Warning: The following post deals with issues of mental illness, assault, and harassment.
At 3 am, the Thistle Man knocked on my bedroom door. As I stirred, the knocking grew louder. Three insistent knocks with an emphasis on the last booming strike: Let. Me. IN. The door shook violently under his fists, threatening to splinter and cave.
I sat bolt upright and reached for the lamp on my nightstand. Light—and relief—flooded the room. Reeling from my initial panic, I began to rationalize. The knocks were coming from a door that does not exist—a door to the side of my bed, where there was only a wall and a nightstand. The bedroom door beyond the foot of my bed was still, silent.
I forced myself to breathe again. I was alone. I was safe.
The following is a guest post written by Caroline. Caroline is a blogger who is passionate about gaming. She has been impressed with the year’s releases so far and is excited to see where the industry is headed in the future. You can read more of her work at Culture Coverage.
This year has been big for the development of the gaming industry at large, as we have seen some huge changes in the market so far. We’ve seen things such as the immense success of Pokémon Go and the surprisingly positive reception of remakes like Ratchet & Clank. The biggest games of 2016 have offered up some great insights about the current state of the gaming industry and where it’s going in the future.
There are games that I heavily associate with periods of my life, much in the same way that a certain mixtape can conjure memories of a summer vacation. These titles hold a cherished place in my memory for their confluence with other major events: I played Dragon Age Inquisition while prepping for my general doctoral exams, which inspired me to refer to each exam as a “high dragon.” My dear friends introduced me to Minecraft after I had a benign mass surgically removed, and it impacted me so forcefully during my recovery that I dreamed about it (or perhaps that was the pain meds’ doing). I’ve played these titles since these formative moments, but their atmosphere and tone can still bring me back in time, connecting me to a past self.
Stardew Valley has similarly become entangled with the early leg of 2016. When the game was released, I expected to become hooked by the cheap reward system of farming and crafting. Stardew, instead, offered me a far greater panacea. In the idyllic escape offered by Pelican Town, I found a refreshingly positive and affirming outlook on life.
In the blurry, dream-like haze of my childhood, few things stand out with stark clarity like Pokémon. It’s a Snorlax-sized segment of my history as a gamer. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it’s central to my origin story, like the spider that bit Peter Parker or a massive dose of Gamma Radiation.
Though this two-parter wraps up an exceptionally strong season, it almost feels blasphemous to review them side by side. Each is a continuation of the same story, but they could not be more tonally diverse. Their reception has been equally polarizing. While one is regaled as the best that Doctor Who has to offer, the other is as divisive as the first is loved.
What lies behind the crystal wall? The spoilers after the cut reveal all.