At its core, Nidhogg 2 is still Nidhogg. And you can turn off the new weapons and still fence your way across a castle stage if you so desire. But unless you're a hardline hater of Nidhogg 2's sludgy aesthetic, the sequel enhances the formula across the board. Don't be put-off by Nidhogg 2's rainbow slop, there's still a silly white-knuckle, slay-your-friends action game underneath the mess.
Still, in a world of HD rehashing and the seemingly obligatory impulse to re-render old games with the latest in photorealistic graphics tech, it warms my heart to witness the stylistic human touch of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap. It's a splendid homage, a playable history exercise, and an unexpected touchpoint for the expressive potential of hand-drawn animation in 2017.
The creators of Pac-Man CE 2 had the difficult task of remixing a game that has already been expanded upon and reworked to the point of refinement, and they chose to pile on the complexity anyway. The result is a Frankenstein’s Pac-Man—a mess of features and modes that, despite all the power pellets and fruit and ghosts, still left me feeling hungry.
A couple hours into Glitchspace, I hoped for a break in the progression and the chance to explore my newly acquired skills, but instead the complexity is continuously layered on top of itself until the game ends. And it ends with you literally walking back up to the title screen, ready to clock in for another shift. I think I’ll take my lunch break instead.
These are their choices more than yours. One could argue that there's inconsistency between the player's ability to mold a protagonist of her own making and the game's propensity for predetermined resolutions, but at the very least the rocky relationship between the two adds an element of uncertainty to the equation that aligns quite nicely with the themes of a television show notorious for shockingly killing off main characters.
Yes, The Beginner's Guide occasionally fumbles its narrative, Wreden sometimes overacts, and the writing can be a little ham-fisted—but the game also provokes incisive, critical thought about the way we read and evaluate games, and does so not by laying out a definitive "message" to be delivered to players, but by prompting us, through play, with open-ended questions.
Xrd expounds upon that tendency, eschewing nostalgia in favor of profound iteration that will likely only register to the niche-loyal. And as someone who successfully made it inside the club, even if it feels at times that I did so with a fake ID, the band in here is playing some mind-blowing stuff.
While Telltale's Game of Thrones may not be quite as epic in scope as the HBO show or Martin's books, it comes off as a focused deep dive into what's happening in some of the more minor houses while other self-declared kings and queens battle for the Iron Throne. And to its credit, the game does have at least one good shocking moment to keep you on your toes going into episode two, just don't expect a new "Red Wedding"—at least not yet.
FRACT offers a glimpse into what that reality could look like, but presents a new source of magic at the same time. Instead of bobbing your head out in the audience, now you're behind the decks, steering the ship wherever you want it to go, even when you don't know where you'll end up. FRACT proves that it's through your own creative input that you can continue to surprise yourself beyond those initial magical moments. It's true that FRACT isn't the most mind-bending puzzle game out there or the most powerful music production software on the market; its triumph is in forging a middle path.
Resogun does introduce some new things: all that visual razzle dazzle turns into a sort of optical obstacle in places, hinting at what a modern bullet hell game might feel like. But the game's warm reception is ultimately just a testament to how much fun those old arcade games are, even in 2013. That, I am obligated to say at this juncture, is my final answer.
The organic "lobby" structure of Rivals' open world is a promising idea, unfortunately mismatched with a low player limit and an imbalanced power relationship between the cop and racer. I suppose you could seek to defy the odds and play as a racer, but eventually the cops will find you, and they will wreck you—probably more than once. Don't be offended though; they're just doing their job.