They create worlds: Prey

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.

It’s one of the staples of premises in sci-fi games: the abandoned space station where something has gone horribly wrong. Did I say abandoned? Well, not quite… You’re not the only one creeping through the station’s corridors; there are… things barely glimpsed from the corner of your eye, things that are not your friends. So, arm yourself with a trusty wrench, hoard every medkit you can find – and survive. Because there is no escape – other than the cold, empty vacuum of space.

Prey

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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.

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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.

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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.

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They Create Worlds: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

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.

This was a peculiarly English end of the world. No guns, no running and screaming, no heroes or monsters. Just nosebleeds, headaches, fear – and then the light. What remains of everyone is brightness, and voices… and the world they inhabited.

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They create worlds: Alien: Isolation

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.

When I was a kid playing pirated games on my beloved “breadbox”, the C64, games based on movie licences tended to be ubiquitous, largely interchangeable and mostly dire affairs. Whether they were mediocre shooters or bad action adventures, if it wasn’t for the title screen and (if we were lucky) a bit tune rendition of the movie’s theme, it’d be well-nigh impossible to know that what you were playing was supposedly an adaptation of Licence to Kill (yes, those two dozen huge pixels represented Timothy Dalton) or Platoon (a surprisingly enjoyable action game, albeit one that dropped the film’s anti-war angle in favour of some more mass market-friendly Vietcong shootery). Whatever connection there was to the films that purportedly inspired the games ended up being mostly imaginary.

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They create worlds: Assassin’s Creed

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.

I’ve walked the Holy Land at the time of the Third Crusade. I’ve explored Renaissance Florence, Venice and Rome. I have crossed the cupola of the Blue Mosque. Five minutes ago I was scaling Notre Dame de Paris.

Allegedly I’m an assassin, member of an ancient order whose creed is “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” This is what I really am, though: a tourist. And I’m loving it.

Ah, Venice. (Avoid the dwarfs in red raincoats.)

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