Return of the Obra Dinn Commentary and Critique

The slow march of my video series on detective games continues with this, its fifth entry. For awhile I was afraid there was no reason to do this one, as I wouldn’t be able to top my students’ posts and videos on this game after I taught it last spring. In the end, I went with sheer length as my own particular angle.

Script below the jump.

Continue reading

Untitled Goose Game: The Hjönkening

“Hjönk.”

Stylishly late project summary by group leader Shé Edwards

Untitled Goose Game is a colorful, charming game about the delightful antics of one of life’s most devastating antagonists. The game was developed by House House, an indie game developer based in Australia composed of just four people: Nico Disseldorp, Jacob Strasser, Stuart Gillespie-Cook, and Michael McMaster. Fun and lighthearted slapstick seem to be their forté, as the studio previously released a multiplayer game of a similar cute and cartoonish style named Push Me Pull You. Their most recent release became a hit for casual players and content creators alike, combining simple mechanics and character archetypes with entertaining puzzle-like objectives. The player waddles about the colorful world completing tasks, fulfilling the well-known power fantasy of being a particularly awful goose.

Continue reading

“We Had a List of Rules”: An Analysis of HER STORY

A fourth entry in my video series on detective games. It’s not real surprise that this game would end up in this series: I’ve taught it twice now (including in one class this term), I’ve written about teaching it, I named it one of the games of the decade, and right before the term launched I published a full transcript of it. What I didn’t expect was for it to be quite this long—definitely among the longer analyses of a single game I’ve done, in any format.

Script below the jump.

Continue reading

Identifying Mr. Kim’s Motive for Murder

by Zach Cogan, Joalda Morancy, and Frank Martin

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite does an exceptional job of displaying the large wealth gap between the very rich and very poor in South Korea. The magnitude of the wealth disparity is clearly depicted through the homes of the Kim and Park families. The Kim’s home is below ground in a cluttered area surrounded by other poor families. Their house has poor lighting and contains little running technology, even lacking an actual bathroom as the toilet merely sits up on a ledge. Their home is neglected by the city and is vulnerable to floods.

Continue reading

Expressing Doubt in Tell No One

by Tomas, Ashwin, Meira, Shahrez, and Matthew

The greatest feeling experienced upon first watching Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One is a sense of confusion, underpinned by an overwhelming sensation of uncertainty. This doubt both emerges from and pervades the film: the characters are suspicious of one another, the film’s timing and events are frequently called into question. By separating the film into it’s basic aspects, we hope to interrogate the ways in which this experience is created throughout the film, and for what purpose.

Continue reading

The Ultimate “Makeover” in Clueless: Morality Hidden in Drama

by Brendan Boustany, Wyn Veiga, Emily Nagler, & Gabriela Horwath

Clueless is a coming of age tale that traces the development of wealthy L.A. teen, Cher Horowitz, played by Alicia Silverstone, as she searches the glitzy world around her for emotional substance and meaning. Exuding everything L.A., Cher begins the film as a spoiled, shallow, and relatively innocent girl who devotes all of her time to her self-image. Even more absurdly, during an extravagant montage of her life, she states, “I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl,” emphasizing her profound ignorance regarding her privilege. Act two sees Cher realize that she initially undervalued emotional fulfillment and maturity, causing her to set off to find true love in the superficial environment around her. As the film progresses and Cher navigates the gossip and drama of high school, she learns that there is more to life than glam. Cher’s journey lies in the genre of drama as she struggles to find her revised place in her life through vignettes with her peers.

Continue reading

Animation and Plasmaticness of Contour: Princess Mononoke, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia

by Junyoung Choi, Haina Lu, and Adayan Munsuarrieta

Introduction

Walt Disney once said, “Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.” In this way, animated films can serve as a powerful bridge between reality and fiction; by perceiving reality with a specific lens and bringing in those “real” aspects into its world of fantasy, magic, or science-fiction, the animated film can provide impactful social commentary on the world outside the screen, without having to document reality via live-action. Within the film, the audience may encounter details of the animated world that is ostensibly far-removed from reality, but resonate with certain socioeconomic struggles, political injustices, or relevant changes (whether it be technological or natural) that occur just outside the screen. 

Continue reading

The Disillusionment of Change: Analyzing the Effects of Urban Isolation and Globalization in Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express

Final Project by: Meagan Johnson, Katerina Stefanescu, and Alan Countess

Echoing the mass anxiety felt in Hong Kong during the early nineties, Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 breakout film Chungking Express details the story of two cops searching for a meaningful connection in a somewhat isolated society. The filming of Chungking Express occurred during rather turbulent times in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was being handed over to the People’s Republic of China after being under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom for over 152 years. Its citizens were also in the midst of both a personal and cultural identity crisis. Before Hong Kong’s return to mainland China, pre-handover movies such as Chungking Express served as a political commentary on the fantasies of being integrated into their mainstream Chinese culture. In response to this uncertainty, there began to be an emphasis on time and routine–a way of seeking stability in an unstable and unpredictable world. Chungking Express follows the romantic journey of two policemen pining after a lost love. The film carries motifs of mass global connectivity, intoxicating youth, frustration, and hopeless romance. The film presents a dual narrative, or two stories told in a sequence of each other. In the first story, Cop 223 is blinded by his heartbreak. His ex-girlfriend broke up with him on April Fool’s Day; thus, Cop 223 chalks his breakup to a cruel joke. He lives in denial of what it means to lose someone and remains in a state of fantasy, replaying his memories and his love in his mind. In the second story, Cop 663 holds little hope for his ex’s return. Instead, he falls into a melancholic funk. In both stories, Cop 223 and 663 meet energetic women–a sign of hope and wonder in a disillusioned society. By analyzing Wong Kar-wai’s illustrious storytelling, cinematography, and editing, the film reinforces the idea that living in a city of millions does not always lend itself to forming meaningful human connections. Instead, urban isolation is an exigent circumstance for the characters to reflect on the inevitability of change. 

Rediscovering Mystery: How Return of the Obra Dinn’s aesthetic sends players back in time

by Tyler Araujo

Return of the Obra Dinn was the most fun I’ve had doing a “required reading” throughout my entire career as a student, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve returned to complete it since playing the portion I was able to complete before class. The game was released by independent game developer Lucas Pope in 2018, and went on to win Best Indie Game at the 2018 Titanium Awards. The game also received a well-deserved accolade for Best Art Direction at the 2018 game awards. In Return of the Obra Dinn, players are tasked with uncovering the mystery of a ship which came into port with all 60 people who set sail on it either dead or missing. Using a “Memento Mortem” which allows to view still scenes which preceded each crew member’s murder, your task is to explore the dense crime scenes past and discover exactly what became of every single person on the vessel.

Continue reading