Monthly Summary

Reviews of December (2017): Year End Highlights


2017 is now retro.

The year is over and a time of important reflection awaits, rumination upon our achievements and regrets, our relationships and resolutions. Tomorrow is another year, a whole new year to make new decisions, new mistakes, new redemption, new ambition, new life. Nothing could be more exciting.

This summary post is going to be rather special. It’s been our first full year of blogging here at The Well-Red Mage (we started in February of 2016), and after 56,000 views, 24,000 visitors, 5,700 likes, and 5,800 comments in 2017, what have we really got to show for it? Numbers are nice but for me it should be substance over statistics. Below is a collage of our reviews of December.


This year I beat 46 games! Click the image to see my roster:

Reflecting on growing as writers and artists this year, I asked our contributors and patrons to share their favorite posts they wrote in 2017. The best of the Mages! The best of the Warriors of Light! And finally, my own top 10 posts that were the most meaningful to me. These are the top picks to come out of our souls this year. If you haven’t read them yet, I can think of a great New Year’s resolution for you! Hahaha! Enjoy!

Also, I’d be delighted if you would share your own favorite pieces of writing from 2017. Let us know about them in the comments section!



The best of the Mages

lividlightningmage The Livid Lightning Mage

My favourite post I wrote this year would have to be the Adventure Rules Blogger Blitz championship one:

I wanted it to be a tribute to the whole awesome community event, and it was way outside of my comfort zone. Not only did I enjoy reading everyone else’s entries, that whole competition did wonders for my own writing confidence level. I faced my fears of having my work judged, got to pretend to be my shero, and I like to think I was able to show why I look up to Lightning Farron so much. Good times! 🙂


mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage

I would have to go all the way back to the beginning of the year with my review of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It was the most twisted and terrifying game that I have ever played. I can’t remember a game ever giving me nightmares that jerked me awake quite the way that this one did. It was a psychological thriller and a love letter in many ways to H.P. Lovecraft, a must play for horror fans.


FF3-NES-WhiteMage1.png The Purple Prose Mage

My Driver (1999) review. It’s not just the first post I wrote for the Well-Red Mage, but it’s also the post which I spent the most time writing and felt the most satisfaction having written.
Related image


BBMage The Badly Backlogged Mage

I’m going to go with this piece on Ultima IV. It’s not a review so much as an analysis of the theme of UIV, and how Ultima has changed over time. But I’m happy with this piece 🙂
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 12.24.40 pm



InfernalMage The Infernal Accountant Mage

Hey there! My favorite post is the only post I posted, lol. That would be the Vagrant Story one.


FF3-NES-OnionKnight.png The Moronic Cheese Mage

I think it’s been a stellar year – lots of excellent big old AAA titles, particularly in the form of Breath of the Wild which has pushed gaming in an exciting new direction. Alongside this we’ve seen classic forms of gameplay embraced in the ever-vibrant indie scene, particularly with titles like Cuphead, Dead Cells, and SteamWorld Dig 2. However, I can still refer you to arguably the greatest indie game of them all – Ori and the Blind Forest. A masterpiece and a shining light for the industry. As we say in England – “It’s belting!”.
Top 10 Most Epic & Glorious Modern 2D Platformer Games
Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition


spoonybardmageright.jpg The Spoony Bard Mage

This was a topic I was thinking about for a while before I finally could articulate my thoughts on it. Mindfulness is incredibly important to me, and something that I try to apply to all facets of my life, including gaming”.
Mindfulness and gaming: the monk class


HandheldMage1 The Hopeful Handheld Mage

I’m not sure if this is the best thing I’ve written, but it is the best advice I can offer to future generations. DO NOT PLAY THE FLINTSTONES ON THE MASTER SYSTEM. It’s not a fun platform game like the NES or Mega Drive version – it is a crime against gaming!



on1.png The Valiant Vision Mage

It took the most time, effort, and passion of all my posts so far. I really believe in the idea that video games can be art.


ff3-nes-sage2 The Evergreen Sage Mage

Zhuangzi is to Chinese philosophy what Solaire of Astora is to Dark Souls.


finalfourteenthmage.png The Final Fourteenth Mage

The post that I am most proud of looking back is my review of Tokyo Tattoo Girls. It was the biggest game I was ever lucky enough to receive a review key for and I wanted to make sure I gave it everything I could.
Whilst it wasn’t my favourite game of the year I worked really hard to get both the games strengths and weaknesses across and from that point of view it was my most difficult piece of writing that I published in 2017.


Kx18GL1dNEW The Dapper Zaffre Mage

The Elemental posts were my favorite, especially the Rhythm page. It’s fun to see what every else’s jam is, and having them sorted into genre actually helped me give them a second glance- it’s one thing to hear about a game, but another to hear about it in context next to a favorite of your own. Many of the ones other contributors listed were games I might have glanced at in passing, but didn’t think to look a bit longer until I read it was in a similar vein to one I just talked about.


EKkbAqWy The Brave Blue Mage

TWRM’s elemental challenge really showcased the variety of games the contributors & readers gravitate towards. It is a joy to see the gaming landscape through community eyes on such a variety of genres. Personal best on TWRM has to be the latest installment (& first current game) King’s Quest, it was completely unexpected & a personal highlight in contemporary gaming.
Over on 924COLLECTIVE, a personal highlight was becoming an animal sanctuary after rescuing a duckling in the street & eventually finding him a great home. Adventures in Scouting (Part 1)




The best of the Warriors of Light

Since this article means a lot to me and imo is the best in 2017 because it’s a community article too.


Cheap Boss Attack
I think I’d like to play on the WRM theme and go for my answer to one of your questions — the video game IP resurrection.


The Top 10 best of the Well-Red Mage


“A Kingdom of Dreams”

The tenth article on my list isn’t even about gaming. At the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, I spent some time reviewing every Studio Ghibli feature film. This is not an anime blog nor even a film critique website but these movies have meant a lot to me. Being able to review them was a heavy load but an inspiring task for me nonetheless. This link will take you to a final summary of each film with links going to each individual review. Great art deserves to be critiqued.


“Critical aggrandizement or how being comfortable with 10-point scores has atrophied due to hyperbole”

In my opinion, score inflation remains one of the biggest obstacles to clear and fairminded games criticism today. To be up front, this point is not about advocating for a specific grading system over another, or even for grading systems as a whole. Whether you choose to use stars or points and you count them by threes or fives or tens, my point in this article was in describing how the necessity of hyperbole on the internet to stand out in the ocean of information has eroded meaningful grading, rendering such silliness as a 7/10 or less being perceived as somehow negative. This article proposes ways to surmount that obstacle as well as outlining how we grade titles ’round these parts.


“Stepping on Dreams: Remembering the Humanity behind Game Development”

Writing often comes from a place of emotional resonance and this piece is an example of that. It stemmed from watching a full grown man weep for recognition over what was clearly his passion project. It’s easy to boil games criticism down into witty slander, character assassination, and cold numerics but I learned that video games are made by human beings, believe it or not. Developers are people with their own hopes and dreams. Framing games in the context of human creativity and aspiration helps bar me from a certain toxicity (well, as often as possible).


Asking Big Questions #001: “What have you learned since you started blogging?”

One new series we started in 2017 was Asking Big Questions, the purpose being to get some insight into the lives of writers in the community. Writing can often be done in complete isolation so it’s good to see writers come together and share themselves with each other. The first entry in the series was about origins. The comments aren’t close on these so check them out and respond if you like!


“Fandom, Tribalism, and how I made my Neighbor my Enemy”

This article came about as the result of a debate turned ugly but the nucleus of it was rattling around in my brain for some time. We create walls around ourselves bedecked and bedazzled with the brands of consumerism and we treat those logos like little neon gods, ideologies to be defended tooth and nail against any polemic. Someone insults your fandom and cultural odds seem to dictate you’ll take it personally. That’s how we get the console wars, or any other fan war you can imagine. This post is about exposing all of that and creating discussion to talk about it honestly and openly.


The Last of Us (2013)

This review gives me yet another answer to the internet question “name something you dislike that everyone else loves”, but more importantly then some kind of perceived sense of self-righteous individualism, The Last of Us was a significant review in that it created some of biggest discussions this blog has ever seen. Nothing like controversy to stir up a little conversation. Players walked away from The Last of Us with strong emotions and that came across in strong comments but I appreciate that the intensity in the comments and replies never became disrespectful. That’s what gaming needs.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my Game of the Year. It blew me away. It soaked up an inordinate amount of time. It renewed my hope in the open world concept. Without being perfect, it created an experience I hadn’t really known elsewhere. As with anything that’s instantly beloved, since it’s release we’ve seen naysayers and eager critics willing not only to deny Breath of the Wild of its GOTY status but willing to call it one of the worst of its kind. Of course everyone is free to possess their opinions, informed or uninformed, reasonable or not, and one of the thrills of explaining ourselves is in confronting our own biases and contextual backdrops for our most extreme opinions. With this review, I asked why Breath of the Wild is so special, why it was so well-received, why it swept so many awards, and why it became one of the best reviewed games in history. It’s all about design.


Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Our first and so far only Dualcast Review was completed in celebration of Final Fantasy VII’s 20th anniversary. I’m really proud of this review because it took so much work to put it together with another writer, the Black Humor Mage, and we were able to release it exactly on September 7th. So much has already been said about this game that it is tough to come up with anything new but we approached it by trying to provide both a retrocentric and a modern perspective on the game.


Chrono Trigger (1995)

This was my first paid piece as the Well-Red Mage so I poured everything I had into writing it. The review turned into a 17,000 word analysis and critique that touched upon the nature of hyperbole and nostalgia as hurdles to overcome in trying to discern if any game could be considered the Greatest of all Time. Chrono Trigger is my GOAT and I wrote a marathon piece to describe why. For me, no other game has ever come close.


“What is the Well-Red Mage about?”

The most important piece of writing I put together in 2017 had to be this one. It’s all about the vision we have for TWRM’s place in the universe. After so many controversies and nontroversies, video games and gamers and journalism have a lot of room to grow.



These posts all define what this place has become and may be becoming. I want to thank our awesome contributors for being such a cool team, for sharing their thoughts, for pooling their opinions together in our many collabs, for wanting to jump on board at all. I also want to thank our rad patrons for supporting our work since we opened our Patreon just a few months ago. You’ve all brought tremendous joy to my heart and smiles to my face.

Together let’s continue to make the gaming world a friendlier and more articulate place. See you in 2018. Happy new year!

In your service,
-The Well-Red Mage


Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing. We specialize in long-form, analytical reviews and we aim to expand into a community of authors with paid contributors, an alternative to mainstream games writing! See our Patreon page for more info!



16 replies »

  1. A stellar year for TWRM, too! Look at all those lovely reviews. Fully agreed on Breath of the Wild as well, what a magical game it was all year round thanks to the DLC. 150+ hours and counting.

    Happy New Year, all! As we say in England, “Y’oreet?!”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dear Mr. Wapojif, thank you for being a part of putting together this host of reviews and articles! I appreciate your expressing interest to jump on board and providing some really cool and insightful works. I’ll always be happy to help host and promote your work. As for Breath of the Wild, I have yet to play the DLC. I was waiting until it all came out and the game became a little less fresh in my mind. I’m so happy for Nintendo that they won GOTY with it. Happy New Year!


    • I’m sure the Purple Prose Mage will be delighted to hear that! He spent a lot of time and energy on it to perfect it. I’m happy to hear it paid off. Happy New Year to you and I hope it’s a fruitful and joyous new era for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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