The Witness has a power and pull that carried me throughout the more than 40 hours it took to complete it for the first time, and that, even now, beckons me back to confront the mysteries I left unsolved. Its graceful combination of tangible goals, obscurity, and freedom creates ample opportunity for small victories and grand revelations alike. For the most part, its themes weave themselves beautifully throughout the gorgeous world and wide variety of puzzles, but even when it breaks subtlety in favor of a more heavy-handed approach to exposition, it never detracts from the truly fulfilling moments The Witness offers in terms of solving its physical puzzles and unlocking its deepest mysteries.
Layers of Fear lacks the surprises and subtlety needed to keep things interesting all the way through. It makes a strong first impression, but quickly exhausts its best ideas, making it hard for them to really shine as scary or meaningful moments. It's hard to be terrified when you can see what's coming at the end of every long dark hallway.
Devil Daggers' stripped-down and distilled essence of first-person shooter intensity will take up a lot of my time in the weeks to come. Every second longer that I survive in its hellish arena is a new record for myself to break, over and over again. It's a brutal, but brilliant shooter that finds strength in its minimalism, stretching a few seconds of action here and there into endless hours of dreadful fun.
Like the chess move it's named after, Alekhine's Gun puts its pieces in the right places, but then it fails to follow through with any quality or grace. It's hard to feel accomplished after pulling off a clean kill when the targets lack the competence to even defend themselves.
If Dark Souls 3 truly is the last in the series as we know it, then it's a worthy send-off. Weapon arts allow stylish and versatile new moves without tarnishing the purity of the combat system. Lothric's awe-inspiring locations provide visually stunning arenas for rigorous exploration and fierce face-offs with hosts of deadly enemies and even deadlier bosses. While not all the risky changes land as neatly as others, Dark Souls 3 is a powerful journey and the sequel the series truly deserves.
Despite some inconsequential decision-making and visual roughness, the amount of heart, character, and unflinching honesty in 1979 Revolution’s short two-hour tale is impressive. As an Iranian-American myself, it’s incredibly refreshing to not only see this subject matter explored, but done so in a smart and sensitive way that succeeds in educating as much as entertaining.