I suppose, then, that Somerville is the most welcoming of the three games, starting with the familiar, and riding the slow, exponential line upward into the bizarre. Wise choice. For all the craft required to make a clear, playable movie, nothing beats the otherworldly weirdness of video games.
I do hope younger folks give this game a shot. I think they might once the game’s online mode is available, a place where people under the age of 35 are far more likely to play games. Until I can try those features, though, I’m happy to think of this as Nintendo’s love letter to the old and the old at heart. The company took over a decade to make the game, but maybe they were waiting for folks like me to age into it.
There’s plenty more for me to tell you about this game, like how it stacks twists atop each other like a tower of turtles, without ever collapsing under all that narrative weight. Though reading more would spoil the fun – and trust me, you’ll be doing plenty of reading once you boot the game up anyway. I’ve written so much about why this game means the world to me. Now I leave y’all to decide whether or not to play it.
Riders Republic is more than a revision of Steep than it is a rewrite, a creative team taking all of the lessons learned from a rough draft and starting over from the beginning. It has more extreme sports, sure, but more importantly, it’s a profoundly more social experience. It oozes joy, without relying on the fundamentals of its contemporaries, like combat, winner-takes-all competition, and melodramatic linear storytelling.
What if you never spotted that note? Or bothered to visit the radio station? Like I said up top, you'd straight-up miss the game. Despite Echoes of the Eye being inside the same universe as Outer Wilds, reaching its "space" within outer space is more abstract than simply pointing your spaceship in the right direction.
So I return to the caveats. If you’re a fan of the series, and you can respect the audacity of these decade-old ideas, Nier Replicant is the best appetizer yet for whatever main course Square Enix will inevitably serve in the future. But for newcomers or casual fans, the caveat stands: Nier Replicant is worth the time, but only if you have plenty of time to spend.
Rivals is quite charming and, at only an hour or two long, doesn’t wear out its welcome. If Return of the Obra Dinn is the chart-topping hit of this growing little genre, Rivals is the local garage band album that gets a glowing write-up in the alt-weekly: small, messy, lovable. Rivals is seemingly built with one audience in mind: older weirdos like me who don’t mind a little more Wilco-style music in their detective games.
But Streets of Rage, as a series, is a time capsule from a different, simpler era. While it's blunt and repetitive, it also manifests a relaxing social space with ease. Call it video games as loitering. The music is as good as it's ever been in the series. The stages and characters are beautiful, reimagining the original trilogy's '90s locales and punk-inspired band of baddies in a way that stands up to those games without scarring modern eyes. The action itself is so simple that you can get lost in a conversation about, well, anything as you play.