Inkbound, like all early access games, is bound to change as updates are pushed out — but what I’ve played thus far is a strong foundation. Presently, my main gripe is that NPCs feel less distinct than I’d like, which makes it hard to invest myself in the story. I do, however, appreciate the nod to creative writing dictums in the form of naming the player character “Needless,” with commentary from the supporting cast saying that you’re not a real character if you don’t have needs.
Against all odds, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog has a more sincere script than you would expect from anything that was released on April 1 for free ninety-nine. This is a fun game with genuine laughs, terrific art, and a killer soundtrack, and you don’t have to pay a dime to play it. I could quibble about minor stuff if I wanted, but at the end of the day, I’m happy it exists at all, and that it not only exists, but that it’s this joyful.
In Metroid Dread, you are encouraged to sprint through, keeping clear of enemies that, at the outset, you have no means of defeating. Your central relation to the game world is that of anxiety and, yes, dread. Metroid Prime, by contrast, wants you to feel inquisitive toward its lonely landscapes, to seek understanding of your enemies as much as mastery over them. Through its contemplative gameplay loop, wherein entering a new area means taking time to consider it, 20 years later, Metroid Prime might have even more to say about what it means to slow down, taking time to view the world with curiosity and wonder.
Forspoken’s opening hours are by far its worst. It took me 16 hours to complete the game, taking in a fair bit of the side offerings in this open-world action RPG, being careful not to sprint too quickly toward the game’s conclusion, though the temptation was there.
Dwarf Fortress operates under a similar logic. It will instill in you, the player, that “slender intuition” of what to do. It may, as it did for me, invoke a sense of anxiety as you feel unsure what it is you ought to be doing. But in following your instincts, stories will begin to arise, just as they do for a novelist when they sit down to write. Your base motivation (survive the winter) will be supplanted by something else as you respond to what unfolds before you — whether that be drunken cats or, in my case, a dwarf who struggles to find purpose in life. Your only role, then, is to see that story through.
So, anyway, yeah, Rollerdrome is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with a gun, but it’s also a commentary on the capacity of violent entertainment to dull our senses to the violence in our actual lives. Good luck remembering that when you’re chasing an S-rank score.