Welcome to Postgame, Sidequest’s monthly Patreon-exclusive podcast, where the editors lay down hot takes on cold games. We’ll be posting short excerpts from the podcast to the site as we release new episodes—if they grab you, consider tossing us a couple bucks a month to hear the full episodes!
This month, we’re taking a little break from postgraduate research topics and checking in on what we’ve been playing recently… or, you know, two months ago. Missy has played through the breadth of indie, tabletop, and AAA holdouts with Genesis Noir, A Mending, and The Sims 4; Zora has stayed decidedly in their lane with indie darling Wilmot’s Warehouse and TTRPGs Apocalypse World and Arson, Murder, and (Blue)jaywalking; and Naseem brings us back to our ostensible focus on “video games” with Resident Evil 2 (the remake), Persona 5 Strikers, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night.
Melissa Brinks: And the amount of time that you spend actually doing the stitches gives you more time to dwell and think about these questions. It’s really good. It’s really well designed. I really enjoyed it. And I’m excited to play it some more. After I do some more cross-stitch.
Naseem Jamnia: You said that you played a game. So does that mean it’s a game that you’re meant to play multiple times? That there’s like—
Melissa: Yeah! The booklet suggests playing on the same cloth map until basically you can no longer fit any more.
Naseem: Interesting. Hm.
Melissa: Which, I just have one playthrough. So I’ve still got a lot of room, a lot of paths left, a lot of places I haven’t explored yet. I picked up some more beads to put on it. I’ve got purple beads, I’ve got tan beads. I’ve got green beads.
Zora Gilbert: I haven’t started yet, because I refuse to buy beads. So I need to figure out what I’m gonna use instead. Like, it seems—this game will be more fun for me if I do it in kind of a found object—with kind of a found object bent. The problem is that I haven’t found any objects yet. I think what I actually need to do is just not worry about beads and figure out how to tie little rocks to the map.
Melissa: Ooh, that’d be cool.
Melissa: Now I’m thinking about it.
Zora: Now I’ve got to find some little rocks, but that’s actually much less of a problem than fixing them to the map with any sort of reliability.
Melissa: Yeah, I wonder how you could do that.
Zora: It’s the same idea as like necklaces that have rocks in them as pendants, where you kind of build a little cage out of wire. Same concept. I just have to do it and do it well.
Melissa: Okay. Yeah, A Mending. Really liked it. Really enjoyed it, definitely will be playing it again. I’m really excited, as, like I said, I interviewed Shing Yin Khor and Jeeyon Shim for Sidequest. And the games that they are working on both together and separately are so exciting to me, I cannot stop backing them on Kickstarter. I hope you all are enjoying the fact that I pledge to every single one. I’m so excited to play all of them. They’re just—the storytelling capability and the uniqueness of the mechanics, that kind of thing, is just so exciting to me. I’m having a great time.
Zora: They’re really, really lovely games. And they’re such a wonderful iteration on where indie tabletop games, or tabletop RPGs, have been going in the last several years. Like they’re part of the conversation very, very much. But they’re a completely new aspect. Well, probably not completely new, but they’re newly popularizing this crafting aspect of single-player games that’s really, really great. I say they’re popularizing it because I’ve read a lot of single-player games that describe themselves as single-player LARPs, which is live-action role playing games, where they have you create a craft in them. But this was before Khor and Shim sort of came up with the term keepsake game. So they don’t use that language to describe themselves. But anyway, it’s very, very, very exciting. I love seeing this stuff.
Melissa: I love coming away from a good experience with an object that marks that experience. And that’s one of the things that’s just so exciting to me about these games.
Zora: I think another thing that’s meaningfully different between the games I’ve seen like this before and Khor’s specifically is that Khor is a very established experience artist. They’ve done a lot of installations, they know their way around a workshop, they have access to physical resources, and they have experience prototyping. So they’re able to create these very, very well designed playtested physical experiences for solo RPGs in a way that the other solo RPGs I’ve seen don’t have, because the creators are—like, they have a computer and like a bunch of paper, right? And so they can create these really engaging experiences. But there’s also this clearly resourced, designed quality to Khor’s games that make them… shiny. What’s a word for shiny that isn’t—like [they’re] attractive to a much larger population in a way that I think is great for the field in general.
Melissa: It’s really exciting to get a cool cloth bag with a map printed on it, and inside of it, a map, and then two paper maps, and a little sewing kit, and a little wooden coin to flip. It kicks ass. I love it. It feels good to hold.
Zora: Yes, it feels so good to hold! And I know that I know that they think a lot about that. And also, the law of large numbers—it’s easier to produce nicer stuff if you’re making more of it. Because each individual object, the unit cost is going to be way lower. And because Khor has this following of artists and comics people, they’re able to like generate more orders. Anyway. Ah, the capital economy of game making. We live in this society. Should I talk about my next game?
Melissa Brinks: Yeah!
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Theme music is Bass Thee by Alexander Nakarada, used under Creative Commons 0.
Zora Gilbert cares a whole lot about words, kids, and comics. Find them at @zhgilbert on twitter, and find the comics they edit at datesanthology.com.