It’s hard to recognize when you see the birth of a classic. Typically classics are defined in the cold light of the future but this week we’ve got a new classic, a faux-classic, and a stone-classic. Is a stone-classic a thing? It is now. Check out this week’s recommendations so you can look super-cool in the future when you can say that you played these games before the academics got to them.
Where do I start with Celeste? This recommendation could go any of a number of ways, I could talk about it’s lush pixel art or its rich soundtrack. We could have a chat about its beautifully precise platforming. Sure these things are all present but what really pushed the game over the top for me was the game’s insistence on kindness.
Patience and acceptance for the player isn’t rare in the games we feature here, but Celeste belongs to the masocore platformer tradition. If you’re not aware of masocore, it’s a genre of ultra-difficult platformers that typically revel in killing the player any chance they get. Think of Super Meat Boy or I Wanna be the Guy. Sure Celeste has precise platforming and you’ll die a lot, but Celeste believes in you. Near the beginning of the game the tip pops up that “You should be proud of your death count, because it means that you’re learning” and later tells you to believe in yourself, and “you can do this.” Celeste puts trials in front of the player as an avenue for growth, not in contempt of the player’s skills.
It’s really hard to dislike Celeste, despite being set on a mountain covered in spikes it’s a warm and soft game that feels not unlike a task given to you by a loving parent. Please go play Celeste, it’s great.
Was all of that emotional talk to much for you? Do you miss the days when the only emotion games could convey was pulse-pounding shouting from the core of your soul? Apocryph is a throwback to the 90s when the times were fast and the games were gory. Murder roughly 2 zillion demons while sprinting through chunky levels that wouldn’t look out of place in 1998. There’s a UI that has all of the design sensibilities of a Disturbed album cover, and the weapons find their homes in the exact middle of the screen.
I didn’t play a lot of shooters in the 90s so Apocryph is great for me. It lets me experience the design sensibilities of the era without all of the rough edges that we’ve learned to sand down. For just a little while I was able to be a tourist in another time in gaming’s history.
Apocryph is available now.
This week has been full of intense experiences that demand your full focus. Let’s end this post with a complete 180. Quiet as a Stone is a game in which you slowly build and decorate an island by moving and placing stones. It’s a quiet and meditative game that lets you experience impermanence and accept the beauty in the temporary. I’m well aware that Quiet as a Stone won’t be for everyone but if you’re keen on peaceful reflection there’s a lot to love here.
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