This is the first half of a long-form criticism arguing in favor of the striking, brutal artistry of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days offers abundant thematic and stylistic questions for game critics to probe, yet the series’ unwarranted derision accumulated over the years reflects a medium still regressive and repellent to the idea that games should be engaged on a serious level. That a genre shooter game from the bargain bin can entertain complex themes and abstract artistic flourishes should lead us to believe that more exploratory works detached from generic conventions must be even more artistically cohesive and venerable. However, the mainstream critical narrow-mindedness in writing about a game from a lowbrow, easily accessible genre like a shooter suggests that games culture would be severely hesitant—even resistant—in engaging on a deeper level with more obviously arthouse works. This reality is failing the artists making these games, and so the antidote would be to reconfigure the way we write about videogames and the way we think about the games themselves. To look forward into the future of videogames necessitates that we also look back—back to marginalized works that would benefit from a second shot at critical analysis now that we’re at least better than we once were. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is one such game, and I’m more than eager to step back into its bleakness, and to disappear once more into its darkened heart.
Read the full column at Thumbsticks.