Andrew Passafiume

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When you think of Western RPGs, the name BioWare is bound to pop up. It has created some of the finest and most well-regarded titles in that genre, turning a once-modest studio into one of the foremost RPG experts. Despite BioWare’s rich history, many fans have been disappointed in its recent efforts, especially 2011’s Dragon Age II. The expectations for the third game in its large-scale fantasy series, Dragon Age: Inquisition, were cautiously optimistic.

No matter how you feel about BioWare’s modern titles, it’s safe to say Inquisition is a return to form for the team and a shining example of what it does best.

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It’s the end of another packed year of new game releases. Some might consider it a lackluster one (I know I do), but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile at the end of the day. When December rolls around, we don’t often find time to pay attention to any last-minute releases. Sure, some games manage to squeeze in right at the last minute, but they are rarely worth your attention. This year, however, there is one well worth your time, and one that might just fit alongside other, larger releases: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. READ MORE

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Assassin’s Creed is one of the most inconsistently amazing and frustrating franchises of the past five years. It utilizes immense creativity and takes us on journeys we rarely experience in other games, yet does so covered in the annoyances that seem to coat most triple-A games these days. Needless to say, it’s a mess of a franchise, but one with an unparalleled amount of potential.

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Due to the popularity of the recent Persona games, specifically Persona 3 and 4, we’ve seen a good number of spin-off titles released featuring both casts. If you find yourself interested in these two groups of characters interacting and aren’t particularly fond of fighting games, you’re in luck: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is finally here.

Featuring every character you know and love from both titles and gameplay reminiscent of the Etrian Odyssey series, Persona Q seems to appeal only to a very specific audience, but one that will find plenty to keep them busy.

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It can be easy to forget how tough telling a compelling story in a video game can be. Some games do it brilliantly, like last year’s Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, but others tend to struggle. Sometimes telling a story within an interactive medium requires sacrificing some of the gameplay in order for the narrative to stand front and center. Kan Gao, the creator of one of my favorite games, To the Moon, fully understands this. No one will call it a masterwork of game design, but few can deny the impact of its story.

In lieu of a proper review, I thought I would take the time to talk about Kan Gao’s latest title, A Bird Story. Although it features no dialogue and is a lighter story than To the Moon, it’s a yet another prime example of finely-crafted interactive fiction.

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Another year, another Call of Duty. After last year’s release, Ghosts, disappointed just about everyone, it can be easy to see why some might be wary about the future of the franchise. No one will deny even the most lackluster titles in the series are still competent, but with diminishing returns beginning to set in, many are skeptical we’ll see any new groundbreaking changes with the latest entry, Advanced Warfare. It may not set the world on fire, but there is something to be said about newcomer Sledgehammer Games’ attempt to breathe new life into the franchise.

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If there’s anything Insomniac Games, the studio behind the Ratchet and Clank series, is known for, it’s bringing together a handful of small, yet vital mechanics to create slick and entertaining package. While its last major release, Fuse, fell short of almost everyone’s expectations due to its lack of, well, everything that makes an Insomniac game stand out, the same can’t be said of Sunset Overdrive. It’s a breath of fresh air from a studio that seemed to be losing its way. READ MORE

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I’ve written a lot about horror games, specifically regarding how the genre has gone through a bit of a renaissance in recent years. There have been a surprising number of quality horror games, and with the recent announcement of a new Silent Hill title, plus Capcom’s supposed effort to bring Resident Evil back to its roots, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing plenty more.

This brings me to this month’s newest horror releases: Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within. Both are modern horror games, yet they both approach the genre from entirely different perspectives. Best of all, you can look at both games as example of how to do modern horror right and how to do it, well, not so right.

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After nearly ten years away from a genre he helped pioneer, Shinji Mikami has returned to his survival horror roots with his latest title, The Evil Within. Focusing less on action and more on atmosphere and the “survival” aspect of survival horror, The Evil Within attempts to bridge the gap between the old ways of the genre and its current status. Unfortunately, it’s an experience that only rarely delivers on its potential.

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There’s something calming about driving in video games. This is especially true of open-world driving games, many of which allow you to explore and learn more about the world you are (virtually) inhabiting. I do enjoy driving in Grand Theft Auto and the like, but it’s not the same. The original Forza Horizon and its recently released sequel are more my speed. It provides a similar feeling as sailing, but the sense of speed and (sometimes) laid back atmosphere the Forza Horizon games provide manage to scratch a different itch.

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