Dumb, funny, exhilarating, varied and full of stupid explosions. Like the drones it summons, Ace Combat 7 is not exactly self-aware. But it is close enough, judging from the humour of its over-the-top action. And it barely matters anyway, because it’s a damn fun videogame.
When a single character’s dialogue is the most annoying thing about a card game, the creators probably deserve some credit. Lord knows the voice acting is at least as good as it is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and so is the writing. By that I mean the writing is a passable exploration of fantasy tropes and power politics that’ll probably become hugely overrated.
It can be confounding at first, not to mention the ugliness of those grey boxes. But it doesn’t take long to realise that this is something special. A management game that feels like you’re in charge of people – beautiful, flawed people – instead of a handful of impersonal bots. And it’s those little people who will keep you going.
If you play in co-op, you'll probably be able to ignore the flaws long enough to have a jolly evening or two with some friends (Windows 10 friends only, of course) and if you're dead set on rolling around in the blood and gore, I suggest this is how you play it.
Shadowhand is built entirely on a foundation of muddy luck. Sometimes the cards come up in such a way that you can combo twenty or more in a row. Sometimes you have to pass your turn over and over again, waiting for a useful 7 or 5 to show itself. That's why I find it unsatisfying.
Passpartout does a decent job of replicating the frustrations and concerns of being a painter, but that does mean it's purposefully difficult to tell what people want. I like that it gives you an excuse to indulge in some childish MS Paint creativity, but I'm finished with the art scene. These scum don't deserve to gaze upon the Stretch Face.
Everspace is at its best when one or two bits of your ship are busted and you have to improvise slightly during fights and prioritise finding the nearest mechanic station or a pile of nanobots. When the pressure is on and it embraces those sim-lite incidents, it can overcome its dogfighting simplicity and dainty flight controls. For me, however, I'm not sure that's enough to keep playing.
There was a big part of me that didn't want to stop playing and maybe I'll pick it up again some day, because there is so much to love about discovering the laws of nature behind this huge, ruined ecosystem. But with each random death, each accidental roll off a cliffside, each checkpoint drought, that love turned to ash. There is so much beauty and intrigue and diversity of life in Rain World. It's a pity the game doesn't want you to see any of it.
It's a game of risk, reward and really bad decisions. It's many times more thoughtful than Duelyst, which is always my yardstick for card games. But at the same time it is much less climactic, less explosive, and less creative with its minions and their abilities.