The Legend of Korra molded a theme out of metalbending

The sequel, The Legend of Korra, did far more than just continue The Last Airbender’s story — the series showed how society, with the tools that Aang and his Team Avatar had left behind, transformed after that shift. In the world of Avatar, the invention of metalbending, introduced as a level-up by Airbender character Toph Beifong, but in full effect after the 70-year time jump in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, is the best example of how political ideologies and the spiritual nature of bending were naturally intertwined. And for creators Michael Dante Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, the ability led to some of the most compelling world-building and character development in the franchise.
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Katana Zero: Playing with Time to Fix a Fractured Memory

There is something about how Askiisoft’s Katana Zero uses the “unreliable narrator” device that works with me—rather than misdirecting the player with ludicrous and unearned twists in a linear plot, this game makes the player feel active in the story. The protagonist of this game, a katana-wielding assassin named Agent Zero, is trying to piece the echoes of his memory back together, and the player has an unusual amount of agency in how he goes about achieving this.
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How Night in the Woods Guided Me in Mourning a Friend

Content Warning: suicide, depression, anxiety There was something so uniquely terrifying, yet profound about my playthrough of Night in the Woods. It felt uniquely suited to my mindstate by the time I played through it, at a level where booting up the game sometimes felt like a stressful and daunting task, as it inadvertently had me confront some of my inner thoughts and life experiences.
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How Red Dead Redemption 2 Attempts (and Struggles) to Emulate the Modern Western

Every time the black bars letterboxed the screen during Red Dead Redemption 2, I knew that the “video game” portion of this experience was on hold. I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that Rockstar (and the game’s writers) were plopping a movie in front of me instead. It is relatively obvious that Rockstar’s recent games are meant to invoke the feelings of familiar films, but reading and hearing the thoughts from my peers had me realize that many of us—the Housers included—simply have it wrong when analyzing this game’s relationship with the Western film genre.
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Super Mario Odyssey Proves Nintendo Knows How to Soothe Anxiety

Our world is a mess. People are losing their homes from natural disasters, lives are lost at the hands of violent madmen on a daily basis, the risk of international war hovers over us all and the political climate is more toxic now than ever. In our current society and culture, anxiety reigns supreme.
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Deep Analysis: Jackie Brown

There are two distinct opening scenes in Quentin Tarantino's overlooked film Jackie Brown. The first is the opening credits sequence, a pseudo-homage to The Graduate, albeit more upbeat and colorful to introduce the tone and protagonist (played by Pam Grier) of this very different film. It's a gorgeous, energetic, and precisely-edited sequence that reminds you that yes, Tarantino knows how to direct a movie.
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How Daredevil Season 3 Depicts the Fight Against Real and Present Fears

Daredevil season 3 will obviously not solve any of our real-life problems—but it demonstrates that something as fantastical as the MCU can be very powerful by recalling realistic imagery and sentiments. In a society where people are fearful to live their regular lives under the threat of violence, however real or false that threat may be, and with bad actors exploiting that very fear, we need a fantasy like Daredevil. Season 3 is all about how he earned the famous moniker “the Man Without Fear.”
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Over 20 years later, Metroid Prime Remastered is still unmatched as a "first-person adventure"

Metroid Prime Remastered came out on the Nintendo Switch over two decades later, and countless words have been published about the excellence of the original title since then. It’s hard to cover anything that hasn’t been said about the original Metroid Prime, and I’m sure any compliments I’m about to give it will resemble marketing speak from the time of its GameCube debut. Metroid Prime has some amazing staying power — and two weeks deep into it, I’m starting to wonder if any game since then (besides its sequels, of course) have provided a similar experience.

Splitgate, one year later: CEO talks going beyond “Halo meets Portal” and aiming for triple-A – Interview

Capturing the zeitgeist and making a splash in online multiplayer is the first tough step for any budding live service game — the next is trying to maintain that audience. Splitgate from 1047 Games took that first step, and while its initial success overwhelmed the studio to a degree, the indie arena shooter earned its big break. A full year later, Splitgate is in the middle of its “Beta Season 2” as it tries to maintain a playerbase.

Unpacking in real life: how I handled the stress of managing physical spaces

I’m told that the idea of constantly moving between places is a very “American” concept. Whereas my family in the Philippines is accustomed to staying in the same family home for generations, I’ve been moving from one new space to another — twice in the past year, in fact. It is a stressful ordeal every time, but around the time of my most recent move, I happened to be playing Unpacking from developer Witch Beam. What resulted from playing the puzzle game was an enlightening recontextualization of how interacting with my personal physical space affects my mental space — and I loosened my anxiety over building a complete, “perfect” home.

Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is a promising iteration from IllFonic's previous titles – GDC 2022 Preview

There are times when you hear a game premise that sounds so obvious that you’ll be wondering why you didn’t think of it yourself. Enter Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, a five-player asymmetrical multiplayer game that pits four Ghostbusters against one Ghost. According to studio IllFonic, best known for Friday the 13th: The Game and Predator: Hunting Grounds, the hope is that this next title will be a reflection on lessons learned from making those games.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the first main titles to feel like pure filler – Hands-on impressions

It’s easy to find comfort in the familiar, whether you’re rewatching shows or movies or starting a new playthrough of a game you’re intimate with. But when an older game is remade rather than remastered, there’s an opportunity to go beyond and reimagine something outdated in a modern context. But as much as some Pokemon fans wanted Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, these remakes for the Switch benefited little and will only provide comfort for those with unconditional affection for the originals.

Call of Duty: Vanguard's campaign shows just how far behind the series is in narrative and gameplay

There’s always a level of passion and intensity displayed from the developers behind these campaigns, but nearly all Call of Duty stories eventually fall into the same traps, restrained by the series’ structural limitations. Despite some of the technical and cinematic triumphs of Call of Duty: Vanguard, the single player narrative ends up an “also-ran” amidst the countless forgettable Call of Duty campaigns. Even with some deviations from formula, Vanguard can’t help but feel derivative of other triple-A games.

Metroid Dread is Nintendo's pinnacle of silent storytelling

Samus Aran is anything but a chatterbox in Metroid Dread. After mountains of monologues in 2010’s Metroid: Other M, Dread represents a true return to form, not just in terms of gameplay but in tone. With a magnetic sense of style and atmosphere, Dread puts the Metroid series on the right path, maintaining the ideals of the original games with modern sensibilities and technology. Samus is once again depicted as a cold and steely operative with little to say — yet she’s never been more expressive or compelling as a character as she is now.

Boyfriend Dungeon is as much of a life balance simulator as it is a dating game

Kitfox Games’ Boyfriend Dungeon has a number of characters and scenarios built on the concept of societal pressure — romantic interests like Isaac, Sawyer, and Seven have plotlines where they have to conform in some way, whether it be from family expectations, academia, or celebrity, respectively. However, at the game’s core, the theme of pressure and expectation applies the most to your own customized character. Once you move into the game’s setting of Verona Beach, you are immediately asked: why can’t you just get a date?

'Metroid Dread' owes a massive debt to a game Nintendo wants you to forget

For 35 years, Metroid has been one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. But there’s one notable exception to this — Metroid: Other M, a third-person action game released for the Wii back in 2010. “We couldn't just leave this part of the storyline untouched,” series producer Yoshio Sakamoto told USA Today ahead of launch. “It's so critical that without addressing it, we wouldn't be able to make new games that show Samus' adventures that take place after the events of Metroid Fusion.” Sakamoto asserted that depicting the time between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion was essential to moving the series forward. Now, more than a decade later, the upcoming Metroid Dread is looking to complete this prophecy.

The Halo Infinite multiplayer preview was an uneven but promising mix of old and new – Hands-on impressions

The Halo series has been around with us long enough that every change will come under some degree of scrutiny, as fans hold onto the familiar. The upcoming Halo Infinite is the next step of a perceived identity crisis, the third full title from developer 343 Industries. Xbox and PC players were finally able to try a slice of the game through a multiplayer technical test, and I found myself both comforted by the familiar and bewildered by the new.

'Loki' has radically changed the MCU in one unexpected way

One of the many memorable scenes in Loki’s first episode is seeing Miss Minutes dance across the screen as she schools the infamous Trickster god on the rules of time and destiny. The Time Variance Authority believes everyone’s destiny is predetermined and must be enforced. But amid all of the existential questions of fate versus free will and the scientific and mystical musings about the multiverse, there’s a thread that fights against this idea. Underneath the franchise-building and Easter eggs is a personal story about Loki that helps to define Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thematically.

Splitgate is an old dog in new clothes, and it’s freaking fun – Hands-on impressions

I sometimes fear that I might be too reductive in calling first-person shooter Splitgate “Halo meets Portal,” which is a phrase tossed around any time the game is mentioned. But it’s literally that — developer 1047 Games has created a happy marriage between Halo 2 and 3-style arena shooter sensibilities and the traversal possibilities experienced in Valve’s Portal games. It’s such a fun and simple idea that you’ll wonder why you weren’t the one to think of it.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life fulfills the game's destiny as a virtual theme park ride

Sea of Thieves from its genesis was pitched as “Pirates of the Caribbean meets Wind Waker,” and A Pirate’s Life is not some soulless corporate tie-in, but an opportunity for the developer to fully realize the game’s original vision while paying homage to what inspired it in the first place. And for devotees of Sea of Thieves who have paid attention to the game’s earlier Tall Tales, its theme park inspirations were evident from the very beginning.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is fun fan service to tide us over until the next full release

The PlayStation 5 remaster Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade reintroduces players of the 1997 version to Yuffie Kisaragi, a young ninja from Wutai and the playable protagonist of a DLC story called Episode Intermission. Wide-eyed and donning a raggedy Moogle costume, this side story makes it immediately evident that Yuffie is no Cloud Strife. Whereas Strife had emotional baggage and constantly expressed reluctance in his mission, Yuffie is spunky and ambitious, albeit to a fault. With a proper sequel to Final Fantasy VII Remake still quite far off, seeing this story from a brighter set of eyes was much needed to hold fans over.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale teaches finding purpose in a world full of pressure and criticism

Every artist or creator experiences some amount of self-doubt in anything they create. That self-doubt could be healthy to a degree — having standards for yourself and the desire to improve can result in better work. But it can grow to overblown criticism and impact your confidence, and that, combined with external pressure, can be ruinous to your psyche in producing work. That is the basis of Chicory: A Colorful Tale, an indie game with art as both its main theme and gameplay mechanic.

Pac-Man 99 is somehow both too easy and frustratingly inaccessible

Over two years later, the Nintendo Switch Online service has added the similar Pac-Man 99, but instead of revitalizing Bandai Namco’s little yellow puck, all it demonstrates is that Tetris 99 was a one-of-a-kind moment that just came in at the right time. Instead of adding something fresh to either battle royales or Pac-Man, this iteration of the 99-style of gameplay is a user interface mess and a lightweight gameplay experience.

Three-Dimensional Worlds: Where Mario goes after Bowser’s Fury

Within the many levels of the 3D Super Mario platformers, each selection feels like a gameplay experiment. From Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Odyssey, these titles contain enough variety and a multitude of cycling mechanics that can, for the most part, hold up on their own were they to have an entire game centered around them. While at their core these games may all involve Mario running and jumping, each of them is quite distinct and have their own pros and cons.

Losing It: Control Ultimate Edition's next-gen rollout is either incompetent or a scam

Complaining about anything in the video games industry runs the risk of making you appear to be an entitled consumer, but there is the occasional case that is just so overrun with problems that it begs an explanation. While the transition from last-generation consoles to next-gen platforms has been anything but clean for many cross-generational titles, the way publisher 505 Games and developer Remedy Entertainment have handled Control Ultimate Edition has been a fascinating comedy of errors. Although, I doubt anyone out $40 as a result of this predicament is laughing.


A period piece is generally defined by its aesthetic and atmosphere, with costumes and music tracks characterizing an era, and appropriate narrative tropes invoked to bring a sense of familiarity. FX’s Fargo from writer Noah Hawley has depicted four different periods in American history, but even amid the trappings of a period piece, this true crime anthology is not about what happens in a certain year – it’s about what came before, and what is approaching.

City Guesser: The Vicarious Joy of Walking Outside

Having grown up in a suburban area, I am enamored by large cities. When I walk the city streets of Philadelphia, New York City, or just about any metropolitan area on the globe, I am unusually enthralled by the idea of being part of a crowd. I desire to blend in and become a part of the texture that gives a city its unique identity. I had planned for 2020 to be a year for travel, visiting friends and loved ones while also taking the opportunity to get a taste of what makes their home city such a distinctive blend of humanity and infrastructure. Those 2020 plans came to a halt — but I’d like to think that I found the next best thing.
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