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Sam Greer

Contributor

Sam Greer is a freelance writer, loud Scot and one of only three Lightning Returns fans. She covers a wide range of topics but likes to champion games that do things a little differently.

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Games are, generally, not very good at depicting mental illness. Games are atrocious at tackling a lot of topics, to be fair, but this one is surprisingly prevalent: sanity meters, psycho villains, dozens of games set in insane asylums. This is probably why so many people leapt at the chance to praise Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice for its considered portrayal of a tricky subject.

"Your choices matter" is a refrain repeated again and again in the marketing campaigns of dozens upon dozens of narrative-driven games. Like most things with video games, it's the promise of scale and scope. The more variances that can occur, the more drastic the consequences, the more the game is seen as a success. The recently released Detroit: Become Human promoted itself on this basis, touting huge choices and variations. True enough, the game can play out with drastic differences. The problem is that no matter what way it played out, I felt nothing.

Video games aren't that good at friends. Oh sure, they can be great for making them. Various multiplayer games have facilitated very real and valid friendships, but the games themselves scarcely contain an ounce of the same stuff in their characters. Bonds of friendship in-game are generally left to barks and grunts of command. Vermintide 2, despite taking place in the grimmest, darkest fantasy land there is, somehow manages the impossible and gives us a party of unlikely heroes whose bond feels terribly sincere.

Time limits are a much maligned bit of game design. A single level with a race against time is fine, Halo's final warthog run or Call of Duty Modern Warfare's desperate fight through a nuclear silo. But turn that into a whole game? People still argue over The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Dead Rising. The creeping pressure is quite the stress, and finding a balance that still pays off people's potentially lengthy investment should they fail to meet certain actions in time is evidently not easy. Minit's solution is right there in the name and it's magic.

FeatureMaking our own adventures in Dragon's Dogma

How the cult RPG's character creator changes the game.

The fantasy world of Dragon's Dogma is pretty darn unremarkable isn't it? It's a collection of Google image results. You want a griffin? Here's one exactly as drawn on a fantasy novel cover from when you were a kid. Cyclops? Just like the one in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. There's so little of the Dragon's Dogma world that feels unique or standout. It's as if everything was borrowed from the most typical version of itself. The world has a name but it might as well be called Ye Olde Fantasy Place.

How many games can claim to still have a dedicated following, 10 years after their release? That still have fans conjuring up new mods to alter and add to the game? S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is pretty much the definition of a video game cult classic. This strange Ukrainian survival shooter is for some the best the genre has ever seen. But its audience wasn't spurred into existence upon the game's release. Fans had followed the development of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for years before it eventually came out in 2007. In that time they saw various versions of it, each containing numerous areas and mutants that never made it into the final game.