In the past, I’ve written about the physical video game journal [lock-on] from indie publisher and design studio Lost In Cult and its recent Kickstarter campaign for Issue 002.

I’m happy to report the Kickstarter for Issue 002 was extremely successful, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Lost In Cult team has planned for Issue 003. 

After receiving a copy of Issue 001, I sat myself down, opened it up, and began to read. What I found truly touched my heart as the love, dedication, and passion from the journal’s impressive selection of contributing writers and artists shines bright on each and every page. 

Header Image: Lost In Cult

[lock-on] Issue 001 Review | One of a Kind Treasure

It’s not just about what you read in [lock-on], but rather the experience of the journal as a whole. I’m someone who’s somewhat familiar with literary journals as I’ve submitted works of short fiction and photography to them for years (for example, my photo called Remnants published in Parentheses Journal).

Reading through [lock-on], I found it to be reminiscent of these literary journals in many wonderful ways. First, holding a copy of [lock-on] in your hands, you get a premium feel right away. I received the paperback version of Issue 001, though I want to note that hardcover options are available to Kickstarter contributors as well. 

Unwrapping [lock-on], it becomes immediately clear this isn’t something you buy and read through once... it’s something you display, collect, and revisit over and over again. It’s not about “relevant at the time” news, or features solely on newly released games. Instead, it’s a deep dive into all things gaming, without limitation. 

I feel like [lock-on] reinvents what a video game magazine can look like, and how a video game magazine can survive (and thrive) in today’s digital age. One of the many brilliant aspects of [lock-on] are the collectible cards, which add incentive to come back and buy the next issue, and the one after that. 

It’s kind of like when you purchase physical k-pop albums and get a beautiful photo book, poster, and collectible cards of the group’s members. I mention this because I own several physical albums and the inclusion of collectible cards in [lock-on] reminded me of this, and how I feel about it which is that I think it’s fantastic. 

You really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. I wish more physical magazines included something special, whether it be collectible cards like [lock-on], stickers, posters, or even download codes for games – although I’m going way off topic here. 

To get back on topic, we’ve talked about the physical properties, what about the content inside? As previously mentioned, you’ll find a variety of articles on subjects related to the Sony PlayStation.

I enjoyed all of the articles in Issue 001 of [lock-on], but some standouts for me personally include the retrospective on Silent Hill from Andrew J. Dickinson and James Bentley’s article The World Bleeds Green. Again, for me personally based on the content I typically enjoy, all of the articles are spectacular. 

At the end of Issue 001, there’s a section where Kickstarter backers can contribute their own writing and one of these articles really stood out to me. The article is called “Spyro Year of the Dragon” from writer Fiona Li. 

In it, Fiona talks about how they’ve made it a Chinese New Year tradition to play Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon for 15 days every 12 years, or essentially every time it’s the Year of the Dragon. I think this is a beautiful way to celebrate a game you love, by committing to revisiting it on special occasions. 

I was thrilled to come across such a piece, and I love the fact that Lost In Cult has a tier option that allows Kickstarter contributors to submit work of their own. It’s not all writing in [lock-on], though you will spend a cozy amount of time reading through it all as every piece in Issue 001 is worth the read and then some.

You see, another thing that helps set [lock-on] apart from other potential video game magazines is its inclusion of original artwork from contributing artists. Every page you turn, you’re treated to stunning new visuals from these artists, and you even have a section towards the middle in Issue 001 where you can scope out early concept logos for the PlayStation.

It creates this wonderful feeling when you first receive your copy. You can open up Issue 001 and page through it without reading anything, just soaking in the imagery, before going back to the beginning to start reading. Almost everything I have to say about [lock-on] is positive, but there is one potential negative and that has to do with visibility. 

Some of the articles are printed on darker backgrounds, and even though their text color has been changed, some of them are still difficult for me to read. I don’t have a good solution to this, I just want to ensure this review is fair and objective. 

It was the only negative I had in regards to my experience with [lock-on], and it isn’t all that negative. I was still able to read through Issue 001 from start to finish, and I really enjoyed my time with the magazine. 


Pros:

  • The magazine itself has a premium feel to it. 
  • Perfect balance of illustrations and written content.
  • A Kickstarter tier where backers can contribute. 
  • The idea of giving out collectible cards with the magazine is brilliant. 

Cons: 

  • Some of the text in Issue 001 can be hard to read, for example, text over a darker background, and sections with smaller text. 

 

Score: 9.5

 

A copy of Issue 001 of [lock-on] was provided by the publisher for review.