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Call of Duty has been around for nearly two decades. Most of us who’ve played video games growing up have probably spent some amount of time either playing or hearing about one of Activision’s 16 games. It stands to reason that once people have seen something for long enough they start to get tired of it. Similar to the Assassin’s Creed series it started off to a thundering wave of support and eventually dwindled to a trickle of applause. The releases became industrial, and for a time it seemed as if Activision was pumping the games out on an assembly line. It got to the point that we had a new Call of Duty every nine months or so. To avoid stagnation Activision decided to repackage the product and get back to the series roots. …

The Hollow Knight
The Hollow Knight

I had only heard a few things about Hollow Knight upon first picking it up off of PSN. Almost 40 hours later I found myself inescapably drawn into the hauntingly beautiful world of Hallownest. You play as a silent warrior known as the Knight. Wearing a shroud around his tiny frame the only thing he carries is a rusty sword, or nail, as the game calls them. He surveys the world with large cavernous eyes that seem to stare right through you. For reasons unknown to the player, he is currently on a mission to journey into the dark, twisted city of Hallownest. …

The Fool in combat.
The Fool in combat.

I bought Sayonara Wild Hearts on little more than a whim. There was a sale going on and I figured, why not? The game is published by Annapurna Interactive who is known for other great titles like Florence, Journey, and What Remains of Edith Finch. The only thing I knew about the game before buying it was that it was an arcade-style experience so I expected to use it in between other more time-intensive titles. Then I opened it. My eyes and ears were assaulted by a cacophony of light and noise. The main screen was flushed with bright flashing colors while high tempo pop music pumped through my headphones. If you or someone you know has a history of epilepsy or seizures I wouldn’t recommend testing it with this game. …

Richard and Jacket have a chat.
Richard and Jacket have a chat.

Hotline Miami is a surreal story set in the 1980s. You play as an unnamed character, endearingly dubbed “Jacket” by the games community, for the iconic letterman jacket he wears. Jacket lives in a rundown apartment building eating pizza and watching VHS tapes from the local video store. Often, he’ll run into an old friend at the local store who likes to slip him a free item or two. The game pulses with all the aesthetic of an episode of Miami Vice. Frequently, Jacket gets a message on his answering machine letting him know when and where to show up for his job. When he arrives and gets out of the car the first thing Jacket does is put on a mask. …

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In Control, you follow the story of Jesse Faden, a young woman searching for her missing brother. Her search leads to a towering, featureless building in the middle of New York known as the Oldest House. Which acts as headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Control. Inside it quickly becomes clear that this is no average governmental building. The hallway she walks through becomes a dead end. An elevator that wasn’t there before suddenly appears taking her exactly where she needs to go. A strange janitor with a heavy Finnish accent speaks to Jesse as if they’ve been working together for years. Nothing is as it seems in this building. Then Jesse then finds the body of the apparent Director of the FBC and is suddenly selected to take his place. One might think this would make finding her brother a walk in the park but we rapidly come to understand that Jesse has been made the captain of a sinking ship. The FBC is currently at war, the building on lockdown due to a mysterious entity called the Hiss. The scattered employees still left alive are without leadership, and losing ground by the minute. …

**Mild Spoilers ahead**

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“Caroline. I’m hurting. Will you lend me your wings?”

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus opens in a way you don’t expect from first-person shooter games. Instead of an all-powerful tank of a man we’ve come to expect from the series main character B.J. Blazkowicz, we find an altogether different person. A weaker, almost broken man. A man at the end end of his rope. In this installment, we follow B.J. from the explosive events of the last game now just having woken up from a 5-month long coma and confined to a wheelchair. The hero’s kidneys are failing, his body simply can’t hold up to the stress put on it. To make matters worse an antagonist from the last game Frau Engel, a Nazi general who has been relentlessly hunting B.J. and his so-called American Terrorists just lucked out, holding hostage the captured U-boat the revolutionaries call home. Just like last time, things are looking grim for the ailing captain. Despite the intense pressure on B.J.s mind and body he refuses to quit. Choosing instead to bet everything on his last bit of failing strength. This is where you start the game and continue B.J.’s …

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The Finches spiraling home.

What Remains of Edith Finch is a short but compelling game. In its quick runtime of fewer than 5 hours, I found myself spellbound by the games quiet charm. We follow the namesake of the game Edith Finch as she returns to the house she grew up in the forests of Washington. The house in question is not like most, however. It’s big enough that you can see it from a distance, even through the trees. And when you finally walk up to it, it’s clear it doesn’t follow the average house plan twisting this way and that with several additions added on seemingly after the fact. …

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Deacon on the constant search for fuel.

In Days Gone you follow the story of a biker named Deacon St. John two years after the zombie apocalypse. We follow Deacons exploits throughout the Oregonian countryside as he goes from camp to camp doing odd jobs to make ends meet. Deacon has made his living as a wandering drifter as self-sufficient as possible. The way he tells it, all he needs is a trusty bike, his best friend Boozer, and maybe a weapon or two to make it “out in the shit”. In the wake of the apocalypse Deacon loses his wife and afterward makes it a point not to get close to people. In his mind, trusting in others is just a quick way to get yourself killed. And there are plenty of ways to die in this new uncertain landscape. …

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Sora finds himself in a strange world.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is a long-running series from Square Enix spanning 17 years and seven games. Its die-hard fan base has waited patiently for the latest installment in the franchise and as a fan myself I have a few things to say on the matter. At its core, Kingdom Hearts 3 is a very simple game. Fight the enemies, power up your keyblade, and enjoy the convoluted story. For players new to the game Kingdom Hearts 3 is a confusing, but colorful way to get into the series. The gameplay is simplified using a basic platformer scheme to get you right into the action. One button to hit, one to jump, another to interact with objects, and so forth. The newest game adds on a few elements from past installments like the FlowMotion abilities which allow you to seamlessly integrate parkour like elements into your combat. This gives the pace of fighting a frenetic, wild feel that goes as fast as you can keep up. …

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Arthur on an evening ride.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a quality video game experience. Every once in a while a video game comes along that reminds me why I play in the first place. This is one of those games. Not only does RDR2 give you fantastic gameplay but the story is also a solid experience in itself. It’s got a little bit of everything for everybody. So much so I’m not even really sure where to begin.

It’s 1899 and you play as a high-ranking member of the Van der Linde gang, Arthur Morgan, set in the fictionalized west. Arthur is the right hand to Dutch Van der Linde the gangs charismatic and galvanizing leader. When you start the game things aren’t going well for Dutch’s gang. After a heist gone wrong, it’s slowly becoming clear to Arthur that the time of lawlessness is coming to an end. The United States government is growing in power and with it the federal law. The west itself is becoming more and more settled. There simply isn’t a place left for outlaws in the ‘Wild’ West anymore. And so you follow Arthurs struggle to make the right, or wrong, choices along the path to finding his place in a world that’s quickly outgrowing him. …

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