Fantasy stories have had their fill of the stereotypical creatures and heroes. Elves, orcs, mages, dwarves, warriors, kings, fairies — they’re all a dime a dozen. Similarly, the stories of Greek and Roman gods have been told and retold over and over again. But before playing Mulaka, I had never heard of the Tarahumara, an indigenous people of northwestern Mexico renowned for their long-distance running ability. Being introduced to that culture via this imaginative 3D action-adventure proved there are still new and rich fantasy worlds out there to explore.
Past Cure is full of promise. With a premise of mystery and intrigue, and haunting visuals, it’s no fault of anyone who starts this game thinking they will be transported into an action-packed thriller. Sadly, Past Cure is marred with monotone voice acting, unfocused game design, and writing that tries too hard. There are loads of great ideas, but they don’t fit together in a way that is satisfying and fun.
The Red Strings Club perfectly taps into the classic, underdog tales that permeated 80s cyberpunk literature. While the imagery in this game is less gritty than stories like "Johnny Mnemonic" or "El Pepenador," it takes the same deep philosophical approach about the future of humanity that has always been cyberpunk's trademark—and what a glorious tale the strings weave in this game.
The Dealer is back from the netherworld, ready to challenge anyone brave (or foolish) enough to sit down and play his game. Hand of Fate 2 brings many beloved elements from the first game, like The Dealer’s signature insults, with a few tweaks here and there to create a smoother, more intricate sequel. Half rougelike, half deck-building card game, Hand of Fate 2 keeps the same mechanics in place that make it so unique, but it’s not a game for everyone.
Hell is Empty was satisfying in the sense that it delivered something out of the pages of a crime drama, but as far as keeping continuity with itself and with the original game, the episode left much to be desired. These first two episodes leave such a strong emotional resonance that stick around long after they end and, unfortunately, episode three isn't on par.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm delivers another emotionally-charged episode in its second installment, Brave New World, hitting all the right narrative beats to set up players for a grueling journey in episode three—even if it's saving many key elements that tie into the original game for the final episode.
Hob is a rare gem. It has mass appeal, regardless of preferred genre or style. It’d be hard to come out of the experience of playing and not loving at least one thing about the game. I didn’t have a full understanding of the conflict of this world at the beginning, yet the sheer beauty of it compelled me forward. I didn’t understand who the protagonist was or why the robot friend was so gallant, but it sacrificed a piece of itself to save the protagonist—that’s enough of a reason to finish the journey and help put the world back in order.
There are several mechanical issues that make the game annoying to play on occasion, but not enough to break the game altogether. Those who are looking for compelling characters and a rich story might be disappointed, but those who like simple, mafia-type adventures and steampunk might be satisfied. EMPYRE: Lords of the Sea Gates is an easy entry into the isometric RPG genre for newcomers, but has enough interesting features for those familiar with the genre to consider checking it out.
In all, Planet of the Eyes is by all accounts a carefully crafted game. It’s clear that the developers put a lot of time and thought into everything from the art, to the narration, to the gameplay. But its greatest shortcoming is that it’s not a longer game. The game provides a satisfying experience overall, but not the emotional resonance. At the same time, however, there is beauty in its subtle narrative. How you feel about the game will come down to this: if you are a novel-person or a short story-person.
Chloe is me. She’s you. She’s so many other teens of today and throughout time. She is one of the most fully-realized characters in modern video games, and I can’t wait to see what the next episode has in store for her and Rachel.