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Hey Dylan PC Games

Bernband (PC Game) [Open Letter Series] #1

Hey Dylan,
Bernband was a short, interesting exploratory game. For readers who don’t know, it’s a short game by Tom that drops you into an alien world (they’re called the Pff, so good) where you can run around and watch aliens be aliens. That’s the whole game. I will say upfront that there were some perspective issues for me (motion sickness), and once or twice, I ended up in places I couldn’t find my way out of.

This is the closest thing to a literal walking simulator I’ve ever played, and as such, I spent a chunk of time determining the limits — I jumped on tables aliens were sitting at, I jumped in front of cars, I jumped up on the bar, etc. The aliens ignored me entirely. I think “ghost simulator” might be the better label.

I am a voyeur at heart, I could watch forever. But a distinct advantage to real life watching is that it’s less algorithmic. While I love the idea behind Bernband, and even the name, I think this is the variety of game that would be almost impossible to do well: it would have to be high budget for a very niche audience. It makes up for the fatal flaw of being rather obviously computational by being both short and free (or, I guess, exactly as long as you want it to be).  I notice the game developer comments that it’s family friendly, and I like to think children would have a different experience than I did, one in which the Pff really seemed quite alien.

Nonetheless, the game is ambitious both in terms of “what is art/what is a game” and also in terms of world building. I’m glad I played.

-Joanna

[This is the first in a four part series:
Dylan’s reply to this letter.
My reply to Dylan.
Dylan’s reply, finishing the series.]

Categories
Hey Dylan PC Games

Longest Night and Lost Constellation (PC Games) [Open Letter Series] #2

Hey Dylan,
A libguide, blog post, or other resource that compiled and categorized a list of high quality, free to play games would be an excellent resource for the public and also for other librarians! That sounds like a great project, if you ever find the time for it. I feel like Facebook has been on the front lines of taking legitimate media (news, games) and turning them into illegitimate media (fake news, “free to play” games). This would indicate that there is something about marrying social relationships and technology that produces one dimensional experiences.

Anyhow, to get back to the games, I do agree that ambiguous, less trope-tastic dialog is certainly more realistic. I also often prefer ambiguous spaces to ones where the agenda (moral or otherwise) is obvious. However, I personally don’t use the word “warm” to describe “ambiguity,” (my word) or  “comfort in discomfort,” (your words). I notice a contrast in these games, where the graphics and interface tend to be warm, there is a warm aesthetic, and this serves to highlight the dialog’s unusual ambiguity even more. But that’s not a bad thing, it gives the game some character.

I understand and agree completely with your commentary on AAA games. I also think they’re just not even trying to reach the same narrative level that indie games depend on. Their audience doesn’t expect it. Someone recently told me that Lin Manuel-Miranda, the writer and star of the popular Broadway show “Hamilton,” once told a reporter that he found himself in an unsavory neighborhood in Miami, and used knowledge he gained from hours of playing GTA to navigate his way out. Regardless of all the ways in which the whole statement might be a problem, it indicates that someone who is very interested in creating interesting narrative experiences for audiences is also very interested in consuming uninteresting narrative experiences. It may be that the AAA games are actually filling a niche and not only for a specific type of gamer, but for the multifaceted gamer that likes both kinds of games.

Neither of these games (Longest Night or Lost Constellation) were deeply immersive for me personally,  so I found myself waiting a lot,  but that is not unusual for me with video games. It is the rare game that I play for hours without noticing. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that I am able to accommodate fewer and fewer kinds of clumsiness in media. There are books I read when I was younger that I loved and still love due to who I was at the time that I read them, but that I would not be able to read now.  There are books that are coming out now that are like those books and I can read maybe one in ten of them. Games, however, are moving in the opposite direction. As time goes by, there are more and more games that meet the higher standards I have for media consumption.

Re pics – the software which periodically takes screencaps automatically sounds ideal. Definitely let’s figure that out!

-Joanna

[This is the third in a four part series, as follows:
 1) Dylan’s opening letter.
2) My reply to Dylan’s first letter.
3) Dylan’s reply
4) This post, finishing the series.

)

Categories
Hey Dylan PC Games

Longest Night and Lost Constellation (PC Games) [Open Letter Series] #1

[Author’s note: this is the second post in a four-part series. This is in reply to Dylan’s letter. You can see his response to this post here, and my final reply, finishing the series, here.]

Longest Night and Lost Constellation are both games by Infinite Fall.

Hey Dylan,

I definitely agree with you that there is a layered mythological story here. At almost every access point (story, aesthetic, interface), there seems to be a one dimensional surface that is representative of a lot of stuff going on beneath it, which is true of myth.  One of the roles of myth, both in these games, and generally, I think, is to be just this side of comfortable. That is, to be familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. That’s what stuck out about these games for me, the side scroller interrupted by alarming discussions of mortality that are actually inside a bedtime story for a child that is explicitly anti-sentimentality. You ask, “and what is it about these games that makes them feel so…warm-hearted in an often cold, mechanistic medium?” I am not sure either is true in my own experience — these games do not strike me as warm-hearted, nor do I find the medium particularly cold (although mechanistic, certainly).  What makes these games unique, I think, is the way they resist tropes. Another series of games that has done this is The Longest Journey/Dreamfall/Dreamfall Chapters. In both cases, the games fit a certain type of expectation: heavy on narrative containing recognizable human themes. But they also go sideways when you think they’re going to go forward. They’re ambiguous and in my own opinion, more real than likable, more nuanced than warm-hearted.

To get into each game:
The conversation in Longest Night was interesting to me, but I admit I did have a little bit of that “walking simulator” (obviously not with actual walking, but “playing” a game that’s really watching a game) feel. I think for me, it was about re-configuring my expectation. Omniscience is totally a playable possibility, but I have a certain anxiety if I’m waiting to be asked to do something, and it took me a while to realize that wasn’t super happening. I completely agree the dialog was believable. Above all, what made it feel most authentic is that we were simultaneously omniscient, and yet not, the inside jokes remaining inside. And this is how we are, really: very good at developing processes for probing the outsides, very hard to really get into the insides of so many phenomena. That translates really well into a conversation between teenagers, because adolescence is really all about that, how to process insides.

Lost Constellation was a lot more game-y, and it was also beautiful. A petty complaint of mine is that the dialog system is too time consuming. I am a fast reader and prefer an interface that matches my natural mental speed, or at least can adapt to it. I’m really coming to appreciate the side scroller though, in terms of being simple upfront but capable of producing many layers of narrative. Counter-intuitively, fancier games like Skyrim, for example, sometimes lack narrative layers simply because of the fancier interface. That isn’t to say the fancier games are worse or are not doing something right, but rather it’s a thing I’ve come to appreciate about side scrollers, and I’m a person who isn’t super into platformers, as you know. I thought the death preamble (pre-woods) was a little too long, but otherwise, I found the story very compelling. I’m curious to know how you found the pacing in Lost Constellation. 

Lastly, just a quick note to say that I really appreciated your contextualization of this game within the “free, distributed, indie game” culture, if just because we so often think of free-to-play games as being poorly designed at best, and scams at worst. But as we recently discussed, there does seem to me to be a niche for a kind of making and sharing of content that is unrelated to money, and more related to something like street art: the sharing of complicated experience via media but not in any kind of tradition so much as for the human by the human. Approachable art, perhaps.

-Joanna

PS: I don’t usually take pic caps in story games because it destroys the immersion for me. In this case, I didn’t go back and take any because time was too short.

 

Categories
Hey Dylan Media PC Games

Quadrilateral Cowboy (PC Game) [Open Letter Series] #2

This is a response to Dylan’s reply to my first post about Quadrilateral Cowboy.

3100020-20160721155557_1Hey Dylan,

I think you’re right that my coding experience made the puzzles less exciting in the way you describe (the feeling of genius). But I also agree that for many people, especially people who are immediately engaged by puzzles, this game offers a unique opportunity to get that experience, regardless of background. And I remain very impressed with the game, despite not being a big puzzler myself. For me, the a puzzle is only as good as its relationship to the story. Games like The Witness work for me even though the story, and the relationship, are obscured. Games like Portal are less interesting as serious work for my own taste, but I happen to enjoy that kind of casual experience, that relies on wit, as well. I will say,  I am reaching my internal limit on the number of games I want to play that have consistent timed elements to them. Besides being naturally slow moving myself, I think that how fast you can do something right is just not that interesting as a consumer — e.g. watching shows where participants have X amount of time to finish a meal or a race or somesuch.

I did leave out the story bits from my first post, because there is a hole to fall into having to do with one’s own body and “authenticity.” It’s a lot to digest and though I agree that there is some sadness in departure from one universal state of being (non-cyborg), I’ve come around to the idea that cyborg-humans will be entities with their own agencies soon enough, at which point, we will have to learn to treat them as such (that is, as subjects and not objects). I bought a graphic novel in Seattle, the last time I visited you, called Alex and Ada, and it also deals with this theme. I honestly think it’s a unifying topic for artists, scientists, scholars, and critics right now and more should be done to encourage that unity.

I was especially taken with your point about how it’s a serious game that almost seems to be an RPG/puzzle hybrid. The obvious seriousness (and of course the aesthetic) of the game is what immediately won me over, I loved that someone did this with a puzzle game. Usually, when I think of serious puzzle games, I think of that particular demographic of people whose stake in rational thinking is so high that all other things become subject to it. I like The Witness a lot, even the way the story (such as it is) is obscured, but I do think it’s a product of a design process that cannot distinguish between the system and the system’s experience. In The Witness, I am the process, but in Quadrilateral Cowboy, the puzzles comprise a struggle for an experience that is greater than simply progress.

OK. So I think we can spend a little more time complimenting one other aspect of the game, too — the presence of NPCs without NPCs. From hand scrawled note tutorials, to the sticky notes, to the fact that it is a simulation within the game — something created in-universe prior to your character appearing — you are not alone, and yet, there is also a pervasive sense of loneliness because none of these characters are there. And yes, you’re right that slowly becoming machine seems to also speak to this different form of thereness.

And the desktop interface. Be still my heart. <3

Someone should just make a list of games that involve phony desktop interface. Someone named Dylan.

-Joanna

 

Categories
Hey Dylan PC Games

Quadrilateral Cowboy (PC Game) [Open Letter Series]

quadrilateral_cowboy_coverHey Dylan,
Quadrilateral Cowboy 
was, for me, interesting in that it combined a sort of dystopian technocratic future with a puzzle game that, in terms of its own mechanics, was more serious (it made me think of The Witness, only insofar as how non-casual it sees itself as a puzzle game).  It’s hard not to analogize, like a more serious Portal. But — there is a thematic darkness in this game that is not humorous like Portal or zen like The Witness. Rather, it seems to be constantly lonely. It seems significant that all the jobs in the game are set up, clearly, to protect something, and yet there are no other people. Your enemies are all objects.  I found this loneliness the most appealing part of the game, the way it shaped and informed the coding and my presence in the game.

The train heist at the very beginning, especially the car that just had desk after desk after desk in it, was in many ways the perfect example of this. Train heists are generally depicted as  about the of three things around the object to be stolen: moving vehicle, moving people, self. By eliminating the other people, you’re suddenly wondering about the point in an existential way. When you walk through a train car full of empty desks, you can’t help but wonder about where everybody went.

Aesthetically, I thought the game was beautiful, and obviously recognizable from Blendo Games’ earlier work. I thought this game took advantage of the familiar aesthetic in a particularly compelling way. Maybe that’s because there is something gratifying about squares in a game that is about subverting objects. And I immediately loved the desktop interface. When I first went to save and it popped up, I think, was the moment when I really got sucked in.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had been playing the game offline, and thus did not have access to what seems like a small thing at first but turns out to be thematically important: sticky notes left by friends playing the game. What is really interesting about that feature is that it changes but doesn’t absolve or resolve any of the isolation in the game. It almost makes it more real and more complex.

I ended up replaying much of it on tourist mode, which was for me personally an even better experience, because my own preference would be to avoid timed puzzles. In tourist mode, you don’t actually have to do any of the coding, because the doors and etc just open with a click, but you can still do all the coding. It was basically the best. I was also really taken with the obvious encouragement to mod the game, and build community. I hope it becomes a cult classic, where in some odd number of years, some weirdos will be famous for having built brilliant levels!

I got really lucky in that I didn’t encounter any bugs — probably a side effect of accidentally playing offline — but when I started to dig around for why you weren’t coming up, I saw that there are some bug reports coming in. While obviously not ideal, the good news is that a developer who is active within his own community is more likely to encourage consistent participation in that community. Overall, I was really taken both with the actual game, the look of the game, and the spirit of the game, and I hope it lives to see some cool mods.

-Joanna

Be sure to see Dylan’s reply here, and my reply to his letter here.

Categories
Hey Dylan PC Games

1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC Game) [Open Letter Series] #2

bf2Hey Dylan,
With player agency and games, we obviously run the gamut. I have played games where the apparent player agency doesn’t exist (e.g.,  it turns out that your character is lying regardless of what you choose in the dialog box). There’s the basic agency to continue, as opposed to turning off the computer. There are minor deviations, major deviations, and no set path at all…

But in the case of 1979, we have an unusual combination of Walking Dead like reminders that our choices affect the game, and yet, they don’t seem to appear to, or they do so in a much more limited way than the game implies. So it isn’t the lack of player agency, or the presence of player agency, it’s the promise of a particular kind of player agency that doesn’t ever seem to be realized. This seems to indicate that the designers were interested in both being the ARTEUR and also appearing to be doing something with narrative that is in many ways limited to the game space. I suspect that this is because they were trying to attract people who were interested in computer games, as opposed to people who were interested in Iran.

Still, the end result is that the strange relationship between the player and the designer is a little strained. Again, we are more forgiving of this with new designers or perhaps, people who aren’t really game designers at all. So this is a critique of the game itself and not of a studio or of the designers, I suppose.

The biggest strengths and weaknesses of this game were both narrative related. The mechanics of the game suffered from it being a port — as you mentioned — but this seems secondary to me than the elements of the game that are endemic to it on every platform.

Anyway, on the whole, I personally tend to experience games that have three billion endings because of decision trees are necessarily sloppier and it usually makes me miss authorial control. Theoretically, you could (and esp. in postmodernist stuff, authors have) design an actual novel according to a system design instead of a more traditional narrative design. While games are getting better and better at being literary, I think books are getting worse and worse at being ludic. Just an outside thought.

-Joanna

[Author’s Note: This is the final letter in a four part series. Here are the first three:
Dylan’s first letter.
My first reply.
Dylan’s second letter. ]

Categories
Film and TV Media

Cameraperson (film)

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

camerapersonThe film Cameraperson is a memoir by documentary filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, perhaps most famous for the documentary Citizenfour. The film, which is comprised of footage she has shot over the years for different documentaries, ran the risk of being a “clips movie,” and in fact it does take the viewer a few minutes to cotton on to the running themes. The film opens with a request, Johnson asks viewers to see the film as memoir and not documentary, which at first seemed easy enough because of the way the clips jumped from place to place, but as the film went on, it returned to the same places enough that stories did emerge.

There seem to be two running themes throughout the movie. The first was pointed out by my friend and cinema studies expert, Pedro Cabello, who saw the film with me. There are a number of scenes that approach death, but that seem to consistently assert, ultimately, that the mystery of death cannot solved with documentary — that there is something about dying that is unknowable. These scenes — a little boy who talks about discovering his brother with his face blown off, a baby who is delivered needing oxygen but there is none,  a woman at an abortion clinic who says she feels like a bad person and a ‘bad female’ for allowing herself to have a second unexpected pregnancy, and the many war zones where displaced persons talk about the life lost — are gripping but also difficult to fully understand. We can see the horror, but we see Johnson’s question — what does it all mean? What is death, and what is unjust death?

The second theme, following directly from the first, is how a receiver of true and terrible stories — such as a documentary film maker, but also doctors, and activists, writers and artists, etc — learn to live with those stories. Interspersed in the scenes that ask about death, there are moments of brightness. Berry picking in Bosnia; a boxing match where a young and angry loser storms back into the arena swearing only to find his mother in the audience and let her hold him while he calms down; small children laughing and playing; sheep storming down a path; maybe even the moment in the abortion clinic when Johnson tells the woman that every single person in that room — Johnson and her staff — have all had unwanted pregnancies, that this girl is not alone, and that she is not a bad person. These all represent moments — small smaller within a larger, sadder framework — of overcoming. But the film does not decide one way or the other about whether these moments of brightness say anything about the dark.

Ultimately, the film is meditative, graceful, and moving. It holds together both as a memoir, a commentary on what it means to hear and tell true stories, and a question about what how we understand the world. Feature length, this one sticks with you. I encourage you to spend an afternoon with the film, and good friends to talk about it with afterward.

Categories
Hey Dylan Media Non-Fiction PC Games Uncategorized

1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC Game) [Open Letter Series]

[Note: This is a reply to a letter written by Dylan Holmes over at his blog, as part of a game blogging series we are doing monthly. This month, we are discussing 1979 Revolution: Black Friday – a game about Iran in 1979. In addition, his response to this letter can be found here, and I finish the letter series hereAll the spoilers.]

maxresdefaultHey Dylan,
I will begin by agreeing with most of your thoughts. I agree that the cinematic aspects of this game are of far higher quality than the ludic aspects. More specifically, yes, there were a lot of mouse movements that were annoying as all get out. I agree that the information is presented in a compelling way, the world building is pretty good in that regard.  I get the impression that maybe the group of people who designed this game are not particularly interested in being a games studio — when I went to the website to link to it above (in the note), I saw that they partnered with a studio that may have done a lot of the non-cinematic parts. Lastly, I am also still glad that I played the game. I think what this game succeeds at, possibly against pretty decent odds, is that it is about something historical for the sake of making us aware about something historical and yet it is not edutainment.

But by far my biggest issue is that the choices often don’t affect the outcome of the game. I ended up playing this game in fits and starts, and therefore I noticed:

1) It didn’t appear to make a difference whether I got the documents out during the first scene or not.
2) If I chose to save Ali instead of Hossein, Ali died anyway, which lends the impression that there is a right answer.

I don’t know if there were other examples, but there might have been.

The choice to copy the Walking Dead game, or more specifically to introduce “so and so will remember that” is probably better for people who don’t usually play games and who need instructions on how to understand what is happening if they haven’t had an experience interacting with a narrative in that way before.  This might be more defendable in a case like this one, where the target audience might not be gamers (which is not true of The Walking Dead game or Dreamfall Chapters). But this of course gets back to the question we were talking about earlier this week — what the role of authorship is in games.  Notably, we say “game designer”  and not “game author,” which does seem to denote a different relationship between the creator and the content.  There seems to be something sort of gloating about the text on the screen,  as if the designer is saying “Ah, so that’s what you’ve chosen,  well let me tell you what that means.” Most gamers do not want to be reminded so blatantly that their agency is usually limited by the programming, and either way, it does sort of bring the player out of the world and into the meta over and over.  At the end of the day, I am somewhat forgiving because I think the flaws of this game are a result of naiveté and  lack of experience.

As for the story,  I would have preferred a straight “break the story” procedural. It is a continuous problem in media that they underestimate the understated. The trouble with blatant violence is that it is the least complex way to deal with power dynamics in a narrative, and therefore it ends up feeling a little cheap. But the world building was so good in this game that the ham handed (as you put it) use of violence didn’t take away too much from the immersion for me.

-Joanna

Categories
Humanities & Social Thought Media Non-Fiction

The Administration of Identity Vs. The Experience of Identity (A Series, Part 2 of 4)

{Spoilers for BOY MEETS WORLD and for the new film, “Don’t Think Twice.”}

14212588_328432474171482_5796106988774123007_nI came across this meme on Facebook not too long ago. I reposted it with the note: “Unless you legitimately want to, in which case, you do you.” To my surprise, there was a lot of backlash. For many people commenting on the thread, all who self identify as Leftists, a woman who makes the choice to go to the college her boyfriend is going to in order to be with him has internalized sexism. The questions that arose on the thread included:

– What is the author’s responsibility regarding ethical representation in fiction?
– What is the feminist answer to ‘what should a woman do?’
– What age does a person gain the jurisdiction to decide what makes him or her happy?
– What is the value of choice?

The consensus seemed to be that being able to choose herself over a man made a woman more free,
as opposed to having a choice.  Generally, there was also common agreement on the idea that a teenager might make a bad choice because she’s a teenager,  that is that she cannot yet be trusted to make important social decisions on her own behalf. I was a curmudgeon and disagreed on just about every point.

Don't Think twice
Don’t Think Twice

Not too long after that, I saw “Don’t Think Twice” in the theater.  Brain child of Mike Birbiglia, this was a wonderful movie about what it means to “make it,” and how we change as told through the perspective of millennials, focused on professional comedy. One character, Samantha, gets an audition for a nationally syndicated show, and on the day of her audition, concludes that she doesn’t want to try out. Her boyfriend also gets an audition at the same time, he tries out, and he makes it.  At the end of the movie, she’s broken up with her boyfriend, and become a teacher, choosing to teach students improv instead of seeking national notoriety for her own performance.  Some may come away thinking her choice was a product of internalized sexism, or a reflection of the film writers’ sexism, because her boyfriend’s success is analogous to how we understand success generally, and her decision along the same lines seems like the back up plan. Others will say that this is different because she is choosing between two different career options, not between herself and a man. But perhaps, the correct answer is really “whatever she chooses, as long as she chooses, is a feminist choice.”

This is the question we ask about Topanga and about Samantha and about our sisters, daughters, wives, and friends — is it necessary for them to make decisions which challenge the patriarchal norms in order for them to be feminist decisions?  If those decisions make them less happy, according to their own experience, is it really challenging patriarchal norms? If we say that making decisions which apparently benefit men in their lives exemplifies internalized sexism, are we denying them jurisdiction over their own experiences?

I’m putting this in the series on the administration of identity vs. the experience of identity because I think that often in the literature, in the class room, and at the protest, we are fighting on behalf of the right to make a choice that some women may not want to make. We are therefore dealing with the administration of identity — the right to choose as opposed to the particular decision. The particular decision will always be a product of experience, the right to choose a product of the administration of experience. This difference is key.

Categories
Hey Dylan Media PC Games

Richard & Alice (PC Game) [Open Letter Series] #2

http://owlcave.net/richard-alice/
http://owlcave.net/richard-alice/

Author’s Note: this is the third letter in a series about the PC game, Richard and Alice. The first letter can be found here, the second — written by Dylan Holmes — can be found here.
Dylan’s response to the letter you are looking at right now can be found here. (Spoilers abound.)

Hey Dylan,
Yes, I also think we’re short a bullet. After you shoot the lock off the door, you have no more bullets. If you get the one from the lake, then it gets used killing Barney, and when Alice kills herself, there shouldn’t be a bullet. If you don’t get the one from the lake, then there shouldn’t be a bullet to kill Barney (although Alice doesn’t kill herself in that version).

In fact, I didn’t realize there were 5 endings until after I finished the game, but I knew there were two because I played through them both to see if the bullet mystery was solved that way. I thought perhaps if I didn’t get the bullet from the lake, there would be some other thing which involved getting extra bullets (I didn’t realize yet that Alice wouldn’t kill herself without the bullet from the lake, so I was looking for two), and I also wanted to double check that she shot Barney as opposed to using some other weapon. When Alice didn’t kill herself the second time, then I Googled and discovered there are five endings. Interestingly, each ending correlates to how much of the optional stuff you did or did not do.  Suffice it to say, there are various notes and papers that the player is neither told about nor required to find, but if they do, it changes the interaction between Alice and Richard at the end of the game (depending on how many they find, etc).

I used to think the ugliness of games mattered, but after the popularity of Undertale, I began to wonder whether this was simply not as much of a thing as I originally thought. Maybe it’s true that the people who wouldn’t play it because of its ugliness alone are people who were never going to play indie games anyhow. Also, I liked certain things about the graphics in this game, they’re still way better than RPG maker’s to my mind. (I know this is weird, but I liked the way characters’ legs looked) And the sound editing was great! Especially when characters were walking in the snow.

I’ve been thinking about what you said about linearity — and I realized I’ve played one other game that has no dialog trees and only one possible action to move the game forward at a time, Drakan: Order of the Flame. That game doesn’t give you any choice either, and at every moment, it’s either succeed at given task and get next assigned task, or die and lose. Like the bullet in the box in Richard & Alice, there’s a sword in a cave in Drakan, and it is the only optional side thing you can get. Also similarly, within a given area you can move backwards, but after you’ve left that area, you can’t go back. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Rynn (the protagonist character of Drakan) has some choice in, say, which weapon to use,  to fight aerial vs. ground, etc.  And some other games at the time were probably similar, action adventure games that predated the open world infatuation? You would know about that. But anyway, my point is, what makes Richard & Alice unique for me is that it seems to take what I’ve only experienced as an action adventure trope, and turn it into a graphic adventure trope in terms of narrative and structural limits.

Overall, I liked the game, too, but when I think about it, I realize what I mean when I say “I like the game” is “I like the wit and intelligence  and aesthetic judgment of the game writers and developers,” I like it in a meta way. At the end of the day, the content was not itself enthralling because the premise was exhausted for me and the characters neither surprised nor interested me (although they were complex and developed). I want to play more games by Owl Cave, but not a sequel to Richard & Alice.

-Joanna