I wanted Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4 to make me feel like Spider-Man: To sail between the highrises of New York City, to nimbly web up hordes of enemies, and tussle with familiar, animal-themed villains. Insomniac Games' first foray into the world of Marvel handily delivers on all of that. But what I didn't expect from Spider-Man was to come away feeling just as fulfilled to have inhabited the life of Peter Parker. Aside from a few odd pacing issues, which momentarily took me out of the experience of being a superhero, and a world of optional missions that don't always quite live up to the heft of the main story, Insomniac has delivered a Spider-Man story that both surprised and delighted me, coupled with gameplay that made me feel like Spider-Man nearly every step of the way. The Wall Crawler's open world doesn't consistently deliver the thrilling moments of its main campaign, but the foundation laid here is undoubtedly a spectacular one.
I didn't want the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy to break what wasn't broken. Thankfully, Vicarious Visions clearly didn't want to either, and the studio's reverence for the original maddening yet rewarding challenges that have stood the test of time is clearly on display. On one hand, that leads to the frustrating limitations of the original Crash Bandicoot persisting 20 years later. But it also results in the incredible visual and aural overhaul and the gameplay tweaks to earlier entries, like time trials and crate counters, that Naughty Dog added later in the series. Those additions make the overall package so much more cohesive while never forgetting what made, and what still makes, so much of Naughty Dog's original trilogy a blast to play.
“From the Gallows” makes good on the gamble of season 3 in shifting focus to a new main character and making me care about Javi as much as I cared for Lee and Clem back in season 1. The fifth episode encompasses both what worked and didn't about A New Frontier — namely, the ideas of allegiance, love, and family for the former and erratic pacing and an inability to make the overarching story of much interest in the latter. But the season finale spends much more time on those successful aspects, capping A New Frontier in satisfying fashion while setting up a potentially exciting continuation down the road.
"Thicker Than Water," other than its satisfying ending, is the season's weakest episode yet. Little that precedes the action-packed conclusion feels like it has much, if any, weight to the ongoing story I'm invested in — namely Javi's life and his relationships with Kate, Clem, and David. I'm absolutely on the hook for the season finale after that strong start and thrilling ending — I just wish everything before it hadn't felt so thin.
Despite a lackluster ending to "Above the Law," A New Frontier's third episode kept me invested in Javi's story, if not the plot as a whole. I'm a bit more wary heading into the latter half of the season after the jarring number of character entrances and exits in this episode, but if the strong character work continues, I'm more than willing to roll through the bumps of this mid-season episode. Telltale has found a sharp lens in Javi through which to analyze the ideas of family as bonds we're forced into and choose to make ourselves. And he's a lens, even in the season's weakest moments, I still find myself wanting to help survive.
With a clever idea for 2D physics-based puzzle solving and a bright and colorful personality, Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together! is a good experience by yourself and a great one with friends. Solving every puzzle won’t take too long, but Snipperclips is continuously clever in its puzzle design and adorably fun to watch play. It left me eagerly waiting to reunite more frogs, put together more cat puzzles, and solve whatever other odd challenges developer SFB Games might have in mind.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is the most far-reaching package of content in the franchise, stretching from the series’ earliest moments all the way to its most recent, but an understanding of its scope requires some history with Kingdom Hearts lore. And because much of it touches on familiar territory, as a whole it lacks an essential feeling that the main numbered entries and spinoffs (like Birth By Sleep) evoke. A Fragmentary Passage is a truly exciting glimpse through the door to Kingdom Hearts’ future. That look ahead is a wonderful appetizer for what’s to come, but hopefully that tease, along with the rest of the tablet setting done here, doesn’t make the wait for the full course that is Kingdom Hearts 3 more difficult in the long run.
It’s still a little disconcerting to still not have a clear idea where the season as a whole will be heading, but moment-to-moment, Season 3 of Telltale’s Walking Dead continues to deliver some of the impressive world-building and characterization that made me love the series when it first premiered. I feel a part of Javi and Clementine’s plight, and though I hope the rest of the season can avoid some of the familiar Telltale and Walking Dead formula trappings that Episode 2 fell into and to keep surprising me, I’m still invested in finding out what’s next. Especially with a little more context for the New Frontier revealed, Telltale is starting to better lay out all the logs it has to build a cabin. I just hope the rest of the structure is as strong as the foundation.
I don’t have a clear sense of where the season as a whole aims to go just yet, but “Ties That Bind Part I” is one of Telltale’s strongest openers in recent memory. Scenes feel carefully constructed in their camera direction and editing, and Telltale avoids the pitfalls of its most egregious past issues — only one environmental exploration sequence temporarily slows things down — but for the most part the episode moves along at an exceptional clip. But that’s not just thanks to Part I’s style. Smart characterization and writing for Javi and his family, plus the return of Clementine, add weight to a largely unfamiliar but already engaging new frontier that I can’t wait to continue to explore.