Assassins Creed Valhalla Review

Assassins Creed Valhalla Review

Assassins Creed Valhalla…

The Assassin’s Creed series is a bit of an oddity. What started off as a series of games that focused on putting you in the shoes of, well, an assassin, has now turned into a sprawling open-world action RPG series where story and narrative take center stage. And that likely is for the better. I spent a good amount of time in the original Assassin’s Creed and while I enjoyed sneaking around, silently taking out targets from the shadows and escaping undetected, the gameplay felt artificial and linear. Fast forward to today and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has given me a reason to revisit a series I had dismissed as a one-trick pony.

Story & Narrative

Valhalla places us in the fur-lined boots of Eivor, a Viking warlord who has had to deal with tragedy, loss and betrayal from a young age. If like me you were following the marketing for this game, you’ll know that Eivor can be played as either male or female. Without spoiling much, I can tell you that there’s an intriguing narrative reason for that, one that you’ll come to appreciate as the story unravels.

The story of Eivor and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes place during a time when Vikings were looking to settle past Norway. With your crew, you land onto the shores of England and, let’s just say, you’re not exactly welcome. As you attempt to build a new place for your people to call home, you’ll have to fight for your right to maintain your foothold. What I found particularly powerful about this aspect of Valhalla’s story was how it portrayed Vikings as settlers looking for a piece of land to call their own. While we oftentimes associate these fierce warriors with violence and pillaging, there’s also that human side of them and Valhalla does a great job of keeping that front and center.

As if building a new home for her clan wasn’t enough, Eivor has to deal with some inner turmoil of her own. Early on she discovers she’s destined to betray her childhood friend and clan leader Sigurd. Outside of that, she also regularly sees the god Odin in visions. In essence, all three of these story strands intertwine with each other effectively and deliver a surprisingly cohesive narrative about the struggle between pre-determined fate and free will.

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Gamer Quote:

Eivor, Assassins Creed Valhalla 

“I Will Not Be Captive To Another Man’s Gaudy Design. My Destiny Is Mine To Weave.”

World & Design

It’s not a big sprawling open-world game without plenty of land to strut around in. Despite that Valhalla takes place in England and it has almost as much variety in destinations as Odyssey. Between the English shores, Jotunheim, Norway and Asgard, there’s a good chunk of map to explore and get lost in while you complete missions, loot gear and items, and develop your skills. They’re all equally as breathtaking as well, even on a base PlayStation 4 used for this very review. The scenery and character designs are all highly detailed with one particular caveat. Character models were more often better looking when they didn’t have to move much. Outside of gameplay and combat, watching Eivor and Co interact during dialogue and story beats gave me the feeling that the game still needed a bit more polish. It’s jarring to see Eivor deliver attacks with believable animations during combat only to then sweep her arm in an awkward movement when conversing with one of her clanmates.

Gameplay

There’s a good variety of things to do in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. You’ll be doing quite a bit of exploring and fighting as well as helping build up your settlement and getting to know the people that reside within it. These conversations lead up to some exciting story moments and activities that tie in with the main storyline. Never was there a time when I felt that I was being sidetracked from the main narrative. Combat in Valhalla is brutal with a lot of weight and impact in every blow.

Action RPGs have a tendency to lack weight in their attacks. With every swing of her weapons, though, Eivor delivers meaty blows that pack a lot of punch. Of course, with a lot of punch comes a lot of blood and Valhalla has that in spades. Developing Eivor’s abilities happens in two ways. First is via an expansive skill tree that branches out into three different colored paths. Bear Skills, the red path, is all about enhancing your melee skills. Raven Skills, the yellow path, focuses on stealth, defence and assassination. Finally, Wolf Skills will make you a deadlier ranged fighter. You can obtain new skills by spending skill points to unlock nodes. The second way to give Eivor new abilities is by finding Books of Knowledge scattered around the world. From these abilities, you can have 4 melee and 4 ranged active at a time. The best part about this system is that you can respect your Eivor as many times as you wish without needing any resources.

Final Word

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has turned me into a believer of the series. The hallmark of a good game is to have an intriguing narrative and engaging gameplay. As a gamer who loves good combat systems, I felt right at home with the game’s flow and mechanics. On the other hand, the side of me that appreciates a good story was fully engrossed in Eivor’s story and her struggles. With this newfound belief, I’m now convinced I need to go back and experience Assassin’s Creed games I missed out on.

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Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice. Also catch him on IG.

Hunter X Hunter: Anime at its Finest

STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND

Hunter X Hunter: Anime at its Finest

Hunter X Hunter is Brilliant . . .

When it comes to anime, there are a few names that stand out compared to the rest. You know them as the anime that the entire world speaks of. When it comes to ‘those’ anime, most people have Naruto, Death Note, Bleach or Dragon Ball at the tip of their tongues since they’re the titles that have left their mark across the world ever since their debut on paper, but what if I told you that there’s another anime that’s from the same era, the very same 90’s era when the Shonen Jump magazine started popping off and featuring such titles that are still considered masterpieces to this very day?

I’m pretty sure you won’t be surprised since the name in the title isn’t one that people aren’t aware of. Hunter X Hunter, ever since its debut, was considered as something that would be the next big thing out there. Getting a ‘proper’ anime adaptation more than a decade later, fans were compelled to question whether Hunter X Hunter would be another name that never gets an anime adaptation in addition to a million of others who are still on the waiting list waiting for their day to come.

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They really kept them waiting, but the anime adaptation brought back what was forgotten and introduced new elements to the genre. Everything came hand in hand with a nostalgia that we just couldn’t shake off. Hunter X Hunter is truly one of the best anime ever made since it does everything so perfectly whilst bringing back the action and adventure genre in the ‘shonen’ way that it was meant to be shown ever since the beginning. Let’s have a look at what exactly makes the show such a hit that despite it’s manga being on a long hiatus, people have never stopped being wanting more. Even the magazine wants the creator on the crew since they’re fans of the series as well, wanting to see how the series comes to an end.

Anime Quote:

Killua from Hunter X Hunter

“If I ignore a friend I have the ability to help, wouldn’t I be betraying him?”

The good old Shonen we love:

Let me ask you a question. What do people love the most about Dragon Ball? The very first Dragon Ball just so we’re on the same page. No, it’s not the action packed lightning fast fighting that makes us jump all over the place for no reason at all.

Try to go back in time to that point when you were a little bean and were watching the show without a care in the world. What do you see? What do you feel yourself to be the most inspired of when the letters assemble in your head, making ‘Dragon Ball’ come on the screen? Yes, adventure. Adventure has always been something that was intriguing since the whole curiosity and ‘not knowing what’s out there’ in the world was something that made the wait for the next episode all the harder.

I’m pretty sure we wanted to embark on these quests ourselves when we grow up since something about that adventure made our eyes light up in an instant. Hunter X Hunter takes that original adventure genre while staying true to the Shonen roots and shows us a journey, a tale that makes binge watching the show the easiest thing in the entire universe. You’ll feel that when you start watching it. Trust me.

A band of characters making it hard to choose favorites:

Every Shonen anime out there has a duo, a trio or a posse that makes it difficult to ‘see’ who the main character is if the show gives all the characters equal attention just like a mother would to all her kids.

Hunter X Hunter stays true to that idea and features one of the best character developments in anime history. As the story progresses, we see more and more to the characters which makes things all the interesting and provides us with a story rich show that adds to it’s perfection.

Whether it’s Gon, a boy who’s pure to the very core making our heart melt the moment he’s on the screen or Killua whose bloodlust and assassin vibes at times can be frightening but he’s good on the inside. Kurapika, out for blood, his clan eradicated by the Phantom Troupe or Leorio who shows us what a friend really is.

You can’t help but love the squad since they’re always there for each other and never give up on one another since they’re more than well aware of the fact that they’re the only ones they have and can count on now.

Antagonists? Hold my beer.

A Shonen anime is as good as the antagonist is. A show where the adventure’s in the air and you’ve got a lot of action on the table, people fighting almost all the time has to feature a good antagonist who lights that fire in the hearts of both the characters and the viewers at the same time.

Most of the people regard the Akatsuki as the best ‘villain group’ out there since they featured people who were from completely different backgrounds, exhibiting completely different abilities, united by a single cause. But have you heard of the name Phantom Troupe?

I’m pretty sure you haven’t. You’re missing out on a lot you know? And that’s not all. Every arc of Hunter X Hunter features an antagonist that makes us wish that the arc had never ended. But then we know that the next one would feature an even better adversary so it’s all good at the end of the day. Whether it’s Hisoka who’s never clear as to which side he’s on or Illumi who does things for the gist of them or the Bomber who wants to make the most the game has to offer, you can’t help but affirm that the antagonists bring out the best the protagonists have to offer while making the show go down another road, steer in a different direction that makes things interesting everytime and prevent the story from ever going bland by any means.

I didn’t mention anything of Meruem since I want you to experience the character first hand yourself. I know, I’m very kind.

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It’s okay, you’re human as well:

Anime in the past featured characters like Goku and Kenshiro who just never had to face defeat since their power levels were sky high all the time, but that very thing in time took the excitement element from the equation since things got predictable and repetitive.

At that point, the audience was the writer of the show rather than the author himself. A character who has his ups and downs and isn’t at his best every day, him going through so much, having his encounters and experiences shape and model him to someone who can face everything head on tomorrow is just beauty in itself.

That’s the best thing about Hunter X Hunter. Despite featuring kids who just can flip the world upside down whenever they feel like it, Hunter X Hunter shows us that it’s okay for a person to be weak, it’s okay for a person to feel troubled, it’s okay for a person to be afraid since we’re all humans at the very end. It’s something that makes Hunter X Hunter shine all the brighter as the best anime out there since it’s another of a trillion of things that it does way better than many other show out there.

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The best arc out there for a reason:

Yes, you heard it right. The Chimera Ant arc was voted the best anime arc of all time. And I totally agree since during that arc, the show was at its climax and had a lot going on. I don’t want to spoil anything for you since it’d be nothing less than a sin to tell you what’s going down in that arc beforehand.

You gotta see it for yourself since it truly lives up to the title its received. That’s just another feather in the cap. Hunter X Hunter is truly a anime at it’s finest. The show does everything so perfectly, so well that it’s hard to even compare it to any other show out there, the outcome being clear even before the clash occurs.

The people who’ve watched it totally agree with me, I’m pretty sure. But those amongst you who haven’t should go on and watch it since you’re missing out on so much that I feel sorry for you. I truly do. It’s an anime that you won’t be forgetting for an eternity to come. Mark my words. It’d be your top 10 show of all time the moment you’re like 10 episodes into the show. Better start rearranging your list.

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Written by Fateh Isa

I’ve always been into writing since day one. Along the way I found anime and manga and it was just delightful transforming my thoughts into words. I feel at ease writing about them and it’s truly something I find solace in.

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How Re: Zero Season 2 Part 1 Has Changed

How Re: Zero Season 2 Part 1 Has Changed

Holding onto a Repeating Tragedy:

Re: Zero Starting Your Life in Another World Season 2 Part 1 is by far the most loved and popular anime of the Summer 2020 lineup.

The sequel brought back a lot of the gore and trauma that the first Season was known for, and to add, in Season 2 of Re: Zero, the franchise went through a lot of unexpected changes and just surprised everyone, to say the least.

So, let’s take a look at Re: Zero Season 2 and see how these changes affected the show.

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To start things off with the most notable change, unlike the previous Season, Re: Zero Season 2 does not jump from one part to the next all that much. The series starts right after the events, the tragedy at the end of season 1, and continues through the Everlasting Contract Arc and that is it.

And in that, the plot also went through a lot of modification where Subaru’s biggest weapon, the Return by Death ability, proves to be notably ineffective against the hurdle at hand.

The previous cycle where the knowledge Subaru gained after each death proved to be useful in the next set of repeated events is just not effective here. Each time Subaru returns, the events do not play out in the same manner as the last sequence, and that leads to our next point.

Author Quote:

Oscar Wilde

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Re: Zero Season 2 is worth watching

Lingering Shadows of the Past.

Although Subaru was led to believe they would have the upper hand in any situation because of the return by death ability, as previously mentioned, each time he comes around, some new bit of information is revealed to him.

Due to this, his actions lead to seemingly more deaths than before.

Moreover, a whole lot of stuff from the previous events is also brought up where one of the village kids turns out to be a part of the witch’s cult, and the real mastermind behind all the previous events is also revealed.

So, Subaru here is essentially alone, where his friends from the previous Season are just not there to help him out. Instead, he gets help from a surprisingly unique group—the Witches themselves.

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The Witch’s Tea Party:

The Witch’s Tea Party is by far the most critical plot point in season 2, where Subaru gets to meet the actual witches.

Here finally, we get to see what the witches are actually like, and this clarified a lot of the questions that the fans had from season 1.

This change from the corrupted or incomplete/cryptic information that we get throughout the season 1 is a refreshing change that made the show even better and all the more exciting.

Each New Episode is Better Than the Last.

But the most significant effect that Season 2 of Re: Zero made sure to focus on; was to finally give the fans what they wanted. Each episode of Season 2 was action-packed and did not have a single moment where the series felt stagnant and slow like season 1.

But rather, despite being stuck in the same place, each new episode was more refreshing than the last and made season 2 even better the critically acclaimed Re: Zero season 1.

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18-year-old Zorez is a talented writer, and yes, also an anime enthusiast. Skilled in research, he has been working as a freelance writer for some years now. When not writing, Zorez is a guitarist by hobby.

Modern Sequels and Remakes to Classic Games

STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND

Modern Sequels and Remakes to Classic Games

Streets of Rage 4 is Masterful…

Earlier this year we saw the release of one of my contenders for Game of the Year 2020 (or Best COVID Year Game, whichever sounds catchier) and that game is Streets of Rage 4.

The combined efforts of studios Dotemu, Lizardcube and Guard Crush took a classic series from over two decades ago and made it into a modern-day sequel. Retaining the soul of its predecessors, Streets of Rage 4 manages to feel both like a retro arcade button masher and like a game made for a younger generation of gamers. And this has me excited for more modern sequels and remakes of classic games.

There’s a reason why people still enjoy retro games. In an age where graphical fidelity approaches photorealism and game design grows more and more complex, classic games are where the simple yet fun still resides.

Yes, classic gaming wasn’t necessarily better. Ninja Gaiden, for instance, was purposely made hard to pad out its short length as much as possible.

Castlevania Simon’s Quest was deliberately obtuse and secretive for god knows what reason.

Yet, so many gamers go back to these games. Beneath the difficulty and nebulous design lie fundamental gameplay elements that were insanely fun back in the day and remain just as enjoyable today.

Playing through Streets of Rage 4 multiple times reminded me of a time when gaming was more manageable. Since it launched in April 2020, I have beaten the game multiple times, both on my own and in co-op.

I’ve gone back to try out several characters and in a variety of difficulty settings. I have a single explanation for this newfound obsession and is the game’s length and simplicity. Video games have only gotten longer in length and broader in scope over the past few generations.

There’s no way to beat a modern triple AAA title in a single sitting. Coupling that with the sheer amount of new titles that get pumped out year after year, it’s no wonder that lots of games remain unbeaten in our libraries.

I am currently enjoying my time with Watch Dogs Legion but the end is nowhere near in sight and I have Yakuza: Like a Dragon staring at me with a toothy grin.

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Author Quote:

H.S. Crow

“I will wait for you until the gold from the sun dwindles away.”

Classic Game Remakes…

There’s a satisfaction to being able to complete a game in a few hours versus a span of several days or even weeks. My streaming partner and I have closed the Streets of Rage 4 chapter twice together, both in their respective single sessions. Both playthroughs were fun and ended on a satisfying and conclusive note.

Our Dark Souls 2 run, on the other hand, still cracks on weeks after we kicked it off. Granted, we do co-op streams once a week for a couple of hours per session. I’m not saying that long games shouldn’t exist as these deliver their own sense of accomplishment. What we need are more modern sequels and remakes of classic games that deliver the same experience as SoR4.

Even games that are inspired by retro titles yet still maintain the same simplicity and shorter lengths as their 90s ancestors would be enough. The indie space has managed to some degree to recapture the beauty that can be found in retro gaming.

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Hollow Knight is a testament…

Hollow Knight, for instance, is a testament that 2D platforming still has a place in the ray-tracing era of graphical fidelity. But it’s a very long game and it can be punishingly difficult at times.

Similarly, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night can take you a few sessions to complete. Its more retro-inspired sibling Curse of the Moon, on the other hand, is a shorter and more immediately satisfying experience.

The two games are an interesting case study on this point of game length versus completion rate. There’s a whole library of classic games that have yet to see a true sequel and would make great candidates for a Streets of Rage 4 style revival.

Golden Axe had an… axed early prototype release during Sega’s anniversary sale on Steam and it played great for what it was. A shame that we may never get to play the finished product.

A true Castlevania sequel that isn’t a sprawling metroidvania experience would also be great. It’s too bad that Konami is more interested in pachinko these days. Dotemu took on the rights for Streets of Rage and made something great out of it.

If the big companies are simply going to hold onto long forgotten IPs with no intention of using them, I say let the hard-working indie space have them and go nuts.

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Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice. Also catch him on IG.

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Video Game Consoles and its Misunderstood Market

Video Game Consoles and its Misunderstood Market

What Are The Next Gen Console Games?

The next generation of video game consoles is nearly upon us, despite the tumultuous, pandemic-stricken year we’re having.

At the same time, Nvidia has released a new series of RTX graphic cards which incidentally signify the biggest leap in raw performance power yet. Naturally, the doomsayers are out in droves again, touting the end of the console market as we know it. Year after year these Harbingers of Console Death, be they everyday Joes or loudmouthed TechTubers, use the same tired arguments to support their hyperbolic thesis.

PC graphical fidelity is always the best. It doesn’t make sense to pay for an underpowered box with limited capabilities. Console gamers end up paying more because of online play subscriptions. Playing certain games with a controller is an inferior experience. There’s more but I’ve got a word count threshold here . . . and I’m lazy.

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The fact of the matter is, the PC Master Race’s support points aren’t wrong. The issue is that there’s never been a real debate about PC vs. console, to begin with.

Consoles and gaming PCs cater to two different markets that want different things, rendering any sort of debate null and void. Indeed, it takes every ounce of strength I have to not scream at yet another view-baiting tech creator that doesn’t understand the console market as much as they think.

As a long-standing console gamer with hundreds of dollars currently earmarked to buy a PS5 and several next-gen titles as soon as the pre-order gods will it, I can tell you why I stick to my beloved “pleb boxes”.

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Gamer Quote:

Javik, Mass Effect 3

“Stand in the ashes of a trillion dead souls, and asks the ghosts if honor matters. The silence is your answer.”

Consoles Gamers Want Convenience

Consoles are convenient to use. All you need to do is plug it in, pop in a disc or download a digital copy and you’re off to the races. There are no settings to adjust. No drivers to fiddle with. No Vsyncs and N’Syncs to question your sanity over. The boxes produced by MS, Sony and Nintendo just work and that’s what the majority of console gamers want. There’s no worry about whether a game will run. As long as you’ve bought your game for the correct box, it will run. PC gaming is a bona fide hobby in of itself. Granted, it’s easier than ever to build a PC that will run most games for a long while, but the reality is that issues inevitably crop up.

Console Gamers Want Cheap

Consoles are cheaper to buy compared to PCs. Even with next-gen coming in at about $100 pricier, buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X is still a cheaper investment, even with the online subscription.

Budget gaming PCs, of course, can be built but let me ask this: what’s the point? A low-cost gaming PC will struggle to play games at high graphics settings within a couple of years which then brings them in line with consoles. All you’ve ended up buying was a multi-purpose device that will more than likely run into more and more issues playing the latest titles.

Console Gamers Just Want to Game

Mod support. Keyboard/mouse controls. A bajillion FPS. These are all fluff to my ears. All I want to do is play games, not maximize my gaming experience. A PC person may enjoy playing Skyrim for the umpteenth time while running a Hello Kitty Super Sparkle mod that allows them to shoot ice cream and sprinkles at unicorns. Console gamers just want to play Skyrim once, maybe a few more times for challenges then move on.

Even in competitive mode, multiplayer gaming isn’t something we partake in to become the very best like no one ever was. We just want to have a bit of fun without worrying that our set up is suboptimal. This is it, really, in a nutshell. Console gamers and PC gamers have different aspects that matter to their experience.

Gaming is gaming at the end of the day. Trying to raise an issue where there isn’t one only serves the need for some to stroke their digital egos while for others its a source of ad revenue. If you enjoy building beastly rigs that can run the most demanding title at Beyond Ultra Settings, then that’s good for you. Keep on trucking. Don’t worry if my version of the game looks worse.

I’m happy just playing.

Really.

If you haven’t read our latest article on the future of VR as Virtual Stories, be sure to check it out.

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Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice. Also catch him on IG.

Games as a Service Model is Garbage and Here’s Why

STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND

Games as a Service Model is Garbage and Here’s Why

The Issues with Marvel’s Avengers Game

In case you’re not caught up with the news surrounding Marvel’s Avengers, the game launched to lukewarm reviews. The key reasons for the mixed reception have been lack of content, uninspired story and bland progression.

Now the game’s player base is dwindling causing matchmaking problems across the board for all platforms. Does this story sound familiar? Let me spell it out for you: it’s Anthem all over again.

In fact, it’s almost every Games as a Service (GaaS for short) story beat for beat. Game gets hyped either because of its source material or the studio behind it. Game turns out to be using the GaaS model. Game releases with minimal content and a roadmap. Game userbase dwindles. Studio scrambles to do something.

This is clearly becoming an unhealthy state of affairs and it’s ruining the potential certain games have to truly shine, all in the name of making a game that will keep people playing and, hopefully, paying.

What is GaaS?

More than likely you’re familiar with the GaaS model in practice but maybe not in name. In essence, a GaaS game is a continuously evolving game.

It provides players with more content, progression, activities and rewards to keep them playing. On paper, it sounds like a good thing, right? We’ve all played a game we wished would have more content so we can continue to play said game.

In reality, it’s one of those “be careful what you wish for” desires that only end up fueling publishers’ motivation to come up with new ways to nickel-and-dime players. The base root of the GaaS model lies in the old MMORPG subscription model. World of Warcraft has managed to keep players paying a monthly fee for over a decade on top of charging for annual or bi-annual expansions.

There’s a clear distinction here, though. WoW is a MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER Online RPG. Players are surrounded by other players in a world that is continuously populated and evolving. Substantial free content and updates get dished out regularly. The GaaS model, on the other hand, aims to circumvent this monthly fee by charging for content expansions as well as getting people to buy microtransactions in all sorts of dubious ways.

Editor Quote:

Rogena Mitchell-Jones

We edit your words, your writing, your sentences and paragraphs… but never your voice.”

Turning Players into Payers

Activision came under heavy fire in recent years after a corporate document was uncovered that contained a cynical approach to making more money. The document would repeatedly outline how games could be designed to “turn players into payers”.

Methods like artificial scarcity, slowing down progression and providing competitive advantages were some of the highlights of this approach. An example of this approach in practice is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey by the other bastion of GaaS titles, Ubisoft. The game isn’t the most cynical of the bunch but it’s an example of one that makes use of two of the aforementioned methods. Progression is noticeably slow so the game provides you with “solutions” in the form of XP boosters you can buy from the easily accessible in-game shop.

There are also gear pieces and sets you can buy for real money in order to make your character more powerful. If this is all sounding quite familiar it’s because you’re looking at the mobile game model baked into a fully priced single-player game.

Now, you’ll tell me there’s no harm in doing this if people are willing to pay and you’re not entirely wrong. Odyssey is playable without paying a single extra cent. It’ll just take longer.

But, dear reader, we’re only scratching the surface of the GaaS poop pile..

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Unfinished and Unfocused

Let’s hop on back to Anthem and Avengers. These games both attempted to ride on the coattails of another successful GaaS game – Destiny. When the original Destiny first launched, it was, quite frankly, a mess plagued by connection issues and lack of content. Yet, the game thrived building a massive community and evolving into a reasonably solid experience.

Avengers and Anthem wanted a piece of that same pie and they could have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for one pesky detail; Destiny had no base expectations built up. Crystal Dynamic’s Avengers is based on the biggest franchise in the world currently. Anthem, on the other hand, was being made by Bioware, a studio known for its superb storytelling. Both these games had their set of expectations set before an inkling of gameplay footage was revealed.

Yet, both games chose to launch in states that felt unfinished. Destiny succeeded because its pedigree was Bungie and their mastery of creating solid first-person shooter experiences. For all its lack of content and problems, the game played amazingly well when it came to blasting alien scum in the face. Destiny’s expectations were met while the other two games simply baffled, confused, frustrated and outright disappointed players.

Ruining Good Things

I’m going to run the risk of playing a game of “Armchair Game Dev” here. I have no experience designing and publishing games. I do have a point to make, though, so try to resist the urge to tell me I’m full of it for a second.

When I first heard a Square-Enix studio was making an Avengers game, I got quite excited. The potential was immense and it couldn’t possibly get messed up. The world’s most recognizable superheroes fighting battles against the world’s most recognizable villains wielding the world’s most recognizable powers. How can one possibly miss the mark here? It’s simple.

You turn it into a GaaS game and call it a day.

The multiplayer aspect of it sounds like it would work. After all, the Avengers are a superhero team. But what does looting have anything to do with the Avengers? I mean, I can see Iron Man swapping out his armor. But, Black Widow? Captain America? HULK? There’s a clear conflict of design and source material here.

On top of that, there’s a progression system, which is fine when we’re given new awesome powers to smash baddies in the face with. If those baddies, though, aren’t someone interesting like Ultron, Loki and Thanos or even some of the less powerful villains then there’s no real draw to the experience of playing an Avengers game.

Roadmaps don’t help here. Avengers fans and gamers don’t want to spend hours beating up the same nameless enemies while waiting for the real content to arrive. Shoehorning a GaaS model into games only ruins the experience for players.

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Final Word

Making games is an expensive endeavor, I know that much. As an old-school gamer, I’ve never advocated against expanding good games and offering players more ways to enjoy them even when it means paying for that added enjoyment.

When a game, though, is built with the intention of keeping players perpetually playing at the expense of making an engaging experience then there’s a problem.

Anthem went back to the drawing board a while ago and we haven’t heard from it since and Avengers is having content delayed and the current roadmap possibly scrapped.

That’s a crying shame.



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Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice. Also catch him on IG.

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Virtual Stories: VR the Next Big Storytelling Frontier

Virtual Stories: VR the Next Big Storytelling Frontier

No Man’s Sky VR . . .

The top of the hill is just up ahead. As I take my final few steps, I gaze upon the vast alien world that unfolds in front of me. I track the colorful landscape with my bare eyes before lifting my right hand to activate my scanning visor. It doesn’t take long for me to register the location of my target.

Only a few clicks away.

I make my way down the other side of the hill, cross a field of neon purple and blue flora and up to the clearing where the last bit of copper I need is found. Soon after, I’m repairing my ship and blasting off into orbit with the vastness of space right there in front of me daring to explore. If I were to tell you that I actually experienced this it would almost be a complete truth. This is but a fraction of what I’ve been able to enjoy in the universe of No Man’s Sky, a space exploration game with a VR mode that anyone with a headset and Playstation 4 or PC can try out.

It’s also the perfect example of what I believe the future of storytelling holds through immersive technologies. Were I to ask you what virtual reality means to you you’d either reference the crazy cool interface Tom Cruise uses in Minority Report or you’d tell me how XYZ first-person shooter would be super awesome in VR. While I feel that blowing up heads in a fully immersive environment would be a catalyst for me to never leave my home, I feel this is thinking too small.

VR is the future of storytelling.

Virtual reality by virtue of the sheer level of immersion it can achieve has the potential to blow every other storytelling platform clear out of the water. This makes sense when you consider that the storyteller’s ultimate goal is to fully engross you in their world, get to know their characters and accompany them on their journey. Imagine if you could be right there in the Shire celebrating Bilbo’s birthday before he passes the One Ring to Frodo. Now, imagine you’re the one convincing Bilbo to resist the ring’s call. Or what if you just urged him to do the opposite and take the ring for himself? You would no longer just be an invisible travel companion. You’d have director’s cut on what happens in the story altogether.

Glacias Collectors Volume Bookcover

Film Quote:

Andy and Larry Wachowski

To deny our impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human.”

You’re probably thinking that games have been doing this already. There are also several examples of books, movies and TV series that have made attempts at interactive storytelling. Rarely do any of these make it into the mainstream and there’s a reason for that. In none of these cases are you a living, breathing part of the world itself.

There’s just something visceral about viewing a world through the lens of a VR headset. It’s like when you see pictures of the Akropolis in Athens versus actually standing there amongst the ancient ruins in person. The former isn’t quite the same as the latter. This is the exact same feeling I get with No Man’s Sky. When I play on my really regular rectangular (I saw an alliteration opportunity, I took it!) monitor, I feel like an observer. In VR I’m a part of the game’s universe.

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Every little piece of alien civilization I uncover feels like it’s been done by me. I’m not just interacting with aliens, I’m communicating with them. I don’t just see space around me from the cockpit of my ship. I’m in the middle of it. The bases I build are no longer just a game mechanic; they’re a piece of my own creativity planted within that universe. And that surely must be the next big storytelling frontier. Not just experiencing a story, but living it and leaving a part of yourself within it.

Below are a few science fiction titles to explore. Enjoy!

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Yannis is a veteran gamer with over 25 years of experience across the spectrum of genres. He enjoys spending time with his family, livestreaming on Twitch and occasionally dishing out unsolicited dad advice. Also catch him on IG.

Fate Series Anime: Anime Review

STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND

Fate Series Anime: Anime Review

Fate Series has grown in popularity.

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this name pop up while you’re surfing the web without a care in the world, or you just might have heard about it from a friend of yours who just can’t shut up about how ‘perfect’ the series is.

Well . . . he’s not wrong.

The original storyline spans a few titles namely, Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works with the addition of the Heaven’s Feel movies, and all are nothing short of the word ‘amazing’.

They’re light novel adaptations that bring us everything and anything you could ask for, basically all that makes a series top the charts everywhere on the internet.

A lot of people haven’t tried it since it’s got a daunting amount of titles, and even more coming up every couple of months. One Piece being the prime example of what I’m saying. Brought to us by Ufotable Inc with the sole exception of Fate/Stay Night, the original.

With the original, you already have a clue of what you’re about to get for the entirety of the series right? Well, I’ll be walking you through what exactly makes the Fate series so ‘complete’ and ‘perfect’ that no one would be able to avert their eyes from their screens for even a second.

You heard me right, get your binge watching glasses ready cause it’s never been so easy and enjoyable.

With animation that’s nothing short of being god tier to the eyes, Ufotable, has dedicated to making every scene, every transition, and the color breath taking to say the very least. This makes the universe all the more appealing and mesmerizing since everything is made all the better with that crisp animation that makes us appreciate just how beautiful everything looks in motion. The passion often missed in certain animations is not missed here.

Not to mention, things only get better as we dive deeper into the story with all new locations, all new characters getting introduced, the anime giving us more than we can handle.

I mean we already saw one of the most beautiful anime to date, Demon Slayer. Imagine that with more than double the episode count, unique characters, different personalities and an engaging storyline. That’s the Fate series in a nutshell.

Anime Quote:

Kotomine Risei. Fate Series

One’s true worth shows as hardship increases.”

Is Fate Series worth watching?

A storyline that tells us everything, yet tells us nothing at the same time. When it comes to the story the Fate series doesn’t hold back any punches. From the start we have an idea of what’s been going on and how the series would proceed from that point onwards. The Holy Grail War with these participants fighting to have their wish granted at the end. That sure explains what the show would be about. But at the same time, the questions as to why? when? how? where? They all go unanswered making it seem as if the anime told us almost nothing as to what’s about to happen as we move on to the later episodes.

Plus, every character has his/her own motive and as to why they’re fighting for this ‘Holy Grail’ is revealed later on in the series making it all the better cause boy oh boy everything is so well written making the pieces come together to make the perfect picture possible. It’ll be a tale, a voyage, a journey to remember. Mark my words.

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We’ve all in some way have viewed the universe from every direction imaginable. Watching the Fate series is just like that, especially at the end when you wonder ‘what if?’

It’s natural since the shows are at times so engaging that they make us imagine the whole story from an entirely different perspective. You’re sure to feel the same way when you watch the very first one that came out, Fate/Stay Night.

The Fate series follow-ups tell the exact story with those very same characters but with turns and twists that weren’t there in the original. At times, things are so different that it makes the whole universe have an entirely different meaning, a totally new outcome.

It’s a treat for all the fans out there who just can’t get enough of the original storyline, wanting more and more. Now with the Heaven’s Feel movies you get yet another different take of the series making you see things in a totally different timeline. They sure know how to keep the fans hooked on to the show.

Giving whole new meanings to the words ‘master’ and ‘servant.’ When these words come up in an anime we imagine some maid working the entire day just to make the ‘housekeeper’ happy, but when it comes to the Fate Series, those words weigh a lot more than they ever have. In the Holy Grail War, you fight to death with these other ‘masters’ while being one yourself.

The thing is you won’t be the one doing the fighting. The Masters are the ones pulling the strings. Your Servants would do the fighting for you. Think of it as a puppeteer with the servant being the puppet, obeying any command you come up with. Way to have your cake and eat it too.

The Servants are all these historical figures that we’ve only seen in books, or in the tales that we used to hear back when we were kids. You might be getting an idea of what’s on your way right?

History never looked so interesting: I’m sure you’ve heard of the likes of King Arthur, Alexandar the Great, Gilgamesh and Hercules right? Well if you’re a history nerd then the Fate series would swallow you whole with the plethora of characters it has to offer and their historical connections.

You’ll see all these renowned historical figures come to life and to make things all the sweeter, they’ll be the ones doing the fighting. You’ll be feeling as if your history teacher was working part time with the studio.

The characters stay true to their original personalities bringing you the exact character from the time he/she was alive. It’s a blast from the past for sure.

Action that’d make you forget the likes of Dragon Ball.

Dragon Ball is the epitome of the Martial Arts genre. The characters just fight and fight all the time just to see who can come up with a bigger flash of light from their hands. I won’t roast it much since it was my childhood. I love the series, but the Fate series takes fighting to the very next level.

Every servant, has tricks up their sleeves which makes combat all the more interesting. King Arthur vs. Hercules? Well we’ve got that right here. Also the crisp animation makes sure we get one of the best engages we’ve had in anime history, the impacts, the transitions, the fluidity, everything is top notch and of the highest quality.

The adrenaline rush is real. Plus with the addition of the Reality marbles, get ready to see just how much a servant is capable of.

The Verdict . . .

The Fate series as a whole is nothing short of the word ‘amazing’. From the start the series takes you all in with it’s irresistible cast of characters and story elements. It’s a series worth binging over. It does everything so ‘right’ and offers so much that any anime fan would be sold right away.

Whether you’re a muscle head who just wants to see fights all the time or just someone who’s looking for an engaging storyline ready to take him/her all in, the Fate series has got something for everyone making it hard for it to not be in your top 5 anime of all time list.

I’m pretty sure a lot of you have already watched it, but if you haven’t, then you’re sleeping on the series. It’s a series that has that One Piece aura to it, and though the order may be just ‘too confusing,’ well, I can just explain a simple guide below.

First you watch Fate/Stay Night, the original, then Fate/Zero and then Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works followed by the Heaven’s Feel movie adaptations. The rest are spin offs and alternative side stories that only true fans would enjoy so you’ll have to try them to figure out whether they’re your cup of tea of not.

What are you waiting for now?

Go and watch it if you haven’t already. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Below is a list of manga worth looking into!

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Written by Fateh Isa

I’ve always been into writing since day one. Along the way I found anime and manga and it was just delightful transforming my thoughts into words. I feel at ease writing about them and it’s truly something I find solace in.

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Grave of the Fireflies: Tearjerker Anime Fans Must Watch | Otherworlds Inc

Grave of the Fireflies: Tearjerker Anime Fans Must Watch

One of Studio Ghibli’s finest anime . . .

(First warning, this article has spoilers! Read this after you watch Grave of the Fireflies.) War, a word that’s used so lightly nowadays that many tend to forget the weight the word carries. Being one of the most impactful words to exist we can have a clear idea of how much the word is capable of with just glancing at history.

The biggest difference between two people, often those living in completely different worlds, yet breathing the same air and looking at the same sun, can occur at any moment. At a blink, brothers can become sworn enemies.

As with unconfirmed, yet famous quote rumored to be by Albert Einstein himself, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Coming up with destruction and havoc, toppling nations all around the world making the Earth go back to the barren state it was back in the day, it isn’t something any human being should witness in their lifetime if they are to remain ‘human’ anymore.

When it comes to anime, there are a lot of titles that bring the ‘war setting’ to the table. You can choose from a lot of titles that are based on that very theme bringing something new to the table whilst staying true to the genre that gave birth to them. But we all can agree that nothing beats the masterpiece classic, the movie that’s been revered all these years and holds it’s ground even when compared to the latest of titles out there, Grave of the Fireflies itself.

One of the finest Studio Ghibli has to offer, the movie truly shows how war can totally change a person and completely turn their world upside down for them, making them become nothing more than a walking figure of flesh with a mouth that doesn’t speak, a heart that doesn’t beat and a soul that doesn’t weep.

Glacias Collectors Volume Bookcover

War Quote:

G.K. Chesterton

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

It’s rare that you get emotional at the very start of any show or movie since it’s mostly the climax or the ending that has you bathing in your own tears. Grave of the Fireflies shows you exactly how terrifying of a setting those characters are in, and how they’re living a nightmare no one would ever dream of even on their worst nights.

I’m pretty sure we all can agree that a couple of minutes were enough to make us start crying like a little kid who just lost their mom in a busy crowd. From then on the movie takes us on a journey, a journey that makes us imagine ourselves in that very universe, being together with Seita and Setsuko, wanting to help them in any way we can, but we are powerless.

The inability to help alone makes things all the worse. All you can do is feel for the siblings who have to put up with the toughest of situations imaginable, and come to terms with how many have undergone such a life.

Parents, good ones at least, tend to be among the most caring people in the world who will accept you no matter who you are and would help you no matter how bad of a crime you’ve committed. After all, a parent’s love is unconditional. In Grave of the Fireflies, it shows exactly that, children without parents are left behind.

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Children without a home to sleep in and without a place to return to would only be pushed aside by a society struggling to survive, and are even prone to being abused by those that surround them, even by family and friends.

We witness this with Seita’s aunt, a woman that even went so far as to ‘snatch’ the only memorial the boy had of his mother. Seita knows that if he stays their with his aunt, things are only going to get worse since they’re ‘ignored’ when it comes to everything, even food which is the basic necessity of life.

This forces him to move out with his little sister despite knowing that he has no place he could go to, no shelter that would accept him and his sister with open arms.

In truth, living in a cave is better than living with people who’ll just eat you inside out. Love in it’s truest form exists only between a parent and a child, or between some siblings, yet even this statement can alter between person to person.

Grave of the Fireflies tragedy . . .

Ever since the beginning of the movie, Seita is caught in this turn of events that makes him question while looking up in the sky, ‘ Why me? What did I ever do wrong?’

He has to keep his emotions bottled up since he doesn’t want his sister to know about what has happened to their mother. After all, Setsuko is still a child and he’s all she has left in this world.

He also moves out of his aunt’s place cause he wants to make sure Setsuko is treated well and is happy, something that wouldn’t be possible with those greedy beasts living in the same place as them. He isn’t that grown up either, but he sacrifices all he has for his sister. Going so far as to steal, something that I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t do otherwise. Yet, that’s just how war is. It forces you to do stuff you never imagined yourself doing.

War makes you eat stuff you shunned, things you may have considered disgusting become the greatest dish worth hurting others for. It makes you sleep on the barren land with all the insects crawling all over you, insects that you’d kill on sight otherwise. It also has the potential to make you violent or willing to sacrifice others.

Seita endures everything, perseveres and remains resolute the entire time. He never, even for once, let it all out in front of his sister since he knew that it’d make her all the more sad, all the more aware of the whole situation, and that would be the last thing he’d ever want.

Seeing these siblings struggle in the worst conditions demands many, and I mean many tissues. Some people can’t even make it to the end since the movie is just so tragic. Things are always bad for Seita and Setsuko.

Sleeping in a cave without knowing who sleeps beside you, not having enough food to satisfy your hunger and being all alone for most of the day truly is something that could break any sheltered person, but at the end of the day, even with all that happening, they still have each other, the only person they can truly count on.

‘My sister went to sleep and she never woke up again’. Hunger, making Setsuko imagine the rocks as food, her creaking voice without any joy, without any life in those words as she offers them to his brother who just came ‘home’. Seita isn’t the only one crying, I can guarantee you that.

His sister was all he had left. Setsuko was the only one he lived for, wanting to make sure he looked out for her since he was the only one she had in this world as well. But war is remorseless and the world can be cruel, always wanting more and more from any soul out there, sucking them until they’re out of humanity, out of will, out of life itself.

He has to bury his own sister as well. The boy just can’t get a break, even for once. Thinking about it once again is already making tears fall down my cheeks. May none of us see war ever in our lifetime.

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The moment the movie starts, you hear Seita telling us about the day he died. Seeing the story progress to that point where he’s there at the station. He’s barely breathing, blinking his eyes, and just ‘there’ with people walking around him as he lays on the ground. He has nothing left and is nothing more than a breathing figure of flesh at this point.

Counting the minutes till the day of his demise, the entire lifetime of the boy is nothing short of the word nightmare. Not once did he think that he’d be in these circumstances for the eternity to come. It’s one of the hardest movies to watch and one of the saddest ‘media’ to ever exist since it exhibits calamity in it’s truest sense, showing us just how war can destroy everything for a person out there, taking away all they love and cherish.

I’m pretty sure many has watched this movie at least once since, but if you haven’t, go watch it. For it’ll remind you what the word ‘war’ is capable of and how that word isn’t to be taken lightly and incorporated the way it is used nowadays.

This is a tale without a happy ending, one that illustrates the sad truth and the outcome of war.

Below are a few manga titles you may enjoy!



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Video Game Consoles and its Misunderstood Market
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Written by Fateh Isa

I’ve always been into writing since day one. Along the way I found anime and manga and it was just delightful transforming my thoughts into words. I feel at ease writing about them and it’s truly something I find solace in.

Great pretender: Con artists go around scamming people

STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND

Great pretender: Con artists go around scamming people

Debuting on Netflix, the Great Pretender

Is just as the title says, the anime is about a group of con artists that go around scamming people.

We have not seen many anime with a plot like this, have we? But just like with every other anime, the plot isn’t the main selling point of an anime.

So let’s break down this anime into its defining components and see for ourselves just how good this anime actually is.

Plot:

Life had been unfair to Makoto Edamura, in the end he gave up and started scamming people to make some good pocket cash.

Time passes and he starts taking pride in it, he also ends up labeling himself as “Japan’s greatest swindler.” Until one day, for once, he himself gets swindled by a tourist. The tourist being someone he had tried to scam moments ago.

Then a couple of random yet planned out events happen and he ends up following the tourist to Los Angeles. Just like that, Makoto’s adventures in scamming some of the biggest dons of the mafia world begin!

That is pretty much how the anime begins. Now even though the story might seem awfully alluring to some of us. It is still not the real strength of the anime. The real strength of this anime are its characters.

Glacias Merch Banner

Thief Quote:

Graham Greene

You put the small thief in prison, but the big thief lives in a palace.”

Characters:

If we had just been given a story about a bunch of sociopaths who go around randomly turning the world upside down, that would’ve been great too. However, this is not what this anime is, the main characters have been through unfortunate events in their lives that led them to choosing the path of scamming people.

None of the characters come off as generic pieces that are there just to keep the story going. The things they do and why they do, makes sense. And sometimes, it can even hit right in the feels.

As you continue to watch the anime you’d find that you’ve gotten more invested in the characters than the actual plot. Not to mention, these folks only swindle the filthy rich bad guys!

It’s no secret that if you really want your anime to stand out, you have to put in an inhumane amount of effort into the art and animation, and once again, Wit studio showed us that they never screw around.

This anime features a lot of different cities all around the world like Los Angeles and more. Yet the aesthetic backgrounds and jaw breaking visuals never seem out of place. Why?

Wit studio’s crew visited all of those cities to make the art more in line with the reality. As for the animation, its Wit studio we are talking about and they never deliver anything less than almost perfection. The animation is so fluid and smooth, it blends well with the aesthetics of the background as well as the atmosphere of the story. It’s just that the art and visuals of this anime leave with awe and inspiration for at least the rest of the day.

Seriously, kudos to everyone who worked on this masterpiece.

Conclusion:

Plot, characters, art and animation are the fundamentals on which anime are usually judged. As for the overall rating of any show.

There’s one more factor and it’s how much did you emotionally get invested into the show. More often than not, this is where it gets subjective.

Great Pretender is a great anime, I mean, it’s even there in the name. I personally consider it to be the best non sequel anime to come out this year. That’s right, while all of the hype was around, “Tower of god” and “The god of high school”, This anime took the cake. People are seriously missing out on this gem. It’s easily 9 out of 10.

The dubbed episodes also started coming out right away, and considering how most of the characters are from different countries, it would be interesting to watch the dubbed version even if you usually prefer subs.

To wrap things up, at it’s very core this anime is about a group of con artists that go around scamming people, yet something about it just works!

Also, did I mention that its ending theme is a cover of the song “The Great Pretender” which was performed by the late 90’s vocalist Freddie Mercury?

Below are a few manga titles worth checking out!

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Talha Ahmad

Written by Talha Ahmad

Talha Ahmad, currently 17 years old, has a knack of anime, manga, and everything nerdy. He loves writing stories and creating illustrations. He plans on creating an original work of art too, someday.

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