As an intermittent admirer of the series, I found "The Phantom Pain" unexpectedly emotional, not as a story or as an arrangement of digital things to play with, but as a parting gesture to a community of which I have occasionally been a part.
"N++" is a testament to that transfixion. It is a meditative and surprisingly intimate game, something that seems to never stop unfolding even as it appears to remain rigorously spare and constant. "N++" is the best in the series and a reminder of why so many have committed themselves to playing in its simple spaces for so long.
Though the game is only a few hours long and its soundtrack occasionally relies too heavily on saccharine piano melodies, "Her Story" is a remarkable achievement in creating something which is personal, cinematic and playful. It's a work that's impossible to imagine as anything other than a video game, and one of the best I have played so far this year.
"Kerbal" is best appreciated as a space for lingering contemplation spread across three radically different dimensions of experience — the theoretical, cinematic, and subjective. Like space travel itself, the deeper one goes, the greater the sense of smallness, creating a burgeoning humility for how much is still undiscovered.
There are some who can dominate Battlefield's multiplayer with an Olympian efficiency, but the overwhelming majority are marooned in the middle, where the concussive sound of bullets and the smoldering plumes left by grenades aren't signs of domination but reminders that you're still on your feet, not dominating the world, but surviving in it for another few seconds. There's genuine awe in these moments, a beauty particular to video games, demanding respect for scale and the necessary investment of thought, coordination, and time to accomplish simple acts like moving a duffel bag from A to B. It's a poetic antithesis of the game's story mode, proof that order can more easily come from conflict than from conflict's preemptive repression.
Like a punchdrunk heavyweight in the 15th round, "Revelations 2" is both a sad echo of former glory and an agonizingly perfect summation of it. It should have been over long ago, but it remains a marvel to see how much will remains in the slouching goliath, the once powerful frame of sculpted muscle and sinew slowly turned into dead weight, counting as a victory anything that keeps it on its feet for another round.
The zombie is the perfect antagonist for this kind of interactive delusion, always justifying new abandonments by threatening another victim, a cycle which goes on until the entire world has been infected and stands in the streets, needed by no one, and with nothing left to want.