Monthly Archives: January 2018

Transarctica Simulation category

Title screen from Transarctica

We can’t talk about Transarctica without mentioning Snowpiercer. According to unsourced internet descriptions, the game was inspired by the French novel series La Compagnie des glaces, though it immediately calls to mind the images Bong Joon-ho’s apocalyptic 2013 action film and the French graphic novel it was based on.

They all start from the same place. An experiment to combat climate change leaves the earth in an ice age. Centuries later, with cities collapsing, the world’s last surviving infrastructure is its railroads.

In Transarctica, it’s a network of railways, managed under the profitable tyranny of the Viking Union. No one remembers the sun, and the Union likes it that way. From old books, your character learns about the failed climate engineering experiment – and another project that could reverse the damage. All you want now is to see the sun. The Viking Union wants you dead.

The mission is bleak. Long stretches of nothing are punctuated with violent loss. You rarely know what direction to head in and could feasibly go in circles for hours. And still the journey has a sense of fierce dignity, of perseverance and hope despite the evidence – though that’s undercut by a bad moral compromise you’re supposed to accept. Transarctica » Read more

Gridz Macintosh categoryStrategy category

Title screen from Gridz

NetSpace. ToolBots. Home domains. Gridz speaks the stupid made-up language of cyberspace. With its tactile, rubbery interface and bubbly synth music, it looks and sounds like the weirdo Y2K-era future that never came to pass.

Gridz is also a strategy game, of course, and a clever one. Real-time strategy games have an element of territory control underlying them. Gridz makes that aspect explicit. The physical control of NetSpace has a mechanical role in the game, and Gridz supports the idea with the unfamiliarity of its juiced-up cyber setting. Gridz » Read more