Freedom Ain’t Free is an irregular column for impressions from open betas and Steam free weekends. These aren’t full reviews, and, since these are often multiplayer games, it can be hard to compare their userbases during free periods to their general populace. These are just impression pieces based off of what the developers show off during these free windows.
Ace of Spades didn’t get much press, for a few reasons. It’s easy to look at its aesthetic and dismiss it as merely being Minecraft-with-guns, and it’s also easy to see Runescape developer Jagex’s name on the credits and think that they’re making another simulacratic game to cash in on what’s big at the moment.
Despite these factors, Ace of Spades manages to be a fun, light variation on classic FPS game modes thanks to its focus on terrain deformation. It lacks the balance of Team Fortress 2 and the scale of Battlefield, keeping it from the realm of serious tactical play, but there’s a lot of enjoyment to get out of it in the right modes, with the right people. Continue reading
In 500 years from now they’ll be going through conversations saying, “This is the first recorded use of the word ‘dangus’ which, as you know, is a staple of communication….”
Playing Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 as a young teenager was the only event in my gaming career I’d describe as truly “formative.” I was a child, born and raised in the Bible Belt; I had little comprehension of the issues I’d face in the real world. The mechanics of gender and sexuality, religious self-questioning, and the desire to find a future for myself were flitting in and out of my mind. Here was a Japanese RPG that integrated each of these elements of the teenage life into a fantastic narrative with fun combat. So began my love affair with Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei franchise. Continue reading
It feels good to be home.
Visiting the nigh-barren fields of Haven & Hearth feels akin to traipsing through the abandoned, monochrome cities of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. There is life there, going on as it always will, but the life that shaped the land, the humans that put hand to wood and stone to make homes and mines, has left. Only fifty or sixty players remain; I’ve yet to find anyone else in my travels, outside of the three friends I’ve been working alongside. Only one of them had previous experience here, having played it in its heyday around 2008 and 2009. Continue reading
As it is a subject that will likely come up many, many times in the course of my writings on anime for The Stereogram, Masaaki Yuasa is my favorite currently-living director working in the anime scene. In an industry fueled by pandering (generally to lowest-common-denominator male enthusiasts), he is one of the few people willing to look beyond selling merchandise and expand the medium. Each of his works brim with passion he poured into them; there are few anime directors who are as recognizable, especially not in the modern age.
The Tatami Galaxy, Yuasa’s fourth directing effort, is in many ways a reaction against generic means of storytelling, an issue common in modern anime. Though The Tatami Galaxy initially presents itself in a standard form, with a few notable exceptions, it soon becomes a commentary on formulaic plot design, eventually collapsing upon itself in a fantastic conclusion. Continue reading
“Welcome to Miami
Bienvenidos a Miami”
–Will Smith, “Miami”
Few games invite the description of “murder simulation” to the degree Hotline Miami does. Though the bodies splayed across these empty halls are faceless and pixelated, you sacrificed much of yourself for them: your lives (marked by the many presses of your R key), your time, your concentration, the main character’s sanity. Everything is a trade-off, and here you’re bargaining it all for the pure satisfaction of the kill. Continue reading