[lock-on] Volume 001 Review

Lost in Cult’s debut publication is an ultra-premium journal that deserves to be on every video game fan’s radar.

Release: August 2021
Publisher: Lost in Cult
Buy from: www.lostincult.co.uk


Despite years of talk suggesting otherwise, physical video game magazines and books are in good health right now. Although their presence in brick-and-mortar stores may be dwindling, there’s a large and passionate audience for these physical items who – thanks mostly to crowdfunding sites – are currently living through a golden age of print media.

Old stalwarts Edge, PC Gamer and Retro Gamer are keeping the traditional format alive, whilst new entries such as Ninty Fresh and Sega Mania hark back to the good old days of console-specific magazines. These are joined by more premium journals and coffee table books such as Dreamcast: Year One and You Died: The Dark Souls Companion (reviews here and here!). All of which enjoyed huge success on Kickstarter.

Billed as a “premium gaming journal delivering thought-provoking stories, insightful features and carefully curated art from industry talent”, [lock-on] is pitched firmly in the latter category – albeit scheduled to appear more frequently as a quarterly release. Launched via Kickstarter on March 8th 2021, Volume 001 reached it’s funding target of £13,000 in less than a month. It went on to generate over £16,500 across just-shy of 400 backers.

Shortly after this review we interviewed Jon Doyle about the Kickstarter campaign, volume 001 and what the future holds for his new publishing studio Lost in Cult. Read the interview here.



Content

Although future entries of [lock-on] will cover all aspects of the industry, volume 001is primarily focused on “the past, present and future of PlayStation”. The journal does a brilliant job of keeping the content varied; with articles about obscure games such as Kula World and Vib Ribbon sitting alongside more well-known titles like Crash Bandicoot and Metal Gear Solid. There are also some wonderful articles detailing what the PlayStation brand and its games mean to each writer personally. Indeed, it’s this variety that makes [lock-on] so interesting and compelling to read.

One of the standout articles is ‘I have lived’ by Jason Maddison; a personal account of the effect the original PlayStation had on him growing up. Another highlight is ‘The Rest of Us’; a wonderful article discussing the recent (and very welcome) push in the industry towards accessibility. This article focuses primarily on Naughty Dog’s stunning work with The Last of Us: Part II and includes an interview with accessibility consultant SightlessKombat. Another highlight is Adam Koralik’s account of the mythical ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ and his own personal (and unexpected) involvement in it.

[lock-on] Volume 001 is full of wonderfully personal and informative articles like these – alongside the more traditional retrospectives – and the writers’ love of their chosen topic is both clear to see and a joy to read.


Design

First things first, [lock-on] Volume 001 just oozes quality. It looks, feels – and even smells! – fantastic. The production values are hugely impressive and the paper stock and print quality are of the highest quality. Art and design has clearly been placed at the forefront of what the team set out to achieve and articles are laid out beautifully in interesting and unique ways. In a particularly wonderful touch, each article is accompanied by bespoke artwork from specially commissioned artists. Colour schemes, artwork, fonts and typefaces are all unique to each written piece, and this makes for a highly engaging and interesting read throughout.

Volume 001’s strange lack of titles and subheadings for some of it’s articles is the only criticism. For some retrospectives and some features they are missing entirely; making it almost impossible to know what the article you’re about to read is actually about. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the brilliantly distinct art style separating each it would sometimes be difficult to tell where one article ands and the next begins. Ultimately though, in a book as exquisitely designed as this one, it’s a minor issue. And not one that detracts from the overall experience.

This image will be familiar to many PlayStation fans. The article ‘I have lived’ is one of Volume 001’s highlights.

Verdict

As the debut release from a brand new publisher, [lock-on] as both a product and a project has been a huge success. Contributors were chosen wisely and the crowdfunding campaign run brilliantly, with everybody involved clearly pulling in the same direction. With Podcasts and exclusive articles already available outside of the journal itself, it is incredibly exciting to think about where [lock-on] and Lost in Cult as a whole will go from here.


With [lock-on] Volume 001, art, design and high-quality writing combine for a journal that truly earns it’s ‘premium’ tag. This is a product made not only with skill and flair, but with genuine love and passion. It is a fantastic addition to the current crop of quality video game books and deserves a place in every video game fan’s collection.


Read our interview with Lost in Cult Owner and Art Director Jon Doyle

jeffsayhi.com received a promotional review copy of [lock-on] Volume 001 from Lost in Cult. We also backed and purchased our own Hardcover Edition during the Kickstarter campaign. Jeffsayhi.com is not affiliated in any way with Lost in Cult.


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