I remember when I was younger and went with my parents for the weekly shop, there was something I’d always do. Pretty much without fail, I’d wonder over to where the gaming magazines were and spend the entire time absorbed in the ones on display. It was a regular, almost ritual of mine to go shopping with my parents for the sole purpose of being able to hang about and read as much as I could. This was before I had a phone or used a computer, so these magazines were really my only way of keeping up to date with gaming news and the latest releases.
However, it wasn’t just the information and content inside that compelled me to explore the pages of the various magazines. It was also having that feeling of holding something tangible in my hands, as well as the design that stuck out for me. Even today, that willingness to read something physical remains. Unfortunately, with the rise of digital content over the past decade, more and more gaming magazines have had to end or alter their output, as a result of low uptake and the changing landscape.
While a few major print publications (such as Edge Magazine) remain, it has often fallen on other smaller/indie companies or creators to fill that void for the market that remains. One of those is [Lock-on], a brand-new quarterly gaming journal by Lost in Cult, that aims (and succeeds) to be a premium, high-quality publication on all things gaming.
One thing that’s immediately apparent when getting your hands on this inaugural issue, is the sleek presentation and striking, Demon’s Souls artwork that emblazons the front cover. I opted for the hardcover version, and I’m completely glad that I did. It’s sturdy, stylish, a good weight, which further bolsters that premium feel that Lost in Cult were gunning for. Also, any book-lovers will appreciate that new-book smell when you open its pages. If you know, you know.
This first volume is predominately a love-letter to the PlayStation brand and its history. As a result, this volume encompasses various features and articles relating to different aspects of PlayStation, from its origins, to more recent games. The foreword by John Linneman provides a solid backdrop for the rest of the issue, discussing how the original PlayStation came to be and reasons for its success in the years to come. There’s such a breadth of games and topics that are looked at here. Clearly written with so much care and thought, [Lock-on] provides countless insightful and engaging reads for your perusal.
One of my personal favourites is The Northern Limit, a really intriguing feature that covers the cut content from Demon’s Souls. I didn’t know much about this before, but while I played the remake last year, that broken Archstone did make me wonder. Nostalgia, by Lara Jackson, is another perceptive piece that discusses the troubles that can arise from remastering or remaking our favourite games. Despite having a focus on PlayStation, there’s also features that divert away from that in glorious fashion. From an intuitive perspective on What Remains of Edith Finch (one of my all-time favourites), to a gleaming appraisal of the indie-darling, Hades. Whether you’re a huge fan of PlayStation or not, you can still appreciate these wonderful features, regardless.
My hardcover version also came with a neat little booklet that includes a number of reviews of games from the last year, including Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Returnal and Resident Evil: Village, among others. This is a good addition that allows for even more content variety, especially as it includes many games that aren’t PlayStation as well.
It would be a crime to not mention the gorgeous artwork that accompanies the brilliant writing in [Lock-on]. With nearly every turn of the page, you’ll be greeted by an exquisite piece from one the many artists featured. There’s so many different styles on display, that it makes reading this journal an utter delight from start to finish. However, it’s not just the artwork that stands out but the design and aesthetic as a whole. The numerous colour schemes, type of font, it’s all carefully selected to complement the various features in the journal. This impeccable design is what holds everything together in a cohesive and incredible package.
I cannot praise Lost in Cult, the writers, and artists enough. [Lock-on] is a success for print media, highlighting the continued interest and demand for it. There’s just so much to love, and it’s evident that a significant amount of passion, skill, and dedication went into the making of this project. [Lock-on] isn’t just a gaming journal filled with thoughtful and evocative, written features, it is also a stunning work of art. This is a shining example for others in the industry to follow, and it will act as the gold standard for years to come. I cannot wait to see what volume 002 has to offer.
Thank you so much for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.