They create worlds: Hellblade – Senua’s Sacrifice

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

In the past, They Create Worlds has mostly featured games that create striking worlds for us to traverse and explore, worlds for the players to inhabit. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice does this too, but it is more concerned with interior worlds, and it brings them to life with an intensity that I’ve not yet seen in games.

Hellblade_2 Continue reading

Nothing is gonna save us forever but a lot of things can save us today.

This hasn’t happened to me in a while: the night before I was about to finish Night in the Woods, a Kickstarted game by indie developer Infinite Fall, I was lying in bed, already sad because I was going to have to say goodbye to a bunch of characters I’d grown to love. Irascible punk crocodile Bea, manic fox Gregg, and his boyfriend Angus, the laconic bear that’s really the heart of the group. And, yes, Mae the cat, though she makes it oh so difficult to love her.

Night in the Woods

Continue reading

They create worlds: Dishonored 2

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

One thing that video games struggle with more often than not is giving their worlds a palpable sense of history. Sure, fantasy and sci-fi games are in love with convoluted lore, but that’s different from creating a world that feels old. We regularly play games where we traverse spaces that are ancient, from the titular tombs of Tomb Raider to the old temples of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but as impressive as these places are, more often than not they feel like movie sets, created for the purpose of acting as a cool backdrop to the game’s action. The signs of age, the water stains and crumbling pillars and fading tapestries, seem too consciously placed to be entirely convincing. Age seems a mere veneer, because in a virtual world there is no such thing as age. The ancient architecture was designed a couple of months or years ago at most and is being recreated for your enjoyment in every moment of the present. There is no such thing as an old polygon or texture.

Stilton_1 Continue reading

They create worlds: INSIDE

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

Dystopias are a dime a dozen these days; dystopias starring children doubly so. INSIDE isn’t the video game version of the latest YA trilogy, though, and its dystopia is decidedly more grim and hopeless even than Katniss’ gladiatorial arena. The game’s world is deadly yet impersonal, its dilapidated rural and industrial backgrounds depict a world that is in its last throes. Yet, strangely, it is also one of the most beautiful video games worlds I’ve ever seen.

256-inside-screenshot-1423369782 Continue reading

They create worlds: Grow Home

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

The little robot’s steps are clumsy, awkward, as if both the use of his legs and the concept of gravity were new to him. B.U.D. is miles away from the usual video game robots – they’re often metallic warriors and/or cannon fodder – and closer to the likes of WALL-E, if Pixar’s garbage collector was a toddler. And like his precursor, B.U.D. is given a momentous ecological task: he must grow the so-called Star Plant on a faraway planet, and in doing so he has to scale the plant to a height of 2 kilometres – which would be difficult enough for the likes of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt, let alone someone who is barely able to walk in a straight line.

Grow Home Continue reading

They create worlds: Disasterpeace

One of the things that video games can do magnificently is create worlds. These posts are an occasional exploration of games that I love because of where they take me.

Usually when people talk about the worlds games create, they’re talking about graphics first and foremost. I’ve been playing since the early ’80s, and perhaps the most readily apparent way to see how the medium has progressed since then is to look at screenshots: it’s pretty much like first looking at cave paintings and then a Caravaggio – although admittedly a Caravaggio that’s like to have been done by a teenage Caravaggio who’s been glutting on Michael Bay movies or the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Hyper Light Drifter Continue reading

Virtuality is the new real

The first thing that came to my mind when I put on my Oculus Rift for the first time and found myself looking around virtual reality, was a line from the original Star Wars: “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” Thank you, Obi-Wan, you’ve put it well. While I haven’t yet spent all that much time in VR, only the occasional hour here and there, I’ve already stared up at the jaws of a T. Rex bellowing in my face, I’ve seen the Little Prince’s planet floating in mid-air just in front of me, and I’ve navigated a one-man submarine into the wide-open mouth of a giant prehistoric fish.

The Rose & I Continue reading