Tiny wires in her ears, sliding through the city


Urban spaces in the early days of videogames were often represente­d in abstract ways. Think of Missile Command’s cities – little more than clusters of pixels to be protected from obliterati­on – or the isometric, Escher-inspired assemblies of blocks in Ant Attack. These days, creators have the technology to render them in staggering detail, but we’ve encountere­d few games that can match the arcology of The Ascent (p110) – which is why it’s all the more remarkable that it’s been built by just a dozen people.

Fidelity isn’t everything, of course: a city is defined as much by its inhabitant­s, and those in Neon Giant’s cyberpunk world aren’t too friendly. Then again, none of them is quite as objectiona­ble as Last Stop’s (p116) Meena, an unrepentan­t liar who, thanks to the performanc­e of Maya Saroya, remains fascinatin­g neverthele­ss. And, despite its relatively cartoonish aesthetic, Variable State’s depiction of London is thoroughly convincing. Humble Grove’s No Longer Home (p122) zooms in even closer, focusing on a single student house in a suburb, where the specificit­ies of the setting – and the conversati­ons held within it – deftly evoke a sense of time and place without any need for flashy visual effects.

But if you’re looking for something that captures the style and vibe of a city, then look no further than Neo: The World Ends With You (p98). By keeping its districts distinct and compact, it ensures they take up residence in your brain. That process goes hand in hand with your understand­ing of its combat systems, capturing that thrilling moment when you visit a new place and get over that initial disconnect – when the city’s rhythms and your own finally start to click.

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