Doom was one of 2016’s most highly-praised titles, and was among the best in a slew of first-person shooter hits like Titanfall II, Battlefield One, and Superhot. If you’re itching to return to hell with Doom on your PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, you can look forward to an update on March 29 that will boost the resolution to 4K. Whether the differences between both systems will result in upscaled or native 4K remain to be seen.

Be sure to read our review on the game and watch officially-captured gameplay footage in 4K below.

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[Source: Bethesda Softworks]


Our Take
Doom was one of my favorite titles from 2016. Despite getting a little repetitive near the end, it’s core gameplay loop and controls feel so good and addicting. Since I’ll be getting a PS4 Pro next month, I might just have to jump back into the game to see how it fares compared to my experience with it on the standard console.

Following up on last year’s Monopoly Gamer line, Hasbro has revealed a Mario Kart edition of the classic board game.

The new Mario Kart-themed Monopoly board does a little more than change the property names and board pieces. In addition to the retinue of Mario Kart items like bananas and shells, Mario Kart Monopoly also has a race system. When players pass Go, a race is started in Mario Kart-fashion. There’s no word on whether you should start moving your piece with the right timing for a boost start, though.

The properties will include famous Mario Kart tracks like Rainbow Road and Bowser’s Castle and launches with Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Toad. Later this year, a Power Pack will be released that adds Rosalina, Shy Guy, Bowser, Metal Mario, Donkey Kong and Yoshi to the roster.

Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart Edition will be sold at GameStop starting today for $24.99.

 

Our Take
Monopoly has always been a good game for finding out which of my friends is overly competitive and Mario Kart brings out a lot of the same qualities so I am very excited to combine the two and see what happens.

PlayStation Plus’ free games for March featured some uperb highlights such as Bloodborne. Fortunately, Sony is keeping up the solid selections this April with Mad Max on PS4. If you’re looking for more wild racing outside of driving around the Magnum Opus in Mad Max’s explosive wastelands, you can turn to the arcade racing title Trackmania Turbo, which is also free. While the PS3 and Vita’s time to receive free titles is limited, this month PlayStation Plus subscribers will receive the following:

  • In Space we Brawl (PS3)
  • Toy Home (PS3)
  • 99 Vidas (Vita)
  • Q*Bert Rebooted (PS Vita; Cross Buy with PS3 and PS4)

You can peruse our reviews for Mad Max and Trackmania Turbo to see if they’ll be worth your time.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

Microsoft has unveiled the set of four free games that come with Xbox Live gold memberships for April 2018.

Jonathan Blow’s critically acclaimed puzzler, The Witness, leads the lineup and is available for free from April 1 to April 30. “It steers your mind in unconventional directions, and makes you feel clever as you build on your knowledge and uncover new layers about the game’s language and logic,” Joe Juba said in our Witness review. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate stealthily follows from April 16 to May 15. In our Syndicate review, we say it “may draw inspiration from previous installments, but features like the zipline and revamped progression system demonstrate a willingness to cut stagnant elements loose.”

On the Xbox 360 front, Cars 2: The Video Game will be available from April 1 to April 15, while Dead Space 2 is free from April 16 to April 30. We know that Cars 2 was okay, but Dead Space 2 was better. In his Dead Space 2 review, Andrew Reiner called it “a monster of a sequel, offering bigger scares and more excitement.” Don’t forget all Xbox 360 titles in Games With Gold are backward compatible on Xbox One.

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Currently, Trials of the Blood Dragon and Quantum Conundrum are free through Saturday, while Superhot lasts until April 15.

[Source: Xbox on YouTube]

Square Enix is bringing Dragon Age XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age to the west on September 4 for PS4 and PC (via Steam).

The platforms themselves are noteworthy in that the 3DS version of the game is not coming over.

Among the upgrades over the Japanese version, the western release includes:

  • English voiceover
  • Draconian Quest hard mode
  • A New Dash function
  • Camera Mode

For more on the game, read about why Kim says it’s one of her Top 10 Most Anticipated RPGs Of 2018.

[Source: Square Enix] 

Into the Pixel, an art exhibit focused on video games and brought to you by the Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Entertainment Software Association, has opened up for submissions for its 2018 showing.

The art gallery takes art from games and game production and presents them at E3 2018. This means art inside of games or concept art gets displayed from some of the industry’s best work. As such, the deadline for submissions is April 20 to give time to pick and curate.

You can find last year’s gallery here and the link for submissions as the source link below.

[Source: Into the Pixels]

 

Our Take
Last year’s art looked great. With the breadth and variety of different games this past year with great art, I hope this year’s is even better.

Has a video game made you pause before? Whether it’s one of Shadow of the Colossus’ awe-inspiring giants or a sweeping vista from Horizon Zero Dawn, there’s a certain power to majesties like these move us to marvel out of wonder, shock, or even fear. These reactions are similar to standing before iconic religious buildings ranging from the Great Mosque of Mecca to the Mormon Tabernacle in Utah. Regardless of what belief (or lack thereof) you may profess, people from all walks of life are drawn to these structures because they carry the weight of their architects’ faith. In light of Far Cry 5’s blatant approach to religion and churches spread across its world, we’ve toured the varying glories of digital sanctuaries and temples to bring you the most memorable ones.

Sector 5 Church – Final Fantasy VII
Megacorporations are stereotypically bent toward unhinged greed and power at the expense of all things holy, and Shinra is emblematic of that kind of greed. In Final Fantasy VII, the company absorbs the planet’s Lifestream, which gives all things life. The consequences of its conquest are evident in the bleak, industrial landscapes Cloud and his friends travel through, but strangely enough, there’s one place that boasts signs of verdancy in the smog: the Sector 5 Church.

Cloud meets Aeris (a.k.a. Aerith) selling yellow flowers on the streets, but bumps into her again after falling through the quaint church’s steeple. Aeris considers it a comforting home away from home, and after her death, you can return to the church and find her apparition, which disappears forever upon approaching it. As later storylines unveil, the church is a prominent place for several fateful gatherings in the PSP title Crisis Core and animated film Advent Children. In the latter, it’s revealed the Lifestream flows under the church, causing the flowers to bloom. Aeris’ special connection with the site gives her the ability to revive Cloud in a pool of water (which has replaced the flower bed) after another battle with Sephiroth. Throughout the film, a disease has affected the people of Midgar, but Cloud demonstrates the pool’s healing properties by sprinkling infected children with its water before the credits roll. Love and life – it’s as if these things flow through the Sector 5 Church.

Twilight Cathedral – Darksiders
Twilight Cathedral is not only the first proper dungeon in Darksiders, but also the largest church we’ve come across in a video game. Your character, War, is invading the building to claim the heart of the demon Tiamat to regain his power, and from the outside, the gothic establishment almost seems like Bowser’s castle since it’s surrounded by a lava moat, but once you enter, it’s far grander with its long aisles, angelic statues, and foreboding catacombs. You run the whole gamut of activities with engaging encounters, multi-layered puzzles by using the Crossblade, secrets, solid platforming, and two memorable bosses as you explore the building from top to bottom. It’s easy to assume its scale wouldn’t match the substance of its interior, but when your long journey to battle Tiamat ends in a thrilling fight atop the cathedral during a thunderstorm, it truly lives up to its religious grandeur.

Church of Unitology – Dead Space 2
The religious fervor surrounding the Marker is vaguely understood in Dead Space, but the sequel takes protagonist Isaac Clark to one of their central churches on Titan Station. The church’s architecture is a curiously futuristic take on the Victorian era, but what’s even more fascinating are the depths Visceral Games explored by fleshing out the history, theology, and life of Unitologists. Isaac goes from touring their inviting libraries and worship sanctums to uncovering its insidious practices with “indoctrination” and “convergence” in the church’s lower levels. Beautiful sights are juxtaposed with sheer horror as you learn about the science-based religion’s practices through audio and text logs. That’s not even mentioning various tense encounters with Stalkers that flit between Marker-inspired columns, walking through cryostasis tubes that could burst at any moment, and a boss fight taking place in a sanctum with a mesmerizing stained-glass window. Dead Space 2 is scarier thanks to the uneasy, false security this church lulls visitors into.

Shrine of Worship – Shadow of the Colossus
The meaning of The Forbidden Lands resonates as soon as you and Agro start galloping across the lengthy bridge leading to the Shrine of Worship. After Wanderer lays his deceased lover on the altar, you’re greeted to the dissonant, multi-voiced tenor of the enigmatic god Dormin, which emanates from an open oculus towering above the Aztec-like statues of the Colossi. With nothing but the sound of wind whistling through the antiquated building, you feel a pull to stare up at the ceiling or stand before Wander’s lover as you dispatch of each Colossus. Small shrines outside act as guiding markers throughout the peaceful landscape that you can pray at, which act as checkpoints. Even these secretly allude to the main shrine’s importance. As you return to Shrine of Worship over the course of the game, you feel as though you’re desecrating sacred ground as the statues inside crumble one by one.

St. Mark’s Basilica – Assassin’s Creed II
Real religious buildings don’t show up in video games often, but Assassin’s Creed has showcased dozens across the world all the way from Bayek to Desmond. The Notre-Dame in Unity, Hagia Sofia in Revelations – these are worth mentioning, but St. Mark’s Basilica in Assassin’s Creed II remains one of our favorites. The wide expanse and gold mosaics lend opulence to its overwhelming architecture from the outside; it’s almost a puzzle in itself as you figure out how to get inside to access an Assassin’s tomb. Once you do, you’re put to the test by clambering and jumping about with timed trials, and once you conquer all four of them, a floor mosaic near the cathedral’s center rearranges to reveal the Assassins’ symbol, granting entry to the sarcophagus of Anumet, who has recently been revealed in Origins as a pivotal figure in the Brotherhood’s history.

Grand Cathedral – Bloodborne
There’s no world more befitting of eerie worship grounds than the gothic, Lovecraftian setting of Bloodborne. Its disturbing horrors truly sink in when you enter the Grand Cathedral to confront Vicar Amelia. She’s a priestess who filled Laurence’s role there. He was the man who founded the Healing Church and initiated the ministration of the Old Blood throughout Yharnam. Before approaching Amelia, you can listen to a chilling prayer she recites, but once you get near her, she transforms into one of the game’s most terrifying bosses. She may not be one of Bloodborne’s most difficult enemies, but fighting the shrieking, gauntly beast in this hallowed sanctuary remains one of the game’s finest encounters. In addition, the Grand Cathedral serves as the catalyst for advancing the Moon Cycle when you touch the bestial skull at the building’s intricate, gold altar. When you take your leave into the Nightmare once more, it’s as if you walk away not blessed, but more cursed from visiting this deceiving refuge.

Church of the First Coalescence – Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is no stranger to honestly courting millennial concerns involving purpose, mental stress, friendship, and belief. Brief allusions to God are made in small snippets of dialogue, but the game’s brief commentaries on religion are most evident with the Church of the First Coalescence. It’s up on a hill overseeing Possum Springs, and should you venture there, you run into Mae’s mom, who works there as a secretary. You also meet Karen: a genuine, easygoing pastor who empathizes with Mae’s unbelief. Karen also offers a homeless person shelter in the church despite the city council’s warnings, calling attention to the values she hopes will emulate her church’s peaceful, welcoming, and vibrant interior. In addition, Mae can sleep in the church’s library if she goes to the church more than once. This results in one of the game’s most touching moments where her grandfather’s ghost silently sits next to Mae while she sleeps.

Royal Chapel – Castlevania: Symphony of The Night
Dracula despises humanity, so when you explore his imposing castle, it’s surprising to stumble upon the Royal Chapel. After fighting through the unsettling displays and architecture of the Alchemy Laboratory, you climb an unusually long set of gold stairs. In the backdrop, stained-glass windows of saints and paintings of crosses are the last thing you’d expect to see in Dracula’s abode. There’s also a 3D-esque portion of the level where you fight a Puppet Sword with pews and massive stained-glass windows receding into the backdrop. However, one of the greatest surprises is in the back of the worship area. There’s a hidden confession booth that Alucard can interact with by sitting down. You witness a man praying, a woman crying, and specters who try to kill you when you recline in one of the chairs. It’s a somber, strange moment in the platforming adventure, perhaps serving as a representation of Alucard’s willingness to forgive and fight for humanity since his father will not.

Old Hammer Cathedral – Thief: The Dark Project
The Thief games stand the test of time as strategic titles that capture the thrill of stealth through a vulnerable protagonist. One grunt can send your heart racing if he spots you, and you must pay attention to your speed and where you tread lest you be spotted in an instant. Most fans agree Thief: The Dark Project (or Thief Gold) is most intense in the Return to the Cathedral level. Garrett has been commissioned by a man named Constantine to steal an artifact called the Eye, and once the thief gathers four talismans, he’s able to enter an abandoned sanctuary to pursue it. However, he discovers the place is crawling with undead acolytes of the Hammerite Order. You must guide Garrett through the cathedral and its visually diverse courtyards, such as a library, factory (replete with the Hammerite’s advanced forges and elevators), and cemetery. After retrieving the artifact, Garrett escapes by aiding the spirit of a restless practitioner by finding and burying his body so he can move on from this realm. The demanding detour leaves you immersed in the gloomy cathedral and its unnerving soundscape as incessant moaning and eerie ambience mentally tax you. Much like Dead Space 2, Thief dedicates an entire mission to fleshing out the history of its religious faction through a church that’s marked by superb level design and interesting lore. Did we mention the Hammer Haunts? Probably best if we don’t.

Temple of Time – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
While Nintendo has moved away from explicit religious symbolism in the Zelda series, it still reflects this foundation with the Triforce, Hylian goddesses, and all sorts of prophesies, so it’s no surprise that churches and temples have appeared throughout the games, and the Temple of Time has become one of its most iconic. It allows Link to travel between the past and present in Ocarina of Time. The marble floors and white stones of the monolith greet you with a chilling chorus reverberating through a daunting ceiling. The temple’s recurring appearance throughout the series solidifies its significance to the Zelda universe, and when you stumble upon its dilapidated state in Breath of the Wild, you can’t help but get shivers as the classic song comes in as a hushed, slowed-down piano melody. A symbol of hope has dwindled to time’s ravages, but you can at least pray to one of the Hylian goddesses to bolster your hearts or stamina in the forgotten temple.

The extent of our pilgrimage meant excluding many locations from our list, so what are some video game churches, temples, or sanctuaries that have stood out to you? While you’re waiting for revelation, be sure to check out Kyle Hilliard’s interview with Iconoclast’s creator Joakim Sandberg, who discusses some of the religious undertones of his game. You can also read Javy Gwaltney’s latest Virtual Life about how Far Cry 5’s controversial subject matters fail to give way to meaningful discussion.

Earlier in the month, a team of former Hitman and Payday developers revealed Mutant Year Zero, a turn-based tactics game that integrates stealth, exploration, and narrative elements into the XCOM formula. At GDC, we got our first chance to see the game in action. 

Mutant Year Zero is based on the Mutant Chronicles pen & paper RPG, which was hugely popular in Sweden during the 90s. After entertaining the idea for years, former Hitman gameplay programmer David Skarin approached fellow I/O Interactive veteran Lee Varley about taking on the project. With Payday designer Ulf Andersson on board in an advisory capacity, the team landed the rights to the license as well as a publishing deal with Funcom, whose CEO, Rui Casais, is an unabashed turn-based strategy enthusiast. 

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where most remaining survivors have mutated in some fashion. The group this game follows all live in a shantytown built on top of a bridge they call the Ark. This base is home to The Elder, the only person old enough to have a connection to the world before the nuclear fallout. He doesn’t tell too many stories about the past and doesn’t want his people to venture out too far into the zone – a graveyard that expands the world beyond them. Unfortunately, they have to given their lack of water, supplies, and food.

We join a trio of adventurers right after they emerge from a military bunker complex in the Swedish countryside where they saved a lone survivor from a ghoul attack. He tipped them off to an enemy camp located further into the forest. They’ve stolen an electrical generator that would greatly benefit the Ark if they were able to get their hands on it. 

Moving into the forest, the demos shows off the real-time movement around the environment. While casing the area, players can find hints, lore, and maps that can aid them down the line. Gaining an understanding of your surrounding can also reveal great tactical advantages as well, like vertical positions and strong cover. 

The squad continues to move through the densely wooded area – these discrete mission areas are hand-crafted sandbox sections that you are free to explore. The squad spots a couple of enemies on the perimeter. The rings around them indicate what they can see and hear, giving you an idea of where it’s safe to move without getting engaged in a turn-based battle. Pre-planning is key during encounters. If you step inside the ring, the enemy gains the immediate advantage. In this case, the squad gets into position and initiates the turn-based combat. With the advantage of an ambush, they take the ghouls out quickly with silenced weapons. Mutants all have weird sets of skills (called mutations). In this battle, we see Duck use a “moth wings” ability where he can hover above the enemy and get a bonus on critical hits. 

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Since no one else heard the attack, the game switches right back to real-time, allowing the team to further move ahead. The one caveat to returning to exploration mode between combat scenarios is your skills still operate on cooldown timers, so you can’t spam them at the start of each battle. While snooping around the squad takes out one more enemy on the perimeter and then levels up. When you level you can spend points to buy mutagens. These are not locked as in traditional skill trees – you can pick and choose as new ones become available, and you can hot-swap them at will as long as you’re not in combat. This allows you to assess a situation and make the determination of which major, minor, and passive abilities you think could best help you in the skirmish. 

Before continuing further, the group heads back to the Ark using a fast travel portal. Players have several interaction points at their base, including a workshop for upgrading.modifying weapons, a bar where you can pick up the latest gossip or trade in artifacts for bonuses, a market for supplies, and visiting the Elder. The team stocks up on grenades and then returns to the camp. You can return right to the same spot you left off in a mission as long as you bring back your same squad. 

Approaching the camp, the squad splits up, allowing you to position your party members in various advantageous areas. The duck heads up to a tower, while the human Selma and the boar named Bormin flank the perimeter and find an old war machine mech in a barn. This must be why the ghouls needed the power generator. Because they found the robot’s instruction manual earlier in the game, Bormin can sabotage the robot so if the enemies try to activate it, its guns will turn on them immediately.

Once everyone is in good position they begin the fight with Bormin ready to activate a stoneskin ability that aggros enemy, Duck in a great sniping position, and Selma providing overwatch. The fight plays out as they expect, with the robot turning on its masters and creating chaos for the defenders. The trio takes some damage and gets in some dicey spots during the fight, but emerge victorious thanks to a healthy amount of grenades and using cooldown attacks at the right time. 

If the fight went south, it has consequences based on your difficulty level. The easy mode users can escape relatively unscathed, but permadeath lingers over your every move in the higher difficulties. As you play through the game you will come across new characters to join your party, but as with games like XCOM you’ll want to make sure you take care of your best soldiers.

Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden is scheduled to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later in 2018. When we asked about porting the game to Switch, The Bearded Ladies admit they are looking into it. 

Sony has announced it is dropping the price of the PlayStation VR camera bundle on March 29 by a $100, bringing it down to $299.

The price drop encompasses the unit’s camera bundles that do not include the Move motion controllers. Those bundles (VR Worlds, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, etc.) remain at $449.

The reduced price keeps the PSVR competitive with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which are at $399 (which includes two Touch controllers) and $499, respectively.

At the end of last year, Sony estimated that it had sold over two million PSVR units worldwide.

[Source: Sony Interactive Entertainment] 

 

Our Take 
A price cut for hardware is always nice, but it’s hard to know if this is a move that will take off with consumers and usher the unit into wide acceptance, or one born out of necessity.

Spoiler warning: This interview contains spoilers for the first Life is Strange, as well as Life is Strange: Before the Storm.

Deck Nine took on an ambitious project when it signed on to create a prequel to Dontnod’s Life is Strange, bringing Chloe and her relationship with Rachel Amber to the forefront. What resulted was a beautiful tale of friendship, love, and grief. It fleshed out Chloe to bring a more human side to her polarizing personality, portrayed how her relationship with Rachel was a defining chapter in her life, and offered a new perspective to Arcadia Bay.

With Before the Storm’s episodic story completed, we sat down with lead writer Zak Garriss to discuss the challenges of taking the reins from Dontnod, the research that went into writing queer characters, and the scenes that the team had to regretfully cut to keep up with tight production deadlines. 

Life is Strange: Before the Storm does a great job of bringing nuance to Rachel, a character we previously knew very little about. Was it difficult to build that character from the ground up?

Rachel was one of the biggest challenges in Before the Storm as a whole. We had instruction from the first game in that her absence from the story and characters’ lives was felt. You could talk to every character, especially in the first episode, and someone would have something to say about Rachel. From that, we learned that she’s a little bit different to everyone, that she’s kind of chimeric in that. She can represent a lot of different versions of herself. Like that she’s compelling, that everyone has a strong opinion about her, most people really like her – I think the spectacle of Rachel Amber from the first game was significant. That was exciting and challenging at the same time. But we realized when we were building the story around Chloe, and specifically around the impact Rachel had in Chloe’s life, we were really choosing to bet on building Rachel as a compelling character. We just did our best with it. But it was fun. I think we all thought and wrote about people we’ve met in our lives that defined chapters for whatever reason. Your first love, the person who breaks your heart, someone who says something at just the right time and place to change the way you think about a fundamental facet of your life. We all have these people and we really focused on that and drew on that in building and creating Rachel.

When you skip school with Rachel and ride a train with her, she mentions that she’s pretty good at lying and she can be manipulative. I thought that was interesting; I began to wonder if she wasn’t as great as we’re led to believe. Was that a sentiment you wanted to provoke in the player?

Oh yeah. I thought a lot about – this is a weird comparison – but through development, I thought a lot about how C.S. Lewis described God. In his work, he talks about being good but not safe. I think imposing that distinction is an important one because it presents an idea that good and safe might be separate things. The way I think about Rachel is beautiful but maybe not good. I wanted to explore the things and ideas that captivate us potentially to our own end. Even if she’s telling you, “I’m really good at lying” and you may think, “Maybe she’s lying to me,” you still think at the same time, “She’s talking to me right now. She’s interested in me. This person who is capable of doing almost anything she wants, wants to be around me. Maybe she is dangerous, but I don’t care, because it feels good.” That’s just an interesting space to be in, particularly when you’re 16 and you need validation, happiness, or connection on any level. I think for someone like Chloe, who is at the bottom of the Blackwell social ladder, to have a person who is at the top call her out and say “you’re interesting, you’re strong, you’re compelling to me” – she needs that. But it might not be good, and it might not be safe. We know that from the first game.

There are several times where we see Rachel’s anger come out, like when she burns down the forest. Does Rachel actually have a power or were these moments just for thematic effect?

We deliberately didn’t want to answer that [in the game]. After the first episode and as the story continues on, we explored it in subtler ways. I don’t think I even want to answer it now – not because we have an official answer and I don’t want to say it – but I like the idea that maybe it’s something we’ve hinted at but it’s not something the story needs to directly address. I think the most powerful thing Rachel does is compel people. There is this sort of thematic and almost supernatural aesthetic to the fire scene, but far more so I think her ability to light Chloe up and change the spaces that she’s in is really her gift.

Did you go into this project thinking you were going to write a compelling story about friendship, or a compelling story about love?

Game writing is weird and unlike other kinds of writing, because you have to think discursively. If you’re really going to embrace player agency in the narrative, you have to think about multiple branches simultaneously. I think in writing Rachel, it was important to us to try to do both of those things – to say we’re going to tell a love story and we’re going to tell a story about best friends. But what we’re really telling a story about is neither love or friendship; it’s about people that completely change your life. And that can be love and that can be platonic. 

Before the Storm has one of the best queer love stories I’ve seen in games. What kind of research went into that?

A lot. I think when you’re writing anything, research is important. Anytime you’re talking about experiences not your own, and I’m speaking about myself in this, research is absolutely vital. Research and humility. But I do think there’s a gentleness that’s required and a recognition of boundaries, perspectives, and biases. I’m not a 16-year-old girl – I’ve never struggled with those experiences or my sexuality in that particular way. So, I’m writing from a place of immense ignorance in that. But we have a writer’s room. I’m not the only writer – there are four of us. Half of us are female and there are members of the room and of the studio as a whole that identify within the LGBT community. We leaned on their perspectives and insight.  We read a number of things online and just thought really carefully. 

We chose not to tell a coming out story, and we did that for a lot of reasons. One of the most consistent pieces of feedback I got about this was people really wanted to see gay characters, queer characters, whose queerness was the least interesting thing about them. There’s a story we could have told about that, absolutely, and that could be a really fruitful story but that’s not the story we were going to tell. We were going to treat queerness as incidental, as matter-of-fact. Not casually and not disregarding the intricacies, but we let that not be the most important thing going on. When they kiss, it’s just going to be a romantic kiss. And we set it up to be as lovely and as crazy and awesome as it could be and just not care about the fact that it’s two girls. That resonated with fans and members of the community in a way that we’re all just really grateful for. We wanted to tell a story, we wanted to find the boundaries of where games are intersecting with these communities and really push them. And anytime you do that, there’s a risk of insensitivity, there’s a risk of a mistake, there are all sorts of risks. And I think that’s okay – we should take these risks.

In terms of feedback you received on that topic, do you look back and think that there’s anything you would have done differently?

No, I don’t think so. There are questions I still have. Choosing to end the story with Rachel’s fate was a very deliberate thing that we did. [Some fans] reacted with pain about it. And we thought that would happen. The game itself really is a pleasant fiction, because we know Chloe’s fate. We know Rachel’s fate. What we wanted to explore with this love story, in this little window of time, was the brilliant joy that Chloe had in Rachel but at the end, we remind you that it was temporary and that it wasn’t going to last. We made a spectacle of her grief in episode one, by the end in that final scene, maybe you’re feeling it in a way you wouldn’t have just from her telling you that she was grieving. We wanted to see what the medium could do with that. And I’m proud of what we accomplished, and at the same time, I don’t love that it hurt people because it was such an intense experience. We just want to think about the kinds of connections we’re building with the interactive stories and how to be mindful. I don’t think we did anything wrong, I just want to continue to be thoughtful about what we’re doing because as an industry, we don’t really understand what we’re making still. We’re still figuring it out. 

Continue reading on the next page to learn about a deleted scene and the challenges of writing interactive stories.

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