John Walker


241 games reviewed
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Unscored - Scarlet Hollow
Dec 8, 2022

I feel like Scarlet Hollow is a demonstration of how the format for the visual novel is just a foundation on which so much greater can be built. While the screenshots may look like a standard VN, the game itself is vastly more, not just with its RPG-like systems and ridiculously complex balancing of choices, but the far greater sense of scale, time, and significance. I’ve been blown away by it all over again.

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Unscored - Riley & Rochelle
Oct 19, 2022

I really hope Sheinman does something very different for his next game, because I really think this format is done now. But Riley & Rochelle is a great, if sometimes scrappy, way to prove what a solid idea it’s always been.

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Unscored - Beacon Pines
Sep 22, 2022

This is a splendid creation, superbly written, with spellbinding art, and a unique approach to telling a story. It’s also a fascinating exploration of grief, loss, and more than anything else, how we react to change. That and secret underground organizations and their evil plans to control towns through fertilizer production.

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Recommended - Hands Of Necromancy
Jul 4, 2022

This is tremendous stuff, a game that could absolutely have been released alongside Raven Software’s mid-90s fantasy shooters and held up. (Although people would have been mystified by the lighting tech.) Admittedly, you can get Hexen for a buck-fifty right now, but there’s a good chance you already did. Hands Of Necromancy is a welcome addition to that fold, and developers HON Team have become a name to follow.

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Unscored - Escape Simulator
May 30, 2022

There’s a co-op mode, even, so you can be trapped in these escape rooms with a chum, which sounds absolutely fantastic. But on my own, Escape Simulator offers a far more tangible sense of the feeling of playing a real-world escape room, one spaceship aside, keeping things within the realms of possibility. Ooh I can’t wait for that DLC.

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Feb 21, 2022

This was a risky project, given the automatic assumptions someone might make about a game where dating and invading are conflated. Cast aside all those concerns, because this is a game where consent is primary, yet nonsense is overwhelmingly more important. It’s so funny that this is so lovely, and it’s lovely that this is so funny.

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Unscored - Torchlight III
Oct 13, 2020

Torchlight III feels an awful lot like what it is: a free-to-play multiplayer game that thought better of itself, and decided to become a proper full-price microtransaction-free primarily solo release. If I didn’t already know the path it had taken, I’d have spent my entire time playing the game being gnawed at by wondering just what it was that made it all feel so off.

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Unscored - CARRION
Jul 23, 2020

Most importantly, Carrion’s smart. It’s an extremely finely crafted game, so much so that you’re essentially playing a meat-smeared Metroidvania without a map, and you won’t even miss it. That’s quite something.

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Unscored - Poly Bridge 2
Jun 3, 2020

To me it feels far more like an expansion pack than a whole new game, slightly improving the cutesy graphics and adding in a couple of extra construction materials, but even then it all overlaps a little too closely with the original. A sequel to a game that already looked awfully similar to another series seems like something that should have iterated a great deal further by now. I certainly recommend checking out people’s most elaborate and daft bridges on YouTube – as for creating them yourself, it’s harder to get excited about.

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Unscored - MO Astray
Nov 21, 2019

I’ve absolutely loved this. It’s so refined, so well crafted, so supremely gory for something with such deceptively simple presentation, and has a difficulty pitch that feels always challenging, but remarkably fair.

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Unscored - OUTBUDDIES
Oct 23, 2019

I’ve had a very splendid time with this, and have much splendid time left with it. A proper fine achievement, and a game worthy of measuring against the mighty Metroid.

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Unscored - Pilgrims
Oct 8, 2019

For me, I saw the beginnings of a truly exceptional game, and feel a bit like I just finished its demo. But what a lovely demo!

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Sep 23, 2019

A visually stunning game, belying its origins as a creation of two animators, alongside some delightful writing, weaving a complexity of narrative that completely surprised me. But one that offers the player far too little actual investigating, and in the end, far too much tiresome wandering.

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Apr 18, 2019

This is a good adventure game! It’s actually an incredibly clever adventure game doing lots of very subtle smart things! It has its issues, but don’t we all.

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Unscored - Supraland
Apr 16, 2019

It’s going to take a heck of a lot for anything to beat this game to be my favourite of 2019. What a splendid treat.

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Unscored - Photographs
Apr 3, 2019

Photographs is a very novel experience (well, a very short story experience, fnarr), lovingly crafted, if not fully composed. I don’t love it as a puzzle game, but it’s a vignette of vignettes, and I like it for that.

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Unscored - Baba Is You
Mar 14, 2019

But this is wonderful. Completely wonderful. Original, inspired, challenging, and most importantly of all, that constant sense of “Oh no, how will I ever do this one!” so quickly followed by, “I AM A GENIUS!” It’s a very, very smart game, that has the humility to let you, the player, feel like the clever one

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Mar 12, 2019

There is just SO much to do, to explore, so many secrets I know I’ve missed, and bits I want to return to. This is completely splendid.

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Mar 6, 2019

I just kept thinking of so many different ways this could have been a much more ambitious take on a cheerful anachronism from an ancient 16-bit era. Sadly, I appear to have been the only one.

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Unscored - Vignettes
Mar 6, 2019

Vignettes is a toy. And that is why it’s completely splendid.

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