In th run-up to (and aftermath of) the 2016 election, pundits and commentators raised a common rhetorical question aimed at the Democratic base—”if there were a Donald Trump on the left, would you have voted for him?”
There’s a different version of that question that, in hindsight, makes a lot more sense. “If there were a Democrat version of Donald Trump, would you have voted for him?”
Let’s take a moment to answer that one, shall we?
Read More Introducing Mike Bloomberg, the Democrats’ Donald Trump
Myles Garrett’s violence created a flashpoint for that mindset—it evoked the reaction that it did because, in a game where multiple players were taken off the field with more damage to their skulls and brains than Mason Rudolph received from Garrett’s helmet-slam, it revealed just how transparent that line of thinking really was. It revealed complicity and, in doing so, a wash of cognitive dissonance from everyone from nameless twitter eggs to Adam fucking Schefter himself. It revealed the sheer absurdity of football, starkly and plainly, and people just couldn’t handle that.
Read More Myles Garrett, Football’s Hypocrisy, and the Absurdity of “Consensual” Violence
Outer Wilds is infused with a lingering tinge of melancholy, coupled with an overwhelming sense of smallness… All of these systems operate like clockwork, unfazed by your minuscule intrusions. In much the same way the Sun will never respond to your pleas. As you uncover the story of the Nomai, you learn—through implication and observation, through long-forgotten writings and the broken remains of their stations—that because of a lack of foresight and one too many human mistakes, there is no way to stop the progress they tried and, in their time, seemingly failed to set in motion. Millions of years later, their machines blew up your sun. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Read More In Outer Wilds, They Blew Up the Sun, and There Was Nothing We Could Do
In doing so, Salt & Sanctuary builds one of the most rewarding final acts I’ve experienced in a video game, that translates an atmosphere of mounting dread into a sequence of sudden, heightened horror, and then, in its final moments, a rush of catharsis.
Read More On the Creeping Horror of Salt and Sanctuary, and its Island of Twisted Reflections
The ragged white knights in Heide’s Tower of Flame don’t even rise when you first enter the area; they wait for you to slay the area’s first boss before even bothering to stand. The soldiers in Drangleic Castle begin as statues, shaking themselves to life as if awaking from a thousand-year slumber. They still fight, but everything seems tired. Exhausted, even. Like they don’t even know what they’re fighting for.
This is fitting, because it elucidates Dark Souls II’s core thesis. At its heart, this is a game about loss.
Read More On Dark Souls II: Ephemera, Entropy, and the Inevitability of Loss
But the bond between Dark Souls and Ocarina of Time runs far deeper than their initial obtuseness—to a point where the first Soulborne game feels like a crystallization of the first 3D Zelda’s design ethos. Both present the player with complex, interlocking worlds; spaces that revel in a secret, paradoxical linearity that curves and bends and doubles back on itself, that focuses on shortcuts and secret paths to optimize the player’s path forward. In Ocarina, those are its dungeons; in Dark Souls, that’s the design philosophy behind the entire world.
Read More Six Years before Breath of the Wild, Dark Souls Reinvented The Legend of Zelda
Perhaps that title is a bit paradoxical, since this is, by definition, no longer a list of the best games of 2018. But I’m of the opinion that recency bias has a bit too much leverage in our blink-and-you’ll-miss-it world, so let’s start 2019 right by rolling that back juuuust a bit.
Read More The ’18 Best Games of 2018: Part II