E.18 – The Last of Us (From the Archives)

In our second “From the Archives” edition of the show, we’re re-airing a lost conversation from 2013 about The Last of Us – Naughty Dog’s critically-acclaimed survival adventure game. On the eve of its much anticipated sequel, there’s no better time to revisit its inaugural chapter.

In further blurring the lines between gameplay & cinema, The Last of Us has been a focal point for both gamers and industry veterans. Jim Wiser and I became fast friends in art school studying game design together, so I was delighted to have him join me for this episode. We discussed what worked, what felt in conflict with its narrative goals, and ironically our resistance towards an inevitable sequel – especially after that ending.

Set within a broken America amid a global pandemic, The Last of Us‘ atmosphere cuts deeper in 2020. And while this episode serves as somewhat of a time capsule, I suspect it will resonate with those returning to Joel and Ellie’s world today.

Additional Credits & Notes

  • Jim Wiser and I have been friends since our foundation art classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where we collaborated as Game Design majors. Jim’s BFA thesis explored level design as a means to better understand way-finding, and since then he’s created artwork for a number of indie game projects, custom levels for Team Fortress 2, and UI/UX designs for modern mobile applications.
  • Music in today’s episode is from the OST to The Last of Us and its prequel chapter, The Last of Us: Left Behind, composed by award-winning guitarist Gustavo Santaolalla.
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E.16 – Games of the Decade (Bonus Episode)

Ten years ago, neither Alex or I were playing video games all that much – at least not like we used to. On the threshold of a new decade, we celebrate the ones that compelled us to return.

In our first episode of the year, we look back on 10 games of the past decade that surprised and delighted us. Be it for their technical accomplishments, creative world building, stellar writing, innovative mechanics or genre-defying structure, these games left us wondering, “How was this even made?” We argue for their place on our lists, and why each uniquely impacted us.

Tune in, and peer into the rear view mirror with us. We hope you’ll walk away with some fresh perspectives and a list of games worth revisiting.

Additional Credits & Notes

  • Alex Koval – my co-host – is a full-stack developer, aspiring radio theater producer, and lifelong fan of the horror genre. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. Some of his favorite games include Resident EvilFinal Fantasy TacticsBaldur’s Gate II: Shadows of AmnBloodborne, and Banjo-Kazooie.
  • Music opening today’s episode is courtesy of Mono Memory – an 80’s inspired synthwave producer based in Edinburgh. The song is called “Crystal Beach” and can be found here on Bandcamp. Additional music came from the OST’s to each game as they were referenced.