Armikrog squanders the real, doing nothing interesting with its sense of space and temptation to explore, because every new chamber seems identical to the last. In fact, if The Neverhood has a sequel, it may be 2003's Samorost, from Amanita Designs—a precious cosmos of tinkering little mysteries. By the time it's done, Armikrog feels more like The Neverhood's mulligan. As if this is the first one, the prototype, the do-over, with less to offer than familiarity, all of which leads to the more lavish incarnation made nearly two decades ago. And after that loses steam, and you want a bit of action in your life, then you make Skullmonkeys.
When Dropsy's quest becomes grander, based around a larger conspiracy, some of this charm wears off. As the game becomes more "normal," Dropsy's original challenge of endearing himself to those he repulses fades, and the puzzles start seeming a little tedious. So many are based around a difficult to manage day/night cycle, and many others around the talents of collectible animals. But before things escalate, when it's just the story of a clown without a circus, the sentiment warms you like a hug.
We live in an age of endless possibilities, especially when it comes to possibilities that don't better civilization in any mountable way or save the planet from its inevitable ghoul-faced doom. You can be a cat or a duck or a goat or a rock in a videogame! You can be all kinds of things! You can be bread. I can be bread. I can be destructive. I am destructive. I am bread.
In short: I didn't need Drake for long. Actually I played about two chart-toppers before I no longer felt the need for his voice as a lighthouse through the darkness. I began to feel comfortable in a horror game, which is a problem. I slept soundly that night.
While many new arcade games are built for spectatorship, they can be a little unwelcoming, full of secrets favouring someone who has survived a few rounds. That applies to most videogames, after all, but Smash Bros. found a middle ground, with enough combos and generally good ideas to feel rewarding, but none that can consistently overcome a monkey wrench. TowerFall Ascension, then, is the new arcade's Smash Bros.: an answer to a new genre that may be more alienating than it realizes, despite its inclusive agenda.