When it comes story-driven experiences such as this, gameplay is often a secondary concern. Puzzles and mechanics are often uncomplicated, going so far as to become simply linear interactive experiences colloquially known as “walking simulators.” Bound’s approach is a beautiful and fluid one, as all of the movement and combat — if it can be called that — are carried out through dance. You’ll forgive me if I lack the collective dance terminology to correctly ascribe to the movements, but the characters leaps, twirls and slides through with a casual grace, and mostly with a feathery weight. It’s gorgeous, and the transitions are flawless, though sometimes slow.
Each nod to a title of JRPG yore is an acknowledgment of sampling from something fantastic. I am Setsuna is the sampler platter at your favorite restaurant. Not the one that gives you three tiny mozzarella sticks and a soggy onion ring – no, the place that puts a heaping of one of your favorite dishes in the center and surrounds them with generous quantities of the best of the menu. You know, the $20 appetizer tray that everyone can eat from. It’s not the full meal, but you can experience a taste of everything fantastic the chef has to offer.
Homefront: The Revolution's development history is a troubled one, filled with financial issues, switching of studios, and team shake-ups. Considering this was a sequel already built on a faulty foundation, the signs did not bode well for this entry in the series. And indeed, the end product isn't a good one. The trouble with it is that it's not an entirely bad one either. For all the numerous faults, both on the creative and technical side, there's a good game hiding somewhere inside; a good game that simply can't overcome all the negatives weighing it down.
DOOM 2016, whether you call it an expansion of existing lore or a rebooting of the story for a modern audience, is a good game. It's not great though, as the run-and-gun pace and gore can only sustain gameplay for so long in a limited setting. It makes up for some of the repetitiveness, however, by providing fast and often tense battles that, even on the PS4, maintain a mostly high framerate.
The series is known for its humor and weaponry and both are used to great effect here. Qwark and his sidekicks, along with the enemies, all have fun personalities amplified by clever writing and excellent voice performances. Though the game relies heavily on combat along with its platforming, it's a family friendly game in both action and character presentation.
Misery loves company. And many companies are loving misery these days. Two of the most famous pieces of media currently, Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, originate in literature, both have adventure game series created by Telltale Games, and both exemplify this line of thinking. They each delight in making their fanbases miserable. In the books (graphic novels) and on the television shows, your favorite families are torn apart and scattered across the world, and your favorite characters are murdered, sometimes seemingly on a whim.
This all sounds like a lot of harping on a series that I feel has been nearly brilliant up to this point, and one that I still recommend highly despite my feelings about its closing presentation. I recognize that not only is life strange, but so are expectations. Undoubtedly this will not meet some people's. "Polarized" indeed.
It comes down to what you're looking for in a game. If you enjoy challenge, I think you'll find the game to have that for you at times. It rewards exploration with powers and life upgrades, but punishes it with a singular checkpoint system. It's short in length, depending on your skill set, or recognition of possible patterns in boss fights. Their use of lore is appropriate and measured, but again, being a short experience, most players will want more of it. The visual style is an impressive feat from a small team, but for my tastes needed some additional refinement. But that strong Icelandic voice over is all win.