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.