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.
Downwell may not have the lifespan of Spelunky or Nuclear Throne, games that have continued unfolding over years for their players. But it also doesn't appear to be aiming for such heights. Its focus is as straight and unyielding as the well down which it drops you. It is fun and addictive, but moreover it's adrenaline-pumping and shocking in its barbarity.
With Obduction, Cyan has created another game that’s an art of personal journaling. What you know, what you’ve gathered, will save you. The tools seem familiar but it is details that are your weapons. As the otherworldly overlaps the banal, you’re trapped in a labyrinth of places and things.
Harvest Moon is not that game, and its bells and whistles are traditionally much more limited, structured, and harder circled on the calendar. Despite all odds, it seems Stardew Valley is a different game than the one it mimics. And a pretty fun, different game at that.
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.
OmniBus would work better if it rolled with its own punches instead of creating a system that only exists to be fought with—the reward is smaller when randomness does so much of the grunt work. Just sit back and let the car drive you into the sun. Life just flies by so fast when you’re having fun.
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.