I absolutely love this early access review of Foundation by Alec Meer for RPS. Translating the experience of playing a video game into the terms of taking a bath is exactly the kind of thing I want to see all the time in game reviews.
I don’t want reviews that tell me what a game is made up of. I want them to tell me what it feels like when I play it and comparing it to things that aren’t games is the best way to do that. It’s good for me as a reader and it’s very good for me as a game designer. When a review tells me the pieces and expects me to know how it plays, that means that there’s not enough being done with those pieces. If I’m reading a review of a dish, telling me that it has eggs tells me something, but I’d much rather know if it’s a dessert or lunch and I want even more to know if it tastes like a warm bath so that I can decide that for myself.
I want reviews to understand that both a bath and a video game can be a nice way to rewind and while I might want to rewind in the manner of taking a long bath, I want to do it while playing a game on my computer and that my computer doesn’t fit in my bathroom.
Also, I’ve always just liked translations. I love the work that Pippin Barr does because of how it tickles my mind. The point in the review about the maintenance of adding a little hot water to a bath that’s cooled down a little and needing to fiddle a bit with trade to get back in the black in Foundation really has me thinking.
Basically, I want these reviews to do some of my work for me. I know that Better Oblivion Community Center by Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers and Early Work by Andrew Martin are the same genre, but I want to know if Life Is Strange is part of it too. I think so, because BOCC and Sufjan Stevens are the same genre and Sufjan Stevens and Captain Spirit are the same genre and so BOCC and Life Is Strange have to be the same genre. I assume this means Manchester By The Sea is too, but I’ve never seen that so I don’t know.
See, once I know what all falls in a genre, then I have a much wider range of places to steal from. When I realized that The Quiet Sleep was magical realism, that let me steal from Asterios Polyp and Kazuo Ishiguro and suddenly I was no longer blocked. Now, if I’m ever stuck while making a game of the style of Foundation, I’m going to take a bath and read the Horseshoe Project on cozy games.