Dead Cells may not shift the genre's trajectory or implement roguelike mechanics in any new or inventive way, but it remains a consistently exciting and thrilling experience, even when you've seen that rapier for the fourth or fifth time. It's one of those games that's a joy to play, but even more importantly, a joy to watch because it teaches you the fundamental truth about roguelikes (and maybe life as a whole): let go. Once you learn to let go—or in Dead Cells's case, once you learn to let go of life—you'll find that it's about the experience of the moment, about that run right now. It's kind of like Bukowski's epitaph: If you don't try as hard, you'll enjoy Dead Cells much more. Because its in this nonchalance that the game's systems, however trite, slowly mend together in what can only be described as the perfect run. Before you forgot to dodge.
That's a question Earth Atlantis doesn't have an answer for. Perhaps the point, the game would like you to believe, is the “thrilling” boss battles. But if that's the case, these battles should've been more engaging and memorable—adrenaline-intoxicating, if you will. It seems Pixel Perfex wanted to create a boss rush game similar to Acid Nerve's Titan Souls or Team Ico's Shadow of the Colossus but tossed the flood of mindless enemies in to keep you from sinking into the abyssal depths of boredom. Unfortunately, it's too late, as Earth Atlantis doesn't so much sink in the depths of the ocean as much as it drowns in the boring and tedious repetition it's so engulfed in.
In the end, State of Decay 2 doesn't flip the script on the themes we've come to associate with the zombie apocalypses of our popular entertainments. Worse, the game doesn't even bother to make it seem like its characters even want to be alive in the world.
By the time I fought Mother for the third and last time, I was prepared to throw my controller because of how quickly she evaporated my energy and health bars the first two times. Ruiner is one of those games that is unabashedly difficult for the sake of being difficult. It demands you face waves upon waves of the same enemies and mini-bosses before you can even see the final, incredibly trite cinematic. Are you the ruiner or the ruined? I won't spoil the answer that the game offers up, but I will say that I sure didn't feel triumphant when I finally set the controller down.
However, to call Jarvis's 1982 title Robotron: 2084 an inspiration is an understatement: Nex Machina is almost a duplicate, a modernization of a game that came out nearly three and a half decades ago. And while technology has significantly advanced in that period, so too have player expectations. Nex Machina doesn't deliver anything but a particle effect smorgasbord and little else.
Merriam-Webster defines maw as "the throat, gullet, or jaws especially of a voracious animal." By the end of it all, Six becomes the voracious animal, devouring anything and everything in her path. Little Nightmares is a vicious cycle where the prey becomes the predator, and an effective one at that.
In quintessential evil villain fashion, what awaits you is a face-off to see who will be the only one to survive. Soon the credits roll, the overflowing confidence and braggadocio rapidly disperse, and you're left with an overwhelming disappointment that you're not actually as powerful as Mr. Shifty. And you never will be. But at least you had fun pretending to be.