The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

by Lucy Ungaro

BOO! Did I scare you? If so, you’re welcome! I’m here to help you fill your quota of Halloween frights and videogame news, all at once. The Circle has some things to say about Halloween this week, and we’ll cement the theme with news on one of the biggest current horror games. Me? I’m preparing with PT, Ju-On, and a costume from the Shining.

Stu Horvath will start us off this week with a description of what the Halloween season is like from his perspective. It’s funny and relatable, though I am ashamed to admit I have consumed nowhere near as much horror media as he has. Read the article for a delicious piece of Halloween candy: a list of relatively unknown recent horror movies.

OK, now you’re all stocked up on horror movies. As for games, watch this video with Jeff Bakalar on the 5 scariest games to play for this year’s Halloween.

Last week, we talked about why horror games tend to be much scarier than other forms of horror media. Let’s take it a step further, and play our horror games in virtual reality. Yeah. If you weren’t terrified enough by horror games yet, check out Samit Sarkar‘s article on Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, new content for Until Dawn that will only be available on PlayStation VR.

Let’s take a break from the horror to talk about happier things. A couple of years ago, the Internet was thrilled about a Quantic Dream demo video testing their surreal face-rendering technology. It was called “Kara”, and it featured an AI waking up, expressing emotion, and begging to not be deactivated once she is told that this emotion is a malfunction, and realizes she will be “killed”. It’s a poignant video, and at first, many people including myself thought it was a trailer for a new game, and were very disappointed to discover it was just a demo. Three years later, it’s finally being made into a game. Rejoice, Internet, and read Matt Gerardi’s article for all of the details.

Harold Goldberg, in his alter ego of Boys’ Life magazine’s Games Guru, gives kids and parents the scoop on seven terrorific Halloween games. Ever hear of Quick Boy or Pee Wee’s Nightmare? Now, you will.

Time for an onslaught of Halo 5 news, which are all very positive. First, read a glowing review by Ebenezer Samuel, who says the game more than lives up to the expectations placed on it after 14 years of Halo games.

Ebenezer Samuel says the main draw to Halo 5 is its campaign, but according to Ben Gilbert, its multiplayer is, if not the highlight, definitely successful and very interesting. In order to keep up with the competition ironically generated by Bungie’s other successful game, Destiny, it seems like the makers of Halo 5 had to invent a new formula for their multiplayer. If Destiny is an amalgam between an FPS and an MMO, Halo 5′s multiplayer is one between an FPS and a MOBA. Read Ben Gilbert’s article on the hybrid gameplay, and why it was a good move. He also wrote an article on the woman who saved the Halo franchise, which Microsoft was ready to cut. Without her, Halo 5 wouldn’t have existed.

Assassin’s Creed is back, yet again. Judging by the frequency with which these games are pumped out, it’s no wonder that they are glitchy. I expected Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate to be more of the same bugginess we experienced with Unity, but it seems like Ubisoft has more or less learned their lesson. Here is a hilarious review by Jeremy Voss, who says that the game is thankfully better than the last, but that the franchise still has a lot of room for improvement.

Jeff Bakalar also has a lot to say about Syndicate. He describes it as a “rebound” after Unity, and thoroughly enjoys it, but for a few issues that you can read about here.

Evan Narcisse writes about a new indie game called Aurion that takes place in an alternate universe in which Africa was never colonized. It looks beautiful, and may be the only game I’ve heard of that doesn’t treat Africa like an exotic wonderland for white people to explore (I’m looking at you, Far Cry 2). For more information and a video of the game demo, check out the article.

 You know when people say that videogame skills don’t translate to the real life skills they’re simulating? Jorge Jimenez’s article proves that the inverse is not true;  real life skills can translate to videogame skills. An F1 racer named Sergio Perez does really well in F1 2015. Would a pro-guitarist be a virtuoso in Guitar Hero, as well?

On a darker note, gamers continue to disappoint by making threatening remarks against two panels at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The panels were shut down as a response. Even though people have largely stopped talking about GamerGate, it is clearly still rearing its ugly head. As in the rest of the world, bigotry and bullying never really die. Read the article by Chelsea Stark for details.

And now for spooky news outside of the Circle…

For a little bit of meta, here’s an interview with Ian Bogost on the state of videogame criticism from our Joshua Rivera, and the discourse on videogames in general. According to him, and to his book “How to Talk about Videogames,” the discourse is stuck between two extremes, and we need to find our niche so we can be a respected medium.

If you’re looking for Steam games, check out this article on “the 13 best horror games on Steam.”

And finally, here are this year’s IndieCade Awards. Memory of a Broken Dimension looks like it maybe the scariest – at least the most mysterious.

Have a great Halloween! Stay scared. 

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