Arctic explorer Peter Freuchen and his wife Dagmar Gale
(Source: heartbloodspirit, via gingerhaze)
Norman Rock-well-done. (via nikoguardia)
There’s this girl. She gave me this tape. I haven’t stopped playing it since.
Gone Home takes me back to my teen years, throws me into the confusion elicited by hormones and dissonance and underscores how black-and-white everything looks when you’re that young. Gone Home transports you into someone’s private universe, forces you to walk in their shoes, and be touched by their experiences, even if you’re traversing it second-hand.
Two acts in and Kentucky Route Zero is already one of the most striking experimental interactive experiences ever. It’s gorgeous fusion of adventure gaming and magical realism; a strange form of interactive theater and fiction. If someone had simply filmed the game and passed it off as an avant-garde animated film, I would still be gobsmacked, but navigating through the world (and the maps, the maps!), branching through discussion trees, and watching as your click sets down another horseshoe, whipping around a steel pipe, is beyond words or cinema. It’s a epic project, and one that will almost certainly be on next year’s best-of list as well.
Papers, Please is a monstrously affecting game that places you in the shoes of a passport officer and forces you to decide on the fate of numerous lives. One stamp can change their lives, and mean the difference between life and death for your family. While there are high stakes, they’re buried under the monotony of your passport verification, and you quickly become ensconced in simply following the letter of the game’s law. That alone makes it the scariest game of the year.
For a game that sells itself on being so dumb, Saint’s Row is uncannily smart, and utterly charming. It took a long, long time for me to warm up to a series that prominently features beating NPCs with giant dildos, but darnit, the game makes it work. Yes, it’s lurid, yes, it’s purile, but the game’s heart is in the right place; the characters have a sense of comradery that I haven’t seen in any open-world game. Also: in lampooning Mass Effect’s ‘relationships,’ it actually felt a bit more realistic than the source material.
Brothers isn’t the best game in the world; the bulk of the game consists of pedestrian co-operative puzzles a la ICO. Worse: you feel burdened by a strange dual-stick control scheme, a design choice that feels awkward and weird until it becomes transcendent, and then everything makes sense, and it’s so sad and it hurts so bad. Brothers is the sole game this year to evoke emotion, simply through gameplay, through interactivity and controls. To say any more would spoil matters.
Black Flag is the most meta of all of the Assassin’s Creed games. I’m not referring to the faux Ubisoft/Abstergo offices, no, I’m referring to the protagonist, the pirate Kenway. He leaves his wife and expected child for unknown riches, but basically becomes an enlistee to a cause he doesn’t believe in, fails to amass the fortunes he promised his wife, and (SPOILERS) she dies before he’s able to come home again. In other words, it’s the plight of a game developer in crunch mode, and it’s so melancholy that it hurts. It’s not perfect (I grew tired of the mission patterns halfway through the game,) but it’s an audacious bit of very playable, in-house slander.
(In alphabetical order)
Follow the lives of a married couple who are secretly Soviet spies during the height of the cold war? Fuck yeah, I’m there. That said, nothing prepared me for the first ten minutes of the pilot, which may be one of the most perfectly executed series openers in years. It not only sets up zeitgeist of the time, it reveals the emotional dynamic between the main characters, finds time for a great foot chase, and sets all of it against Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk.
The show grew richer and more complicated with every episode, fleshing out the character’s back stories, introducing shades of gray into black-and-white situations. And thankfully, they never overplayed the time period. Simply put, this is the show I wanted from Homeland.
Which other show would make a musical about Thomas Edison killing an elephant to ‘prove’ that Tesla’s alternating current was too dangerous for public use? “They’ll say ‘Aww, Topsy’ at my autopsy!” Brilliant.
Bob’s Burgers is one of the few animated shows (Archer is the other) that treats its characters as flesh-and-blood, and it’s found the same heartwarming, yet extraordinarily clever and cutting groove that The Simpsons forged in their early seasons.
The final season ratcheted up the tension until it was practically unbearable, and then settled into … well, spoilers. You can talk to me about it after I finish the article.
I follow TV like a hawk, and even I was surprised to find out about Bunheads in a mall while on the way to a Bollywood film (Indian film distribution in Illinois is weird, folks), and even then I only took note because a friend of mine was mocking the poster. Nothing on the poster about it being from Amy-Sherman Palladino, hell, nothing about it even being about ballerinas.
In other words, I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was canceled, but the show was so good! It was a return to form for the Gilmore Girls creators: it featured their rat-a-tat-tat dialogue, and a town that teetered on being too twee without going over. To add insult to injury, it appears that Bunheads is joining Terriers as a one-season wonder that will never receive a DVD release.
While a third season would’ve been lovely, I’m just happy there was a second season (although I’d be ecstatic if they’d release a Blu-Ray copy of S2. The show is gorgeous.) All of the characters grew outward from the complicated nexus known as Amy Jellicoe and, while the show grew to be more of an ensemble, its melancholy tone never wavered.
If you haven’t seen the first season…
If you have seen the second season…
Thanks to Hannibal, now when I hear the name Lecter, I don’t think of the prior films, or even the books. I think of fungi, of immaculately plated dishes, of stellar set and costume design, of deers and dogs, of human totem poles and unevenly scrawled clocks.
Fuller has created an exquisite work out of the Doctor Lecter oeuvre. Each and every episode has its own visually striking motif and, wrapped around it, is a nightmarish context that haunts me for days.
While Childrens Hospital was a bit bogged down by their hyper-MASH-concept this year, NTSF picked up the slack by enlisting anyone who would entertain them.
In an alternate universe, I wouldn’t be surprised if Enlightened’s Amy Jellicoe ended up in Piper’s role. Orange… is hardly a perfect show, but right now it’s showing the potential of a serialized medium to show new perspectives, something that’s been forgotten over the past 5-10 years. And for those who still haven’t made it to the last three eps? Get watching; that’s when the show comes into its own.
You’ve probably heard about how great Tatiana Maslany is, playing different versions of her lead character in this clone-centric show. Yes, Tatiana’s brilliant, but the show’s much more than a showcase for her versatility. There’s an emotional heft that runs through the series, it’s whip-smart and it won’t wait for sluggish minds. When the show paints itself into a corner, it rarely takes the easy way out. Orphan Black is conceptually adventurous sci-fi with prestige characters behind it, and that’s more than enough of a reason to watch it.
There are so many ways that this ‘cop procedural + Assassin’s Creed’ show could have gone wrong (and might still go wrong - the season’s not over yet!) but it’s endlessly entertaining, and cautiously balances humor with character weight. It’s an absurd, crazy, stupid series, but underneath it lies a sly, cautious mind.
Yes, acerbic, political characters have been Armando Iannucci’s bread-and-butter for years now, but Veep has elevated his work to Deadwood status as being the spot for eloquently, intellectually, filthy television dialogue. It’s not enough to just read the quotes from the show; you have to hear them delivered. And then you have to rewind because you laughed hard enough at the set-up that you missed part of the punchline.
Any crime worth solving can be done in a night gown.
The problem is that despite the developer’s best efforts to reward the player with crazier level designs, wilder power-ups and twists in the storyline, it’s often a matter of diminishing returns from the moment they understand how the game is played. The gameplay mechanic becomes a fixed thing, unchanging and implemented in exactly the same ways over and over. Instead of supporting the narrative, repetitive gameplay often undermines it by erasing the distinctions between one level and the next. — http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_176/5486-To-Do-Finish-Any-Game