My favorite moment in Hollow Knight came about a quarter of the way through my forty hour playthrough, when I descended through the Fungal Wastes and found myself in a giant pit at the center of a hidden village. Three mantises—for Hollow Knight’s kingdom of Hallownest is a land of insects and bugs—sat on tall wooden […]Read more "You Might Have Missed: Hollow Knight"
At its core, Spider-Man: Homecoming grasps two fundamental truths that have largely escaped the Marvel Cinematic Universe up until now. First, that comic books and the masked avengers that inhabit their pages are intensely political—that superheroes not only embody the politics of their time, but that the best comics, the ones that remain relevant decades after […]Read more "Punk Rock and Peter Parker: The Disctinctly Comic Book Politics of Spider-Man: Homecoming"
Your Name (Japanese title: Kimi no Na wa) is one of those rare pieces of art that defies genre classification—that breaks every assumption and expectation of science-fiction, fantasy, and coming-of-age narratives, and that takes our reductionist approach to film and fiction and shows that nice, convenient labels are never necessary in creating powerful works. It simultaneously melds body-swapping and time […]Read more "Your Name: A Film on Reality, Seen through Fantasy"
So Breath of the Wild is the apex of open-world design. It’s filled with secrets, and it makes exploration itself feel rewarding. Its narrative has depth and resonance, and its characters feel three-dimensional and relatably real. It takes the tropes of post-apocalyptic fiction to a new level—depicting a world not irradiated and destroyed, but retaken by wilderness. And in […]Read more "An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part V: The Heroes’ Legacy"
I’ve spent far too long now extolling Breath of the Wild as the best that open-world game design has to offer, but open-world games pose a huge narrative challenge for developers trying to tell a coherent story. Because the game’s events can be played out in any order, it’s quite difficult to build a satisfying, well-plotted narrative, especially […]Read more "An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part IV: The Post-Post-Apocalypse"
So Breath of the Wild is open world in the best sense of the term; it presents you with a vast world to explore, where everything you see can be reached, every mountain climbed, every river sailed, every canyon traversed… but so what? I’ve extolled its world design and its exploration mechanics and rambled about its well-crafted mapmaking, […]Read more "An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part III: Into the Wild"
In modern game design, “open-world” has become something of a buzzword; after series like GTA and Elder Scrolls popularized the genre, developers (especially Ubisoft) embraced it and began to churn out game after game after game in that mold. Open-world games, in short, discard the notion of linear progression and instead throw the player into what is […]Read more "An Exploration of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Part II: “Open World”"