I’m still often confused about what’s going on, and why, but it’s impressive how the bones of Pac-Man fit so neatly into a battle royale experience, with so much thought put into the use of intel and basic strategy that the skill ceiling is currently hard to fathom. Then there’s the fact that you can have the whole game loaded and be in a full match in just a minute or two. The result is both confounding and empowering. When I win, it’s of course due to my skill, and when I lose?
Brynn's tale is told mostly in flashback, for obvious reasons, and as I watched it play out, I could make some limited decisions by putting the cursor on one of the eyeball icons on the screen and blinking to make my selection. Once the interactive portion of a moment is over, a metronome begins to tick back and forth at the bottom of the screen, even if characters are still talking. You can stay in that moment as long as you'd like ... as long you can keep yourself from blinking. Blink, and you're removed from the memory and sent someplace else.
This isn't a game you'll return to over and over, due to the heavy emphasis on a linear story with large-scale set-pieces hinting at the much bigger war around you. But it's absolutely worth playing through at least once, or playing again if you haven't touched it since its original release.
You'll also be earning gear as your hero fights to survive, and juggling your loadout is a constant, unending job. Learning about each magical effect takes experimentation, since Loop Hero explains very little. What will this ring with those stats do when paired with this shield? What even is "vampirism," and could it be good in this context? You have to try different things and find out what works, much like parenting. Using trial and error to learn and figure things out is a great way to explore the world with your children, and it's almost a mandatory skill to perfect your run in Loop Hero.
Or you can remove the stress altogether and play on the lowest difficulty setting, which eliminates the stamina meter, allowing the player to zoom up the side of each environment and focus on enjoying the view and the experience. You do have to play the climbs in each environment in order of difficulty to unlock them in the scored modes where you unlock new gear. But every single climb is available to try on the casual setting from the jump, a welcome feature for anyone who just wants to be a virtual tourist on these mountains and structures.
From racing against the computer to taking on friends with their own karts to designing the perfect track to just exploring your place through the eyes of a tiny, kart-racing Mario, this is a toy in the best way: a portal to inventive, constantly changing play that’s fun no matter how you decide to interact with the platform. Your home is now Mario’s own set of challenges and opportunities, and that’s a jump I did not expect from the Mario Kart franchise.
This simple package, with an unassuming title and cover, is already one of my favorite games of the year. Nintendo may have released the perfect game at the perfect time with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and it looks like the company may be able to repeat the same trick when Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics.
Microsoft and Mojang have created a game where you’re hitting endless minions and boss characters with all sorts of pointy weapons, but they did so in such a way that playing still feels creative, and freeing. That’s a very welcome magic trick from a series trying something this new, this confidently.
The Room VR traps you inside a wonderfully cohesive world with internal logic that doesn’t have to play by the established rules of our reality. It forces you to think your way out of things while greater powers always seem right around the corner.
Valve has succeeded at just about every goal it must have had for this project. The only thing left is whether hardcore fans will be willing to buy, and use, a virtual reality headset in order to learn what happens next in the world of Half-Life. The good news is that those who do will experience what is likely the best VR game released to date.
This is the sort of thing that might keep smaller children occupied for a time, but buffet rules apply: The food doesn’t taste better just because there’s a lot of it. And that’s maybe the best thing I can say about Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: There is certainly a lot of it.