If too many games today entangle the mind with ceaseless complications, proliferating differences with only superficial distinctions in outcome, "Polybius" provides the feeling of having one's mind washed clean for a few moments, shaken free of clutter. Its biggest reward occurs in the moment when the headset is removed and the screen goes dark, a moment when it feels possible to see everything with what feels like new eyes.
Another game asks players to re-attach the controllers to the side of the Switch console, remove it from its television dock and cradle it like a crying baby, complete with a crudely animated infant tossing its head back and forth on the console's portable screen. It was perhaps the most uncanny moment of all the experiences in the game — a human child used as a skeuomorphic wrapper for a software simulation.
“Infinite Warfare” is arguably the most imaginative and wide-ranging game in the series, and yet every new idea it tries feels hamstrung by the conventions that have made the series so successful. There are a few interludes of space dogfights, but these feel strangely similar to on-foot levels, but with fighter ships that can come to a full halt and hover before zipping off again to chase a new enemy vessel.
I found "Twilight Princess" to be even better than when it was first released. It felt like coming home to one's childhood bedroom, revealing the impermanence of "home" while affirming the life-giving importance of having such shelters to return to from time to time.
In hindsight, many of the game's grueling lessons feel remarkably anti-climactic. Getting to the end feels like a definite achievement though the relative uselessness of its rewards make it hard to feel anything but stunned remorse for having gone to such lengths to achieve something of so little consequence. This kind of ego-centric delusion is essential to the spirit of video games, works that are often as terrifyingly wasteful as they are wondrous and energizing. "Xenoblade Chronicles X" manages both in equal measure.
Games like "Siege" flatter these desires by letting them play out in simulation, endlessly repeating on the screen. Stripped of the vanities of many other shooting games "Siege" is both unforgivably callow and inarguably satisfying. Like parades or fireworks, it's a vision that's only fun if you can forget where it comes from and where it points to.
In good moments, it feels like you're heading somewhere promising, halfway to getting a gun you really want. In bad moments, getting what you want is a pleasureless anti-climax, that leaves you even further away from the next upgrade milestone.
In a way, "Black Ops 3's" landscape of weaponry and corpses and layers of upgrades and economics signal the game's disposability, something meant as kindling in a bonfire of collective obsession and forgetting. Nothing this big and loud is meant to last, but nothing meant to last could bring this many people together.
There's an echo of this sentiment in the sweetly childish tones of "Minecraft: Story Mode," a game that uses the mimetic architecture of storytelling to produce nodes of contemplation and self-inquiry. It's a subtle and sweet work made with an awareness that the best part of a journey comes when you realize that you are the story.
"Super Mario Maker" feels like the antithesis of this spirit. "Mario" levels begin to feel like traps that can't be escaped. As with many digital tools that seem to liberate us from the laborious demands of creation, "Super Mario Maker" is primarily an engine for circulating bad ideas and broken gimmicks as if there weren't already an overabundance of them.