E.1 – Resident Evil 2 (Pt. 0: Retrospective & Preview)

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Screen Looking, a podcast where close friends take a closer look at their favorite video games.

We’ll be focusing on one game per episode from the perspective of its artwork, game design and storytelling, ranging from contemporary blockbusters to remakes and indies. Typically, we’ll unpack games we’ve already played through. But because this is our first episode, we decided to discuss something special: the newly announced remake of Resident Evil 2 (RE2).

RE2 was originally released in 1998 to critical acclaim as a two-disc game for the Sony Playstation, shortly following its breakthrough predecessor. Twenty years later, it’s finally getting the remake fans have been clamoring for since Resident Evil’s in 2002. The pair of survival horror classics defined a new genre and terrified gamers in their formative years. My guest, Alex Koval, and I can attest to this, as it’s a series we grew up playing together, bonding over, and thinking about ever since.

Join us as we look at what gave RE2 the status it earned in 1998, our impressions of the remake fresh off of its E3 reveal, and what we look forward to seeing next.

Additional Credits & Notes:

  • Alex Koval is a full-stack web developer, an independent short-filmmaker, and a fan of the horror genre. We’ve been best friends since 2nd grade, and some of his favorite games include Resident Evil, Final Fantasy Tactics, Eternal Darkness, and Banjo Kazooie.
  • Music in this episode comes from the OST’s to both Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2
  • Audio clips from Resident Evil courtesy of “Resident Evil – Voice Acting Horror – 10 Minute Cut” by YouTube user gamegoo

Engadget Feature: The (re)making of ‘Crash Bandicoot’

If we were to chat about video games, it wouldn’t take long to deduce that the original three Crash Bandicoot games were essential to my childhood.

With that in mind, I am proud to share my latest piece of professional video game writing: a full-length feature on the process behind remastering the Crash Bandicoot trilogy. The feature was published and laid out by Engadget in early July, featuring in-depth interviews with art & design leads on the team at Vicarious Visions (VV), in addition to exclusive process-artwork that outlines their creative workflow.

Continue reading Engadget Feature: The (re)making of ‘Crash Bandicoot’

Polygon Opinion Piece: ‘The Last Guardian’

Polygon graciously allowed me to write this intimate opinion piece for them, which explores my experience playing the long-awaited The Last Guardian and the parallels I drew between it and our bond with animals. It serves as an analysis of the game’s design, as much as it is a personal essay and investigation into the ways we all encounter animals in need.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

The Last Guardian doubles as an interactive metaphor for the discovery and rehabilitation of animals in situations of abuse or neglect. For being such a fantastical setting, it plays host to a cautionary tale that is grounded in reality. By offering us an extended glimpse into an abused animal’s perspective, The Last Guardian asks us to empathize: What does it mean to spend time in their environment? How are they a product of it, and how much can they change?

The full article can be found here, and I invite you to share your own story and/or takeaway from The Last Guardian.

Tiny Apocalypses: An Interview with Dan Pinchbeck, Creative Director of ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’

Everybody may have vanished from the slumbering town of Yaughton, but not without a trace.

Across a blindingly bright English countryside, with radios left on, research abandoned, doors unshut and phone booths ringing, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture explores what life there was like as you piece together a hauntingly calm apocalypse in a most unfamiliar setting: home sweet home.

Previously known for their surreal Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is the latest game from studio The Chinese Room. In my curiosity to learn more about what fueled Rapture’s story, its big questions and the creative drive behind them, I discovered what inspires and compels the team that created it. Dan Pinchbeck, Creative Director at The Chinese Room, graciously took me through their process, the artistic decisions they made, his thoughts on science fiction and the potential for storytelling within video games today.

Read an excerpt from our discussion after the jump, and/or read the full interview here.

Continue reading Tiny Apocalypses: An Interview with Dan Pinchbeck, Creative Director of ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’