, these walls and this anger; everything in conflict yet all guiding me towards one inevitable ending.

I’m tired. I haven’t stopped moving in so long, my body has done so much that it wasn’t designed for, we’ve done more than we ever thought we could. Just one more push, just one more push, one more…

Silence. I couldn’t remember what silence felt like, but it all comes rushing back as the walls slip away and I am once more free. I look around me, searching for some kind of sign as to what lies ahead, and find no indication that anything lies anywhere at all. I can move at will, my body at last in line with the axis of the world. Is there anything waiting for me outside the lines? Can’t I stay here, in the light, for a second longer?

Oh god.

I don’t belong here.

Advertisements

Abnormal Mapping 41: The Shaven Wookie

Extend Cover Rev Final

The Mappers begin the new year with a new podcast about a new video game! There’s no such thing as too much new, as we delve deep into new characters, new shapes, and new possiblities with some new artwork and some new laughs. We also induct new things into the reading list. New. New new new. Please enjoy this new podcast, and maybe let friends (new ones, but old ones too I guess) know, so that they can be new listeners in this new era.

Meatloaf, Pure Pool, The Witcher, Animal Crossing, Shaven Wookie, Destiny, Mass Effect, Beyond: Two Souls, City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, The Sims, Saints Row, Miis, GTA IV, Sleeping Dogs, I am Become Rihanna, the Destroyer of Worlds, The Natural, Expand, When Two Best Friends Make Video Games, CS Go 1.7 Beta, games for children, the “Tears in the Rain” Blade Runner speech, Minecraft LPs, the car story from the Beastcast

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Reading List Inductees:
Psychology of Video Games
Friends at the Table
Monster Factory

This Month’s Game Club Game: Expand

Next Month’s Game Club Game: Ninja Gaiden Black

Music This Episode
Blown Away by Kevin MacLeod
Mii Channel by Kazumi Totaka
Closure by Christopher Larkin
Slide by Etch Music
Busy Earnin’ by Jungle

Abnormal Mapping 40: Brother!!!

Liquid

With the completion of the Metal Gear diaries, Jackson is finally free from this franchise for the rest of time… or so he thought. Instead, he’s pulled back in to a series of mid-month podcasts here on Abnormal Mapping where he talks to different guests about the various games in the series to highlight and explore multiple perspectives. For the first one, he’s joined by Corey Milne, an Irish Games Critic who wants nothing more than to hear Liquid Snake, with all the vocal might he can muster, utter the magic word: B R O T H E R

Corey’s writing can be found on his website and you can also follow him on twitter!

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Things discussed: Metals Gear 1-4, Driving Off The Map, Spec Ops The Line

Music This Episode
The Best is Yet To Come by Rika Muranaka & Aoife Ní Fhearraigh
Encounter by TAPPY
Metal Gear Solid Theme by TAPPY

OASES: Tragedy Reclaimed

Oases

OASES is such a simple, beautiful game. You control a plane transported to another world, engines kaput and steering lost, sucked into a black hole and whisked away forever more. There are unknowable structures below you, and a majestic neon sky above. To move, you must accept that you cannot turn level anymore, and must angle your plane softly and explore this new world around you. It’s soothing, haunting, and as the music reaches a climax and you realise it won’t loop around again, oh so fleeting.

The story of OASES is that of a tragedy, of a plane crashing in Algeria, carrying a man who was yet to meet his unborn son. But in the act of playing, that tragedy is rejected, replaced with an almost certainly false narrative of escape, told purely through the skies and sights of an unknown world. It’s a celebration of the unknown, a defiant choice to imagine death as something other than painful, simply because we can.

Our lives are full of sad stories unfinished, where we can fill in the blanks and assume the truth. But whenever there’s doubt, there’s a better world that we’d like to believe in, and if we’re capable of imagining for a while, we can go there too.


OASES can be played on itch.io, and is a game from Armel Gibson & Dziff with music from Calum Bowen.

The Metal Gear Diaries #42: War Has Changed

Grave

The setup for these posts is simple: I’ve never played a Metal Gear Solid game before, and I want to change that. I’m going to be writing my on-going reactions to the games as I go, and sharing them with the world. The Metal Gear Diaries are somewhere between a full critical essay and twitter gut responses, and will form an honest document of my shock, frustration and surprise at the events of, say it with me now, “Metal Gear?!” They will be packed with spoilers for all Metal Gear games!

Last time, we began Guns of the Patriots’ final act, taking out Psycho Mantis and leaving Meryl behind to approach the microwave corridor. Today, I have finished the game. Metal Gear is over! There is no more Metal Gear that will ever be, this was the finale to end all finales, and ever since 2008 people have been sad at the lack of new Metal Gear games.

Well, that’s clearly not true, but this is it. The final game I’ll do these diaries for, the end of my ridiculous quest, and I made it (mostly) alive. So join me, won’t you, as we recover from Solid Snake’s final hour, and complete Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. (more…)

The Metal Gear Diaries #41: The End Has Come

Corridor

The setup for these posts is simple: I’ve never played a Metal Gear Solid game before, and I want to change that. I’m going to be writing my on-going reactions to the games as I go, and sharing them with the world. The Metal Gear Diaries are somewhere between a full critical essay and twitter gut responses, and will form an honest document of my shock, frustration and surprise at the events of, say it with me now, “Metal Gear?!” They will be packed with spoilers for all Metal Gear games!

Last time, we completed Act Four, and today we’re about to begin Act Five and start the endgame of Guns of the Patriots. (more…)

The Metal Gear Diaries #40: Mount Snakemore

Snakemore

The setup for these posts is simple: I’ve never played a Metal Gear Solid game before, and I want to change that. I’m going to be writing my on-going reactions to the games as I go, and sharing them with the world. The Metal Gear Diaries are somewhere between a full critical essay and twitter gut responses, and will form an honest document of my shock, frustration and surprise at the events of, say it with me now, “Metal Gear?!” They will be packed with spoilers for all Metal Gear games!

Last time, after a disappointing Boss Fight, we reached Metal Gear REX and finally defeated Vamp. Now, he lies dead on the floor, and we’re about to reach the end of Act Four… (more…)

The Metal Gear Diaries #39: The Lightning and the Vampire

Vamp

The setup for these posts is simple: I’ve never played a Metal Gear Solid game before, and I want to change that. I’m going to be writing my on-going reactions to the games as I go, and sharing them with the world. The Metal Gear Diaries are somewhere between a full critical essay and twitter gut responses, and will form an honest document of my shock, frustration and surprise at the events of, say it with me now, “Metal Gear?!” They will be packed with spoilers for all Metal Gear games!

Last time, we walked through Shadow Moses to find everything as it was, except also empty and sad and old, which is an apt metaphor for everything about Guns of the Patriots. Now, we’re going to find Naomi and Vamp… (more…)

The Metal Gear Diaries #38: What Was Old, Is Now Old Again

Shadow Moses

The setup for these posts is simple: I’ve never played a Metal Gear Solid game before, and I want to change that. I’m going to be writing my on-going reactions to the games as I go, and sharing them with the world. The Metal Gear Diaries are somewhere between a full critical essay and twitter gut responses, and will form an honest document of my shock, frustration and surprise at the events of, say it with me now, “Metal Gear?!” They will be packed with spoilers for all Metal Gear games!

Last time, we found out that Liquid was making his way to Shadow Moses Island, and proceeded in immediate pursuit. This time, it’s time to reach land, in Act Four: Twin Suns. (more…)