Whoops! I made sure to give myself enough time to finish this video by Halloween … but then I neglected to post the announcement here! Happy belated Halloween, everyone.
I really relished the opportunity to talk about Rule of Rose, one of my favorite odd little games that I’ve never written about in any fashion before. Unfortunately copies of the game have become real collector’s items over the years, and it’s sad to praise a piece of media that so few will have access to. But hey, I also write about experimental film, so I know the feeling.
Siren is a survival horror/stealth game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Studio. The game takes a third-person over the shoulder point of view. Movement in the game uses tank controls, so left and right on the movement stick rotate the character instead of moving them. Unlike more traditional third-person viewpoints, the camera does not move around your avatar. Moving the right stick can change the camera’s orientation, but it is stuck squarely behind your character. The game consists of levels that often revolve around moving from one spot on a map to another. Along the way, you pick up items, defeat enemies known as “Shibito,” and escort AI companions. To pick up items, you must open a menu using triangle and select to pick up that item.
You use this process to interact with almost all objects in the game, including unlocking doors and entering specific key locations. In the reboot Siren: Blood Curse, this process is streamlined to pressing the X button. However, using the flashlight in the remake requires using a menu, which is not the case in the original. In each level, you can access a map of the area. In the remake only, this is decorated with your position and the locations you need to visit to accomplish tasks. There are multiple characters who you will play as throughout the game; however, there is no choice on who you play in any given level.
Please find some time to view this 22-minute video lecture between now and our Zoom conference call, which will convene at the normal time. You can expect our Zoom conference call to be shorter and more discussion-based as a result.
So, this is embarrassing. I actually did conclude the initial 10-episode run of Let’s Study Horror Games by the end of April. But I forgot to cross-post the video here once I uploaded it to YouTube. And then I made an 11th episode, and realized I still hadn’t announced the 10th one. And then weeks went by, and I fretted about, wondering how I should announce both videos on the blog. All of this is much more worry than it’s worth, so I finally just decided to announce them both in this post.
Episode 10 is an extension of some themes I delved into in this old blog post. (I had originally wanted to include Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem in that post, but it takes a lot of persistence to get the “save game deletion” sanity effect in that game, and there’s no way to reliably capture it unless you’ve committed yourself to capturing the entire game.) It marks the end of my formal plan for this series: any subsequent videos I release in it will take a more odds-n-ends approach, with no more multi-episode argumentative arcs.
Episode 11 inaugurates the more odds-n-ends phase. It focuses on sound, including musical scores, and includes within it a video version of this short lesson plan segment.
No transcript this time around, as it would be too unwieldy.
I have returned, bearing new content. This episode isn’t based on any prior material—I had been meaning to write on Until Dawn here for ages, and just ended up making a video for this series instead of writing a blog post on it.
Work and other publications slowed down my progress on this series (remember back when I though I’d wrap it up in February—and that was my pessimistic assessment?). But I worked on ep 9 concurrently with this one, so it should be up in just a few days. I’m hoping to conclude the initial 10-episode run of this series by the end of April.
I did it! I fulfilled my self-imposed goal of uploading four of these in December. (I also accidentally fulfilled my prediction that I’d post one of these on Christmas, which is when I actually uploaded the video.)
One consequence of sticking to this video-making schedule is that I’m now behind on playing games, and won’t be able to post any further run-downs of interesting games of 2018 until January. Following that, I’m going to be diving back into some peer-reviewed work. Not sure when I’ll return to this series, but rest assured: more is planned.
(This one serves as an “enhanced edition” of the lesson plan I originally posted here. Very happy to have a chance to tweak this material further, as it remains one of the favorite in-class discussions I’ve ever had with students.) And even though I don’t credit him in the video, I must give a shout-out to Adam Hart, whose writings on slasher films have been a frequent inspiration.
Episode 3 is up! I’m planning to step up the pace on these massively, far beyond the one-dropping-per-month rate I’ve been going at so far. Hoping to get 3 more posted by the end of the year. Script below the jump.