Short Update & A Postcard from Afthonia – Review

Thanks to SuperGiant Games retweeting my Transistor essays, I’ve got a lot of visibility lately. Thanks, everybody, for reading my work, and for all the comments I received. Thanks to that exposure, I also received two offers from websites that asked me to write for them.

I decided to start writing for Blackman ‘n’ Robin. At least, I’m giving it a try for now. I was considering starting a Patreon, but given that many people that do more or less what I do (and are exponentially better than me – Stephen Beirne and Cameron Kunzelman spring to mind, but there are many many more) get very very little, I’m trying to explore other avenues. The harsh truth is, if I don’t start earning something by Summer 2015, I’ll have to stop doing this, or at least I won’t be able to dedicate to it a comparable amount of time. I won’t earn enough from this site alone, but I’ll still be writing, learning and improving, working with some people who do seem interesting, and I’ll get something, however little, while I hope someone else notices me.

(As an aside, I refused The Game Fanatics‘ offer to write for them. Partially because they didn’t respect me enough to offer me any pay at all, and partially because the site’s ethos, revolving as it is around hype and big AAA titles, is pretty much antithetical to what I do and what I believe in)

I’ll still do long-form analyses, but this also gives me the opportunity to give a little visibility to games I love or find important, without having to study them in detail. Reviews are not a strength of mine at the moment, but I’m always learning, and even though the first few will inevitably be bad, they will improve, just like my analyses did.

I’ll make sure to link my work here. I suppose I’ll also be posting whatever I happen to write that doesn’t fit elsewhere.

I started by recommending Jonas Kyratzes’ A Postcard from Afthonia. Because it’s lovely and there’s nothing else quite like it. (Seems appropriate, too. You know, Marxism and material conditions of life fit well with the rest of this post)

Transistor – Part 2: Tangible Ideas & Celebrating the Physical

Most of the things I’ve talked about in Part 1 actually happen off-screen, before the game proper begins. It’s all backstory, reconstructed from bios, dialogues and clues gathered as we play. The real protagonists of the game are Red and Breach, not the Camerata. Their love story brings ideas down to earth, makes them come alive, lets us touch them. Through its focus on intimacy, it recognizes the fundamental importance of physicality. Transistor is a celebration of the physical. Continue reading Transistor – Part 2: Tangible Ideas & Celebrating the Physical

Transistor – Part 1: Democracy’s Mediocrity & Elitism’s Dangers

Two main threads run through Transistor: the personal, private, intimate storyline centred on Red, and the socio-political focus of the arc involving the Camerata and the city of Cloudbank, almost a character itself. While separate, these two themes are intertwined and meet, as we’ll see, most notably in the character of Sybil Reisz, and then of course during the action of the game itself. I’d like to start from Cloudbank, and the Camerata. Continue reading Transistor – Part 1: Democracy’s Mediocrity & Elitism’s Dangers

Transistor – Introduction: The Parallels with Bastion and The (Un)Importance of Canon

Header image by Jen Zee.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: I loved Transistor. No, like, loved. Every aspect of it not only works as it should, but is extraordinary in its own right: the soundtrack, the visual style, the characters, the plot, the storytelling, the dynamic, adjustable difficulty, the combat and several design decisions around it that favour experimentation within its incredibly flexible system. And all the parts fit in so well within the whole, and they all make sense within the fiction. It’s definitely up there as one of my favourite games. That said, I can’t say I had the firmest grasp on what had actually happened after my first playthrough. Continue reading Transistor – Introduction: The Parallels with Bastion and The (Un)Importance of Canon