You see where this is going, right?
February 5, 2020 4:38 PM   Subscribe

"This daily rollout will be an experiment of sorts, a kind of live essay. I honestly don’t know if it will work, or whether it’s wise, or whether I can even pull it off. The essay may shift in the unspooling, and I’m still not sure how some of the later pieces will resolve. But I hope this form speaks to the content I’ve been wrestling with for so long. I hope by the end it makes sense."
Tevis Thompson, author of Saving Zelda (previously) and co-creator of the Second Quest graphic novel (previously) is finishing what began as a review of the best games, worst games and critical failures of 2018, a work that has taken a year to finish.
"... Not true believers but sad sacks gone sour. With more sulk than bile, longing for a past that never even existed. And these Arthurs, like so many gamers, don’t even care anymore that it’s a lie. They gave up responsibility for the truth a long time ago. What does it mean to long for a lie? Where does it end? Especially when, at most, what you’re longing for is a feeling. Well, what you remember of a feeling. Hasn’t anyone told you the bad news, sweetheart? It's not coming back."
posted by mhoye (8 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I liked Tevis Thompson back then, I liked Second Quest, and I like this. Good post!
posted by JHarris at 6:53 PM on February 5, 2020

I feel bad for not being aware of this journalist/reviewer and am now bookmarking these links. I am enjoying the reviews I'm reading thus far. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
posted by Fizz at 5:24 AM on February 6, 2020

Interesting reads. I never got as far as this person with RDR2, because the controls made me want to throw my console out the window. Rockstar games suck control-wise (and otherwise, but that's an old story) and I do not understand the enormous popularity that they have.

One thing I'd like to get from game reviewers is more simple descriptions as to what the game is, and how it plays. So many times I read a review, and it's mostly comparisons to other games. "This game has the feel of Game XYZ, with the bosses of Game ABC and it's save system is reminiscent of Game XWZ. Oh, and it's a Metroidvania."

It took me quite a while to figure out WTH is meant by Metroidvania. And what if I never played any of the games the reviewer is referencing? Why not some basic description of gameplay that doesn't solely rely on referencing other, older games?
posted by SoberHighland at 9:12 AM on February 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

The critique of RDR2 reminds me of how I felt watching the John Wick sequels: The protagonist is a terrible person, I don't care for the repetitive killing, and there are other people's stories to be told in this world that are likely more interesting, so why am I still here?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:35 PM on February 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Boy, that essay got on my nerves. It's bad when critics like games. It's also bad when critics don't like games. It's bad when critics are honest about why they liked a game, but if they say they liked a game they're lying and are just subservient to the games industry. Critics who say they had transcendent experiences with Gris or Celeste are deluded because those games suck, but my transcendent experiences with Subnautica and Iconoclasts are evidence of those games' greatness.

I don't really interact much with game critics on twitter, so maybe there is more reason behind this rant-sounding crabbiness than just snobbery on the author's part, but without that context, it doesn't come through. Much like the criticisms of Red Dead 2, which I have read several longform articles on that elaborated at length on all the things the author here takes as given and explains both the problems and why they are problematic; this essay just says over and over that the game sucked and doesn't bother to explain why or why I should care about this person's very abrasive opinions on it.
posted by Scattercat at 3:11 PM on February 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also, while I don't disagree with his choice of Fortnite as game of the year, or generation for that matter although it seems a bit premature, I would use it in a way similar to Time Magazine naming Donald Trump person of the year. Yes it has a huge player base and has made a ton of money and maybe it is harmless fun for adults and teenagers but I know a bunch of younger kids who play it and they're all ... lacking - to the extent that my wife and I will routinely tell our kids not to be like their peers and cousin who play Fortnite. It was probably the only "don't do X" rule we had for them until a couple of weeks ago when I also had to tell them not to do meth.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:38 PM on February 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I struggled with the RDR2 review as well. If anything it made me want to check the game out.

I’ve also been struggling with Thompson for a while, ever since he decided Eurogamer reviews were lazy and pandering because they stopped issuing numerical ratings. Uh, I guess that’s a take?

Being a critic of any kind is a sort of egoistic exercise - you’re basically examining someone else’s creation and trying to write your own name on some small piece of it. I feel like that’s an acceptable trade-off if I come away from a piece of criticism feeling like I am a smarter person who is now better-equipped to understand some of the media I consume. But with Thompson I don’t. All I know is that he thinks RDR2 is a con.
posted by um at 4:27 PM on February 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

His reviews remind me of Armond White reviews in that I can't find a logic around what he considers 'good' or 'bad'. Like obviously you like what you like, but Thompson doesn't seem like a critic a person who could get behind in the sense of equivalent taste.

His writing about Zelda reminds me of the Simpsons episode where they try to retool Itchy and Scratchy to make everyone happy - like you want a Zelda game that's vastly open world, where you can't figure out anything from context, where there are no barriers to anything etc. etc. It's almost like taking the worst parts of late 80's gaming and mixing in the worst parts of modern gaming.
posted by Dmenet at 2:02 PM on February 7, 2020

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