Month: December 2017

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1) 4

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1)

Like it or not, 2017 has finally stumbled to a close—I jest of course, obviously you’re thrilled that 2017 is over. This was a brutal year. A reality TV star with a bad tan and a worse brain somehow became president. Beloved filmmakers like Jonathan Demme, George A. Romero, and Tobe Hooper passed away. Other men in the film industry may as well have died after the fall of the house of Weinstein revealed so many talents to be perverted monsters behind closed doors. Every one seemed angry in 2017 and justifiably so.

Things aren’t right. The broken nature of the world is increasingly difficult to ignore. The only bright side? Turbulent times tend to lead to great art. Sure, there was obviously no way that the any of the filmmakers who produced the following movies could be aware of how troubled the world around their films would be. But ya know…great artists tend to be in touch with the world around them and pick up on things others don’t notice. Well, that’s how things should work in an ideal world anyways.

So with that in mind, here are CGMagazine’s picks for the best genre movies of the year. Rather than doing the usual top ten routine, this is broken down by specific genre to show how those responsible took an established form and transcended it. The choices are all highly subjective and our own. But that said, if you disagree with any of these choices, you’re obviously wrong. We know what we’re talking about.

Or at least we like to pretend that we do.

Best Fantasy Film: The Shape Of Water

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1)
Doug Jones in The Shape of Water (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Fantasy Film of 2017.

For years Guillermo Del Toro has been fusing horror and fairy tales to create modern myths. This year, he found one that spoke so deeply to our times that it would be scary if it wasn’t so moving and inspiring. The Shape of Water is a fable about a mute woman (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a merman (Doug Jones). It’s also a touching parable for what it feels like to be oppressed and cast out by society as well as the beauty and happiness to be found in the love shared between those who find others as strange as themselves. It’s a strange and deeply moving piece filled with wonderful performances on top of being a thrilling slice of Cold War paranoia and a ripping monster yarn. There’s so much going on beneath all of the beautiful surface pleasures that Del Toro pulled together and it feels like a film that will be remembered and analyzed for many a moon. Right now, it’s the call for compassion and understanding that we desperately need (as well as an ideal vehicle for Michael Shannon’s personal brand of human monster-making, which given his symbolic place in the story as the white male establishment oppressor, is also something we need right now).

Best Horror Film: Get Out

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1) 1
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Horror Film of 2017.

Speaking of genre flicks that spoke to this cultural moment, how about Jordan Peele’s instantly iconic Get Out? The comedian’s directorial debut might be laced with satirical bite, but nothing could have prepared audiences for how far Peele would stray from the comedic work he’d done before. Get Out is a socially conscious horror movie the likes of which are rarely made anymore. It cut deep into contemporary notions of racism, forcing unfamiliar audiences to confront ideas and fears that POC know all too well and have been trying to share for years. Peele found a way to communicate a master’s thesis worth of contemporary race theory into a riveting horror story that already feels like a pop culture milestone. For years, we’ve been able to use the term “Stepford Wives” as a shorthand for a particular brand of quiet misogyny. Now, Get Out will be a similar cultural touchstone. In addition to all the insights, the flick is also just a damn good genre yarn worth study for those who enjoy horror stories. It’s a movie with a little something for everyone and a new cinematic classic that will be remembered and quoted for years to come.

Best Comic Book Movie: Logan

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Film (Part 1) 2
Hugh Jackman in Logan (2017) – CGMagazine’s Best Comic Book Movie of 2017.

Sure, Wonder Woman was the bigger hit that struck a cultural chord and Thor Ragnarok was far more fun. Yet, when looking back on the superhero flicks to flutter across screens in 2017, there’s no denying that James Mangold’s pained and thoughtful Logan is the most fascinating. For Hugh Jackman’s final stint as the iconic X-Man he created almost ten years ago, Mangold crafted a thoroughly demystifying look at hero worship. Much was made of all the R-rated snikt-snikting at the time and indeed that was a side of Wolverine long overdue for big screen consumption. However, the film sticks with audiences for how it tears apart conventional notions of heroism, presents a dystopic future painfully easy to believe, and finally explored Wolverine as the tragic and pained loner he always was. This is the adult superhero movie that we’ve all been waiting for since The Dark Knight knocked open the gate. Watchmen felt performatively deep without actually understanding the purpose of Alan Moore’s comic book masterpiece and Deadpool was gloriously immature despite the adult-only rating. Logan actually dared to deconstruct a superhero icon in areas that not even his comic books have been willing to tread. It will be remembered for quite some time and hopefully more mature Marvel movies like this can still be made now that they are all under the Disney banner.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to find out which movies made the cut for Best Blockbuster, Best Action Flick, Best War Movie, and Best Biopic! Let us know your predictions in the comments below!


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Nioh has the Best Combat of 2017, Period. 4

Nioh has the Best Combat of 2017, Period.

It’s Game of the Year time again, and let’s be honest here; it’s a safe bet that nearly every single list will be topped by Nintendo’s heavy hitters: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Being the natural contrarian that I am, and safe in the knowledge that my personal selection for best game of the year won’t hurt either of those franchises, I decided to go with something different for my choice. Moving forward, though, let’s keep in mind that this article will be centred on my favourite game of the year, not necessarily the one I think was the very best in every category. This game isn’t perfect, and certainly has some flaws, but it was right up my alley in the criteria that I look for in a game. I don’t care for story, scope, or the prettiest graphics. I don’t care if a game has something profound to say, dripping with deep philosophies and characterization. I don’t care about cinematics, representation, or loveable and charming characters or how they interact with each other. And I really, really don’t give two flying f-bombs about multiplayer.

Nioh has the Best Combat of 2017, Period. 6
Nioh (Complete Edition) – gameplay image provided by Koei Tecmo.

What I do care about first and foremost are deep, robust gameplay mechanics and high levels of challenge. I like a game with a steep learning curve, complicated but attainable combat depth that offers a huge sense of satisfaction when perfected, and plenty of variety for weapons and character builds. I will also (usually) enjoy any game that apes Dark Souls in one way or the other. With this set of criteria in mind, my personal selection for Game of the Year is none other than Team Ninja’s absolutely fantastic ARPG Nioh.

Nioh follows an English sailor named William Adams, who washes up on the shores of Sengoku-era Japan and is recruited by Hattori Hanzo to help rid the island of its infestation of Yokai, which are supernatural monsters that love to maim and murder. The setting is a popular one for fans of Japanese history and mythology, and allows for a great combination of Ninja, Samurai, and magic abilities that William can use to whup Demon ass across a Japan torn asunder by strife and civil war.

Nioh has the Best Combat of 2017, Period. 2
Nioh (Complete Edition) – gameplay image provided by Koei Tecmo.

The basics of the gameplay in Nioh are familiar to anyone who has played a Souls game before. Players will navigate each level, battling monsters and opening up shortcuts while collecting Amrita, which are Nioh’s equivalent of souls, blood shards, or experience points. The more monsters you kill, the more of these you get, and these can be cashed in at shrines in order to expand William’s selection of abilities and stats. Of course, if you die at any point, you lose your Amrita and are forced to start at the most recent shrine with all enemies re-spawned. It’s a familiar mechanic at this point, but one that doesn’t become super tedious thanks to a brilliant combat system that absolutely nails the “easy to understand, difficult to master” idea.

Nioh has the Best Combat of 2017, Period. 4
Nioh (Complete Edition) – gameplay image provided by Koei Tecmo.

Blocking, parrying, and attacking all use “Ki” AKA stamina, a bar that depletes with every action but can be refilled by releasing a “Ki pulse”, which has the added effect of removing the energy draining miasma generated by enemies. Adding to this system are three stances—High, Middle, and Low—that offer different combinations of strength and speed. Switching between these stances on the fly—at the right moment—will also help replenish Ki as well as offering various other bonuses when done at the correct time. Linking together a string of perfect combos, switching stances and weapons, is immensely satisfying in Nioh and really makes you feel like a Ninja master. It’s a lot faster than the Souls games, and, while complicated, eventually feels surprisingly natural and fluid once the muscle memory and mechanics sink in. There are also ranged weapons, Ninja abilities, and Onmyo buffs, which all come together in a complex yet cohesive combat system with a fantastic amount of variety. The weapons are also discovered via a Diablo-esque loot system, which while not perfect, ensures that no two builds are exactly alike. The combat system is addictive and incredibly challenging, but for someone like myself who prizes these mechanics over all else in a video game, that’s exactly what I want. I like trial and error. I enjoy getting my ass kicked over and over again until I finally nail that perfect run. It’s what kept me coming back to Nioh despite an overwhelming amount of quality titles released this year.

Unfortunately, a lack of variety and a lot of repetition in enemy and level design does cause Nioh to feel very same-ey after a while. However, every now and then Twilight missions will become available, which switch things up and offer a fresh challenge in a familiar setting. The level design is excellent, but is held back by only being offered in small, independent chunks selected from a menu rather than a single, sprawling world.

Nioh has the Best Combat of 2017, Period.
Nioh (Complete Edition) – gameplay image provided by Koei Tecmo.

Nioh isn’t a perfect game. It didn’t innovate at all, and definitely features some glaring flaws. It’s pretty repetitive, the story is cliché as hell, and killing the same types of enemies over and over for tens of hours will become fatiguing for many players. However, no game this year did combat as well as Nioh, and many months later I’m still finding new ways to craft a character and link together the perfect string of attacks. It’s got the best third-person combat mechanics of any game this year, it’s incredibly hard, and incredibly rewarding. That alone makes Nioh my game of the year.

retail version of the game discussed was provided by the publisher for a previously published review. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Brendan Quinn’s work such as his look at the relationship between comics and Hip-Hop, why the Witcher 3 was not as great as everyone thinks, and or which historical stories he thinks should be made into videogames!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Pixels & Ink Podcast: Episode 277 - Most Anticipated Games of 2018 1

Pixels & Ink Podcast: Episode 277 – Most Anticipated Games of 2018

As the year winds down, CGMagazine has taken some time to reflect on the amazing year we’ve had in gaming – even if 2017 itself was a little less than fantastic. Before we get into our games of the year, however, the team decides to look ahead to 2018, and explore some of the eagerly awaited titles that are set to come out in the new year.

Brendan Frye and Lisa are joined by Bryan Calhoun and Derek Heemsbergen this week. The team looks back at some of the announcements made during E3, Gamescom, the Game Awards and PSX. From Monster Hunter World, God of War, Red Dead Redemption II, From shooters to JRPGs, to beloved franchises making a comeback to exciting new indies making their first appearance, 2018 is sure to be an interesting year in gaming.


Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Want to read more about the topics we talked about today? Check out some of our previews of some of the games mentioned, such as The Lost Sphear, Detroit: Become Human, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Far Cry 5, Ace Combat 7 for PSVR, and Moss!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out past episodes of the Pixels & Ink Podcast, as well as first looks at the latest games!

Dreadnought In-Game Purchases Review: It's all about the Benjamins. 5

Dreadnought (PS4) Review: It’s all about the Benjamins.

Dreadnought is a free-to-play 3rd person spaceship combat game that takes place in various space and ground maps that happen to have a lot of cover on them. If someone with a blender and YouTube channel tossed copies of Call of Duty 4, World of Tanks, and Star Trek Bridge Crew into their amalgamation machine, the resulting gooey compound would be among the best experiences at E3 2014: Dreadnought. That said, despite the constant comparisons to World of Tanks, I have always found Dreadnought to be a little more streamlined, faster paced, and far more action-packed.

Dreadnought In-Game Purchases Review: It's all about the Benjamins. 6
Dreadnought (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image provided by Grey Box.

Unlike most reviews, this time I was asked whether or not players should put real money into Dreadnought, since you can already play the game for free on PS4 and the PC (which is currently in beta). That game costs nothing because Dreadnought makes money on the free-to-play model, but I would understand if you did not know that since Dreadnought has shockingly little to sell you. For example, in World of Tanks you can purchase roughly 50 better tanks and crews to fight with online, but in Dreadnought you cannot buy a better ship. You can only buy three extremely ugly ships that I wouldn’t even take to the supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread. I am not sure why they decided to only sell three of the roughly 60 ships in the game, because that seems like the most obvious business choice ever; however, by abstaining they have created a very fair experience for both those who pay and those who just play.

Dreadnought In-Game Purchases Review: It's all about the Benjamins. 4
Dreadnought (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image provided by Grey Box.

So, what you can buy in Dreadnought’s store? The most useful thing by far is the temporary XP/Coin doubler. For a certain amount of real money, the game will offer you twice as much XP and (non-purchasable) currency than what you would normally get. This doubling effect can be purchased for a week, two weeks, a month, three months, and all the way up to a whole year. The reason this is the most useful purchase is because every ship needs to be fully upgraded to unlock the next—better—ship. Unlocking every upgrade requires two currencies, and while it is becoming hard to track what currencies I am talking about, the important point is that you cannot buy one of those two currencies. That unbuyable currency is what keeps Dreadnought fair. No matter how much money you put into the game you can never buy your way to the best ship. The best you can do is speed up the process with double XP and coins.

Dreadnought In-Game Purchases Review: It's all about the Benjamins. 1
Dreadnought (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image provided by Grey Box.

Beyond the coin doubler, I didn’t find much else to be worth buying. There are the three ugly ships I mentioned earlier. There are some visual customization options you can buy that will offer you paint options or decals that few in the game would have. You can buy your captain—an avatar you see for about ten seconds at the end of each round—and some clothing that would be considered rare. You can also change your real money into most of the currencies in the game, and while I don’t mean to bring this to an abrupt end, that’s the entirety of the Dreadnought holiday catalogue. I should probably mention that CGMagazine was given $66.99 CDN worth of in-game currency by the game’s developers to spend on Dreadnought and I never managed to spend it all.

Dreadnought In-Game Purchases Review: It's all about the Benjamins. 3
Dreadnought (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image provided by Grey Box.

So, depending on how much you might put into Dreadnought, it is now time for the $6.99 to $133.49 CDN dollar question. Should you put money into Dreadnought in the first place? If you are reading this without ever having downloaded the game I would say no, you should not put money into Dreadnought, because I don’t think you’ll ever get value out of it. That’s not to say that there is no value in a game I have loved since 2014, because there is a lot of value here. People should only spend money on Dreadnought when they like it as much as I like Rocket League, and I love Rocket League. I play at least one game almost every day. I bought it on the PS4, even though I would always have a free copy with PlayStation Plus. I have used roughly 50 keys to open 50 loot boxes. If you love the game that much then you’re the type of person who should spend a bunch of money on Dreadnought—but you are not that person. That person is not reading this review because that person is too busy playing Dreadnought right now, and to be honest you should go join them if the concept interests you. I can’t think of a free-to-play game that is better balanced in favour of the guy not spending money on it.

Dreadnought In-Game Purchases Review: It's all about the Benjamins.
Dreadnought (PlayStation 4) – gameplay image provided by Grey Box.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Bryan Calhoun’s reviews such as Destiny 2, Dead By Daylight Special Edition, and Madden NFL 18!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Most Anticipated AAA Games of 2018 1

Most Anticipated AAA Games of 2018

It’s that time of year where every media outlet begins to look back on the year that was, remembering and celebrating the best video games we played over the course of 2017. And there were many this year, with so many games releasing each month that many of
us—myself included—wished that good games would stop coming out so that we can finally get around to playing everything.

Continue reading

ESA Issues Response to Gaming Disorder Draft Proposal

ESA Issues Response to Gaming Disorder Draft Proposal

The Entertainment Software Association has given their official response to the release of draft language from the World Health Organization on video games.

In response to cases of video game addiction, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been taking steps to add an official description for “gaming disorder” to their diagnostic manual. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) released an official statement in reaction the WHO’s release of draft language.

“Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time. Having captivated gamers for more than four decades, more than 2 billion people around the world enjoy video games. The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive,” The statement reads, “and, putting that official label on them recklessly trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community. We strongly encourage the WHO to reverse direction on its proposed action.”

The ESA represents the US video game industry, serving many software publishers through conducting business and consumer research. In addition, the ESA provides legal and policy analysis along while also owning and operating E3.

Those interested in following the ESA’s actions can check out the organization’s Twitter pages here and here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Find out why Remington thinks the Escapists 2 makes breaking out of prison fun, or why Sonic Mania earns its spot next to the titles released during Sonic’s golden era!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15 – Dishonored: Death of the Outsider and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: "Hell is Empty" (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye 13

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: “Hell is Empty” (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye

It seems appropriate that the end of Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s story culminates in the opportunity to lie, as lies seem to be the foundation of everything the miniseries is. Rachel’s father lied to her all her life about her mother, Chloe has the opportunity to lie once more as part of the final decision, and ultimately, regardless of the decision, Before the Storm ends with a sunny disposition that feels dishonest to the story Life is Strange tells.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: "Hell is Empty" (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye 12
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: “Hell is Empty” (PS4) – image provided by Square Enix.

As a prequel to the tragic love story that is Life is Strange proper, Before the Storm does its utmost to ignore the inevitable, leaving more questions than answers about Chloe, her relationship with Rachel, and how the young woman who is no longer able to speak for herself went down the road that led to her untimely death. Rachel Amber is the central figure in Life is Strange’s overarching story, but I feel like Before the Storm does her a disservice by ignoring the in-between that led to her demise in favour of something desirable in the moment: a happy ending. The same can be said of Chloe, who ends Before the Storm in such a positive place that her angst and hatred of basically everything in the original Life is Strange seems almost out of place in retrospect.

Before the Storm does so much to end its isolated story on a high note that it dismisses its connection to Chloe and Rachel’s future, and in doing so undermines why it seemed to originally exist: context for Chloe’s divisive nature in the original game.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: "Hell is Empty" (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye 11
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: “Hell is Empty” (PS4) – image provided by Square Enix.

Chloe and Rachel’s stories aren’t the only ones done a disservice here, as several other characters seem to exist as plot devices, lacking real closure or purpose. Damon Merrick, whose appearance as a villain in episode two acted as a prelude to a larger role in Hell is Empty, does his job in preventing progress, but is quickly cast aside off-screen once he’s surpassed his usefulness. Frank, who is a known quantity in Rachel’s life just before her passing, takes on a hero role, which makes everything that happens to him between Before the Storm and the original Life is Strange just as questionable as what happens to Rachel and Chloe.

For what it’s worth, episode three: Hell is Empty does plant the seeds for later conflict as it neglects other story beats. Nathan Prescott, an antagonist in Life is Strange, and his mental illness is addressed, and how his father’s toxic view on his son’s mental state likely led to some of the darker turns the original game took. Hints of the Dark Room, a place where several girls at Blackwell Academy were captured and taken to, are accounted for as well.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: "Hell is Empty" (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye 9
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: “Hell is Empty” (PS4) – image provided by Square Enix.

But even outside of Before the Storm’s lack of tangible connection to the grander narrative at work here, Hell is Empty has more to overcome than a lack of narrative cohesion, primarily in the performances that keep the episode going. Chloe’s voice actress is different in Before the Storm, as development began during the recent SAG voice actor strike, which prevented Ashley Burch from reprising the role for the prequel. However, her replacement’s performance seems especially stiff, awkward, and robotic in Hell is Empty. Chloe’s not the only one either, as cast-wide dialogue comes off wooden. A few standout performances help things along, but Chloe’s delivery is so weak it makes playing as her difficult, and has me eagerly waiting for the bonus episode that will bring Burch back.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: "Hell is Empty" (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye 10
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: “Hell is Empty” (PS4) – image provided by Square Enix.

Overall, Before the Storm feels like a series of untapped potential. Perhaps there is strength in the ambiguity of what happened between the prequel and the first game, but I spent all of the series hoping to get to know Rachel and how her relationship with Chloe spiraled into the tragedy it eventually became. But instead I feel like I met a superficial and idealized version of her, and saw the same of her and Chloe’s bond. When Before the Storm is at its best, it is an honest and heart wrenching look at the pains of adolescence and isolation that comes with the uncertain times in a person’s life. I just wish it had been that brave all the way through and had the courage to show me the truth behind these two young women’s relationship, rather than hiding the worst of it all in the dead space between games.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 3: "Hell is Empty" (PS4) Review: Lies in the Eye 8


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Kenneth Shepard’s reviews, such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 2, and find out why Kenneth thinks Danganronpa V3’s ending makes a polarizing case for letting the series go!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks 8

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks

It was hard to know what to expect with 2017 when it came to the games. The PlayStation 4 Pro was just released at the end of 2016, and the age of 4K console gaming was becoming a reality. Yet, with all the potential, it was not the best looking games that drew me in, it was the ones that pushed concepts and revived old ideas in new ways that captured my attention.

Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks 2
Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer – gameplay image provided by Blizzard.

While not a full blown new release, or even much beyond a character pack, Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer was the push I needed to dive back into the game. With new abilities, new armour, and even new voice acting for the game, Diablo III never felt closer to a near-perfect game as it has so many years after launch.

Jumping into the experience on console with a group of friends, I found myself losing full days building up my Necromancer; trying to scavenge for the newest and best gear, and pushing the skill higher to build the ideal character. Blizzard put care into making Diablo II: Rise of the Necromancer a solid experience for new and old players alike, and if you are a fan of Diablo III and have been holding off jumping back in, there has never been a better time. A great expansion to an already fantastic game, I can only hope Blizzard brings more additions as time goes on.

Prey

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks 4
Prey – gameplay image provided by Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks.

The development of Prey was an interesting one. I remember sitting in a press meeting at E3 where they first showed off the concept of a new Prey that was a fresh take on the franchise. Building on the universe the first game hinted at, the new Prey would end up as a bounty hunting, open-world city game. When Arcane finally took charge of the series, they crafted something very different that shared little in common with the Prey franchise at all—and you know what? I did not care.

The end result was a game that I dove into and quickly found myself hours deep without even realizing it. The world and the characters had me hooked. It was a game that rewarded innovation and allowed for some truly unique and fun gameplay methods. Should you want to decimate everything in your path or try to be merciful, Prey gave you the tools to make it a reality. The core of the game remained a first-person shooter, but the multiple story paths make the trek while worth it. Combine that with a phenomenal soundtrack that has made its way into my daily Spotify playlist and you have yourself a winning combination. While it was not a massive success when it launched, it’s now on many best of lists and has dropped in price, so it’s time to give Prey a second look.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – gameplay image provided by Capcom.

I had long since given up on the Resident Evil franchise. It had some phenomenal ideas early on and even had me hooked on its gameplay for over four games, but in recent years I’ve fallen off the franchise. Resident Evil 5 was more of an action game, and Resident Evil 6 felt like a series of quick time events wrapped in a convoluted story. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard changed that. It brought the series back to its horror roots and injected a shot of freshness its zombie-like corpse was long overdue for.

The franchise moved into in a first-person perspective and presented a game that—although in the same universe as the previous games—feels out of place and time. The visuals were unnerving and beautifully twisted. The antagonists pushed the horror in new ways, and the puzzles made for a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Resident Evil 7—despite some worry from myself and other press—was one of the best VR experiences to date. Strapping a PSVR on and jumping into the horror-filled world was rewarding and nerve-wracking. Capcom hit it out of the park with the seventh instalment, and it has me excited to see what they do next.

Persona 5

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks 1
Persona 5 – gameplay image provided by Atlus.

It is no secret I am not a fan of the JRPG formula. Random battles and constant grinding never appealed to me. But after my time with Persona 5 from Atlus, I may be a convert. Everything in the world of Persona 5 had me hooked. From the story, the visuals, and the gameplay to the fantastic soundtrack, Persona 5 was overflowing with style.

The core of the game remains what past fans of the series should expect: the life simulator crossed with a dungeon crawler JRPG, and despite how odd that may sound it all works exceedingly well. Persona 5 is a rare game I not only played through once but jumped right back into after the credits rolled. If you ever had any interest in the series, Persona has never looked as good as Persona 5. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

Cuphead

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks 6
Cuphead – gameplay image provided by Studio MDHR.

Years in development, and with a concept that sounded difficult to realise, Cuphead from Studio MDHR was an achievement in design and concept. All aspects of the game were hand drawn, from character movement to worlds, and the game is a stunning thing to behold.

One of the most difficult games on my personal game of the year list and arguably one of the hardest games hitting shelves in 2017, Cuphead takes the conventional platformer/boss fight concept and builds something wholly unique. The small Canadian team has made something truly special with Cuphead, and anyone with an Xbox One or PC are doing themselves a disservice by not picking up Cuphead and giving it a test drive.

Retail versions of some the games mentioned were provided by the publisher for previously published. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Brendan Frye’s work such as his interview with EA Motive about Star Wars: Barttlefront II, and his in-depth look at the Equifax Hack!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Enter The Gungeon (Switch) Mini-Review - Gungeon Crawling on the Go 3

Enter The Gungeon (Switch) Mini-Review – Gungeon Crawling on the Go

For a little while it felt as though the success of the Roguelike games saw several indie devs clamouring to create the next Binding of Isaac, but only a handful of games did it right. Enter the Gungeon is one of those games and now it’s been locked-and-loaded onto the Nintendo Switch and gungeoneering has never been better.

Enter The Gungeon (Switch) Mini-Review - Gungeon Crawling on the Go 6
Enter the Gungeon (Nintendo Switch) – gameplay image via Dodge Roll Games and Devolver Digital.

Since Enter the Gungeon released last April and CGM did a pretty comprehensive review of it, I won’t go into laborious detail about the game. Not much has changed for the Nintendo Switch version—in fact nothing has, and that’s okay. You don’t need to fix what isn’t broken. It’s still the same nail-biting, tightly controlled, top-down shooter with—literal—bullet-hell elements, and it still has hundreds of guns, a few I will now list:

  • The Wind-Up Gun from the Futurama episode, “War is the H-Word”
  • The Law Giver from Judge Dredd
  • The LAPD 2019 Blaster from Blade Runner
  • The Zapper from Duck Hunt
  • The Plasma Blaster from Earthworm Jim
Enter The Gungeon (Switch) Mini-Review - Gungeon Crawling on the Go 5
Enter the Gungeon (Nintendo Switch) – gameplay image via Dodge Roll Games and Devolver Digital.

I know I probably sound like a broken record with most games I review for the Switch, but what I love most is how perfectly suited Enter the Gungeon is to Nintendo’s console. It was after playing The Binding of Isaac—which I maintain is at its best on a handheld platform—that I wished Enter the Gungeon could see a handheld release, given that the two games are so similar in style. In that regard, EtG is probably at its best on the Switch. Because the action takes place room-to-room, the pace is completely set by the player—making it perfect for quick bursts in handheld mode or long-plays in docked.

Enter The Gungeon (Switch) Mini-Review - Gungeon Crawling on the Go 2
Enter the Gungeon (Nintendo Switch) – gameplay image via Dodge Roll Games and Devolver Digital.

If Enter the Gungeon suffers from anything, it’s the Switch hardware itself, namely the Joy-Cons. It’s no secret that the Joy-Con sticks are somehow simultaneously stiff yet touchy and for a twin-stick shooter that can make aiming a bit of a gamble. Also, the game automatically maps both shoot and dodge to R and L respectively, instead of ZR and ZL, which I thought was strange. If you, like me, decide to map to the triggers, you’ll suddenly notice how stiff they are compared to say and Xbox or PS4 controller. These are more nitpicky complaints than anything serious, and while it could be a little awkward at times, I found it was never that much of a bother to seriously impact gameplay, especially not when the trade-off is handheld capability.

Enter the Gungeon is incredibly stylish with an amazing pixel art aesthetic and charming gun themed enemies that are at times both adorable and frightening. The gameplay is fast-paced and difficult without being cheap and it possesses a rich and interesting lore, with several layers underneath the seemingly obvious “shoot your way until the end”. With hundreds of unique guns (proper unique, not Borderlands “let’s just paint the same four guns different colours” unique) and an incredible soundtrack, Enter the Gungeon on the Switch is an absolute bullseye.

Enter The Gungeon (Switch) Mini-Review - Gungeon Crawling on the Go 1
Enter the Gungeon (Nintendo Switch) – gameplay image via Dodge Roll Games and Devolver Digital.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Jordan Biordi’s reviews of Metroid: Samus Returns and Pokkén Tournament DX for the Nintendo Switch!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

No Other Games Need Apply: Super Mario Odyssey is Game of the Year 2

No Other Games Need Apply: Super Mario Odyssey is Game of the Year

Picking out a game of the year is a painful and thankless task. There are always so many options, and everyone has different criteria. For some, diving into an open world universe that sucked up the bulk of their life for weeks at a time is the only video game experience to be celebrated. For others, bang-bang shoot em’ ups and carpal tunnel-inducing fighting beat em’ ups are the height of the medium. Many gamers refuse to acknowledge anything other than arty indies as the height of the art form. And of course, there are those who demand that some sort of “woke” message be part of any game that they are willing to consider great.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 2
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Me? Hey, I’m a simple man of simple pleasures. For my game of the year, I need something that sucks me in through “easy to learn, difficult to master” gameplay and plasters big dumb smiles across my face from start to finish. I’m unapologetically nostalgic. I loved Nintendo even through their least successful console cycles (yeah, I bought a Virtual Boy and you best believe I treasured it). I also just straight up love Mario. He’s an adorable guy and it never ceases to amaze me how Nintendo is able to come up with new ways to use their Italian stereotype mascot. I was predisposed to love Super Mario Odyssey before I even picked up a controller to try it for the first time. However, I didn’t expect it to be my favourite videogame experience of the year. That was gravy.

Nintendo had a big year in 2017 with the release of The Switch, an ingeniously designed bit of hardware that bridged the gap between handheld and home consoles. They launched with an amazing Zelda title that brought such freedom and depth to a familiar franchise that it was enshrined an instant classic. Most will be dubbing Breath of the Wild Game of the Year if they decide to give that honour to Nintendo at all. I get it. That’s a beautiful game filled with ingenious design choices. The thing is that I just happen to find Super Mario Odyssey equally beautiful and ambitious, just in a less pretentious way.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 1
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

There are few gaming franchises less pretentious than Mario. Most of the time the designers can’t even be bothered to include or story or remotely alter it from the familiar “monster kidnaps princess, plumber saves princess” trope. Obviously that’s here. It’s a Mario game, how could it not be?! But the designers behind Super Mario Odyssey were flippant and subversive with how they played it out. They know it’s silly, if required. So they mocked the plot with some winks and let it play out as quickly and painlessly as possible before letting the meat of the game take over.

Mario games are all about experience and gameplay. That’s what you sign up for and Super Mario Odyssey is no different. On the surface, the game is similar to many previous Mario titles. There’s a sandbox exploration element from Mario 64, familiar landscapes from titles dating back to the NES days, the almost psychedelic surrealism from Mario Galaxy, and all the other familiar tropes. The major new addition was Mario’s now living hat (aka Cappy, my buddy) which allowed for new platforming techniques, new attacks, and the ability to take control of villains both familiar and fresh. It was a simple new dynamic that opened up so many new platforming possibilities. Beyond that, Super Mario Odyssey offered a sense of freedom beyond what previous Mario games delivered. It was a game that could be explored at your own pace with few guidelines. Yet at the same time, it was tough to get stuck or lost. The experience feels so intuitive that you’re always acutely aware of what you need to do next without tutorials or story to guide you. My game of the year is a game that unfolds purely in the language of videogames. Nintendo is so brilliant at guiding those experiences at this point and Mario is so familiar to players that you can simply pick it up and know exactly what to do while still being surprised and challenged at every turn.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 4
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Playing Super Mario Odyssey was like reuniting with an old friend, enjoying all the familiar pleasures, and then learning that your old friend has changed in so many ways that they are now your new favourite person. There’s so much to explore. So much to discover. So many surprises. So much originality. So much nostalgia. So much Mario. It was an endless barrage of video game pleasures, some founded by Mario and some not. There was something for every player to fall in love with, from palm-sweat challenges to goofy dress up costumes. Old players could geek out in 8-bit nostalgia levels. New players could discover all the old tropes while also getting to control a giant T-rex, because why not? It was a game of endless delights. No moment in any game this year thrilled me more than playing through the New Donk City finale, feeling like I was dabbling in original Donkey Kong, discovering the new game’s connection to the past, geeking out on a hilarious Mario-themed big band number (“run with me, grab coins with me”), marveling at the gorgeous design, and feeling elated by the firework celebration all around me. It was pure gaming pleasure on so many levels, executed by the company that got me hooked on this gaming stuff in the first place.

Super Mario Odyssey was both a celebration of Nintendo’s past and a promise to the future. Proof that the company can tickle our old pleasure centers while still providing rich and deep new gaming experiences that can match other AAA titles. My game of the year is a game that I’m still playing months later, either to find pesky stars and secrets hidden throughout or simply to re-experience moments that delighted me to no end the first time. It’s a masterpiece. Something that seems so simple that you can fall into it, yet is so deceptively massive that it rewards endless replay. Simply put, it’s hard to imagine a better Mario game. This is one title that I actually anxiously await DLC for and I know I’m not alone.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Somehow Nintendo made us all fall in love with their ancient mascot once again while proving that they have an eye on gaming’s future. That’s a special achievement. Sure, Breath of the Wild accomplished many of the same things, but not within a design that both the smallest child with no gaming experience and the most experienced aging Nintendo fan can enjoy equally. Some might dismiss Super Mario Odyssey as puffy populist nonsense and they have a point. The thing is that making any work of art that actually achieves universal appeal is a near impossible task, especially when consuming it has to conceal all that effort. This is a game to be cherished and one that promises Nintendo will have plenty of new surprises in store for us throughout The Switch’s life cycle. Sign me up for more. I’m ready.

A retail version of the game discussed was provided by the publisher for a previously published review. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!



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