Rival Megagun, as I said, is a fun experience. For those that played a lot of these types of titles back in the day, it'll draw some serious nostalgia. Even now listening to the music while writing this, it sounds very reminiscent of the 16-bit era. My only major concerns with the game are the keyboard controls (easily fixed by using a controller) and the shortness of it. Like I mentioned earlier, the story mode is excellent, but once you've run through the handful of levels with multiple characters, it loses some of its charm. Sure you can play on harder difficulties, but that's mostly in the form of challenge only so you can collect some more cards. Expect to win some and lose some while playing online, which I hope will continue to have some legs. I was able to find matches quickly, but it's hard to judge what the community will look like in 6 months to a year.
I wanted to enjoy this game, I honestly did. However, The One We Found suffers from a case of "no polish." There's a lot of good ideas and gameplay in theory, but the practical aspect falls short of expectations. If this had received some more time to fix the overall buggy experience and improve upon some of the clunky control aspects and elements, I feel this review would be in a much different tone entirely.
2064: Read Only Memories draws its inspirations from the greats of the old-school adventure games like Grim Fandango, Myst, and Monkey Island. This point-and-click adventure title has all of the trappings of games made upwards of 20 years ago contained in a beautifully rendered pixel art world with a fun, quirky cast of characters behind it. For fans of slower, puzzle-based games, this will be a must-have on their consoles. However, it is better suited for the PC and feels a little sluggish and off-putting using an Xbox controller when trying to manipulate objects. Plus, with how the game is slower paced and requires a lot of backtracking and managing of objects to help fill out the game's world and provide humor, those seeking faster and more direct gameplay/humor will turn away quickly.
While it can be challenging, Phantom Halls is a cheesy horror movie lover's dream game. The combination of fun gameplay, RPG elements, and an oddball story about the "Slayer Club" (wink wink) in their efforts to save their town show just how far Incedium is willing to go to show their love of B-movie Horror. There are so many callbacks to iconic franchises (Evil Dead DLC anyone?) There's some definite challenge as well, which I think many will enjoy.
The Nintendo Switch lacks in titles that fit a gaming niche as the one Wasteland 2 fills. Yes, there are RPGs on the system, but the mixture between the tactical combat gameplay and the extensive RPG story is a small category of games. Given how much possibility Wasteland 2: Director's Cut has, I think it's a solid title. What detracts from the game are the gameplay issues, awkward camera controls, and the unfortunate visuals. Players willing to put the time in and overlook these flaws will find an intensely rich game, but I'm just not sure everyone is willing to do that on a system that continues to gain new titles.
The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep is a surprisingly deep and rich role-playing game steeped in some old lore. It has some big shoes to fill given the history of the series, and while I'm not familiar with it, I enjoyed what I played. Aside from the stuttering and short learning curve, I was impressed by the game and its overall gameplay. Although, even the learning curve is softened immensely by the excellent tutorial. I'm itching to try more and more of the game and see just what Skara Brae has to offer, and I suggest others do the same.
Fans of real-time strategy games have a great console game to experience, even if it is a more streamlined approach to the genre. While I will admit that this may be a turn-off for some hardcore fans, I did enjoy my time with the game. With that said, I miss out of earning three stars on some missions due to the game slowing down when moving around some of the larger maps.
Having tried the game with both a controller and keyboard, I do recommend using a gamepad. It makes the game that much more enjoyable. That being said, this is an arcade-style racing game. It's got some definite good points, and it's insanely fast for those that want speed, but I'm more concerned about replayability. I know there's an online component, but I did not have much luck in finding matches. I'm hoping that the online community picks up, as the game isn't bad by any means. I am just concerned that it's easy to run out of things to do once you beaten the single-player modes and fully upgraded your vehicle.
I feel like Starship Corporation has some lofty goals and I applaud the developers behind it. I think a better approach would have been an early smaller, more laser-sighted focus on fewer items to strengthen those out before expanding fully. The game's tutorial is beneficial, but there's still a somewhat steep learning curve behind it, and there's just so much at any given point. If players can get past that and overlook some clunky UI aspects, they'll enjoy Starship Corporation immensely for its depth.
Frostpunk is without a doubt an excellent new entry into the city-building genre. It contains enough familiar elements tinged with new, fantastical ones comprised of the steampunk aesthetic and feel. Admittedly though, the game's seemingly shorter length may make it feel like it's not complete, but that's not true in any way. It's great price point, challenging gameplay mechanics, and overall offerings with replayability make this a solid game to pick up. It takes some time to master as well, making it worth the challenge of surviving in the long winter.
Truthfully I do like some of the core mechanics of the game. I've done small-scale farming in real life and understood the requirements that kind of profession and lifestyle places on you. A lot of things in this game remind me of those days, but there's a lot that breaks the simulation and realism. The odd vehicle controls, random issues when driving that will instantly slow you down, and the need to continually open that damn tablet really deter me from the game. Otherwise, it does perfectly capture the tedium of the farming life reasonably well even if your character seemingly never has to sleep.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is absolutely a solid and engrossing game. It may be slower for some, but even then it's something to play for a few hours at the least. I found myself traveling to faraway points just to see what little story I could find and unravel in the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed finding stories I previously told become larger and larger, subtly changing with each new retelling. I enjoyed getting to know those who lived on the road and away from civilization, understanding their quirks and seeing just how my interactions with them affected my travels. Topped with impressive voice acting, a stunning soundtrack, and beautiful visuals...I highly recommend trying this game out. It's a different experience, but getting to explore early Americana and listening to its tales should be hard to pass up.
I feel Hyper Universe may fill an unrealized niche in the MOBA genre. The gameplay feels fresh, the controller support is an excellent perk, and for those tired of other MOBA games might find themselves falling quickly into Hyper's simple, free-to-play model. While yes, it's possible to go and buy equipment and Hypers, I'm never sure how much that may or may not imbalance overall gameplay. That being said, given some time and server tweaking to fix those crazy lag spikes and I think this game will continue to grow.
Post Human W.A.R., as I noted, feels like "RTS-lite" and is even reminiscent of a board game sprung to life on my PC. The points system, grid maps, and vibrant nature of the games has me imagining pulling everything out of a box and setting it up on my kitchen table. The general simplicity has a high-level draw, and it offers an appeal of fun for anyone looking to get into something that's not overly violent and has a budding online community to play against. While I think some of the chat features need to be revamped, it's definitely a game newer RTS players could get into. My only real complaint is the lack of heavy substance; since the campaign feels quick and the focus of the game seems to be primarily directed towards online, those looking for a deeper single-player experience may feel left out.
SpellForce 3 is a pretty fantastic game, but it's also pretty large and potentially overwhelming. That's not to say it doesn't create an excellent challenge, but there is quite a bit to pick up and run with for people new to the RTS genre. I feel that given some time, most can become quite adept and will thoroughly enjoy the game. And at the least, the game has some beautiful graphics to admire while you're slaughtering some crazy beast or an enemy army.
A Hat in Time is a fantastic experience. It's got stuff that anyone of any age can enjoy. I know it reminded me of some of the classic 3D platformers of the mid-to-late 90's, both in general feel and tone. Throw in a goofy-yet-fun story and a wacky cast (with great voice acting to boot), and you'll be able to get anyone interested. While the game is only available on PC at the time of this review, it will be coming to consoles at a later point.
ELEX is a game that suffers from its lofty ambition. It aims for admittedly high goals that are worth aspiring to, but it seemed to have forgotten some key things along the way. The sheer expanse of the world, rich backstory, and a mind-boggling amount of things to see/do in the game are fantastic, but the game suffers from technical issues, absurdly challenging gameplay at times, and a buffet scenario where you just have too much to choose from. The technical issues alone can be frustrating, but when you combine those with incessant deaths at the hands of minor enemies the game starts to really drive the point home that you should play on easy. Be warned though: you'll still face a hard time.
Observer is incredibly solid. It's steeped in narrative and features dark and beautiful environments. It captures the dystopian feel of an uncertain and technologically filled future. And there's certainly enough to spook you or keep you on your toes. No mind interrogation is easy or makes much sense, but you can never fully understand the mind either. Aside from the creepy, intense leaps into other's minds or completing a forensic investigation into a crime scene, much of the story is told through slow exposition. The world is seemingly devoid, and aside from a few places, I never felt pressured or frightened. It was more of a "I'll just keep going this way until something changes." The lack of interactions in the world makes me question a lot of what Lazarski experiences, making it seem like reality is suspect in itself.
Solstice Chronicles: MIA. is a solid twin-stick shooter. I enjoyed the narrative, sequences, and even the sometimes cheesy voice work. I initially wasn't aware that the game provided skill points, in fact I accrued 19 points before I even knew the system existed. My main complaint honestly is the lack of online support, as that was hands down one of the best parts of The Red Solstice.