Kodama: The Tree Spirits cover art with some soft creatures with long arms and happy faces peering around trees.

Kodama: The Tree Spirits Puts Nature Before Rules

Kodama: The Tree Spirits is a game about growing trees. In nature, trees to not follow a blueprint or a predetermined path; they grow how they please, their branches forming a unique natural fingerprint. Like snowflakes or people, no two are exactly alike, which makes building a board game about growing trees tricky. Games have structure and rules, a literal book that tells you how to play. Nature and games are seemingly at odds, but Kodama manages to pull off a well-balanced game about growing trees while capturing the free-form, aimless beauty of nature. In Kodama, players aim to please the titular

A large monstrous creature that resembles something like a machine from the Matrix crossed with an evil porcupine, clutches down at a much smaller figure in a dimly lit corridor. This is a still from Ska Studios game, Salt and Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary: A ‘Souls’-Like That Gets it Right

The Souls series by From Software has become something of a guidepost for difficulty in games. It’s become common to use the series as a reference when discussing a particularly tough game, with quotes like “It’s as hard as Dark Souls” now serving as a selling point. It can be eye-rolling when tossed around too much. The problem with this kind of labeling is that the Souls series is so much more than combat. It’s lore, level design, atmosphere–things that most clones of the series forget. Yes, the games punish careless play, but the reason they have become so beloved is because

cover art from the deckbuilding board game Ascension

Disassembling the Deckbuilder

In high school, much of your reputation rides on the groups you choose to associate yourself with. It says a lot about who I am as a person, then, that I spent lunch hours playing Magic: The Gathering with a small group of friends rather than in the cafeteria mingling with the rest of the “cool” population. Looking back on it, those lunch periods are probably responsible for a wide swath of my most cherished memories of the four years spent at that school. To this day, Magic holds a special, and permanent, place in my heart. However, as I grew

Link climbing up the side of a mountain, a cotton candy sky lit behind him. This is a still from Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nostalgia is a Weight Around Breath of the Wild’s Neck

From gameplay to art direction, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an unabashed triumph. In many ways, it has set a new standard for open-world games in terms of both freedom and exploration. Sound design is also a high point; the sound of Link’s feet on stone and the little cooking tune are fantastic touches in a tremendous work of sound. At the time of this writing, I have sunk thirty or so hours into BotW, and no doubt will play many, many more. For all the good that Breath of the Wild brings to the table, however, I