If you haven’t yet been introduced, allow me to present for your attention Matthewmatosis, a games critic and reviewer on Youtube. Matthew is, in my mind, and likely in all his subscribers’ minds as well, an exemplar in these areas. His analyses are comprehensive, his concerns mechanical and artistic both, and he’s meticulous, meticulous, meticulous.
I could begin with any one of his videos as demonstration, but his piece on Bioshock Infinite seems a good starting line as it eases into mechanics minutiae with critique of the game’s narrative and ludonarrative scaffolds. This piece scathes considerably more than most of Matthew’s work (if there were any isolated points of praise, I’ve failed to recall them), but the engagement level benefits for the fact.
Pushing the technical scrutiny further, and in comparatively much distilled form, is his review of Super Mario 64. As is often the case, the intimacy afforded by such close inspections has these analyses faithfully reflecting the games in question, and because Mario is platforming/mechanics focused to the nth degree, so is this review:
It can be humourous at times to hear a grown man talk seriously of “double-jumps”, “Bob-ombs”, and the like, but we all do this; the effect is exaggerated in a condensed, essayistic format like Matthew’s because of its inherent formal restraints and the gravity asked of its sentiments. This approach takes everything seriously and holds nothing sacred.
Unlike their film equivalents, games made for younger audiences can appeal to those older without having to strike this balance via narrative or writing. You need only to have followed SGC2015 this week to see the breadth of games whose technical mastery is taken as importantly as archery to archers, golf to golfers.
Perhaps it is this seriousness responsible for the fact Matthew is one of the only outspoken dissenters against Oddworld: New N’ Tasty, a recent remake of Abe’s Odyssey, and not one of those charmed merely by an old, familiar name and the fact it’s been revisited:
Here is another comparison video, this time contrasting two games – thatgamecompany’s Journey and thechineseroom’s Dear Esther – without much relation beyond design aims, but which represent extremes in ways I’ll leave for him to elaborate.
It was Matthew’s review/analysis of Shadow of the Colossus which first made me sit up straight. I’ve mentioned how Matthew is concerned with all facets, how his analyses reflect his subject, and here we have these qualities making a case for work of this kind as its own artform, the intimacy of the magnifying-lens critique much the same as an essayist’s, as I’ve said, but also a poet’s.
Matthew closes this video with mention of how Shadow can be enjoyed for technical and artistic reasons separately, but when combined “elevates itself to heights most other games could only dream of.” The same goes, I’d argue, for his reviews and those of his contemporaries.
Breaking from his own mould is his ‘commentary’ of Demon’s Souls, an edited and abridged, but nonetheless comprehensive, playthrough of the game entire. I make this inclusion for the same base reason I have the others, but also in anticipation of Matthew’s upcoming commentary for the first Dark Souls. These ‘commentaries’ are relaxations on his usual presentation, but are equally educational and perhaps even more illustrative.
In concluding his review of the game Wonderful 1o1, Matthew expressed his distaste for “low hanging fruit”, analytically and in the arena of praise. With respect to this, I will refrain from grandiose statements, but I will say this much: I know of no other games critics whose critiques are as comprehensive, and certainly no others in the video/Youtube space whose work nears this level of craftsmanship.
I don’t always agree with every one of his arguments, but to answer your question, yes, I do think many, many more people should hear them.