[Game: FTL: Faster Than Light, Subset Games, 2012]
Style by Necessity:

FTL: Faster Than Light, and Pixel Art as a New Cubism

 

FTL: Faster Than Light bead sprites - pixel art analysis - Subset Games

Bead Sprites by The Gemsbok

The artistic movement of Cubism has had an incalculable influence on the art history of the past century. Its temporal and spatial fluidity was new and exciting, and carried art yet further along its strange journey of influence from Impressionism toward Abstract Art. Some formal attributes of Cubism, such as flattened perspective, an emphasis on forms and experiences over minutiae, and sharply contrasting regions of intense color, are also present in a much more modern art form: pixel art.

One recent game which uses pixel art to great effect is Subset Games’ acclaimed strategy roguelike, FTL: Faster Than Lightpixel art analysis - FTL: Faster Than Light - Subset Games. By taking a quick look at some of the art in FTL, one can acknowledge and remark upon the meaning it carries, in the hopes that others will go on to do the same for pixel art that interests them.

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[Game: FTL: Faster Than Light, Subset Games, 2012]
Style by Necessity:

FTL: Faster Than Light, and Pixel Art as a New Cubism

was last modified: February 11th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Offspring Fling!, Kyle Pulver, 2012]
A Hidden Gauntlet:

The Brutal Platformer Hiding Behind the Lovely Facade of Offspring Fling!

Introduction:

After the heavy subject matter and dense theoretical prose of your last Mid-week Mission, I am just going to make this one a brief recommendation of another cheap, oft-overlooked indie product. This might just be another outlying opinion on a tiny title, but when it comes to Offspring Fling!, I love the game.

After beating Offspring Fling! casually (or as soon as you care to notice it), the real challenge of the title opens up: one of the most precise and challenging speed-run systems built into a game of which I am aware, which upon completion unlocks a suite of precision platforming bonus levels.

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[Game: Offspring Fling!, Kyle Pulver, 2012]
A Hidden Gauntlet:

The Brutal Platformer Hiding Behind the Lovely Facade of Offspring Fling!

was last modified: April 19th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Papers, Please, Lucas Pope, 2013]
Coherent Contradictions:

Exploring the Literary Qualities of Papers, Please from the Perspectives of the New Critics and the Russian Formalists

 

Introduction:

The self-sufficiency attributed to literature by both the New Critics and the Russian Formalists is indicative of an approach to art which renders legible, through close study, work in many fields aside from literature. Indeed, the practice of ‘close reading’ the relative coherence and ironic interplay of a work’s constituent elements can be as demonstrably successful in parsing a video game as it has been in parsing other contemporary subjects, such as film, painting, and photography.

The 2013 indie game Papers, Please, created by Lucas Pope, is perfectly amenable to analysis in this mode. This deceptively simple game centers on a middle-aged, male player-character who lives and supports his impoverished family in the dystopian country of Arstotska in 1982; he is an unwilling government employee staffing a border checkpoint, tasked with sifting the paperwork of would-be emigrants for discrepancies (as seen in fig. 1, below). Papers, Please is an expression, through both typical literary elements and unique ‘gamely’ elements, of the paradoxical situation of human agency within mechanical, menial work—and of power, even political power, within the disenfranchised individual.

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[Game: Papers, Please, Lucas Pope, 2013]
Coherent Contradictions:

Exploring the Literary Qualities of Papers, Please from the Perspectives of the New Critics and the Russian Formalists

was last modified: March 15th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Wizorb, Tribute Games, 2011]
Through the Looking Orb:

Wizorb and the Tradition of Short, High-quality, Arcade-style Games

 

Introduction:

Wizorb, an independently made arcade-style block breaker with light RPG elements, has the lowest aggregate review score of any of the games in my top 25 most played Steam games by almost 20%. Critics accuse the unassuming $3 title of failing to innovate on the block breaker formula, but more heinously (in the realm of video games), they accuse it of being boring.

Now, if Wizorb is indeed a boring, stale offering, it is very curious that it has held my attention for over thirty hours. So what do I see in this game that others are glad to overlook? I see nothing more and nothing less than a prime example of the format of game design and distribution that I would love to see sweep across the entire industry.

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[Game: Wizorb, Tribute Games, 2011]
Through the Looking Orb:

Wizorb and the Tradition of Short, High-quality, Arcade-style Games

was last modified: March 11th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski