Many people believe fiction has the power to influence real life. This idea is tied to mental health — a topic that has gained much more attention in recent times given the ongoing struggles due to COVID-19. According to Checkpoint.org, an overwhelming majority of gamers believe video games can help mental health. Games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, and even Destiny all help people maintain healthy minds through virtual escapes. Persona is no stranger to helping those in need — the characters of these lengthy JRPGs are written to reflect real-world issues.

Part of why video games, or media in…


February 17th, 2021. Announcement day. My friends and I convene at our designated Discord call and pop open the newest Nintendo Direct stream. Coming together as gamers during these exciting live streams that reveal upcoming titles is a tradition for many (including myself).


Sorry Aerith, as much as I love your terrifying overhead chair scene, you’ve been toppled by Yuffie’s bouncy personality. After spending an hour or so figuring out how to download Final Fantasy VII Remake Integrade on my PlayStation 5 console (Square Enix did NOT make this one as simple as it should have been), I finally got around to playing the newest DLC, Final Fantasy VII Remake InterMISSION. Yuffie’s adorable Moogle getup immediately charmed me, but it wasn’t until I engaged in combat with the Wutaian ninja herself did I realize how incredibly satisfying she was to play.

As Brandon…


There is an inherent noteworthiness to a game that is granted when it takes a stand and speaks about social issues. Games that forego aimless entertainment to make a difference can seem pretentious, but when done right, these treasures can connect to those who relate to their themes. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a game that does just that, harboring a purposeful story through the synthesis of deeply personal characters, clever painting mechanics, and commentary on societal expectations.

Chicory spoke to me on a personal level. For all of its witty, cute characters, I felt the deepest connection with the…


Swap your swords for swimsuits and get into the summer groove because Genshin Impact will soon release an update themed on a summer beach trip! On Wednesday, June 9th, Genshin Impact’s 1.6 patch will go live, allowing players to embark on a “vacation” of sorts with Mondstadt sisters, Jean and Barbara, as well as the adorably destructive Klee.


What happens when your local zoologist is also a curious-minded and somewhat ethically questionable genetic engineer? Let’s Build a Zoo!

This upcoming Zoo Tycoon-inspired game, with a release date for sometime in 2021, is one to keep an eye on if you’re an animal enthusiast. Let’s Build a Zoo will be released on PC via Steam, then on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation further down the line.

Let’s Build a Zoo, developed by Springloaded Games and published by No More Robots, is just as described: a tycoon game in which you manage a zoo’s finances, development, employment, and the genetic…


Earlier this year, PlayStation’s State of Play live stream announced Final Fantasy VII: Remake Integrade for PlayStation 5, and in September of 2020, we saw the announcement of Final Fantasy XVI, the newest mainline entry in the series. Both of these announcements garnered hype for the Final Fantasy fanbase, but recent rumors scooped by gaming news sites like Fanbyte expose another Final Fantasy title in the works.


Resident Evil Village had my attention from the moment of its reveal. Tall vampire woman chasing Ethan Winters around an Eastern European-inspired village? Sign me up. I was largely expecting Lady Dimitrescu to be the main antagonist of the game too, and while the internet exploded in excitement over her reveal (as discussed by Kate Irwin in her insightful piece on the character) I was happily surprised that the giant countess wasn’t the only enemy of the game that made me feel anxious.

As a child, I was far more terrified of video games than I am today; so terrified…


Have you ever caught yourself staring at your library of games and thinking: “Man, what am I going to play?” only to end up aimlessly scrolling through social media?

I had one of these moments a few days ago. It resulted in me shying away from my longer-than-average playthrough of the crafting-centric JRPG, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout. The game is roughly about 25 hours but I’ve been playing it for a few weeks now, which is absolutely not the par for the course — but that’s not the discussion we’re having here today.


Marriage is something I’ve yet to experience, but playing through Hazelight Studios’ It Takes Two provided a spirited (and insightful) glimpse into what to expect when I decide to tie myself down. A year ago, a plane ticket of mine to Canada was rendered useless when COVID-19 beset North America. Just as the fictional couple of Cody and May faced problems in It Takes Two, my relationship, too, was in conflict. …

Paul Lombardo

Journalist writing about video games and the stories they tell | Student at the University of Florida

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