POKÉMON GO: ONE YEAR ON
For me, Pokémon Go always was best as a way of overwriting physical locations with virtual memories. Scrolling through my collection (which now tells you where each Pokemon was caught), every glamorous location – from Croydon to Stourbridge – comes with its own story.
The party that dispersed to chase an Electabuzz two streets over; a summer’s afternoon in Wetherspoons, throwing out Lures with each round of drinks; the holiday where I risked extortionate roaming data charges because I couldn’t wait to catch my first Squirtle.
MINECRAFT: STORY MODE – SEASON 2 REVIEW
Official PlayStation Magazine
Rather than lingering on existentialism and ennui, you’re quickly plunged into a new adventure. One with scarf-wearing llamas, mysterious gauntlets of power, and a ‘heckmouth’ that spits out hordes of explosive Creepers. It all makes for quite compelling viewing.
Note that I’ve said ‘viewing’ there. Story Mode uses the standard Telltale formula of cutscenes, dialogue-tree conversations, quick-time events, and the odd bit of walking around examining stuff. Even more than usual, though, your role as player is to stay firmly in the back seat. The episode has approximately one puzzle, and interactivity is often limited to nudging the thumbstick forward, or giving ‘X’ a single tap to pull a lever between cutscenes. There are rudimentary combat sections, but it’s not exactly Dark Souls.
GAMING’S BEST GROUNDHOG DAYS: USING REPETITION AS A NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE
Luckily, every time the clock strikes midnight, it winds back, and you’re shown the same title card. “Saturday.” You wake up next to a grandfather clock, and rub your eyes as a tannoy announcement informs you the party will start at seven o’clock. These are the game’s answer to that Sonny & Cher-playing alarm clock from Groundhog Day, a repeating motif that underlines the fact that you’re stuck in a time loop.
Just like Bill Murray, you slowly build up the knowledge and skills needed to make the day go the way you want. Unlike Bill Murray, your end goal isn’t getting off with Andie MacDowell but averting the string of murders which happen, as regular as actual clockwork, throughout the day. These become the landmarks by which you navigate. The four o’clock one-gun salute, the sound of shattering glass, the lights flickering out briefly at 10. Eventually, you’ll stop them all.
POINT AND SHOOT: HIJACKING VIRTUAL SPACES WITH GAMES PHOTOGRAPHY
“I like working with limitations,” says Dooton. “There’s an analogue to real photography there. When you start out, you can’t always afford the best equipment, so you work with what you’ve got. If it’s too dark, you have to figure out how to solve that, whether by getting a friend to hold up a torch or a light on their phone or waiting till someone runs through a spotlight to take the right shot at the right time. And sometimes that creates more interesting unique photos.”
It’s the same story when you’re pushing against the grain of a game’s design. In games with a third-person camera, you have to work around their insistence on giving you a clear view of the character you’re controlling – useful in combat, but distracting if you’re trying to shoot a landscape. You’ll likely spend as much time crouching round a corner or walking face-first into a wall as lining up shots.
MAKING SENSE OF THE ENDLESS REFLECTIONS OF HER STORY
“My name is Hannah. H-A-N-N-A-H. It’s a palindrome. It reads the same backwards as forwards. It doesn’t work if you mirror it though, it’s not quite symmetrical.”
That’s how Her Story begins. At least, how it begins chronologically speaking. After saying yes to a coffee (black, no sugar), this is the second line spoken by Hannah in her interrogation. When you played, though, chances are this wasn’t the first, or even second, clip you watched. The game is constructed out of hundreds of clips like this, which can be viewed in any order depending on which search terms you pick.
It’s also the game’s first lie. Because this isn’t Hannah, after all, but her identical twin Eve. E-V-E, another palindrome. Between each of the seven interviews, the two women alternate in a neat symmetrical pattern: E-H-E-H-E-H-E.
SCI-FI & FANTASY FOOTBALL: THE COOKIE CUP
Rock Paper Shotgun
From Bill & Ted to Batman & Superman, over 350 players have been built using FIFA 2000‘s character creation tool, with stats that reflect how they would fare on the pitch. They’re drafted into teams, tactics and positions are set up, and each week’s results are decided by AI-controlled FIFA matches, then uploaded to YouTube.
Which is why, just over a week later, I’m hunched over my laptop alternately swearing and cheering. It’s the first game of the season and my club, the mighty Kickers With Attitude, are facing off against the Irken Invaders. Early cracks are showing in my midfield, setting up rival captain Superman for two goals, but thanks to the Kickers’ up-front trinity of Hawkeye, Black Widow and Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls, we scrape a 3-2 win.