- Xenoblade Chronicles
- Pokemon Emerald
As its own scenario, its own experiment, it’s own idea of how to raise tension and adrenaline. Outpacing giants on horseback, tricking monsters off ledges or into traps, and weaving through the woods and mountains and deserts and piecing together what once was, is just as magical as it ever was. Bluepoint found one of the most unique atmospheres of isolation in exploration in gaming, and managed to keep it intact as they rebuilt Shadow of the Colossus; by mountain, by forest, by titanic hulking beast.
The jump to the Switch isn’t perfect, and does in fact damage the experience in some small ways. But ways regardless, Superbeat Xonic is still a damn fine rhythm game to take with you on the go, wherever you might need to scream in frustration at a dance synth track with an anime girl on the cover.
Episode 3 doesn’t fail at what it’s trying to do, but what it’s trying to do is starting to get a little dull.
LawBreakers is good. But it doesn’t feel polished to the level that frequent online shooter players have come to expect. It’s character design philosophy is often at odds with the design of its levels and game modes, and while that doesn’t completely bite away at the fun, it does do damage to what is otherwise a technically well-conceived package.
Pyre’s storytelling, fantasy-sports action RPG combat, grand sense of journeymanship and exquisite soundtrack all harmonize into a classical fable of a game that begs replays upon completion. I saved the Moonstruck girl with no name first of all, and saw the effect her absence left on each and every exile thereafter. Next time through, she’s going to stick around until the bitter end. Pyre is a thousand-stranded story. It ends in essentially the same place no matter what, but it hits the mark a lot of choice-based games miss. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.
Nintendo managed to rebalance the game without having to make any changes to main weapons that would trip up veteran players of the first game. Stages are similarly tweaked, often a bit more close-quarters before. In service of one of my biggest letdowns from the first game, Splatoon 2‘s single-player mechanics even show up in some multiplayer maps.
Watching resources flourish, trades get made between the colony and those in space, and winters get survived through is all satisfying. But it’s satisfying in the way that a 10-hour work day is. It’s satisfying; because you feel like you’ve accomplished something, but not because you’ve actually enjoyed the journey there. You’re satisfied because it’s over, more than anything.
Maybe a bit closer to home, it’s the game equivalent of getting one of those acoustic guitars that’s all plastic on the back. It’s serviceable for giving your hands something to do, but try to take that thing on a gig and you’re just going to get laughed at.
I am continuously impressed by the personal emotional depths TellTale is willing to dive into with each character. I would argue that this is Rocket’s episode more than anyone’s. He gets a lengthy flashback sequence, which invested me as far into his character as two films managed to do, if not more. Drax and Gamora also show the first seeds of major character arcs that I’m hopeful to see in future episodes.
Listening to Renee’s story has all the intrigue and depth of a slab of concrete where an in-ground pool used to be. The engine seems to be tearing itself apart at the seams. It’s shoddy enough to throw me into a completely different version of an event, all without ever explaining what the differences mean.
Imagine you stand in front of a kitchen table. The only things on this table are three cute little mice. Aww. Hey there, little guys. You are tasked with keeping these three mice from crawling off the table. Okay, you might imagine, easy enough. But oh wait, there’s a catch; you can’t just stand with your feet on the floor. The floor is lava.
Episode 1 of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series isn’t part of the movie universe, and doesn’t try to be. It’s characters, mostly, take more cues from film than page, but the story itself is uninhibited by any existing canon. I entered worrying Telltale might try too hard to tie this closely to what we already know, and exited laughing at myself.
Antagonist is a mess of a human who just really, really wants you to laugh at its jokes and care about the story it wants to tell. It has nothing else left. Its wife left, took the kids and the dog, and kicked it out of the house. Now it sleeps on couches and remembers when it made her laugh on their first dates, when things were easy. Easy like every writing choice this game makes.
It’s quite something to play a leg of the game where Mae finds out the local Italian restaurant is closing to her utter dismay, and to then turn off my console and go to a meeting of my college newspaper where we have to discuss writing an article about the landmark hobby shop in town closing its doors after 25 years. For a world filled with cartoon animal characters, Night in the Woods is actually one of the most stark, realistic depictions of a non-landmark city part of America I’ve seen in a game.
Shift Happens isn’t a bad co-op experience, not at all. But its modes make it a frustrating one. The game sports solid puzzle design consistently, and couch co-op is a blast (albeit a sometimes antagonistic one, though all’s fair in love and war).