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Random updates November 30, 2006

Posted by joshg in General.
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So, I did end up buying DEFCON, and it is in fact amazing. The atmosphere it creates through both visuals, and the spooky background music / sounds really reinforces the notion that the “game” you’re playing is incredibly detached from a very serious and horrific reality. When you launch a nuclear attack on an enemy city, you can hear muted sobs in the background. Very chilling. And yet, the game itself is very well-balanced and worth playing, especially playing multiplayer with friends.

Nothing else incredibly relevant has crossed my paths lately. I’ve been playing some World of Warcraft in my spare time, which certainly has “spiritual” elements in terms of the game’s fictional world. But frankly, it’s the usual hodge-podge of miscellaneous elements that you find in most generic fantasy. You’ve got the forces of The Light (paladins, good priests) vs. demonic and “shadow” stuff (evil priests, warlocks), you’ve got nature-worshipping druids, you’ve got your basic “neutral” magic, and probably some other elements I’m missing. The actual story is somewhat interesting, but to be honest it’s not that essential a part of the gameplay itself. There are some interesting highlights I’ve seen while playing it on and off over the last couple of years: a Tauren quest that tests your faith by having you jump off a cliff (with no promise that you’ll survive); the Blood Elf backstory, based in WoW and Warcraft 3, which presents magic use as a physical addiction; strange stories of the Undead fighting their corruption and valuing their remaining shreds of humanity. But mostly it’s just been good gameplay with a mild-to-nonexistant message.

Also, the maker of The Shivah, which I reviewed earlier, is now working on a new title being released by Wadjet Eye Games called The Blackwell Legacy.


That Other Reality November 30, 2006

Posted by joshg in General.
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What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed is a tricky and surreal puzzle game (with an absolutely awesome name). You play, well, I’m not even sure what it is you’re playing as, but on one half of the screen you’re busily trying to sort out futuristic fast-food orders. On the other half, you’re an oddly abstract Japanese figure who floats about doing … something that’s explained in Japanese, which I can’t read, so drat. The stylistic differences between the two halves of the screen are very dramatic and intriguing.

What struck me as relevant about this game in terms of “faith games” is the way it simultaneously presents dual realities that overlap each other. You have two parallel mouse cursors, so any action in one reality automatically affects the other as well. However, the puzzles play some tricks with this, in that some controls which are set left-to-right in one reality will be top-bottom in the other. This way, you can choose from the two realities independantly. This also means that the solutions to the two puzzles are not simply identical, which is probably a good thing since then the differences would be superficial and meaningless from a gameplay perspective.

This is definitely a unique and interesting approach to representing overlapping realities, something that occurs in many religions in terms of intertwined physical and spiritual worlds. Something to keep in mind for any future faithgame-creators out there as a source of inspiration.

(via GameSetWatch)

Review of The Shivah November 2, 2006

Posted by joshg in indie games, Judaism, retro games.
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About a month ago, I mentioned The Shivah, an adventure game that deals strongly with issues of Judaism, and faith in general. (“deals strongly with issues”? Gah, I’ve written too many English essays lately!) To my surprise, Dave Gilbert left a comment offering a review copy, and I gladly took him up on it. The long and the short of it is that I got to play through the entirety of what is not only an excellent indie adventure game, but also one of the best examples of portraying faith through a game that I’ve ever seen.

So, a review (after the break)!