How Final Fantasy VIII’s Insanity Made it Better

When was the last time you were surprised by a video game? No, I don’t mean an occasional plot twist or the fact that the game turned out to be way better than you were giving it credit at first. I mean when you weren’t ready for anything that a game was going to throw at you. When you thought you knew gaming, but then it pulls you up from the Earth and into the open space to show that there’s a whole new universe beyond the one you were familiar with.

“I envy you. I wish I could go back and do it for the first time, all over again.”
— The Game (1997)

Arguably, you can experience this once in a lifetime.…   [continue reading]

Final Fantasy XV [FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

Hear the writers discuss this subject (and the whole Final Fantasy series) on the Secret Cave Podcast!

My first impressions of Final Fantasy XV came after a mere four hours of toe-dipping.  As a result it was quite naive, occasionally singing praises where it shouldn’t.  Conversely, there were many criticisms that weren’t exactly fair.  There’s much to comment on with this release, and the mix of emotions it can bring about in players is stark.  An equal portion of you is likely to utterly despise it as the side of you that loves it.  With both its successes and its mistakes, it constantly provokes a strong response.  …   [continue reading]

Secret Cave Podcast #5: Radiohead, Final Fantasy, Filter Bubble

It’s all kicking off in the fifth episode of the Secret Cave podcast. Lee and I have arguments about turn-based combat, the best Radiohead album, Final Fantasy’s finest era, and Rasta samples in the Predator movies.

In this episode, we mainly cover Radiohead, Final Fantasy and the hidden algorithms behind how we’re shown the world. As always, we’ll be announcing episodes on Twitter, and streaming them on Twitch.

Subscribe on iTunes to get future episodes downloaded automatically.

…But for now, listen to this week’s episode:

📻 in this episode, we discuss:

  • Thoughts on Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool
  • How your listening environment affects music
  • On True Love Waits
  • Does a high production value affect emotional reaction?
…   [continue reading]

Final Fantasy XV [FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

Hear the writers discuss this subject (and the whole Final Fantasy series) on the Secret Cave Podcast!

It usually goes one of two ways for people when it comes to the prolific Final Fantasy series.  Most have either never bothered dipping their toes, or have already obsessively played large chunks of their games.  The release of Final Fantasy XV was something I greatly looked forward to, being a firm member of the latter camp.  Of course, i’m far from the only one.  Its announcement, ten years ago, has caused a rich lather of anticipation.  From ridiculously impressive gameplay videos to an entire cinematic offshoot, we’ve had plenty of time to let excitement take hold.  …   [continue reading]

The Unsettling Evolution of Video Game Storylines

Hear the Secret Cave writers discuss this topic on episode 1 and episode 2 of our podcast.

Last week on the first episode of the Secret Cave podcast, I decided to start a bit of an argument. The statement was as follows:

“If a game doesn’t have a storyline, it’s shit.”

It’s not my opinion, or even something I’d thought deeply about, but I did have a bit of an idea what I meant by it.

For a start, I want to differentiate between the types of story games can have:

  1. Implied story: A story that can be gleaned from sparse dialog, box art, visual clues, and wider context
  2. Forced story: A story that is inextricably part of the game, like many RPGs

An example of type 1 would be Minecraft, where paintings and hidden content tells the story.…   [continue reading]

The Exact Conversation You Had With a Theoretical Pixel About The Future of Video Games

You’re inside a screen, deep into the digital sprawl. Sitting on the grass outside Kakariko Village, looking over the Corel Desert backdropped with a silhouette of the Boletarian Palace.

“You can’t imagine all the things I’ve been”, says theoretical pixel.

At the sky’s apex, it shifts from day to perpetual night.

“In my infinite parallel forms, I’m everything from the dirt you’re sitting on to a fleck of skull dust in the catacombs. I’ve lived a billion lifetimes over the past decade, and had my form thoughtfully crafted into tens of thousands of deep universes. The corona of an alien sun.…   [continue reading]