Top Of The Table – Unlock!

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Top Of The Table – Unlock!

An odd but intriguing entertainment phenomenon has risen in popularity in recent years. The “escape room” concept doesn't always go by that same name, but it has a consistent structure. Grab a group of friends, get locked in a designated space, and solve puzzles under a time limit to try and figure out an often convoluted path to getting out. A good escape room demands lateral thinking, careful observation, and often, cooperation. But it can also be a pricey evening of fun, or it can be hard to find one near you. 

Unlock! is one of a few in a growing collection of games that aims to eliminate those latter concerns, offering smartly crafted puzzles and intriguing scenarios, but suitable for a game at any time and in any place – and without breaking the bank. While nothing is going to replace the visceral thrill of a location-based puzzle experience and its real physical props and features, Space Cowboys and Asmodee's card game, Unlock!, is a surprisingly exciting, challenging, and accessible way to wile away an hour.

Exclusive Call Of Duty: WWII Zombies Gameplay Impressions

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Exclusive Call Of Duty: WWII Zombies Gameplay Impressions

During our cover-story trip to Sledgehammer's offices, we were able to get some hands-on time with Call of Duty: WWII's zombies mode. This co-op diversion has been a longtime series staple, giving players a break from competitive shooting in favor of working together to blast apart the undead. After checking out the mode's latest incarnation, PC editor Dan Tack and I sat down and reflected on our fun, but ultimately doomed, battle against those pesky zombies.

Jeff: Hey, Dan Tack. We played some Call of Duty: WWII zombies while we were out visiting Sledgehammer for your cover story. Before we dive into that too deeply, what’s been your experience with that mode? Is that something you look forward to with new entries? Do you spend much time killing the undead? Would you call yourself a grade-A zombie hound? 

Five Games That Make Us Think About Our Mortality

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Five Games That Make Us Think About Our Mortality

Last week saw the release of Tacoma, a game that tells an emotional, human story about a space station crew who find out they don’t have much longer to live. Stories about our mortality are powerful because they’re universal; at some point or another, each and every one of us will have to face death. The topic has been explored in a variety of media, but I think that the interactive nature of video games makes them a unique place to write these stories. There are certainly challenges developers must overcome to make us introspective about mortality; death is omnipresent in the medium, but it often feels more mechanical than thoughtful. In recent years however, more and more games have tackled the subject in unique and interesting ways. Here are five other games that make us confront death, feel anxiety, and think introspectively about the lives we lead. 

The following article contains spoilers. If you’d just like the list of recommendations, go play Soma, What Remains of Edith Finch, Hotline Miami 2, To The Moon, and That Dragon, Cancer. 

Game Freak On Player Freedom Vs. Story In Pokémon

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Game Freak On Player Freedom Vs. Story In Pokémon

If you followed our GI Game Club for Pokémon Sun and Moon, you know that we talked a lot about the role of a central story in Pokémon RPGs. While visiting Game Freak in Tokyo, we sat down with Pokémon series producer, director, and composer, Junichi Masuda, and the director of Pokémon Sun and Moon, Shigeru Ohmori, to talk about this central debate amongst Pokémon fans. What's the role of a larger story in Pokémon games? We also talked to Masuda and Ohmori to find out if the development team has any interest in opening things up n the same way Nintendo with with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Watch the interview with Masuda and Ohmori below to learn more about the team's thoughts on player freedom and storytelling within the Pokémon series.

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Here's How Game Freak Designs Pokémon Creatures

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Here's How Game Freak Designs Pokémon Creatures

Between all the different Pokémon games that have released over the last 20 years, taking into account Mega Evolutions and new wrinkles like the Alola forms in Sun and Moon, there are 802 Pokémon. The creatures vary in design to an incredible degree, covering strange influences like keys and piles of garbage to less surprising designs based on cute animals like cats and koalas. While visiting Japan to explore Game Freak’s development studio, we spoke with Pokémon director, producer, and composer Junichi Masuda about what the process of designing a Pokémon looks like, whether they have ever encountered an internal pitch that was immediately turned down, and what has happened to their eyes over the years.

Fortnite Creative Director Talks Five-Year Plan, Possibility Of Switch Version

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Fortnite Creative Director Talks Five-Year Plan, Possibility Of Switch Version

Epic Games' Darren Sugg answers our burning questions about Fortnite as we play through a mission together. Why is it called a closed beta if it's being sold in stores for a price? Why should people play it now if it will be free-to-play later? What kind of content roadmap is Epic planning? Will it be weekly? Monthly? Sugg doesn't hold back from answering any of these questions, and offers some surprising answers, along with new details about what might be coming next. We end our conversation with a focus on Nintendo Switch. Is there a chance Fortnite will come to it? Sugg doesn't outright say no, and, well, his answer may sound a little hopeful.

Enjoy the video, folks. The playthrough isn't the most action packed, but that's largely from us doing our best to juggle the conversation and slaying husks. We hope this video offers answers you've been looking for. If you want to see more from Fortnite, just let us know in the comments section below.

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RPG Grind Time – Two Recent Mobile RPGs Worth Exploring

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RPG Grind Time – Two Recent Mobile RPGs Worth Exploring

Confession time: I’ve had a hard time getting into mobile RPGs. I prefer to play games on the big screen, and very few have captured my interest for more than a handful of hours. They’ve always felt like lesser experiences to me, lacking some of the depth and strategy that I crave. I’ve resisted for a while, but lately, an onslaught of games from series I love have come to mobile, such as Fire Emblem Heroes, Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. The truth is more of these types of experiences coming to this platform is inevitable. We’re more attached to mobile devices than ever, and it makes sense that developers want to capitalize on that. When you’re on the go, having the luxury to just pull out your phone and play something for a few minutes to pass the time is fantastic. Playing RPGs this way has been a more relaxing experience for me, and I’m glad it’s just another option in how I engage with my favorite genre. 

For this week’s column, I wanted to highlight two recent mobile RPGs that you might not realize are out and offer my impressions. Here’s what you need to know about Tales of Rays and Egglia: Legend of Redcap. 

Bringing The Horror Of Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies To Life

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Bringing The Horror Of Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies To Life

Call of Duty: WWII’s version of zombies isn’t anything like other recent entries. While I’m a fan of the gritty, hard-boiled film-noir zombies and an even bigger fan of the over-the-top carnival antics of the '80s zombies, this upcoming offering promises a focus on pure horror.

While many zombies movies, games, and shows create the popular undead monstrosities via supernatural means, a virus or plague, or infectious bites, Sledgehammer is going real weird with their take on this one. A pseudo-scientific “what if” scenario that dredges deep down into actual plausible scientific research that the Nazis were conducting at the time involving physics – a twisted sci-fi/horror blend that combines analytical and scientific methodology with Nazi occultism. 

The zombies in Call of Duty: WWII are based on physics and aspects of the nervous system. The corpses of fallen soldiers could be repurposed and brought back, and often the more disassembled and grisly bodies are chosen – strapping together pieces from multiple bodies in some cases to form aberrant flesh-heaps. These lifeless husks are fueled by the nervous system and supported by base mechanical augmentation like bolts, straps, spinal grafts, and support braces. 

Opinion – The Dangers Of Chasing Nostalgia

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Opinion – The Dangers Of Chasing Nostalgia

Over the years, as people ask me about my favorite “game of all time,” I usually start talking about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Link’s first 3D outing blew my mind. It was a blend of brilliant world design, clever puzzles, and an amazing soundtrack. After playing Ocarina of Time, the land of Hyrule felt real and alive in ways that no other artificial world had before. The sun even rose and set in a day/night cycle that was incredibly novel for the era.

I found myself thinking about Ocarina of Time a lot earlier this year while I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With Link’s latest adventure, Nintendo rethought the Zelda formula and delivered a Zelda game that felt incredibly fresh while holding true to Zelda’s original design theory of letting players run free in a fantasy world. Breath of the Wild is a stunning adventure full of beautiful, player-driven moments. I had trouble putting down my Switch for nearly 100 hours after I first picked up the game. Breath of the Wild was my month of March.

Game Freak’s Origins And Non-Pokémon Games

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Game Freak’s Origins And Non-Pokémon Games

Pokémon Sun and Moon director Shigeru Ohmori (left) and Game Freak co-founder Junich Masuda reflect on the studio's history.

We recently had the opportunity to visit the offices of Game Freak, the creators of Pokémon, to discuss the series, its impact, and its future. The studio is more than Pokémon, however, and we talked to them about its beginnings and its games that don’t explore the world of Pocket Monsters.

Game Freak began as a magazine in Japan, or as Pokémon producer and composer and Game Freak co-founder Junichi Masuda refers to it, a mini comic. Satoshi Tajiri, who is credited as Pokémon’s creator, would visit arcades, talk to their owners and get tips for the games that would be included in the magazine, but making video games was always its goal. As a small group of video game fans, they didn’t think they could make an arcade game, but with the release of the Famicom (the Nintendo Entertainment System in America) Game Freak thought it might finally be able to make something.