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Sea Shanties: The Soul of Assassin’s Creed IV

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag did a lot for the series. By expanding on the ocean combat of AC3 and making it central to the games’ premise, it reinvigorated a franchise that had become increasingly rote. On top of this, it also allowed for the introduction of the best collectibles of the series to date.

Most game collectibles take the form of random objects scattered around the world (diary entries, feathers, hidden packages), usually providing an experience bonus or easter egg once a certain amount have been collected. Others unlock concept art or expand on the games’ lore. The inclusion of these in any game can be a mixed bag, and Assassin’s Creed has fallen afoul of an excess of them in the past, drawing criticism for what could be deemed as unnecessary padding. Indeed, Black Flag had its share of extraneous collectibles of varying usefulness (I still haven’t collected the 200 animus fragments), but among these were the uniquely memorable sea shanties.

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Minibytes – Everything

There’s not a lot to Everything, the sandbox game created by David O’Reilly and published by Double Fine Presents, whose description boasts that it “will give you a new perspective on life.”. There’s not much to discuss in terms of the gameplay mechanics, which consist of exploring various macro and microcosms of the universe while inhabiting animals, plants, atoms, shapes, buildings, continents, galaxies and, well, see the title. Each of these can move, make sounds, gather or release more of themselves nearby, and dance. You can find snippets of text uttered by other elements in the landscape, and there are audio recordings by the late philosopher Alan Watts. There’s not much more to it than that. The visuals aren’t breathtaking but are very much suited to the game’s purpose, the score is excellent, and the grainy, lo-fi sound of Alan Watts’ voice smoothly eases you through the entire experience.

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By A Different Token

If you’re a gamer living in Ireland then chances are you more than likely already know about The R.A.G.E. Operating out of Fade Street in Dublin. They’ve been purveyors of quality vinyls and retro games since 2010, and announced in March that they would be opening a bar/restaurant/arcade called Token in May. While this is great news in itself, it’s also a first for Ireland, so I dropped them a line to see if I could get a few words to mark the occasion. As it turned out they were happy to oblige! The results are below.

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Shovel Knight: DLC Done Right

Shovel Knight is one of (relatively few) Kickstarter games which have enjoyed continued success following their campaign and subsequent release. The first outing by developer Yacht Club Games, it shattered it’s original campaign goal of $75,000 when it launched in March 2013, finishing at an impressive $311,502. It promised a return to the challenging platformer of the NES era, with a lush 8-bit aesthetic to match. Come release day in June of 2014, it was clear that it had delivered. Met with widespread acclaim, it currently averages a Metacritic score of 90/100 across seven consoles. There was little time for the devs to rest on their laurels, however, as every one of the stretch goals they had set were met during the initial campaign.

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Women In Gaming

Happy international women’s day! To celebrate I was going to do a piece on some of gaming’s finest female leads (I still might), but then I thought that it might actually be better to highlight some women working in the field of game design and development, and to maybe pay tribute to some unsung talent out here in the real world. Shortly afterwards I realised that I wasn’t aware of any women in the industry. Could not name a single one. This made writing the article somewhat difficult.

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The Best Pets in Gaming

Pets are essential in life. It’s all well and good being a badass superhero and saving the world twice a week, but going home to your fluffiest pal is what makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes these pets even come in pretty handy when saving the world, so, bonus! Below, and in no particular order, are a list of some of the best boys and girls in gaming.

Poochy – Yoshi’s Island

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For Honor – a British Spellcheckers Nightmare

For Honor is Ubisoft’s answer to the world’s cry for a Deadliest Warrior simulator*. Released on Valentines day 2017, it’s a Vikings vs. Knights vs. Samurai action game with a heavy focus on one-on-one combat. I’ve put about fifteen hours into the game so far, and in that time I feel that I’ve seen the length and breadth of what it has to offer.

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