Six Years before Breath of the Wild, Dark Souls Reinvented The Legend of Zelda

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.

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The ’18 Best Games of 2018: Part II

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.

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The ’18 Best Games of 2018: Part I

If that title sounds like a lot, don’t worry—this is a two-part list, and if you’re pressed for time, either half should be an enjoyable respite from the apocalyptic rain of acid and flames that, if anything, should bring 2018 to a close. In the grand tradition of Mario Kart’s Nitro and Retro halves (well, since Mario Kart DS at least), I’ll be listing the best games I’ve played this year in two halves—first, games released in 2018; second, games released elsewhere (well, mainly in the past) that I first played this year. And maybe the sum of the two will be a bit long, but hey, there’s a really awful pun near the end of this one (can you spot it?), and you can go grab some popcorn at the intermission.

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How Deltarune Tells a Story About Loss and Loneliness… with Some Help from Children’s Lit

Right now, it’s rough around the edges, clearly a bit unfinished, but still crystallized in a way that feels wholly rougher, odder, and more unique than its more polished predecessor. In that very literal sense, I hope it does end up as a Majora’s Mask to an Ocarina of Time—a piece of art that leverages the iconography of a (brilliant) original to tell a weirder, rougher kind of story. One wholly appropriate to the brand of children’s literature it draws from, and the control-based medium in which it makes its home.

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Statistics, Probabilities, and a Reading of Sixteen-Inning Baseball

See, that’s the weird thing about probability and chaos—and, by extension, baseball. There’s always a chance, however small, to see something rare and special; to watch an electron tunnel through a barrier, or a particle burst into existence, or a player bat a home run off a position player nearly six hours after their game had begun. On any given night, by the nature of the beast, those .32 percent odds might just return a 1.

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You Might Have Missed: The Final Station

It’s as if the player is walking over an anthill, unaware that this complex and convoluted warren exists beneath their shoes. And over the course of the game, this conceit will be used again and again and again, sometimes with added flourishes or small tweaks to its simple formula. Every level is circular, just as the game itself is, with the end of each circle adding a final revelation.

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The Refreshing Horror and Heart of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has, at its core, two very different movies fighting for dominance. One is the modern mediocre action movie, with its clichéd, easy-to-predict one-liners and bland, slightly-stubbled leading man and elaborately choreographed yet snore-inducing hand-to-hand combat sequences. The other is a genuinely deep and compelling iteration on the series it carries on—a series that has rarely managed to capture any of the magic of Spielberg’s original masterpiece, but here comes the closest it ever has to understanding what made that first movie so good.

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