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XCOM 2 Review

Jenny died today. She held against hordes of grotesque alien monsters, and she was one of my best. But it wasn't enough.

I named Jenny after one of my best friends. She was married last summer, and now here she was, on the battlefield. Surrounded by greys and the tortured husks of her comrades, she gave her last breath to bide time for the others to escape. It was her or them.

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The Case for Final Fantasy IX

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Why I'm looking forward to Kanye West's game


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Bonfire of the Anxieties

There’s a touch of magic in the bonfires of Lordran.

I don’t mean the sort of magic that conjures fireballs or heals wounds – such things are commonplace there – but an altogether more primal strain, the kind that turns men to flowers and flowers to men, that comes without warning or not at all. No matter how many of them you stumble across, the emotional arc still lingers: a hint of surprise, a flood of relief, and the nagging fear that whatever comes next might somehow surpass what you just vanquished.

I’m almost done with my third playthrough of Dark Souls, the sophomore entry in Hidetaka Miyazaki’s acclaimed Souls series. Before that, I conquered its sequel, Dark Souls 2, and Bloodborne, a Lovecraft-tinged spin-off that owes such a heavy debt to the core franchise it still gets invited to the family reunions, tentacles and all. This was all in the span of a year. Some of my friends call me obsessed; but to the fans of Miyazaki’s work, I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are still character builds to test, covenants to join, loot to plunder – and, as is the series’ signature, lore to analyze.

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The Top 10 Saddest Statues in The Witness

I have now finished The Witness, which means that I am very cool and also smart.

Unfortunately, The Witness takes place on an island filled with people who are not cool at all: the statue people. For the world’s most extremely very Buddhist videogame, there sure is a lot of anguish in The Witness! There are like fifty statue people on the island, and I’d say that maybe half of them are definitely in the tearing-clothes and gnashing-teeth category of sadness.

So I’ve collected the best ones here. These are the saddest statue people in The Witness, arranged in increasing order of sadness. (Watch out-- they’re also a little spoilery!)

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The Truth Behind Tomb Raider's Fake Religions

Video games don’t have the best track record portraying religion. Nervous about controversy, most titles avoid the topic altogether -- even in historical settings when it should play a large role. When games are forced to address the topic, they tend to tiptoe around spirituality, paying it lip service as best, misunderstanding it at worst.

Which is what makes Rise of the Tomb Raider so fascinating. Rather than fleeing from religious subject matter, it makes Byzantine heresies an essential part of the conflict, and injects its invented religions with personal meaning, historical basis, and an evolving structure. In doing so, Rise of the Tomb Raider creates a religious landscape that’s far more credible -- and realistic -- than most video games.

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American Truck Simulator Review Impressions

In life, when you’ve chosen a career path as foolish as “video game reviewer” you sometimes find yourself fantasising about the good, honest job you’ll do when you finally give up. For me, it’s always been long-haul truck driver.   
I honestly don’t know why I find that idea so romantic. After all, it’s just driving along roads—in the case of American Truck Simulator, often through the near featureless deserts of Nevada and California, the only states currently in the game—for hours on end, interspersed with visits to truck stops to eat greasy food and catch not-enough sleep in your tiny cabin. Maybe it’s having grown up with games like Elite—where you’re essentially a long-haul trucker, just in space.