Not since Deadly Premonition has a game achieved cult status like Goat Simulator has. Following a similar so-bad-it's-good formula, it's as absurd as the title implies and charmingly embraces all of its flaws. For that reason, you can't take it too seriously. It's a messy but momentarily enjoyable experience that gratuitously delivers more gamerscore, but as soon as you're done with seeing what it has to offer -- Easter eggs, achievements, and a few good laughs -- there's no reason to return. Pack your bags and head out of Goatville with nothing but a hat collection and weird memories in tow.
Contrary to popular belief, chameleons actually change colors based on emotions. Like those lizards, my time with Spy Chameleon was colored by feelings, too: of satisfaction when I'd finally overcome a persistent problem, which is the driving force behind any good puzzle game, of frustration from out of place level spikes, and of disappointment with an anticlimactic final few levels. At its best, the game is a worthy challenge for anyone who appreciates a video game just being a video game. With its classic arcade gameplay, cheap pricetag, almost no loading screens whatsoever, and its one-more-try mentality, Spy Chameleon would feel right at home on mobile and tablets if it weren't so reliant on pinpoint controls that touchscreens just can't provide. Fortunately the analog sticks and color-coded face buttons on the Xbox One controller fit the game like the titular hero's mask and the end result is a sneakily good puzzler.
If you're a fan of strategy games, there's a lot to enjoy in Massive Chalice. The combat demands you play smartly, which doesn't always mean conservatively. It's visually appealing and carries with it the charm that all Double Fine games have been known for. It's also not as difficult as other similar strategy titles which can make it more accessible, though the menus and new concepts are still rather daunting if you aren't a genre veteran. The Bloodline system never fully achieves what it set out to do, which, as its selling point, is its biggest disappointment. While it lacks the depth it initially promises, the system still plays a crucial role in the outcome of your centuries long war. Decisions you make early on will impact the tide of war decades later. It's just too bad all those people growing up under your command ultimately die without their story ever really being told. This is by no means a must-play if you aren't a strategy fan, but those who do frequent the genre should consider Massive Chalice a flawed but worthwhile addition to their Keep.
My time with The Swindle was littered with failure. I blame myself for plenty of those attempts, but the game roots against you in a way that's nearly unrivaled in the past two decades of video games. Not since the Wet Bandits attempted to invade the McCallister residence has burglary gone so laughably wrong. Yet still, it had its moments and surely there are those that will appreciate this sort of beating more than I did. Perhaps it hearkens back to a time when games didn't hold our hands as much, and if that's the case, perhaps I've been coddled by quick-time events and cutscenes that do the hard stuff for me. I don't believe that's the case, though. 2015 is my 20th year as a gamer and I have played few games that challenge your patience as much as The Swindle. Maybe the game's robots have achieved sentience and human-like emotions. That would explain all the menacing satisfaction they seem to derive out of my failure.
The zombie subgenre is plagued with tropes. Movies, books, games, whatever format in which they're found, the undead just seem to feast on cliches. The better of those stories still insert something new to the landscape, though, and Zombi doesn't really do that. Managing your backpack and scanning environments for supplies and routes might have been fun on the second screen of a WiiU, but on Xbox One those features are watered down to just another mini-map and inventory menu. If that's what ZombiU added to the genre, then Zombi isn't left with much to hang its hat on. What does remain are genuinely tense interactions with the undead, at least, and the difficulty of survival is well executed. Ultimately, however, that's the case for a dozen other similar games, many of which do a lot of other things better than Zombi. At times it felt deserving of a score slightly higher or much lower than the one you see below, but ultimately, with a little getting used to, it's a functional but unpolished experience shambling down the streets of London.
With just two hours of content and gameplay that never challenges you, plenty of people will dismiss Whispering Willows and never think twice about it. That's maybe not such a bad thing as it definitely isn't for everybody. It acts as an example as to why the Ouya didn't last. This was one of the better received games in the console's short lifespan and it fails to stand up to a lot of games within its own genre on the major consoles and PC. I do genuinely love the game's message overall, however. It gives a voice to a people so rarely represented in video games and does so within a story that's worth seeing. Despite its dark tone and serious subject matter, one word keeps returning to me when I think back on Whispering Willows, and that's 'charming'. It's flawed, and brief, and unchallenging, but so too is it engaging, and mysterious, and charming. Among so many other lost souls in the Willows Mansion, the ghost of the Ouya lives on.
Crimsonland is what people who don't play video games think video games are. It's full of combat that is bloody, violent, and lacking any motive or reason. You can't really call it mindless, though, because it does take a lot of strategy to get through the more difficult levels. Before games tried taking on Hollywood like they do now, there were many more titles like Crimsonland, games that exist simply as games, and there's nothing wrong with that if that's what appeals to you. The mechanics and gameplay hold up over time, it's very challenging, and the couch co-op and survival modes give it longevity. Just understand that Crimsonland often feels more at home on the first Xbox rather than the Xbox One.
Naysayers of their formula won't be quieted with another game in Telltale's library that has especially little to offer for major player choices, but fans who have so far enjoyed their style of video game will absolutely enjoy this one, even if they aren't a Borderlands fan. It's the best Borderlands story told so far. More startlingly, it's the best Telltale story told so far, and should, with any luck, provoke a rise in the ripe genre of comedy video games.
Like a lot of licensed games, there are very distinct levels of enjoyment to be had. If you're a fan of adventure gaming, pointing and clicking through puzzles and looking for clues, Investigations is a respectable callback to that era and whose fault might be in leaving the IP's younger fans behind. If you're a fan of the series, it's an inelegant trip into the peculiar land of Ooo that saves itself by adoring the series as much as the fans who might play it. Surely the folks in the middle of that Venn Diagram will get the most out of Finn and Jake Investigations and those who fall completely outside of it can save their dosh and skip the game entirely.