Thursday 18 January 2018

If Hitchcock did games...

Virginia (PC/Mac/XO/PS4), 5 Stars, Age: 12+

Virginia: Speaks the language of film
Virginia: Speaks the language of film
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Draw a line from Alfred Hitchcock through David Lynch to the Coen brothers and eventually it intersects with Virginia. Exalted company, for sure, but you're unlikely to have played anything like this experimentally cinematic mystery from Dubliner Terry Kenny and his co-conspirator Jonathan Burroughs.

Labels can be off-putting but "interactive movie" shortcuts a long-winded explanation. Virginia involves the player in the case of two FBI agents seeking a missing person.

But its tale unfolds with remarkable economy, dialogue-free, shorn of any fat and scored by a beautifully understated orchestral soundtrack. Burroughs and Kenny use the grammar of film - flashbacks, dream sequences, jump-cuts and fades - to construct the layered storyline.

As a game, it will prove divisive - the player has little agency except to move around the scene and click occasionally on objects to advance.

But Virginia succeeds superbly as a two-hour piece of entertainment - opaque yet compelling.

Dead Rising Triple Pack

(XO/PS4), 3 Stars, Age: 18+

Ahead of Dead Rising 4's release in December, DR1, DR2 and DR2: Off the Record get remastered 10 years after the original's debut.

Time has been kind to the concept (slaughtering zombies with outrageous weapons while dressing in bizarre costumes) but not necessarily the execution (DR1's timed structure still strikes as deeply frustrating and the combat feels woolly) nor the ageing visuals.

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