What gives the MachineGames' Wolfenstein titles their own mojo is the casual way they pair generic gameplay with silver-tongued characters who reflect on their faults, speculate on their fates, and enjoy mundane occurrences like going to a pub and cadging free drinks. In this way the game's B-movie vibe is evocative of the work of those skilled filmmakers who embrace the silly or even the self-consciously stupid.
When I finished "Dark Souls 2," I felt utterly burnt out with the series into which I had poured over 400 hours. But "Bloodborne's" labyrinths and fantastic creature design ensnared me from the first. Whereas "Dark Souls 2" felt to me as if it was laboring under the weight of its forebears,"Bloodborne" feels like the swaggering culmination of them. From Software has, in the best possible way, brought the evil back.
Call me selective, but I wanted the comedy without the tedium which broke the cinematic effect. Perhaps this inability to fawningly linger over "Grim Fandango's" highly static environments is a product of time. Regardless, the bony truth is that our lives sometimes intersect with games at inopportune moments.
Like jazz, open-world games promise the bliss of structured randomness. Developers load up games with multiple systems – traffic, pedestrians, wildlife, etc. – which players probe to create unique moments. Ubisoft's Far Cry series marries this open-world game design to a caricature of guerrilla warfare, the improvisational aspect of which fits well with the player's need to make the best of whatever is in his or her toolset.
In sum, "Dragon Age: Inquisition" feels like a game in which the writers were set free to craft a story for contemporary adults. As I listened to the poetic diction of Cole, a character prone to alliteration and utterances such as, "The air smells like rocks," I wondered if the gaming industry might swell to provide a berth for poets as academia has.
Measured solely as a puzzle-platformer, "Never Alone" has nothing on games such as "Braid" or "Portal," which offer far more intricate challenges. However, this is a game that transcends its gameplay. The bio of one of the game's scriptwriters, Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, mentions that in his younger days he was ashamed of his Native Alaskan heritage.
What sets "The Witcher 3" apart from most of the competition is its keen sense of humanity, which is calculated to be every bit as gripping as an HBO drama. At their best, the characters with whom you chat don't seem like they live in a vacuum only to impart useful information.
If you haven't kept up with your metaphysical thinkers, you might need to play through "The Old City" more than once to master its storyline. Personally, I find it exciting to think that video games have evolved to a point where they can sustain that level of scrutiny.