30 year loop

Many years ago, I read this incredible article about how pop culture exists in 30 year loops. It’s why Back to the Future jumps from 1985 to 1955. There’s plenty of examples within that article and now that you know about it, you’ll see it everywhere.

Now that we’re firmly in the 20s, we can see a big resurgance of pop culture from the late 80s and early 90s. Remakes, revists and spin-offs have came back around again - Dune, Scream, Top Gun, Jurassic Park, Toy Story and Predator to name a few.

When I read that article and started to notice the 30 year cycle in media, I also noticed that a lot of the games that I played around that time fully embraced the 80s 8 bit retro era. Celeste, Hyper Light Drifter and Return of The Obra Dinn were 3 of the biggest, and all recall an older era and the limitations emposed by technology.

What the article put forward, made me think that eventually, we’d begin to see newer games referencing the games of the mid to late 90s. Until recently, I hadn’t seen much evidence of that assumption. Only in the last few weeks did I start playing 2 new games that have distilled the games of that era.

Prodeus

One of the first games I ever played, was DOOM on an uncle’s PS1. I remember barely any of it, other than the hard as nails difficulty, incomprehensible story, and the brutal guns.

Prodeus takes all its inspiration from those early DOOM games. The guns, graphics, and gore, are all throwbacks to that style of first person shooter from the 90s.

Signalis

This one is a bit different for me, as it’s channeling the early survival horror genre, which I was never into. Resident Evil and Silent Hill are what I’ve seen it compared to. I never had the patience for those games, but I loved this one. I’d also compare it to Metal Gear Solid for a lot of reasons.

It’s full of CRT scan lines, limited inventory, save points instead of checkpoints and some very cryptic puzzles.

The CD case

Playing Signalis reminded me of one of my favourite puzzles in Metal Gear Solid - you obtain a disc before need to contact a character on your radio. You’re told “the frequency is on the back of the CD case”. I have no idea how long I spent trying to look at the disc in my inventory, which you actually can’t do. Eventually, I realised the the frequency was in a screenshot on the back of the physical game case. Searching for this online still has plenty of people trying to figure it out. I think this must be one of the most incredible examples breaking the fourth wall and one that might only be possible in the medium of videogames.

Published on Saturday, 3 December 2022