Christopher Byrd


156 games reviewed
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Unscored - Somerville
Nov 15, 2022

“Somerville” reminded me of the qualities that I cherish in adventure games, particularly their ability to plunge one into the unexpected. I appreciated how its mechanics sidestep the usual weaponry that goes along with science-fiction games. (A gun-toting, super-soldier shows up at one point, but things don’t end well for them.) “Somerville” effortlessly pulled me in from moment to moment because I was eager to discover the next audiovisual flourish around the corner. There is a sequence toward the end where the man revisits places that is particularly captivating for the way in which it makes the familiar strange. That said, I was a little disappointed with the final scene in the game, which struck me as an overly familiar allusion to the ending of Tarkovsky’s film “Solaris.” But that aside, “Somerville” is the best adventure game I’ve played since “Little Nightmares 2.”

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Unscored - Saturnalia
Nov 1, 2022

“Saturnalia” is best approached as a darkly themed puzzle game constructed around the social bonds that unite a village. The handcrafted art style nicely counterbalances a decent game that is let down by its survival horror elements.

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Mar 25, 2022

“FAR: Changing Tides” ably evokes the blissful passion of travel. It is the perfect antidote to overly stuffed, bloated video games.

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Unscored - Elden Ring
Mar 4, 2022

I can hear the murmurous, gently swelling music of Rotview Balcony, a place of crimson skies and arid landscape, playing from the other room where the game is idling as I type this sentence. “Elden Ring’s” score is a glorious counterpoint to the occasional jankiness of texture clipping and frame-rate fluctuations. And while I suspect the latter part of “Elden Ring” may exasperate my patience — I hear that a gauntlet of bosses picks up where the notoriously difficult “Dark Souls III: The Ringed City” DLC left off — right now, I can’t wait to get back to it.

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Feb 18, 2022

The overriding question “Horizon Forbidden West” left me with is ‘when will its prospective audience grow tired of the tired conventions that underwrite so many go-and-save-the-world adventure games?’ As much as I appreciated the fun that came from smashing up robots, “Horizon Forbidden West” won’t earn a spot in my long-term memory.

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Feb 4, 2022

Restoring power to different places, searching for people and clearing out areas of zombies are pretty much the types of activities I’d expected. But I was utterly enthralled by Dying Light 2 Stay Human’s mechanical panache, entrancing soundtrack, and charismatic NPCs.

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Unscored - The Gunk
Dec 17, 2021

For all the neat freaks out there, this one’s for you.

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Unscored - Moncage
Nov 19, 2021

If you’re not moved to play it, consider watching an online playthrough of Moncage. It deserves to be seen.

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Nov 5, 2021

Throughout my playthrough I was surprised by the manner in which I had to position Emma, or move objects around, precisely to cast just the right shadow for Fenton. In keeping with the theme of a story based around a missing magician, the compact, finely-detailed stages unfold like a series of sleight-of-hand tricks that ably draw your focus in one direction so that you are particularly struck when you stumble on a solution that was more or less hiding in plain sight. If the measure of a good puzzle game is how many “oh wow, this is crazy” moments are packed in it, then Tandem is up there with the best of them. I’d recommend “Tandem: A Tale of Shadows” to anyone who enjoys having their perceptions toyed with.

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Oct 29, 2021

Guardians of the Galaxy is a competent, if not especially electrifying, action game that sails along on the back of strong voice acting and the sheer momentum with which it introduces new scenes and charismatic characters.

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Unscored - Metroid Dread
Oct 15, 2021

In design terms, what most impressed me about “Metroid Dread” was how the developers guide you through the game’s sprawling areas. Although there is ample incentive to backtrack after Samus acquires a new powerup, the game never wasted my time. At no point was I needlessly sent crisscrossing over environments to determine where to go next. Usually, when Samus acquires a new powerup, there is a place nearby where she can use it to open a previously-unexplored suite of rooms. The game does not lack internal momentum.

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Unscored - Sable
Oct 1, 2021

From a visual standpoint, every line and every hue seems purposeful, in contrast to so many other games that heap color upon color and detail upon detail as if "more colors and visual effects equals better graphics."

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Unscored - Deathloop
Sep 24, 2021

I never felt any urgency to break the time loop since everyone in the world — even Colt — is pretty blithe about going through the motions from one loop to the next. Alas, I find it difficult to imagine anyone who isn’t partial to video game tropes loving Deathloop. Unless you’re particularly drawn to its vibe, it’s a shooter with good mechanics but not much more than that.

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Unscored - Psychonauts 2
Sep 15, 2021

As a close friend of mine texted me, it’s like a playable Tim Burton movie. Its imaginative reach leaves most other lighthearted adventure games far behind.

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Sep 3, 2021

Golf Club: Wasteland is one of the best games I’ve played this year. I loved everything about this game from its refined art style to its soundtrack. It’s peculiar alchemy of meditative sport and pointed sentimentality is a sight to behold.

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Unscored - Road 96
Aug 17, 2021

As it stands, “Road 96” feels like a preview of a better future in which another game grafts more sophistication onto its sturdy template.

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Unscored - Death's Door
Jul 30, 2021

Happily, Death’s Door, the new action adventure game about a hard-working, soul-reaping crow is very much a love letter to the old Zelda games. Its mechanics are satisfying in a chip-off-the-old block way, its visuals are a delight and its story line is touched with assured, easygoing humor.

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Unscored - Mythic Ocean
Jul 20, 2021

While the lessons might not be very deep, the liveliness of the game leads me, ultimately, to the conclusion that “Mythic Ocean” is a neat game to turn kids on to philosophical reasoning.

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Jul 3, 2021

In truth, I wish Mario Golf: Super Rush was a bit zanier. The dash mechanic and the Super Shots are fine, but I can’t help thinking that the courses could have been a bit more whimsical than, say, the arid landscape of Balmy Dunes.

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Jun 11, 2021

“Subnautica: Below Zero’s” conventional sci-fi story line, which revolves around a greedy corporation looking to get ahead in the weapons business, never raised my interest. But the painstaking effort it takes to get Robin from one minor narrative point of interest to another made me appreciate its small, very human scale of success.

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