But for what it is, Back 4 Blood proves that what made Left 4 Dead good is still a lot of fun, even if this new iteration doesn't make use of every innovative convention to spring up since the series' original release. And there's something to be said for aging gracefully and not shoehorning in everything at once. As the old plastic surgery adage goes, sometimes it's best not to remake but maintain.
No Man's attempt to save Miss Mass from being murdered, and its implications for the universe, so brilliantly mirror the self-indulgence of a tragic romance. To the people in a relationship, everything is the start of something big and meaningful, like an entire universe forming, exploding, and expanding outward. What is it that sparks abiogenesis? What is it that sparks love? Are both an accident of proximity and fire? These questions aren't necessarily answered in Genesis Noir. But the asking is beautiful all the same.
A good horror game can make rifling through old postcards and personal letters a compelling experience. But The Medium seems entitled, in that it expects me to be titillated by its character design and atmosphere but won't give me enough context to actually care about them. Between that and its tired puzzle-based progression barriers and dull character powers, The Medium fails to justify its existence.
Between the lack of marketing leading up to its release, its poor pacing, and the thin writing and investigation mechanics, Twin Mirror smacks of a game that just wasn't given enough time. With some polish on the game's earlier moments and more thoughtful dialogue, it could have stood a real chance. Unfortunately, between the stilted narrative development, cheerless puzzles, and wooden, small-town cliches, there's less here than whatever remains of Sam's journalistic career.
It's not a terribly long game, but neither should it be. Kill It With Fire's short gameplay matches its light tone, and keeps the premise from wearing out its welcome. Despite its low stakes, it is high spirited, and about as complicated and deep as it needs to be. If you've ever wanted to upend furniture and mow down a hedge maze just to get a spider, you'll feel personally targeted by this one. It's revenge fantasy chicken soup for the arachnophobic soul.
As much as I'd like to see the full Pokédex in a Pokémon game, what would be the point? Every Pokémon deserves a detailed treatment, and Sword and Shield don't achieve that. It's nice to hunt Pokémon in a more expansive playfield and I plan to completely fill out the rosters on both games. But its potential remains not entirely realized, as tantalizingly out of reach as our ability to catch 'em all.
Obsidian is on to something good with The Outer Worlds. The writing has an irresistible humanity, and the factions, skill system, and dynamic companion interactivity offer a beautifully complicated depth that makes me mourn the loss of Fallout 4 all over again. With it, I don't have to miss Fallout: New Vegas anymore—I can just enjoy what its core features have become. So far, this new horizon looks promising.
It's a shame that Borderlands and I are no longer a good fit. What I miss most of all is its personality. The aesthetic and surface changes to the series don't make it a stranger; the change in temperament does. We just don't have as many laughs as we used to. Better to cut things off now, and remember the relationship for what it once was, because it doesn't get any better from here.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a stylish detour that allows the series to safely explore some new directions while setting the scene before the next game. But it's not taking the risks where it really counts. In an era where right-wing extremism is an increasing threat, and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred, the visible politics of Wolfenstein can't shoulder the weight of the game alone.
Far Cry never felt like just a shooter or just another open world game to me, but rather, a combination of many genres that offered balance between the cozier, more relaxing parts of the game and the high stakes, overstimulating pace of the main storyline. I guess maybe that's why, as I approached this review in the wake of Far Cry 5, I oddly felt the need to pin it to a single identity. I'm disappointed to see the series scale back at the expense of other features but New Dawn does a fine job of reinforcing that creative decision and offers some small hope that the writing may continue to improve. If outposts are your favorite part of the series, then you'll likely enjoy Far Cry New Dawn.
That being said, Life is Strange 2 boldly covers subject matter that so often is tiptoed around or completely ignored in entertainment, and it's refreshing to see the studio address topics like racism and police brutality head-on. While I'd like to see some technical aspects polished up (the facial animations still lack a decent range of expression, for example), Episode 1 is a solid start on this new saga in the series. I look forward to seeing what becomes of the Diaz brothers as they continue to head towards Mexico over the course of the next four episodes.
Give me a female lead who wakes up, pisses out her diaphragm and does a shot of Jager while she's still on the toilet. Give me someone who is messy, who makes mistakes not out of a misguided and entitled sense of right and wrong, but because human beings are flawed and have complicated motivations. It's a tall order in an atmosphere where AAA games are designed just as much by their investors as they are their writers, but in the case of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I still wish they'd actually get their hands dirty.
As a first-party Nintendo game, it's entirely possible my expectations were a little too high going into the game. That said, it didn't feel worth the storage space it took up on my SD card, even though I got it for free. The game aims for surreal and surprising, but just feels shallow. Desperate to find something nice to say about WarioWare Gold, I even tried the "kid test" and ran it by my young niece.
These days, with all the focus on online multiplayer, it's not as easy to find a satisfying couch co-op game, especially one that can be enjoyable across several age groups. Playing such a good one reminds me of how much more spirited a game feels when you can feed off the other players' energy in person. Overcooked 2 should be cherished, even if it's exhausting and threatens to tear your family apart.
Things do pick up once the matches get serious. The variations in each level are a great change of pace, and cycling through the power moves and special shots can be really satisfying once you built up the dexterity and reflexes to pull them off. It's just such a shame that you have to skip through so much of the game just to play it. When I actually get to play Mario Tennis Aces, I really enjoy it. But it lacks the luster of that high quality Nintendo shine.