As a veteran returning to play through the three games of BioShock: The Collection is a pleasure, but it’s a bit disappointing to watch the updates and behind-the-scenes content to each entry gradually decline. The original BioShock receives the greatest overhaul and flourishes with new textures and lighting that bring it almost up to modern standards, and a Ken Levine retrospective, while BioShock Infinite is essentially the PC version Of course the ideas and gameplay presented and executed in all three are as memorable as they were when first released, and anyone who missed them a decade ago should definitely consider rectifying that. If you intend to play one of these fascinating and fun adventures for the first time or the tenth, the BioShock Collection is the best way to go about it.
Rise of the Tomb Raider hasn’t lost its luster a year after its initial release. Bundled together with all of the content released so far, Lara’s already-packed adventure is now even bigger. And while Playing the new non-combat story mode, Blood Ties, with PlayStation VR was enjoyable (when I was in Comfort Mode, at least), and played normally it’s an interesting character study. The co-op enabled Endurance mode is also a new highlight.. For PS4 players just getting their first opportunity to play Rise of the Tomb Raider, 20 Year Celebration is a complete and amazing package.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
“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.