They create worlds: Assassin’s Creed Origins

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 have have climbed the cathedral of Acre. I have swum in the canals of Venice. I have prowled the streets, and the roofs, of Renaissance Rome. I have hobnobbed with the Borgias and with Robespierre, I have fought alongside George Washington, plundered with Blackbeard and listened to Charles Dickens tell tales.

And, just lately, I’ve added to my repertoire: I have run away from an angry hippopotamus – straight into the jaws of a Nile crocodile. Oh, and I’ve slid down the Great Pyramid, but it’s the tussle with the crocodile that sticks in my mind, much like I stuck in its teeth.

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They create worlds: Scanner Sombre

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 absence of light is so absolute, it’s as if there’s nothing at all around me. I’m not even sure I’m there myself. The only thing I’m sure of is the scanner in my hand. I pull the trigger, I hear the familiar whine, and the blackness around me is gradually sprinkled with dots. Dot by dot, my surroundings come into existence – a psychedelic, pointillist ghost of a cave.

Scanner Sombre

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They create worlds: Lone Echo

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.

To my right is the station, Kronos II, looking decidedly worse for wear. To my left is Saturn, its rings glittering with a stark beauty. I can see the mining asteroids and container fields in the distance – and the inscrutable anomaly, extending tendrils of pure energy in my direction. Everywhere else is the cold infinity of space, beautiful and deadly. There is only one thing to do: I grab hold of the railing and, slowly and methodically, make my way towards my captain and friend, Liv, pulling my weightless body through space inch by inch.

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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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