The physical weights of the Chariot and the little Knight lugging it around are well considered, as are the tugging and jumping "feel" of things. That's a tough thing to do, especially when the idea is brand new. The tougher thing to do, proven here, is realizing the new concept into an entirely satisfying game.
'The Vanishing of Ethan Carter' is not a perfect game. It's an alarmingly creative step in the ongoing trek of telling stories through games. At times, I got lost, and some of the puzzles seem like the output of a developer running out of steam, but the core mechanics at play are always gravitating towards Ethan's trials as a kid struggling with family. Exploring these overgrown environments is a way to step into Ethan's lonesome shoes, solving the crimes show his fears and uncovering his stories meaning passing through the doomed optimism of a young, fertile mind. There's tragedy in the small and big moments alike. The framework for this story has been told before, but never like this, never in a way that only games can tell it. Supernatural indeed.
'Super Smash Bros. for 3DS' is all of the 'Super Smash Bros.' we've come to love somehow condensed into portable form. It's all there, it's online, it controls well and the roster is satisfying, deep and skillful. Whatever qualms I may have with the single-player modes (they serve their purpose as training grounds), or quips I may throw at the online offerings, the one thing I can say is this: the game feels good. I feel quick, I feel powerful, yet I feel challenged with every new opponent as we fight "For Glory." It's a testament to the balance at play, between speeds and characters, that I haven't found just one character I can't stand to fight against. There isn't a strategy I don't look forward to countering.
I could say a lot about the bizarreness of 'Hyrule Warriors.' I'd never have asked for the mashup, though never would have said no to it either. In the end, it came out pretty much as expected, with a whole lot of 'Zelda' love and a whole lot of minion murdering. The 'Dynasty Warriors' battlefield management style remains just as intriguing on the surface as it is repetitive and, ultimately, disappointingly shallow.
I still don't really know why anything I'm doing in 'Destiny' matters to the characters in the game, but I do know that getting a new gun and leveling up to 26 in preparation for the upcoming raid, or the weekly strikes, or the daily mission, or for the simple fact that I enjoy getting (admittedly generous) headshots on both the aliens and my fellow guardians, pushes me onward.
My qualms with the game's identity and lack of overt motivation likely signals a desire for more than what an arcade like title is meant to offer. Still, 'Velocity 2X' is impressive in its devotion to its namesake, and even more so in the advances it makes past the original title. Adding the sidescrolling segments was a risky idea that paid off, not because of sheer luck, but because the developer knew exactly how to accomplish that same feeling of speed and urgency on foot as in the void violent space. Not competency, but real talent in level design, highlights 'Velocity 2X' as a pristine example of the common "teach them, test them, then move on" theory of progression, all at a lightning-fast paced sure to go unmatched until the next of the series.
My overall negative attitude towards this episode exemplified in "The Game Itself" section is undoubtedly a little inflamed. The visual imagery actually hit some impressive highs, and the voice acting and musical backdrop did some excellent work to support the random plot, more than in past episodes, so the experience was lifted a bit by the team's artists. The writers, on the other hand, dropped the ball.
Not really a downside, but the overall familiarity of this table requires a stronger appreciation for the tribute aesthetics for prolonged enjoyment, especially for those who own the 'Plants vs. Zombies' table. Myself a fan of the goofy 'PvZ' turn, 'The Walking Dead' is darker, somber, atmospherically unique, nostalgic enough to put the sort of smile on my face only a recollection for horrified enjoyment of 'The Walking Dead: Season One' can bring. Lee and Clementine forever.
Gameplay-wise, I was happy with this episode as a function of my relief. The controller brought me back into the world a number of times, and I found myself thinking for Clementine in the quieter moments, instead of only allowing the game to think for her in the louder ones. On the story side of things, if it's Telltale's intention to replicate within me the frustrations of a zombie apocalypse, then they've recently hired a genius. An evil genius. I was driven to murder at any possible moment I could over the course of 'Amid the Ruins,' but I'm pretty sure it's not a good thing to turn sociopathic during what is supposed to be an emotional journey.
DrinkBox wants in on the very prestigious indie-darling club, and now players on a mess of platforms, including the Xbox One, are the benificaries. References strewn about the game are a calling card to DrinkBox's favorite developers in that club, like 'Journey' and 'Castle Crashers.' The game itself exists in adoration of Metroidvania classics. The thing is, DrinkBox only ever needed to create exactly this game for entry, because 'Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition' is its own insane, wild, extravagant, explosive, brilliant beast. It might draw from 'Metroid' and other games in a similar vein, but the pure and creative execution of those ideas, wrapped up in some Mexican glory, bow-tied with delicious melee action, makes 'Guacamelee!' a generation-crossing, 'Super Turbo Championship' classic.
I'll always play a 'Worms' game, as will many other fans, but 'Worms Battlegrounds' has found new and exciting ways to test that resolve. Graphically underwhelming, lazily constructed single-player, menus and online components and a general lack of enthusiastic will on behalf of the team create a haphazard experience, lows and highs often tumultuous in their transition. It might be ugly, but so is wormy warfare. I'm often happy to take the risk, but the real sin is sometimes I'll simply opt for another game, even when teleport guns and water-fuelled jetpacks could light my child mind's fancy. That's not the 'Worms' of old.
Considering that the majority of this review is spent going over the many marginal changes that accumulate to a massively entertaining whole, the bottom line is that 'Mario Kart 8' is 'Mario Kart,' just better, so the worst thing about 'Mario Kart 8' is it doesn't strive to reinvent much of anything. But then that's how the series has been ever since odd dog 'Double Dash' did its own thing.
Of Supergiant's two games, 'Transistor' is second-best. I'll always commend a studio for opting to be different, and in some ways it pays off for Supergiant, while in others it doesn't. The combat system is compelling at first, but generally not balanced enough to compel me to keep going in a second playthrough. The story is at first mysterious but eventually underwhelming, despite a strong emotional core in its two lead characters, and the city of Cloudbank shines brightly in just one way, and so feels dull after about an hour.
'Expedition,' with just three maps and nothing else for the game, is fulfilling only for those with bare expectations. However, two of the three maps are now among the best the game has to offer, which means that 'Titanfall' as whole is indeed improved. Between finding routes amongst the crowded forest of 'Swampland' and navigating the complex maze of 'War Games,' the already excellent gameplay takes turns exploring new, fun, and interesting directions, which is the best you can ask from new maps.
I don't need to be a passive viewer of any more zombie stories, especially in 'The Walking Dead' universe. The proof is in this episode's finale, which I conveniently forgot to mention until now. It's a brilliant scene, something I won't spoil, but it's brilliant because I was a part of it. Everything else uncomfortably unnerved me, I was watching a TV show with a dialogue wheel. I never touched the story, and so the story rarely touched me. That's the cost of promising a video game and delivering a script.
As 'Super Time Force' slowly crawled towards its eventually release, I remember seeing a couple of different mechanical iterations during public showings. At one point, saving a team member was more integral to success, and at another you could only rewind a certain amount of time. For many developers, indie or otherwise, one solid idea seems enough as the foundation for an entire game, but that game eventually suffers for the lack of follow through. Capybara Games made no such mistake, toiling over the finer details, delaying as they needed, to ensure 'Super Time Force' fulfilled tenets of surprising depth and ludicrous fun in a small but dense package.
It's hard to judge this game without taking strong notice of its position on the eShop. Were it free, I'd probably be much more receptive to the idea (like everything else on the planet), as in some ways it's a demo application with in-app purchases for the full titles. That's fine, but it still costs $15, and the only way to judge its content is to judge the way these titles are actually remixed and thrown together. The content itself is decades old.
I come away from 'Child of Light' more disappointed than unsatisfied. There is immense potential in Ubisoft's Framework development engine and the team behind it, and I hope they take this game as a lesson on the path to greater, more focused design. First, the gameplay is everything. The turn-based, timeline stuff is highly entertaining and, more importantly, different. Second, beautiful art doesn't make a well-constructed world. It helps, sure, but Aurora's adventure was back-dropped by a collection of still life portraits, not a living, breathing world. As a video game, you're missing the point if the player doesn't feel a part of a bigger universe. Third, poetry is for the poets.
Nintendo is on a bit of an odd streak lately. Donkey Kong and Mario wowed us on the Wii U, while Yoshi on the 3DS was a disappointment. Strong franchises are making more appearances than ever as the company seeks to stay strong in the wake of the struggling home console, so it's a fear that the once-foregone high quality of any Nintendo-bred title might dip. 'Yoshi's New Island' seemed to add weight to those fears, but Kirby's latest foray would seem to swallow them right back up.
Before putting the ribbon on things, there's a question of value on the table. Without online multiplayer of any sort, every PS4 owner with but one controller will be spending quite a bit of money to enjoy the majority of 'TowerFall Ascension's' value. Two controllers nets you the best of the Quest mode, while four controllers (and three willing friends) nets you the best of the multiplayer offerings. With one controller, you're basically a crab at a seahorse party. Make of that what you will.