Francesco De Meo
Darkest Dungeon is a roguelike that even those who don't like the genre might enjoy, thanks to a challenging yet fair experience, a charmingly dark atmosphere and a superb presentation. Some procedurally generated elements may not sit well with some, but Darkest Dungeon is so well crafted that it's easy to look past them.
The Deadly Tower of Monsters manages to capture B-movie aesthetics perfectly, but ends up falling short due to performance issues on PlayStation 4 and a flawed execution of its gameplay features. The hilarious commentary, however, can be more than enough to make players forget about all of the game's shortcomings.
The Witness is an excellent puzzle game, featuring many complex yet fair puzzles, a great atmosphere, an interesting narrative method and a lot of content. With no handholding whatsoever, The Witness certainly is not a game for everyone, but those who are up to the challenge will feel enriched once they solve most of the puzzles included in the game. After all the delays, Jonathan Blow and his crew fully delivered.
Layers of Fear is an experience that no fan of the horror genre should pass on. With its unnerving atmosphere, engaging plot/characters and psychedelic visions, Layers of Fear invites players to a nightmare they won't be forgetting anytime soon (though the linear gameplay won't be etched in their memories).
Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders is a very enjoyable point and click adventure game featuring a varied gameplay experience, a good plot, charming characters and great atmosphere. The game's short length and low challenge level, however, prevent it from being anywhere near a masterpiece. Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders is not a game that will blow your mind, but if you're looking to spend a few hours with an enjoyable adventure title then it's definitely the game for you.
As the first episode of a new series, In Too Deep is a very strong start. The gameplay formula isn't any different from past The Walking Dead games, sure, but Michonne is a great character and the story has the potential to be very good. Unfortunately, the first episode has no real story payoff, due to how the whole series is structured, so it will be Episode 2 and 3 that will make The Walking Dead Michonne great, or just another adventure game based on a popular franchise.
Alekhine's Gun comes with an interesting story and some decent gameplay mechanics which are ruined by sub-par execution. The lack of features that are standard in modern video games such as auto-save and the ability to skip cutscenes, sluggish performance, convoluted controls and mediocre gunplay are just some of the most glaring issues of the game. More development time might have made Alekhine's Gun a better game, but in its current state and with a full price tag, the game is hardly worthy of anyone's time.
Kholat is a very interesting first person survival horror game that sadly fails to deliver on all of its promises due to an unfocused storytelling style, which doesn't take full advantage of its mysterious premise. A tighter storytelling would have served the game greatly, as its survival mechanics are among the more interesting of recent times. A quality title, without a doubt, but definitely polarizing and not for everyone.
With a very well written story, engaging gameplay experience and high production values, Republique is a game no fan of adventure games should pass on. Some small issues, like a noticeable quality drop in Episode 4, unfortunately prevent it from being a complete masterpiece. Highly recommended.
The Walking Dead Michonne Episode 2 Give No Shelter definitely feels like an improvement over the first episode at first glance, thanks to a much faster and action packed experience. Unfortunately, little development for new character and villains prevent it from actually being better than the previous episode. Both episodes have some very good features and a few flaws, so only Episode 3 will allow us to pass a final judgement on the whole series.
With its interesting fairy tale feel and engaging mix old and modern gameplay mechanics, Stories: The Path Of Destinies is a love letter to action role playing games of years past. The unique narrative style, the choices system and smooth battle system are quite engaging during the first playthroughs, but the limited amount of content eventually makes the game feel a little repetitive. Even with its issues, however, Stories: The Path Of Destinies is a game that's very well worth the time of action RPG fans.
With a frenetic gameplay experience, a vast array of customization features, engaging online multiplayer, a good amount of content and very solid performance, Alienation is one of the best shooter games released this year on all formats. The lack of offline co-op might be a detriment for those who don't like to play online, but this is the only flaw of a really solid package. Housemarque definitely capitalized on years of experience, releasing a shooter that's nothing short of impressive.
The Walking Dead Michonne Episode 3: What We Deserve confirms all the issues that have emerged in the previous episodes. With very little character development for secondary characters and villains, uneven pacing, and short total play time, The Walking Dead Michonne fails to become a truly compelling experience. There are moments of brilliance, but they're overshadowed by the need to end the story as quickly as possible due to the shortened format. Entertaining, but hardly memorable.
With its excellent side-scrolling platforming based experience, smooth battle system, intriguing narrative style, excellent graphics and high replay value, Shadow of the Beast is definitely a quality product. The lack of originality and somewhat unresponsive controls will be issues for some, but the well designed experience makes it easy to get past them.
Shadwen is a competent and somewhat enjoyable stealth game, but not exactly memorable. While the core experience and some of its mechanics, such as the time manipulation mechanics, are quite well done, the game suffers from a general lack of polish, an average last-gen presentation and a rather limited amount of content. When Shadwen works, however, it works well, so Frozenbyte definitely has a good starting point for a potential sequel.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter is a competent adventure game featuring a varied and well crafted gameplay experience, charming characters and engaging stories. The game still suffers from some issues, such as the the trial and error nature of the action sequences and the excessively long load times, which prevent it from being really great. With a few adjustments and improvements, the Sherlock Holmes formula could become the standard for adventure games of the future, as achieving such gameplay variety is no small feat. Highly recommended to fans of the series and adventure games' fans.
Dead Island Definitive Collection is a competent collection which vastly improves the two Dead Island games included, adding a third game which can be fun in short bursts. Both Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide never looked better, with a slew of technical enhancements and solid performance which makes revisiting both titles quite enjoyable. Most the gameplay issues, however, haven't been addressed, so those who couldn't stand the original releases won't change their opinions with the remastered releases. Solid games, for sure, but not for everyone.
7 Days to Die features a very interesting mix of role playing games and survival games mechanics, with customization possibilities and multiplayer features deepening the experience considerably. Sadly, everything is damaged by the horrible interface and menu system, a sub-par presentation, some serious technical issues and a general lack of focus. The "make as you go" type of experience offered by 7 Days to Die is definitely intriguing, but when you're fighting the menus more than the undead, something must have gone terribly wrong along the way.
Song of the Deep is a very nice Metroidvania game featuring a huge map to explore, plenty of secrets to discover, and a huge array of different situations and puzzles which make the experience incredibly varied. Other highlights are its beautiful presentation, seamless storytelling style and excellent soundtrack/voice acting. Some irritating puzzles, made so by physics, mediocre boss battles and a few performance hiccups are just minor issues and, thankfully, they are not enough to make this beautiful song go out of tune. Highly recommended to Metroidvania fans and to all those who enjoy well crafted experiences.
Necropolis is an interesting dungeon crawler that sadly fails to live up to its full potential due to a severe lack of content and sense of progression. The game isn't exactly bad, as there are some interesting ideas, but it features so little incentive to play again that most will end up abandoning it after a few runs. Co-op is just not enough to salvage the whole experience. With such glaring issues, Necropolis is definitely not worth its full price tag for the moment being.