The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt ///

GregoryWest | The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

As the year comes to a close, best-of lists are being compiled, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is topping many of them. I’ve never been a big fan of role-playing games, as they tended toward Dungeons & Dragons territory, with the typical lineup of way too much expository conversation, clunky combat mechanics, and more often than not, some type of mage guiding you through endless intricacies of spells and potions. This RPG, however, was refreshingly different right from the start – a beautifully crafted open world, an engaging storyline, and a varied selection of mythical creatures to take down a notch in dynamic sword-to-claw combat.

Far Cry 4 ///

Far Cry 4 | GregoryWest

Confession time – I can’t stop playing Far Cry 4. I hop on with all the best intentions of just running a mission or two, and before I know it, hours have flown by. This open-sandbox game has an excellent mix of main storyline and a wide variety of side-ops (including hunting, stealth, and driving); plus, the scenery is so detailed and beautiful, it’s a pleasant experience just to hang out and explore for a while. I sometimes think that the biggest disservice to this industry was being saddled with the video game label for too long, in spite of the quantum leaps that the medium has made in a relatively short period of time. This is a highly immersive form of entertainment, and putting today’s games in the same category as ones from a couple of decades ago is like treating a hundred-piece symphony orchestra and a caveman hitting sticks together as two undifferentiated types of music.

Alto’s Adventure ///

Alto’s Adventure | GregoryWest

I love video games, and I’ve played them for decades on a variety of consoles and screen sizes. I’ve been a WWII saboteur, an NBA all-star, and a crime-solving journalist, but I’ve never had the opportunity to become a snowboarding llama-herder – until Alto’s Adventure came along. An impeccably art-directed iOS runner, it seamlessly integrates a dynamically-generating landscape and challenge-based leveling to keep the experience constantly engaging. At less than $2, it’s a great way to pass a few minutes in line, or a few chilled-out hours in the evening, catching llamas instead of counting sheep.

Trailers ///

Garden State | GregoryWest

I’m probably in the minority on this, but I love trailers – especially the extended-cut, cinematic ones. I always make sure I’m at the movies well before the previews start, and one of my favourite ways to waste an hour is catching up on the latest iTunes Trailers entries. I’m not an undiscerning fan, though – there are plenty of lazy, linear, abridged versions of their respective films. What I’m after is the pinnacle of this medium, where trailers are compelling enough to stand on their own as works of art. Here are three of my favourite examples in which the perfect combinations of visuals and music result in trailers that are often as good (or maybe even better) than the movies or games they were meant to promote.


the adventures of tintin : the game ///

The Adventures of Tintin | GregoryWest

I grew up on Tintin books and after really liking the recent movie, I decided to give the game a try. Beautifully art-directed, it’s a great mix of action and puzzle-solving, with a nicely-balanced optional co-op storyline. Plus, it made me want to get one of these even sooner.

limbo ///

I’ve written before about the gaming medium growing toward new genres and audiences, and LIMBO is another great example of just that. A beautifully art-directed game that’s easy to get immersed in and delivers hours of challenging puzzles. The other nice thing about a maturing games industry is that you can download this little jewel for about five bucks and  spend the rest of the night in a lovely losing-some-sleep purgatory.

the saboteur ///

I’ve been playing video games for years and have many favourites, but when The Saboteur came along just over a year ago, it was love from the START (button) … sorry! As Sean Devlin — a character loosely based on a real-life Grand Prix race car driver and special agent during WWII — you maneuver the streets (and rooftops) of  Nazi-occupied Paris in an effort to mobilize the resistance. The environment isn’t a one-to-one replica, but the art direction captures the city beautifully. And even though I finished the game’s main storyline months ago, I still pop in now and then to keep exploring the open-world map. Plus, when you start seeing beautiful trailers like the one below, with Nina Simone playing in the background, you know this (relatively young) medium is maturing in leaps and bounds.