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.
The Surge is a mix of interesting ideas and hiccups in execution. While there's no doubt that it will resonate with a specific, hardcore audience, it's missing just enough to alienate a generalized audience. Its combat is challenging, but not perfect; its story starts with a compelling hook but falls flat shortly after. There are echoes of something special running throughout The Surge, but it never escapes its own shadow.
The view from a sniper's scope has the potential to tell a compelling and meditative story about the nature of armed conflict without the boom and bravado of video game warfare. It can also magnify issues and expose glaring flaws. In the case of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, the later is true. It's a sloppy, uninspired game at its best. At its worst, it's -- to quote Jonathan North -- "one fucking long exercise in triage."
While it might seem easy to write Super Rude Bear Resurrection off as a 2D platformer that solely wants to make players die a shitload of time, that's hardly fair. Instead, it's much better to look at it as a game that encourages creativity and persistence. There's always a way forward or a secret exit down a hidden path. All you have to do is take a deep breath, keep trying, and maybe die more times than you care to admit.
Though The Sexy Brutale fumbles a few times -- especially near the end when it rushes toward a narrative payoff -- it never hurts the experience. Uncovering the mansion's secrets and the twisted plot that dooms its guests is exciting. Compared to almost any other puzzle game, The Sexy Brutale's dark tone and inspired art stand out from the crowd. Solving murder might not be the most cheerful work, but it's one hell of a good time.
All of this -- the unique pieces that make up Night in the Woods -- goes back to why it's so damn hard to define the game. There isn't an adequate term for titles that blend clunky platforming with choose-you-own-adventure friendship simulators. Nor is there a word to describe games that feature knife-fighting minigames and Guitar Hero-inspired band practices. But, again, maybe that's a big part of Night in the Woods' appeal. It's a confident outsider, and one that takes pleasure is celebrating the weird ways that everything comes together in life.
Like the way that the Ninth World rises from the ashes of other civilizations, Torment: Tides of Numenera is a layered experience. For role-players keen on experiencing a game of consequences and twisted fantasy, it's well worth the adventure.
Yakuza 0, much like its predecessors, has style for miles. Unlike previous games, however, Yakuza 0 comes out of the gate swinging, offering a more nuanced story and a strong, cohesive commitment to certain thematic elements. To sweeten the deal, Kamurocho and Osaka -- the game's main explorable cities -- are absolutely packed with diversions, collectables, and encounters. Yakuza 0 is the kind of game that you can spend eighty-some hours in without realizing a minute has passed.
Despite its brisk pace and sparse storytelling, Small Radios Big Televisions manages to feel like a complete handcrafted package. The game shines when you're weaving between corridors and virtual worlds hunting for keys to a mystery among forgotten places and glitchy spaces. Like any great mixtape, Small Radios is packed with moments worth remembering, even if feels like it should be just one song longer.
Rive wants to be special and challenging, but for all of its white-knuckled action, there’s little more than bombast. In the modern gaming lexicon, we tend to lump games into one of two categories: either they’re “awesome” or “awful.” Rive is neither. Instead, much like the majority of aging games it serves as a send up to, it’s completely and utterly average.