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Eskom! Once synonymous with electricity, the name now conjures a perpetual fear of being left in the dark for hours on end with no power to run the appliances that matter – such as computers and gaming consoles. Every other appliance is pretty rubbish really; I mean, who actually uses a stove these days?

Our ever-reliable electricity supplier has been keeping most of South Africa switched off of late. It all has something to do with a coal storage tower collapsing in some now darker corner of our country. The timing couldn’t be worse what with it being the start of the festive season and there being a lot of new games to play. Even though Eskom has said that load-shedding is easing up (and it actually hasn’t been too bad for the last week or so), we always like to have a contingency plan in place for when load-shedding inevitably rears its wretched head once again.

With this in mind, all of us left on NAG Online sat down and compiled a list of games to play that don’t necessarily require electricity. We’re talking mobile games and other titles that can run quite happily on the two hours of battery life your old laptop can still put out. Now when the lights go out, the gaming can continue… until the batteries die at least.

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Hearthstone has kept my attention longer than any other game has in years. For the first time since 1999’s Quake III Arena, the game in which I have invested the most time throughout the year is not an id Software title. Rather, I have been trapped in the nostalgic layers of this deceptively intricate card game – and I am loving it. However, there is no need to elaborate on the game’s excellent presentation, proper application of a free-to-play mechanic (I haven’t spent a cent on it in over six months), or the fact that it has been a standout game in what Chris has already described as a rather dull year for gaming. This we already knew. What we don’t know is how the game’s recent card expansion Goblins vs Gnomes will change things. Hit the jump for my take on what the expansion has introduced.

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Editor’s note: I feel compelled to mention that, while Matthew clearly didn’t have a big ol’ blast with The Evil Within, it’s a hugely divisive game and your opinion of it obviously may not match his. Check out the December issue of NAG magazine for an alternative critical perspective on the game.

Believe me when I say I take no pleasure in this. I was looking forward to this game like you don’t even know. I wanted to like it. I really did. I forked over 800 bucks for it on launch day, after all – not something one does without expecting something good in return.

Well, that’s my opinion on The Evil Within given away right at the start, isn’t it? I’m ashamed to admit I bought into the hype. A survival horror game by Shinji Mikami? Sign me up! And, for a change, I actually did read and watch a fair bit about this game before I bought it, and I still didn’t see the warning signs.

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UPDATE: Due to unfortunate circumstances, NAG will be arriving later than expected in Windhoek. Our Windhoek readers can expect to get their hands on the December issue on the 8th of December. Apologies for that!

Full disclosure: I’m writing this post partially blind. I spent the weekend playing Mortal Kombat 9 in preparation for Mortal Kombat X, and during a particularly rambunctious celebration dance (because defeating Shao Kahn ain’t easy, yo), I may or may not have jammed an excited finger directly into my eyeball. Ouchie. I’m now 5% cyborg, because I’m forced to wear a metal eye patch. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.

Okay, so most of that was a blatant lie. Not the being blind bit, but the finger-to-the-eyeball bit. And the bit where I played Mortal Kombat all weekend, because sadly I did not do that. But I truly am partly blind right now, so if this post is all over the place, I apologise in advance. Don’t blame me. Blame my optometrist.

Anyway, sweet mother of wrapped gifties it’s December! And December means Christmas! And nothing screams Christmas quite like being slow-roasted in the hellfire of an angry yellow skele-ninja who’s probably only angry because all the presents he got from Sub-Zero last year sucked, big time. Ice ice, baby.

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It’s here! Warlords of Draenor is here!

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft on and off since Cataclysm (earlier if you count the characters I managed to level all the way to 60 on my friend’s account), but not so much over the last year and a half. This is partly due to a lack of time – a new job and a boyfriend who doesn’t play WoW (previously I was working from home and either single or dating a dedicated raider) left me with much less WoW time than I had become accustomed to – and partly because most of the friends I had been playing the game with stopped. It’s also partly because I just lost interest.

Of course, with a new expansion it’s almost impossible to not be interested, and in October I became one of WoW‘s 600,000 new subscribers flooding the servers in anticipation for new content that promises to deliver some of the most fun we’ve had in years.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is newcomer Sledgehammer Game’s first stab at arguably the industry’s biggest IP. While the development team did help Infinity Ward develop 2011’s Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare is the first Call of Duty that Sledgehammer can call their own.

They’ve done a stellar job in injecting new life into the annualised series. What’s even more admirable is that they’ve made it their own, adding fundamental changes to tried and tested CoD formulae resulting in one of the more memorable Call of Duty titles since 2007’s original Modern Warfare.

While Sledgehammer has indeed set the bar high for 2015’s version, Advanced Warfare is not without some oddities and irritations, especially on the PC version we used for this review.

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This year’s BIG BLIZZCON SURPRISE™ was none other than Overwatch: Blizzard’s first new IP in over 16 years. Technically speaking, StarCraft was the last new IP that Blizzard released all the way back in 1998. Overwatch isn’t another game based in some other established Blizzard franchise – it’s an entirely new game in an entirely new genre for the company. This is a Blizzard first-person shooter. Blizzard… An FPS… Be still my beating heart.

Overwatch is an online, team-based multiplayer FPS. In other words: it’s kind of like Team Fortress 2. What makes it more like TF2 (and not, say, arena shooters like Unreal Tournament) is the fact that there are specific characters within the game that fulfil specific roles. Each character, of which Blizzard has so far revealed 12, is fully-fleshed with backstory, personality, allegiances, weapons… you name it.

In fact, from the reveal at BlizzCon it looks like the characters are the biggest appeal with Overwatch. And we all know how well Blizzard creates memorable characters; honestly, when was the last time you played a giant, cyborg gorilla in an online shooter? Exactly.

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The first thing that struck me about the Overwatch trailer, before anything else, was the fact that this game was trying to appeal to me. This is not something I’m used to experiencing.

Like many female gamers, I grew up with the understanding that most gamers are dudes and that games reflect that. I learned that hyper-sexualised female characters and male-only leads were the norm.

That said, I have always tended to like games that are in general more diverse. Games like the Elder Scrolls series or World of Warcraft, where not only can you play a female character but where there are some damn incredible female lead characters as well. Games that just feel more accepting of me in general, even if they were still very male-focused in many ways.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor one was probably an easy sell for some people. An open-ended action game set in Tolkien’s Middle-earth in which you play a revenge-driven ranger imbued with dark powers – my debit card practically swiped itself and the game jumped unbidden into my pants… pocket. My pants pocket.

But many things sound good on paper, or on the Internet, and I’m re-learning quite quickly not to get dangerously excited about upcoming games anymore. So now that it’s finally here, let’s take a look at it. The paragraph above roughly sums up my total knowledge of the game before I popped it into my PS4. I think I also knew it had something to do with assassinating Uruk-hai generals, but that’s it.

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Wits must he have who wanders wide,
For all is easy at home.
At the witless man the wise shall wink,
When among such men he sits.

So ends Munin after thirteen hours of tricks and tenacity, and I’m all the better for it. Munin is a puzzle game in which you play the titular character Munin — one of Odin’s crows — who, according to Nordic myth, travels the globe each day with his brother Hugin to report all that they have seen and heard.

In a cruel trick by Loki, you’ve been cast into the body of a rather dour-looking human and your memory scattered throughout Yggdrasil in feather fragments. Munin sees you bedeviled throughout nine realms, each with a number of stages inspired by locations within Nordic legend, in search of your memory.

Munin is quite minimal in its presentation. Opening with a short poem (based on the poetic Edda, a collection of heroic ballads that serve as the primary source of Scandinavian mythology), each area is presented in a semi-animated watercolour style that provides a certain ambiance to the stage without being too distracting. Whether traversing the spiritscape of Hel or the frozen wastes of Niflheim, each area captures an austere mood very much in tone of the epics on which they’re based.

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