Journey: An Analysis of the Abstract

I would like to invite you to partake in a quick exercise of the analytical. Take a look at this abstract painting by James Abbott McNeill Whistler called Nocturne in Black and Gold. Spend a moment viewing this piece and think about what it means.

How do you feel while you look at it? What sort of message do you think Whistler was going for here? You might feel happy and excited by this picture or you might feel distraught, concerned or even confused. This painting became famous for exemplifying the early 19th century artistic movement focused on “Art for art’s sake” or, as it was originally known, “l’art pour l’art”. Even though it has been said that this painting was created in mind of a recent court case that the artist lost, the actual motives of the artist are somewhat irrelevant and that is because the emotion and meaning that is actually conveyed onto the viewer is the only thing that truly matters in this movement.  In a loose sense , it doesn’t really matter what the artist was going for, what does matter is that the artist created a unique piece that, however un-objective, has meaning interpretable to the consumer. After all, before the word “abstract” became popular, many people referred to this type of art as “non-objective” and this style has regained popularity lately in painting and sculpting, and lately there have been a few art games that have taken advantage of the abstract and Thatgamecompany’s “Journey” is one of those few games.

“Journey” is a third person indie game that has the player control an unnamed cloaked figure across a vast desert, journeying towards a large shining mountain that is first seen at the beginning of the game. What sets “Journey” apart from many other games is that its strong narrative-driven gameplay is accompanied by little explanation or objectivity. There are no spoken words, no explicit directions, and no obvious mechanics at your disposal. “Journey” sets you on an expedition that you, as the player, actively discover. What sets “Journey” apart from other games is that it is abstract but not strictly in the way the art or sculpting is. The visually abstract is a feature that is present in paintings but rarely in games. However, “Journey” doesn’t have abstract principals in its visuals alone. This game is abstract in a lot of other ways. So then let’s look at exactly what makes “Journey” abstract and why I think this makes the game so much more interesting.

In one way, the game “Journey” is mechanically abstract. This is first evident through its tutorial stage. “Journey” introduces the player simply with a character to control and a single button that you can press. It doesn’t tell you where to go or what the buttons do, it just gives you a shining image of a mountain top. Right at the beginning this game has very little objectivity. There is little you’re told to do and you feel lost. Or you should be. Despite not being directly instruced in anyway, as a player you recognize what to do next. In a wide open desert with nothing foreseeable to interact with, what else can you do than journey towards the only glowing point you can see in the sky? You walk towards the unknowingly tall and distant mountain, you begin your Journey.

Throughout the game, players will see how “Journey” presents little objectivity in both its narrative and its mechanics. Firstly, players will see how few of the game’s mechanics are spelled out to them. For instance, the abilities the player is given are dynamic throughout the game. The player has the ability to sort-of fly and glide for a short period of time determined by the length of his or her scarf; however, this ability is hardly constant. The length of your scarf grows and shortens throughout the game for reasons of your own and of the game’s. Additionally, the different environments you encounter change the characteristics of your flight. While in the windy dessert you can glide as far as a few sand dunes, in the ocean you can swim as high as you can see, and in the frozen mountains you can barely even get your feet off the ground. All of these characteristics are completely out of the player’s control and because of this we, as consumers, can resonate with it each individually, and this is ever present. Every piece of this game’s mechanics are vague and yet intentional. The small little pieces of fabric have their own little minds. They move and flow and there is no real way to expect how they will act. And because of this we, as viewers, can construct so many ideas out of this. Perhaps these pieces of fabric represent lives long past, perhaps they represent hope of life and dreams that will be. The true answer doesn’t really matter because the abstractness of these little pieces allow each person to develop their own meaning and this is further exemplified through the game’s story.

Similar to a few other games like Dark Souls or Limbo, “Journey” doesn’t implement a concrete story. Upon entering the game, players are met with little direction and they are never really informed on what they are doing exactly. As most players have assumed, the first and only direction given in the game is to travel towards the shining mountain top. But why exactly? As you travel though this vast dessert you will probably find small bits of history scattered and in pieces. Small clues about a civilization long past are slowly given to the player. And although this history is linear and somewhat consistent, you can’t deny how vague and even irrelevant it is to the narrative of the player. Numerous people have put together the lore and history of the world “Journey” created. However, the game never truly explains what exactly the player is doing. Where did we come from, what were we doing before this game started? Did we always exist and are just now deciding to venture or were we just born at the start of the game? Why do we need to travel to the mountain what exactly is at the top of it? What exactly happened to us at the end of the game? All these questions don’t have a definite answer. Through its story and world, “Journey” has created a canvas of lore and then painted a vague piece of expression in its narrative and that is for the players to extrapolate, that is for the players to make their own conclusions. Through its narrative, Journey displays an abstract piece of art, something that is unique to all consumers.

If you ask me to define what art is, I would tell you that it’s an expression of an artist that can be consumed and interpreted by a consumer. One of the things I think that makes games so great is their interactivity. And this is because a game’s varying mechanics allow every player to have a different experience, a different interpretation. Journey takes this aspect one step further when it adds its multiple elements of apstractivity. Journey is visually stunning, creatively fun, emotionally riveting, but most significantly this game is uniquely abstract. And not only does this game provide its players with a memorable experience, it allows people to talk about it. It provides a discussion to be had much like that painting we looked at earlier. Journey is a game that touched me in a way that few things, not just games, have managed to do. People have sometimes asked me how a game can be considered art. I would then show them the game Journey and ask them, “How can something this inventive not be art?” Journey is a perfect example of Art and not just for games, for all types of media and that is why I think “Journey” is going to stick with us for a long time.

Thank you very much for reading.

Written by James Murphy

Edited by Caitlin Moffett

Mechanics as Metaphors: an Analytical Interpretation of Game Design as an Art Form

So for the past few posts I’ve talked about how Cliffhorse presents itself in a way that lets players control the game for their own pleasure. It uses the core game as a landscape for other players to build upon. The narrative is oriented towards the player’s control but the core metaphors such as the use of the horse and the cliffs represent something more concrete. I also mentioned in my Undertale analysis how its many mechanics work to say something different about every character, idea,  and player decision. Undertale also uses its multiple endings and character interaction to allow the player to partially craft a unique story. This got me thinking. So few games today use their own mechanics as metaphors. Even fewer games today are able to impact me on a personal level. Sure, some have really fun gameplay and others have fantastic stories, but I have a hard time recalling games that allowed me to discover myself. Why is that? What does it take for a game to examine its player base and why is it so rare for games to do this? First, let’s look into some games that do implement mechanical metaphors. What first comes to mind when you think of these things? Other than some of the games I’ve talked about before, when I think about metaphors within game mechanics games I think of games like Bloodborne or Portal so these are a few games I’ll be analyzing for the sake of this post.

To begin, let’s look at what Bloodborne does to its players. Bloodborne is able to deconstruct the player’s actions by displaying how ruthless and murderous he is all though the game’s notoriously difficult storyline. There is little hand holding in the difficult Bloodborne and other than the initial enemy confrontation that teaches the player how to use the basic controls, the game gives little direction. Players are thrown into a dangerous world and expected to survive and progress. But they aren’t told HOW and furthermore the HOW of all this doesn’t even have a definitive answer . There are so many different mechanics that players can take advantage of in order to progress through this gruesome world, and they’ll need to learn a number of these if they are expected to finish this game. Players can choose to implement stealth and sneak around enemies and swim around boss attacks to punish them with a deadly back stab. Other players may choose to demonstrate how powerlessly ruthless they are. Stun-locking enemies is a technique that prevents enemies from moving and counter attacking by hitting them so hard they don’t have time to move. The many different ways Bloodborne allows its players to fight enemies gives room for the game to examine a lot about that individual’s personality, perhaps even more then they might have looked into it. But the metaphors don’t stop there. Not only does Bloodborne examine the player’s personality, it begins to actively shape it. One mechanic that Bloodborne implements is the health regain system. When a player is hit and loses health there is a limited amount of time in which they can regain this lost health if they choose to and successfully counter attack the enemy. This causes the players to be less conservative and increasingly ruthless, they have to be in order to succeed in this difficult game.  Furthermore, even when an enemy is defeated it is often that players will continue to attack the enemy. Not because they are malicious but because Bloodborne rewards players who choose to do this with a small amount of health regain. Here you can see how Bloodborne uses its difficulty in addition to some small mechanical choices to say a lot about its players and the world it has created. Now, let’s look at how Portal does some similar things.

Portal is sort of a cult hit. Developed by valve this platformer uses its portal mechanic to orient and direct the player through a number of complex and challenging puzzles as well as challenging the player to learn and utilize these original techniques. Gamers everywhere were pleased to discover a completely new mechanic but they were also excited to see just how much this new portal mechanic meant to the game. Portal doesn’t just use its mechanics to enable its users, it uses them to define its users. The game allows its players to learn how to use the portals and also forces its players to learn about its physics, physics that are realistic. And this leads into something even more interesting. If you ask me what I think portal symbolizes I would tell you that it is in fact commentary on the science fiction genre. Each of this game’s features can be interpreted as a core concept used in defining the science fiction genre. All of the games physics are consistently defined and a player can use what they learn throughout the game so far to figure out how to solve the next puzzle they encounter. It constructs a believable, scientifically backed world yet it explores something we don’t really understand: portals. Furthermore, it pokes fun at science narrative as it constructs the sarcasm of the main antagonist GLaDOS, an A.I. This is clearly a reference to the villain in 2001: a Space Odyssey HAL 9000. Yet portal demonstrates a satirical and humorous take on science fiction. And again the use of mechanical metaphors directly influences how Portal is able to achieve these things.

The reason I bring these two games up in particular is because they are both debated greatly amongst gamers but they are also completely different games. One is an open world and the other is level based. Bloodborne is a 3rd person hack ‘n’ slash RPG and Portal is a puzzle platformer. Despite the huge differences these games have, they both excel in presenting a piece of media that has metaphors and multiple interpretations that can be analyzed. And what I think is the main reason these games succeed in implementing these metaphors over other games is the lack of hand-holding and personal freedom it gives the player. Hand-holding in particular is the main cause I think so many high budget games lose a lot of their intended ideas. Games like Call of Duty don’t use the shooting mechanics to give the players freedom or say something about violence or war, they use these mechanics because they are fun and gamers like to play fps games. Games without internal examination simply force players to use their system without letting them figure it out for themselves or giving them freedom to play around with the mechanics. Players are simply following a formula never thinking twice what it means to throw a grenade or fire a weapon. Games like this lack a player trust system. If you don’t believe that your players will figure out what playing your game means and you tell them either explicitly or even covertly HOW to beat your game, you’re doing it wrong. If you want your game to be a statement of something larger, if you want players to spend hours thinking about what your game means to them, you need to allow your players the freedom of interpretation. But don’t misinterpret that last sentence. Giving players the freedom to interpret a game does not mean simply making it open world or anything like that. In fact, a lot of open world games suffer from this issue. So then let’s look at a few older games; games that came out before open world was even a thing.

Let’s further look into some older games, but not just old games, primitive games. Let’s look at games where there was only a single core mechanic and nothing but that. If you look at the original Pac-Man you might ask how such a simple idea can demonstrate metaphors. But the truth is that it demonstrates ideas so easily because of its simplicity. There are many different interpretation of this game. Although an analysis of this game could take up a number of articles I will just give you my quick interpretation of the game. The changing mazes throughout each level represent the complex and confusing world each of us live in. The dots represent all of the goals and achievements in life that we have to achieve to feel satisfied and intentionally they are scattered all throughout the world. The ghosts conversely represent other challenging figures in life. These people could be what impedes someone through his life or a figure that is stomped on to achieve victory. Now these are just my thoughts on the game but if you just look through other message boards on the analysis of retro games you’ll find a number of other ideas. Another lesser known title is M.U.L.E. This is ,in my opinion, a landmark in multiplayer video games. If you don’t know M.U.L.E. is a seminal multiplayer title that came out in 1983 and incorporates strategy and economics through competition. There are many different interpretations of this game but most people will agree it at least commentates on the construction of economics in multiple governmental systems. Now these theories and ideas of these games might seem vague but the point is that people can, and do talk about them. It doesn’t matter how concrete or abstract the metaphors are. The point is that a game can communicate something with players that they can each interpret differently. And this is exactly what I’m trying to get at. If you ask me what the overlying reason so few games are able to capture complex themes, it’s because the struggle to convey a consistent and simple message.

When you look at Portal, Bloodborne or the older games we talked about, you’ll see how little the mechanics of the game is spelled out. Players need to figure out how the world around them works and then they need to deice how they are going to use the games features. The sense of player trust is extremely important in implementing these metaphors. Games need to passively allow the player to learn about their new situation and then decide what they are going to do. Players don’t want to be told how to beat a game, they want to discover it for themselves and this discovery is part of a games metaphor. One of the most exciting parts of Portal is figuring out for the first time how to solve some of those really tricky puzzles. And again this choice ultimately leads players into what the game is trying to say. And this leads me to another topic about metaphoric game mechanics that sort of scares me. I think one of the biggest reasons so many games can’t demonstrate an interpretive freedom is because they overwhelm their players with so many mechanics. When games try to implement an increasing number of mechanics because they think players will enjoy them, they have good intentions towards their consumers but they are taking away from a game’s overall message. If you look at the games we analyzed, Bloodborne and Portal, you’ll see how few core mechanics are implemented, hack ‘n’ slash and platforming physics. The smaller mechanics are less specific. Bloodborne uses its health regain system to make a statement bout savagery. Portal uses its realistic physics to deconstruct realism. But each of these smaller mechanics points to the core of the gameplay. And if you look at smaller art games like Journey which have very few mechanics and can be finished quite quickly, you’ll see people debating over the meaning behind Journey’s exploration mechanics in the core of the game. You see how even when a game is complex, or if it’s not, if it is trying to provide a piece of media that can be deconstructed and analyzed by its consumer, it points to a central idea and focuses on this. GTA is a very fun game but with its most resent title it loses so much of its metaphors. There are dozens of core mechanics that have uses in GTAV: driving, flying, shooting, and communicating. This is fine to do if these mechanics point to a core mechanic/idea but the many mechanics in GTA do little more than provide entertainment to the player. However, games were always intended to provide entertainment from the very beginning but in the current era I believe video games are constructed in a different way. And the core construction is where I think this communication in metaphors needs to exist. If you ask me what a game needs to do to most easily communicate ideas through its metaphors, I would tell you that the game needs to have a very basic underlying mechanic and that it stick to those rules. Now I don’t think that it is any more difficult right now to construct a metaphoric game then it was say 20 or even 30 years ago. I don’t even think it’s more common. I just believe that the most popular and most expensive games being released over the past 10 years have been lacking and the issue I see most is that they are trying to do way too many things. This doesn’t make it un-fun, it just means that players won’t have much to interpret. But I believe that if more people will begin to dissect more and look into what they are playing and what it actually means, designers will start to put much more heart into what they are making.

Now after I’ve said all this I don’t want to give off the wrong message. I don’t think that games need to display mechanical metaphors in order for them to be good. I don’t even think this is the only type of metaphor that a game should utilize. However, in the past few years, I’ve seen games begin to go down a road I’m not too excited about. The recent stigma behind gaming and the evolution of game expectations as a form of media are changing. Games are beginning to utilize such highly built consoles and PCs that they can do about anything. But what a lot of game designers choose to do is copy the old. In doing this they forget what that original idea or mechanic represented. This analysis is to conclude that video games aren’t just a form of media, they are an art form. Video games are one of the few types of media that can examine the actions of a player and simultaneously commentate on those decisions. Can you think of another type of product that’s able to do this? This is one of the reasons I think games are so important to our culture. They say so much about ourselves and if we continue to just accept that a normal game is just something fun with no substance we’re depriving ourselves of something deeply important. What I want to see in new releases is something I haven’t experienced anywhere else. I want to see games utilize their platform in a unique way and if we continue to see games like Bioshock, Dark Souls, and Undertale then I have high hopes for games in the future.

Thank you very much for reading

Written by James Murphy

CliffHorse Analysis Part 2: The Horse

What do animals say about humanity?


Welcome Back, today let’s talk about perhaps the main topic of this game, the horse.

What could a horse represent? Of all the things you find in video games how do you analyze something so direct yet so abstract. The horse in Cliffhorse could mean quite anything so this post is going to focus more on my personal opinion rather than what I think the creator Notch intended.

When you look at a piece of art it is often that you will find the creators essence placed into his work. Edgar Allen Poe for instance experienced great hardships throughout his life and often incorporated this into his work. I believe that Cliffhorse is similar to this idea but in a different sort of twist. If you ask someone what it means to play a video game you may get an answer explaining how you can live another life through someone else creation. I would agree with this idea and I think this is what Notch was trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter what the player character looks like or how he acts. The player holding the controller and what he chooses to do is all that really matters. The actions of the player as he or she controls the horse creates a personal story for that player in specific. Going along with my previous post you can see why Notch chose to create such ambiguous obstacles. He wanted to create a landscape not a story. He wanted to allow his players to craft there own story much like he did in mine craft. Each part of this game is specifically built to allow the player to roam free. There is no intended narrative, no forced mechanics and now tutorial. Just like real life your placed into an unknown world and given free reign. You aren’t directly told the rules and there is no overlying goal. You create these things for yourself. Notch clearly wanted to make something that was a piece of himself but also a piece of his fans, he wanted to give back to the community. I may be alone in thinking this but I have experienced few games that have ever demonstrated this level of realism, and if the game represents realism then each piece of the game represents something in the players life. The Cliffs represent hardships, the ball represent companionship and the horse represents the player.

Thanks again for reading, sorry I didn’t post last week I have been pretty busy with school and such. I promise I will get at least 2 more of these out by the beginning of March.


Written By James Murphy



CliffHorse Analysis Part 1: Cliffs


Welcome to my Clifhorse analysis series. Throughout February, once a week I will be posting analysis to a specific piece of the game Cliffhorse. This week I will be talking about cliffs featured in Cliffhorse. What do they mean? Why are they here? These are the types of questions I will be asking today.

What does it mean to have content in a video game? Most people will claim that content is what a player can interact with. Cliffhorse features both a ball and the ground along with cliffs to interact with. But I believe there is more to content than just interaction. As I have talked about before, games can exist as more than just a piece of entertainment, there are many games out there that represent bigger things and are greater than the sum of their parts. The cliffs in Cliffhorse are just like this. It should not come as a surprise that the entirety of the game Cliffhorse is a metaphor for existentialism. Each of its pieces represents a different piece of existence that humanity is looking for. The horse represent man and its individualism, the ball represents the rest of society, and the landscape and the cliffs represent the world in which we live in.


Humanity has consistently found hurdles to overcome in their lives. These bumps in the landscape are exactly what the cliffs in this game represent. The horse the player controls is completely free to explore the landscape at any pace or in any direction he or she chooses. This is completely similar to human society. An individual can choose to explore the world or pursue nearly any career he or she chooses. However, humanity will often choose a path that is most exciting to them and will likely involve large hurdles. Upon showing Cliffhorse to many of my friends and peers, I have seen many different ways of playing this game but all do nearly the same thing. They will consistently challenge the physics of the game world, climbing up hills and searching for the highest vantage point. Cliffhorse does not force any of its players to do these things yet just like life people always seek adventure and won’t stop until they reach the highest level they can perceive.

Similarly, many players will experiment finding how they can increase their speed by running down steep cliffs. This represents bad choices in life. Although seemingly fun tiny choices like this can destroy all of one’s hard work. Simply gliding down one cliff, an action that takes seconds, can instantaneously destroy minutes of hard work. This parallels with dishonest and unsafe choices in real life. The landscape in Cliffhorse is very intentional in its dangerous but also in its subtleties.

Like life, the landscape of Cliffhorse is inconsistent. It is steep and chaotic at points but also calm and flat in other places. The world crafting in this game is very intentional and each piece can be interpreted in a different way. Each part of the landscape in this game means something and that is perhaps why Cliffhorse is such a good game.

Thank you very much for reading.

By: James Murphy




Undertale: Review and Commentary

How Video Games can be Perceived as an Art Form: 


What makes a piece of media art? If you look at movies today you will find the medium cluttered with cash grabs, remakes, sequels, and adaptions that have little originality. Of course, many of these familiar movies are very much enjoyable and have a large amount of following. However, there are few movies today that attempt to do something original. Video Games are the same way. The reason gamers are looked upon with such unscholarly prejudice is perhaps because it is difficult to convince others that games can be a work of art with multiple interpretations and high symbolism. This is mostly due to the fact that there are few games in the industry that can be considered art. There are very few titles in the gaming industry that can be interpreted as an expression of the creator, Undertale is one of these games.

Video Games have had some harsh criticism over the years from non-gamers. From claims that they cause teenage violence to the misconception that games are composed of meaningless ideas and mechanics and are simply just meant to be FUN. There have of course been a number of great games that most definitely defy these claims and demonstrate video games as an art form. Bioshock and Metal Gear Solid, for instance, have incredibly interesting character development and world commentary. For this review I will be looking at what the new game Undertale does differently in these aspects and what I think it does to demonstrate games as an art medium.


You may have heard about this small indie title sweeping the gaming community by storm. Gamers everywhere are raging about the many unique ideas and mechanics this game implements. But what is it exactly? Well, it’s a traditional looking game with an amazing soundtrack and art style for one. Also, it’s a story focused RPG that lets you either kill or spare every character you meet. Unlike most games every important character’s fate lies in the players hands. Because of this, there are many ways to play this game. The creator uses this to create some very interesting commentary. Why do we play games? What does it mean for a game to implement player choice? What does this mean to the player? How realistic should we consider games to be? Among playing this game I encountered every one of these questions not just because it asked them to me, but because it made me think. Unlike most games Undertale is an experience unique to the player but also an experience that means something to its creator. But why is this?

Perhaps one of the reasons few games can be considered an expression of the creator is because with most games so many people are involved with the conceiving of the entire game. With games like The Elder Scrolls, and World of Warcraft (both amazing games) there are hundreds of people working on one product. Compared to paintings that are constructed by one person, it’s no wonder it’s difficult to perceive art in this medium. Undertale, however, was mostly created by one person, Toby Fox along with help from Temmie Chang. With such a small team you can be sure that this creation that has been release is completely of the authors intent. It is a game that uses each and every character and game mechanic to tell a story. Every piece of this game means something to the player and that is what often gets lost in other games simply trying to please every demographic. Undertale is unique because every mechanic, every design choice this creator made, he did so for a reason other than to please gamers.

bullet hell

Undertale uses each of its mechanics to say something. For instance, a player can choose to kill another character or spare them. However what if the player changes his or her mind. Can’t he just reset the game and play it over. Well in Undertale this is still possible but if one does this characters won’t treat the player in the same way. This also creates more commentary on the act of resetting a game present. Did we the players create this mechanic to avoid moral choices in games? Is it wrong to do such a thing? Notice how this game is simultaneously engaging players in a Video Game and also commentating on what it means to play a Video Game.

This game also uses each of the battles to deconstruct the characters the player fights. Unlike most games that use unengaging dialogue and exposition to detail NPCs, Undertale uniquely uses an enemies attack to describe their personality. For instance, some attacks may be in the form of tears symbolizing an enemies remorse in fighting. Other Characters won’t let you move side to side to show how determined they are.


Another central idea Undertale revolves around is Determination. This game makes mention to this word many times for a good reason. Unlike most forms of art, a player must have skill to finish a video game. Readers and movie watcher only need to show up. But in Undertale’s case, they must repeatedly inform the player that in order to understand this piece of art to its intent, they must stay determined and finish it.

Let’s look further into the games art style. Why did the creator choose to make such an old looking game? I think it’s used as even more commentary. What it’s trying to say is that games this deep were always possible. Despite the lacking amount of truly metaphoric games in our era, there has always been the technology for games like this to exist. Undertale is strikingly dense with meaning in every aspect of its creation. No matter what aspect of the game you look at, you will find thought and meaning put into it, something that many recent games seem to forget.


When movies first began to become a reasonable form of art people began to see that there are some things that can’t just be conveyed in writing. Undertale serves as an example how video games are an important media in our generation. There are many ideas, themes, and messages that simply could not by conveyed in any other form. Games are indeed an important piece of our culture. And the choices us gamers make when we buy and play games greatly affects not only us and our games, but the people around us.   This game poses many questions with a lot of answers if you look hard enough. There are numerous metaphors and symbolism to be found here and that is why I think a game like this is so important to us. If you have the time and appreciate games as much as I do, please look into this game, and if you do decide to play it try to engage with this game and think about what it means, both to you and to its creator.

Thank you very much for reading,

Score: A

Written by James Murphy

Robocraft: Game Review

How Does a Free to Play Title Keep Players for Quitting


When gamers here the words “free to play” it usually earns large skepticism and even fear. Games like Clash of Clans or War Thunder are indeed fun to play but they, like many other games in their genre, have a serious design problem with micro-transactions. I could talk about what to do and what not to do with these dreaded things but much of it has been said by others. What I’m here to talk about is what the game Robocraft does well. If you do want to hear about Micro-transactions you can watch this excellent video by the youtube channel Extra Credits.

If you ask anyone why they decided to quit playing a game like Clash of Clans its likely because they either got bored or reached a wall that would force them to pay an outrageous sum of money in order to progress at a reasonable pace. Robocraft is able to maintain an interesting game with a number of monthly updates that improve and change the game for everyone.


BotPoster_L1 (here are just a few possible vehicles a player could build)

The premise is very simple. You are given a few types of blocks some wheels and some guns. Then you build what ever you want and fight other peoples creations. There are tons of battle modes as well. From the elimination style Team Deathmatch and the league of legends style Battle Arena to the score based Pit mode. On top of that players can expect to see updates monthly with newly added content and a few changes to balance long found issues. For instance the most recent update got rid of tier leveled blocks and added the ability to paint your bot what ever combination of colors you want all for free.


Along with a variety of matches as players progress they each unlock a wide new variety of parts to their bots. They will unlock new guns like snipers, or even healing rays for those of you who like a healing class build. Along with new types of movement components such as propellers, wings, and even legs. Even with added mapping systems and armor plates. This game rewards player progression with variety in bot creation. Few games have such a large increase in user possibilities and play variety as you continue to play. This is the kind of thing that keeps players interested. And instead of micro-transactions that just allow players to skip a useless time lock on item creation or things like that. All money will get you in this game is a higher increase in currency and XP. However this is a great thing to get if you want to put in a few bucks as you will get a big return over a few days put into playing. This game does both the two things that a free to play game must do. It keeps players interested and it avoids useless or forced micro-transactions.


Of course sense this is a review and a review needs criticism I must point out the obvious flaws with the game. First off this game looks like poop. I mean people can defend it all they want but there are a lot of things wrong ascetically with this game. They have added higher quality textures within a few updates but no one can deny that the look of this game is not good. And with a high variety in player matches players can expect to see some unbalanced builds with each player. Some players bots are a lot stronger than others even with the tier based match making however with a 10v10 battle this does little to determine the outcome of each battle.

In all Robocraft presents an amazingly fun experience with some minor missteps but where it shines is where most other free to play games fall flat. It goes against the norm and establishes that indie games are here to stay in the gaming industry. Robocraft has been some of the most fun I’ve had with a free to play arena game in a long time and I would defiantly recommend it to anyone who enjoys user customization and competitive arena games.

Score: A

By: James Murphy

Game of the Year 2015

This year I have chosen to name Cliff Horse my favorite game of the year. Created by Notch, this game has numerous metaphors and allusions to life, humanity, isolation, and companionship. Not to mention it is one of the best horse and cliff simulators I have ever played. GG 10/10 would recommend.



Why I love Rocket League

Its Soccer with cars!

Few games in the current era can demonstrate such simplicity and yet so much enjoyment, Rocket League continues to demonstrate to me why indie games are so important in the gaming industry.

Upon many games like fallout 4 and metal gear solid 5 there has been a large amount of anticipation and hype built up upon such highly established titles. Although I was extremely exited and satisfied with both of these games having played others in the series I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in the lack of originality in pretty much any games that come out every year. Rocket League changed that. This game does what few companies are afraid to do. It tried new ideas mashed certain elements from other games together in a way no one could ever expect to be as successful as it was. With only a 5 million dollar budget this game has grossed over 5 times that. This new idea has shown that people us gamers are getting tired of the old. We want something new not just update versions of what we loved 10 years ago.

This game provides an easy concept to learn but something that has so much depth it takes hours to master. What this game is in a broad sense in soccer but with cars. All you need to know is that you control a car that can boost, jump, and do flips and whatnot, and that you need to get a soccer ball into the other teams goal. The controls are easy to learn and the concept is so simple a child could understand it. And that’s how it should be. The huge amount of controls and actions in games aren’t a bad thing but they scare away so many newcomers in the gaming industry. This is a reason the mobile market recently surpassed the income of the console market. Too much complexity is a bad thing and AAA games are starting to focus on creating a huge expensive experience that only some will enjoy. Rocket League presents something that everyone can enjoy.

AAA games tend to present so much to learn at the beginning of their games but leave little to no new content or variety as the player progresses. Something that I miss from older games is the hidden secrets or tricks you learn from repeatedly playing a level. I remember the first time I discovered the hidden 1-up mushrooms in the original Super Mario Brothers. Although the game has only about 3 character actions I am still learning things about this decades old game. This kind of variety is what keep old games fresh. I still play this 30 year old game today and still get enjoyment out of it. Rocket League is very similar. Although the concepts and controls are limited the possible maneuvers in the game adds so much variety. It took me hours to learn to jump your car at the ball to more easily aim it at the goal. After over 40 hours of playing this game I am still learning new things about it and I still have much to learn because I am no where near as good as some other players I have seen. The player community has created tournaments and local events to celebrate and demonstrate hard earned skill at this game.

This game is a diamond in the rough of a gaming industry filled with rehashes and copies. It presents a new idea filled with simplicity and depth. And that is why Rocket League is one of my favorite games of the entire year and why I think indie games are so important.

By: James Murphy