“Premortem” Revived

Photo credit: Barrett Biggers

A year ago I voiced an interest in reviving an old games-criticism series of mine which went by the title “Premortem.” These posts, each one isolating a singular game in development, were written to soothsay outcomes which I emphatically hoped against but nonetheless believed would manifest. I hoped to be wrong in each case, I should say, because the subject of each case was a project whose success I was invested in—either for its outward promise or novelty, or (if belonging to an already existing series of games) its pedigree.

I won’t dance around it, though: these were not the only qualifiers; what always finally led me to worry aloud was the more-or-less leaden certainty that the title would fall short for explicitly the reasons I expected. As mentioned last year, my “Premortem” poster children were, if I was made to cite two, Ninja Gaiden 3 and Dead Space 3These were as counterproductively disastrous pre as they were post: the pure actioner which deliberately slowed itself, sometimes literally to a crawl, for drawn out quick time event executions; the “survival horror” which allowed you a live co-op partner and as much firepower as you had cash.

In any case, I have chosen to revive this series, but not because I think my eleventh-hour distress calls are going to slow these future games in question from their (to my eye) prospective precipices. That hope is certainly there, of course, but moreover it is simply a productive alternative to idleness in light of unwelcome possible eventualities. I originally chose the title “Premortem” for its medical implication (and in some cases this label was meant to bite a bit), but in effect these write-ups are premortems in the project strategy sense as well: they take failure essentially as a given and work to confirm, as if with prematurely gifted retrospect, why the game is expertly positioned to fuck up.

“Revive” doesn’t technically describe what I’m doing by bringing this series back, because it was not so much dead as cryogenically frozen from prolonged inactivity, but unlike the games which this series will cover, it was on neither a schedule nor a budget, and probably no one was waiting for it.