It probably goes without saying, but Hatoful Boyfriend is most definitely, 100% not for everyone. If you're looking any kind of serious gaming experience, want a mechanics-heavy title full of action and adventure, or just Aren't That Into Pigeons, Hatoful Boyfriend really won't be your cup of tea. However, if you want to experience what might just be one of the most ridiculous, hilarious, and extremely well-written visual novels this year, Hatoful Boyfriend brings the funny in spades. You might not know what on earth you're experiencing, but chances are you'll be thoroughly entertained.
The world of Monochroma starts of promising a dystopian exploration in a silent and haunting world, but the lack of broader narrative or any kind of empathy leaves the world as devoid of life as the dystopia in which it is set. It's a world in which to dip your toes, and maybe even enjoy a short while, but it never really sticks.
Unrest is a solid RPG which at times shows flashes of brilliance and innovation, and would be a decent purchase for fans of this kind of experimental morality game. Those not already fans of the genre, however, may find this lack of polish prevents their conversion. Whilst Unrest is enjoyable, too often do its flaws get in the way of gameplay, frustrating enjoyment and creating a sense that this fascinating little indie RPG never really lives up to its potential.
Some might feel uncomfortable with the slightly ambiguous ending to Cry Wolf, but to me it felt perfectly in tune with the overall tone of the series. Morality and Fabletown society in The Wolf Among Us is never a clear cut thing at any point in the series, and I worried that tying it all up in one neat fifth episode might prove too much even for the accomplished writing team of this game.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War will certainly not be the most challenging game you play this year, but it is utterly absorbing, charming and a real experience for fans of puzzle and adventure games. Worth investing in for the soundtrack alone, it's an experimental title that - whilst it feels as if it could be a valuable educational tool for a younger audience - is still a mesmerising game for adventure fans of any age.
What Always Sometimes Monsters occasionally lacks in breadth and polish, it makes up for in concept and the way it challenges minds used common gaming formulas and tropes. It's a fascinating experiment, and whilst it might not be to everyone's taste, it's great to see games that are happy to challenge the status quo and dare to take us to task on our pre-conceptions.
I'm not saying it isn't enjoyable; on the contrary, it all points towards a truly thrilling conclusion when the final episode hits later this summer. However, I do hope the final instalment of The Wolf Among Us season one has a little bit more flesh on it.
But whilst Child Of Light not may carry the sheer narrative depth of story of a 100 hour, £40 full RPG release, but there are few games out there that will provide you with such a polished, enchanting experience for £12. It's a must-play for fans of the genre, an unforgettably ethereal experience that seamlessly merges childhood nostalgia with its own gameplay innovations and unique, memorable style.
The Serpent's Curse will no doubt provide a great nostalgia trip for those who grew up on Nico and George's adventures, and it's a well executed and entertaining enough 9 or 10 hours with all the over-the-top, Indiana Jones-esque exploits we've come to expect from the franchise.
A slight dip in dialogue quality does not impede what is otherwise another sterling offering from Telltale, with the consistently slick visuals and soundtrack complemented by a nice increase in pace thanks to the clock mechanic and multiple choice locations. Whilst, as I've stated above, I do have some concerns about the long-term impact of my decisions in the game; the three-way choice of places to visit and the introduction of the clock countdown did at least give the central portion of this episodic narrative series at the very least an illusion of more depth and narrative flexibility. Whilst this is let down on occasion by apparently arbitrary sections of gameplay, the overall pacing of the story should leave players with a wolfish appetite for more.
The Lego Movie Videogame will certainly fill its niche well, and will undoubtedly prove hours of fun for kids, especially those who have seen and liked the film. It's colourful and appealing, with the usual excellent provision for co-op play and enough mini games and collectibles to fill out the game around the film's plot. For those who have been fans of earlier Lego titles, however, this iteration will surely feel just that little more rushed and that bit less polished that we have come to expect.
The Banner Saga is a challenging game that is as frustrating as it is rewarding. It has its flaws, but is overall a compelling, fantastically written and beautiful game that makes you care deeply about the actions you take, whilst reminding you powerfully of the thanklessness of leadership in a difficult and dangerous world. Depending on your decisions, the game takes around 7-15 hours to complete, and yet whilst the entire narrative may not be that long, it sucks you into its fantastical Norse would and leaves you wanting more by the end. Stoic has projected a trilogy of Banner Saga titles; if the sequels live up to this first episode, the series will no doubt have a dedicated and very well-deserved following able to more than live up to its Kickstarter campaign.
In general, Need For Speed: Rivals is a great addition to the genre for fans of racing games. The merging of single and multiplayer experience seems to be a strong feature of next-gen gaming, and something we can expect a lot more of over the next few years, and the game is visually pretty stunning even if you do play it on current gen consoles instead of the slicker PC and next-gen options. But this "next-gen" feel is far from perfect for the moment. The issues with always-online and the relative sparsity of human players on the map is something that would need to be improved to make this game exceptional, rather than just solid.
I really, really wanted to like Contrast, and in many ways it is a beautiful game. The thing is, though, that however great a wow-factor devleopers can create in visuals, in compelling story, and in atmospheric music, this cannot and should not come at the expense of enjoyable, inventive and functional gameplay. Unfortunately for Contrast, too much time appears to have been spent on polishing the look of the game, and far too little on polishing the actual gameplay.