Absolver's sure to be divisive. There's a clear vision that shines throughout the game. Its combat system encourages a granular knowledge of the different moves and potential combos that stem from each directional stance. But while the appeal will be apparent to the competitive-minded player, Absolver's pointed focus is complex enough to turn others away. The journey from lowly Prospect to Absolver is arduous and challenging, but it's hardly inviting.
Darkwood does a great job of showing off its weird, unsettling world, but it struggles to tell players what they have to do. The woods are home to secrets and terrible truths alike. Though it falls short of reaching its full potential, mostly due to questionable controls and cumbersome combat, this horror game is worth the experience on the merits of its haunting atmosphere alone.
By the time Death of the Outsider comes to a close, Billie's gone through the ringer. It's not the longest expansion out there, and it seems to miss a step or two in the main plot, but there's more than enough for anyone who appreciated the moment-to-moment formula of Dishonored 2. Billie Lurk never had it easy, but after her last job, it's finally time to rest. And that's more than a fitting farewell for one of the best video game franchises in recent memory.
.hack//G.U. Last Recode's intended audience is almost certainly established fans. It's a solid remaster that looks great and runs smoothly. But it's still a dated JRPG that dominates dozens of hours with sub-par combat and repetitive beats. If you have never experienced The World, it's unlikely that Last Recode will pull you in. For those that never wanted to log out, it's a decent way to reconnect.
Still, there's something whimsical and endearing that drives Battle Chef Brigade forward. Across seven-to-ten hours, Mina and her cooking companions grow on you. Charming characters and a unique blend of gameplay systems create for an alluring little game that's simple fun throughout.
The Red Strings Club comes full circle. It ends almost exactly where it begins. Brandeis is still falling. He's still going to collide with the ground. His fate's sealed. But that doesn't really matter. In The Red Strings Club, it's how you arrive at a moment that stands out.
So much can happen in Rust over the course of a week. Overcoming the elements is no small task in and of itself, and the game's punishing survival systems make it hard to recommend to everyone. But for those who are willing to put the time in and stick with it, Rust provides both a social sandbox and a deep, functioning crafting system. At times, it feels like anything is possible in Rust; like witnessing players double-crossing one another or stumbling upon a small sheet metal city in the desert. You just have to accept that nothing is permanent on the player-driven island. And sooner or later, you have to build everything back up again.
Though it has some rough edges, including occasional script-related issues and town-wide events that seem to ignore changes players have enacted around the village, Gleaner Heights has enough content to make it feel like an instant cult classic.