“Hesitation is defeat.”
Is From Software’s latest, notoriously difficult video game worth enduring? One does not simply play Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, but the payoff is unlike what most of its peers have to offer. In today’s episode, Alex and I take as much of a look at Sekiro as we do the mystique, philosophies, and history of its creators.
Here to refill our Healing Gourds is none other than Mono Memory – From Software devotee, resident synthwavist, and our first international guest. Mono Memory is responsible for much of the music book-ending our episodes this year, and we’re thrilled to have him join us.
By revisiting the studio’s other critical darlings, Dark Souls and Bloodbourne, we discover how they’ve grown as artists, what distinguishes each franchise, and how a game over screen can be a narrative vehicle.
Additional Notes & Credits
It’s time for a bonus round.
If you’re new to the show, this is an excellent place to start tuning in to the Screen Looking podcast. In our first bonus episode, Alex Koval and I take a respite from the deep dives for a chill, candid conversation about our tastes in video games – and how our personalities inform them.
In addition, we have a special announcement at the top of the episode, followed by some fun ideas for future installments.
We’ll be returning soon with more deep and varied explorations of why video games are such an interesting medium, discovering new stories and rediscovering old favorites. For now, we simply couldn’t wait to keep the conversation rolling.
Additional Notes & Credits
- Music in today’s episode is by Mono Memory – an 80’s inspired synthwave producer based in Edinburgh. The song is called “Crystal Beach” and can be found here on Bandcamp.
- Photograph by Hilary Bovay, my partner, previous guest of the show (E.2 & E.3), and co-host of The She League Podcast.
- “Ludonarrative dissonance is the conflict between a video game’s narrative told through the story and the narrative told through the gameplay. Ludonarrative, a compound of ludology and narrative, refers to the intersection in a video game of ludic elements and narrative elements.” –Wikipedia
- “What’re ya’ sellin’? What’re ya’ buyin’?”
Sometimes, you look forward to something for so long. And then it’s suddenly over. It’s a little bittersweet, but our late nights with Resident Evil 2 had to end somewhere.
Having thoroughly discussed its stylistic departures in Pt. 1, Alex, Nick and I push forward through the remake’s more familiar narrative beats. From the survivors inhabiting its world to Leon and Claire’s alternate paths, to the means of survival and a handful of our own ideas, we lay it all on the table with our final words on the RE2 remake.
Tune in as we take our victory lap through the streets of Raccoon City — and live to tell the tale.
Additional Notes & Credits:
- Spoiler Warning! This applies to the entire episode
- 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.
- Nicholas Kuhar is my brother, bandmate, and frequent donor of graphic novels. He is also the Director of Innovation at St. Edward High School in Cleveland, OH, helping young students unlock their creativity through new-media. Some of his favorite video games include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Final Fantasy VII.
- Music at the top of today’s episode is from Resident Evil 2‘s remade OST, produced by the Capcom Sound Team. Our closing theme is a fantastic cover of the game’s “Save Room Theme,” courtesy of Mono Memory – an 80’s inspired synthwave producer based in Edinburgh.
- References include Chris Saglimbene’s interview w/ writer Brent Friedman, an archived interview with the original RE2 team (from the June 1998 issue of Japanese gaming magazine, “The Playstation“), and an old commercial for the game’s original release.
- Special cocktail REcipes coming soon…
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 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.