In Defence of Final Fantasy XV's Chapter 13

What’s wrong with linearity? There’s no doubt that open worlds are in gaming vogue at the moment, something that Square Enix tapped into with the latest in their epic series, in a bid to undo the supposed wrongs of Final Fantasy XIII. Here is a fully explorable world that cleverly blurs the boundaries between East and West, fantasy and reality. That is, until you get to Chapter 13. This particular chapter has been criticised largely for its linearity that flips the open world on its head. For

Final Fantasy VII Remake EGX 2019: wows gamers old and new

Has there ever been a game as eagerly anticipated as Final Fantasy VII Remake? Judging by the queues to play the demo at EGX? We’d say no. But boy was it worth the wait. Much is still unknown about the game: how long will this first episode be? How long until the follow-up episodes? And what will Cloud look like in drag? Seriously, that first point is very important to us. Yet this brief glimpse was enough to assure us that yes, Final Fantasy VII Remake is looking just as incredible as we all

Luigi’s Mansion 3 EGX 2019: Nintendo is on top form

Amongst the immersion of Cyberpunk 2077, the bombastic Final Fantasy VII Remake, the thrill of Marvel’s Avengers, the exciting Pokémon Sword and Shield, Luigi’s Mansion 3 might just be my game of the show. Admittedly I played the hell out of the Gamecube original, so maybe I’m biased. But the game is Nintendo at their finest: bold, creative and impeccably polished. The whole demo takes place in a haunted castle, one of many floors of the game’s hotel setting. The section I played (apparently c

Ring Fit Adventure will give you a kick up the ring

After the success of Wii Fit, it was inevitable that Nintendo would follow up with another fitness game to get us sweating and toning, this time called the Ring Fit Adventure. But I didn’t expect there to be such a robust adventure mode along with it. In true Nintendo fashion, you’re sent on a quest to beat a bodybuilding dragon (because of course), where you’ll find yourself running, squatting and yoga-posing across a beautifully rendered, colourful world. And it’s quite the workout too. One

Is Sayonara Wild Hearts the future of pop music?

Usually I button mash my way through the “start” screen of games, eager to skip through all those developer logos (sorry) to jump straight into the game. Yet with Sayonara Wild Hearts I found myself transfixed: the game’s logo pops up in shades of neon while catchy pop music plays in the background. From there, the music only gets better. Created by experimental Swedish developer Simogo, Sayonara Wild Hearts is described as a “pop album video game”. In practice, that means skateboarding, motorc

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Review

One of the earliest things you’ll do in Link’s Awakening is collect a magic mushroom, ask a witch to turn it into magic powder and sprinkle it on to a talking raccoon. What follows is quite the trip, involving Mario references, zany characters, and talking animals in one of the Zelda series’ most colurful and experimental adventures. It’s a Mario-Zelda fever dream, as melancholic as it is whimsical. Of course, if you’ve played the 1993 Game Boy original then you’ll know all that already. This

Tips from the Top: streaming with the Stream Queens

Thinking of starting your own stream? There’s plenty of fun to be had playing games (or not) on webcam, chatting with like-minded people and maybe even making a little cash on the side. But as gaymers, we’re more susceptible to hate and trolls online. So who better to ask than The Stream Queens for a little advice? The Twitch team, originally set up by Deere, brings together drag artists on the platform from across the world to game together, drag together, and fight the trolls. There are now a

meet the drag troupe changing the face of online gaming

Joy Stique and Sister Gaecure of The Stream Queens “It’s two in the morning and he’s calling me. My fiancé and I are asleep. He called me on my cell phone. He called my fiancé on his cell phone. So now I’m not only scared, but he involves my fiancé. And someone’s knocking really loud at the door and it scares the shit out of me.” This is Elixa, a drag streamer on Twitch, explaining the story of a cyber-attack from a troll who targets LGBT streamers. “I almost quit streaming when it happened,”

A love letter to Splatoon 2

Two years after the release of Splatoon 2 on Switch and the results of the final Splatfest are in. While this marks the end of post-release content from Nintendo, for some gamers it came with another revelation. For the uninitiated, Splatfests are limited time events in Splatoon 2 where players across the globe choose a side and then battle to determine the winning outcome: ketchup vs mayo, ice cream vs cake, invisibility vs flight. For this final Splatfest, chaos won over order. What that mean

Cyberpunk and Trans Representation at The Red Strings Club

The Red Strings Club, from Spanish developer Deconstructeam, was initially released in January 2018 but has just arrived on the Switch. It’s a narrative game with a mixture of gameplay elements, all drawn together in a cyberpunk setting full of neon lights, androids, evil corporations, and an ambient electronic score. Yet while cyberpunk games are often used to explore dark themes, The Red Strings Club is particularly bold. It asks some serious ethical questions about suicide, depression, and r

Is Striking Vipers A Gayming Future?

If there’s one theme that Black Mirror keeps coming back to, it’s the intersection between romance and technology. That reached a peak with the award-winning San Junipero episode of season three, not only for its queer storyline but for matching intriguing technological themes with genuine emotion. To an extent, Striking Vipers is a companion piece that feels like a step backwards. In this first episode from the fifth season, writer Charlie Brooker gives us an exploration of queer romance via h

Newfound Courage: Coming Out In Video Games

Many video game heroes symbolise courage, be it pointy-haired JRPG protagonists or The Legend of Zelda’s Link, who is literally courage personified. But what about the courage to simply be yourself? LGBTQ+ representation in gaming is certainly becoming more visible. But too often characters are static tick boxes, identifiable purely for their sexuality and present solely for the hero to romance. Rarely do these characters develop or explore their sexuality in any meaningful way. As much as we’

Blade Runner in 2019: The present catches up with the future

It’s been 37 years since the release of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner, based loosely on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sleep. It depicts a dystopian future in perpetual rain; a neon-lit, seedy version of Los Angeles dominated by omnipresent advertising, crime and the towering pyramid of the Tyrell Corporation. The protagonist Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with “retiring” (initially) four replicants – humanoid robots – who have illegally infiltra

Shantay, you play: the drag queens of gaming

Drag in video games is often played for laughs – see 1997’s Final Fantasy VII, in which spiky-haired Cloud Strife dresses as a woman to deceive a gullible, misogynistic mafioso, or Alfred the “cross-dressing freak” from Resident Evil: Code Veronica – but drag and video games can be vectors of identity exploration and self-expression. Drag can involve trying on a persona by putting yourself in someone else’s heels, a subversive form of role-play – and what are video games if not role-play? Gamin

Gods And Giants: Gaming's New Obsession with Norse Mythology

Why are so many recent indie games influenced by Norse mythology? You don’t have to look far in video games to see references to Norse mythology. RPGs, in particular, are rife with allusions to Odin, Thor’s hammer and Ragnarok. But in the past few years there’s been a slew of games focused specifically on Norse mythology and Viking culture from AAA games like the Norse inspired Skyrim and the recent God of War, to indie games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, The Banner Saga, Jotun and many mo

Stephanie Martin & bisexuality - Why don't we tell that story?

The last few years have seen an influx in female-led queer theatre across fringe venues, athough it’s Theatre 503 that has led the charge with 2015’s Rotterdam (Jon Brittain) and 2018’s Lobster (Lucy Foster). Juniper & Jules, from playwright Stephanie Martin, is the next production set to appear at the venue this March – the story of a romance between two women that explores themes of bisexuality and polyamory. That wasn’t always the case, however. “It started off as a non-specific piece – the
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