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Worth Reading 02/15/2013

With a little bit of Siri's help, Worth Reading is now the FANCY pile of links you've come to expect every week.

I survived. Mostly.
I survived. Mostly.

I would like to start out this edition of Worth Reading by thanking everyone for the kind, funny, and ridiculous comments about my recent collarbone injury. You need a really good laugh when it's three in the morning and you can't get to sleep for the second night in a row because your arm is screaming in fiery pain. Too bad laughter feels like a knife jabbing me over and over.

(That part is getting better, though!)

The most awkward part about a broken bone is figuring out new ways to do things. Take this story, for example, which I dictated most of using software on my Mac. I didn't even know this dictation existed before a few hours ago! While it's a little weird to literally announce punctuation when crafting a story, I'm able to save the moments where both hands are required, which is awkward and painful over a lengthy period of time. (As much as I've been enjoying marathoning Fire Emblem: Awakening, I really want to get back to Dead Space 3!)

I won't know more about my body's healing process until sometime next week, so the meantime, I'm trying to come up with new ways to cover games that doesn't necessarily involve long form writing. More short audio interviews with game developers, perhaps? A Fire Emblem spoilercast? Answering more questions on a couch? I'm open to your ideas. I wrote features ahead of the site's relaunch, and those will roll out next week, including looks at the creation of Spaceteam, a history of Dark Sector (?!) and others.

Hey, You Should Play This

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This is another one of those games where I don't really want to say much, but how about this: it'll take less than five minutes of your time, and it's from the creators of the upcoming horror game starring a baby, Among the Sleep. Needless to say, these guys have some pretty, uh, interesting ideas for games.

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It's not often a game elicits a genuine "whoa" moment, but the gameplay hook for 400 Years, which involves holding down the space bar to fast forward through time, does that more than once. Manipulating time pushes the game's world through seasonal changes, which impact the environment in fun and surprising ways that are crucial to solving the game's few but worthwhile puzzles. Much like The Plan, 400 Years won't take you long to see through to the end, but the various eureka moments are worth it.

And You Should Read These, Too

  1. Virtue's Last Reward Postmortem Q&A with Kotaro Uchikoshi
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It's going to be a couple of years until we have another entry in the Zero Escape series. In the meantime, we have these wonderful interviews with the games creator, Kōtarō Uchikoshi, that shed some light on the complicated storytelling decisions made for the most recent game, Virtue's Last Reward. If you followed my response to the sequel, you know I wasn't particularly happy with some of the broader decisions made about the growing mythology, but that doesn't mean I'm no longer addicted--I totally am. An important note: please be careful regarding spoilers for 999 or Virtue's Last Reward in the comments, since most people probably haven't played either game.

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Reviewing games has become a lot more complicated. When is a review considered criticism? What kind a review do people want on the first day a game is out, or prior to its release? Does the score attached to a review actually mean anything anymore, or just serve as useless fodder for the comment section below? The games that push these questions to their breaking limit are the more esoteric releases like Journey, Dear Esther, or more recently, Proteus. Academic Ian Bogost tackles this in a unique way over at Gamasutra by writing three reviews of Proteus.

If You Click It, It Will Play

Kickstarter Has Promise, Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up

Yeah, Greenlight Still Has Issues, But Some Games Look Pretty Cool

Let's Read Positive Reviews of "Bad" Game, Alien: Colonial Marines

(Note: I do not feature these reviews to mock them, especially since I have not yet played the game. Reading contrary opinions, especially ones on the polar extreme, is profoundly educational.)

"Even if Gearbox Software could craft an enjoyable sequel to Aliens in video game form, what could it hope to show players that they haven’t seen before? Yet, the developer stuck to its guns, believing all the while that it could create a quality first-person shooter based on a license that Gearbox obviously loves. And the really weird bit is that Gearbox was absolutely right."

"The visuals are subpar in places, but the overall aesthetic makes creeping through the shadowy, blood-soaked wreckage with a group of Marines a real nail-biter. While the core Soldier Xenos should probably figure out that ramming bullets with their face isn’t the best strategy, Gearbox’s other baddies offer up a great deal of variety. This sets up some dreadful moments of anticipation, fearsome firefights, and even a few harrowing escapes, making Colonial Marines’ campaign an intense experience that’s sure to appeal to franchise buffs and shooter fans alike. Sure, you’ve got some definite dents in the hull here—such as the occasionally oblivious squadmate AI, the training-wheel cover system, and the woefully heinous cinematics—but the hits far outweigh the misfires."

"The fact is, Alien Colonial Marines doesn't stand a chance if you compare it to James Cameron's seminal 1986 flick. Aliens is filed and receipted as one of the greatest horror films ever made, one of the best sequels ever made and an iconic entry in the canon of science-fiction cinema. Aliens Colonial Marines is a patchy shooter standing on the shoulders of a giant."

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Here in video games we invented a new word, "permadeath," to describe what in real life is called "death".

— Matthew S. Burns (@MrWasteland) January 23, 2013

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+