[PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds] is best when one round you're a Ghillie-suited assassin and the next you're a struggling nobody with a gun you've never seen before. When you aren't at either extreme, the highs and lows of play can begin to even out and round after round can begin to blend together.
I can't talk about The End Is Nigh without comparing it to Super Meat Boy because in so many ways it feels like a conscious alternative to some of the defining properties of that rapid, colourful, classic game. But measured on its own qualities, The End Is Nigh is a good game, but not a memorable one.
Brute introduces a few twists as you go along that I haven't mentioned here, but doesn't do enough to establish its own identity and step out from underneath the shadow of its inspirations. That doesn't make it any less fun. If you've tired of its inspirations and are looking for something new, then it'll scratch that same itch.
By throwing out most of Spore's traditional mechanics in favour of a cross between Katamari Damacy and Nested, Everything gets closer to sublimity. And though I don't think it gets all the way there – not for me, not right now – the silliness is constant and delightful.
The Final Station is a simple game, which is always just compelling enough for its duration. I’ve come to think of it as an efficient, low budget horror movie: it has a high concept it can’t afford to show directly and so it wrings as much as it can from the mystery and the satisfaction of piecing the plot together from snippets. It’s only a shame that its action suffers more from never having a particularly interesting concept of its own.
Mankind Divided is a new version of one of my favourite games of all time and free from the execution problems that hampered that last iteration. The levels are bigger and prettier. There are no dumb boss fights. It gives you slightly more agency over its story. The new abilities are nice, even if they don't dramatically alter the flow of the game.
The structure of the game helps, but GTAV's singleplayer is not simply a case of making the best of a bad situation. I've been surprised over the past week how much I've enjoyed revisiting these storylines and missions, after first playing them on XBox 360 at release.
Far Cry is a series still struggling with that balance, between offering you the freedom to do what you want while enforcing the limitations to make what you want meaningful. I think it's also only a game away from needing a gritty, Bond-style reboot back to its Far Cry 2 roots.
Witnessing Advanced Warfare in its gamesuit made from chopped-up pieces of better games, it's easy to picture the series as a Pinocchio aching to be a real boy, but the sympathy you feel in light of its efforts does little to quell your instinct to escape.
You're not going to love Styx. It's not the kind of game you're going to be itching for a sequel to. It seems kind of unfortunate that it was released within a week of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation. But sometime five or ten years from now you'll be talking about stealth games with a friend and you'll go, "Oh, hey, remember Styx? That was pretty good."
Then I remembered. Those things aren't a game. The game is sloppy controls which cause you to constantly do the wrong thing accidentally with disastrous consequences; is inconsistently interactive world design; is a cover system whereby you get stuck on scenery or it guesses incorrectly where you want to move. The game is insta-fail stealth missions, wave-defense missions, escort missions, missions where what the characters say and what the objective is don't match up. The game is five crashes to desktop, including two which required me to reboot my machine before it would reload. The game is restrictive objectives which don't make use of the possibilities provided by the open city or the hacking mechanics, and checkpoint positions that force you to re-watch short cutscenes or re-perform rote actions after every death.
You should always judge a game by what it is and not by what it's not, but there's a gulf between the way in which I want to interact with mulitplayer first-person shooters and the manner in which Titanfall has been provided. It won't stop me playing, but it might stop me playing for as long. That's a shame.
I think there are two reasons I play strategy games. One is for complex campaigns requiring deep thought and careful planning, whether that be in Unity of Command or Supreme Commander. The other is for the relaxing power trip provided by swirling numbers of units, as in Eufloria or Galcon Fusion. Infested Planet sits somewhere between the two, a mid-point that's more satisfying in some ways for the greater sense of accomplishment it delivers and less satisfying in others for the frustration of never quite letting you relax.
Towerfall is a traditional pleasure, and it's easy to see why it's fun with friends or against the computer, because we've all played games like it before and can remember that they were fun. But there's an extra level of beauty and elegance in Towerfall's animations and mechanics, and it's those that make Towerfall special.