The best bits come in an interstitial visual novel that shows how Travis gets the Death Balls themselves; funny, self-aware, and styled with gorgeous retro-pixelated graphics, it’s the one part of the game that feels like the product of someone authentically giving a ****, an expression of the anarchic spirit that made Grasshopper’s early games feel like a refreshing breath of post-modern air in a frequently too-serious medium.
Subset also deserves credit for the game’s deliberately limited, laser-focused scope. Every aspect of Into The Breach’s design—the gorgeous soundtrack, the bleak storytelling, even the way characters quip about the in-game reset button—contributes to making the player’s battles feel like a life-or-death, “We’re canceling the apocalypse” moment.
Throughout its runtime, A Way Out is fun, in the way any game with a friend is fun (and that’s definitely the correct way to play it, since playing with strangers would make its communication-based challenges a goddamned nightmare). But outside a few promising flourishes, it ultimately fails to distinguish itself from any number of more engaging co-op offerings, and its best moments hinge on caring about characters who never rise very far above the level of flat, unengaging caricature.
Like all of Quantic's games, Detroit is a big, stupid swing for the fences, yet another attempt to get Cage's dream of "playable movies" off the ground. Skeptics of the studio's previous games won't be convinced, but there are plenty of small improvements that make it Quantic's best offering to date
Montana features some of the most beautiful country in all of America, and Ubisoft has done an amazing job of capturing its rural glory. And the freedom to get credit for just f***** around in this gorgeous world, doing whatever feels most fun, is legitimately intoxicating.
Exploring ruins has gotten no less satisfying. Risking it all to secure a glowing item or a stash of souls still provokes baseline thrills. The basic back-and-forth of combat maintains its addictive rhythm. And the whole world is incredibly beautiful, especially the lush panoramas of the Ringed City itself.
[T]hrough it all, XCOM 2 never loses sight of the basic thrills that made its predecessor such a welcome surprise. The feeling of holding the line against seemingly impossible odds, of pulling a mission from the jaws of death with a timely rescue and a wounded comrade on your back, of watching an experienced squad slice its way through pod after pod of once-formidable foes—they're all still here, as satisfying as ever.
But even with its irritatingly slow cutscenes, its immature objectification of women, and its determination to keep players away from its best moments for as long as it can, it's hard to dismiss Xenoblade Chronicles X completely. There's just too much of it, for one thing. The simplest play-through will take at least 60 hours, and is likely to scratch only the barest portions of the game's stories and content, some of which, owning to the law of averages, will turn out to be both charming and fun. And there really is nothing quite like taking to the air for the first time, looking down at terrain that you've become intimately familiar with through hours upon hours of exploration of its lush, mesmerizingly beautiful world. It's just a shame that the game chooses to spend so much of its energy preempitively punishing you, before it lets you get to the business of actually enjoying it.