Underneath the gorgeous animation and the wonderful jazz music is a journey that lacks substance. Perhaps I'm just the wrong target audience, and loads of other people will find a deeper meaning that I missed entirely within Genesis Noir. It's difficult to review a game this abstract and this artistically focused with any certainty. All I can tell you about is my experience with it, and my experience was of a game that amazed with its visuals but that dragged across its short runtime, that had flashes of real brilliance mixed in with humdrum puzzling and a story that never resonated with me. Since Genesis Noir is on Game Pass, though, it's an enticing prospect, one that I'd recommend checking out if you subscribe to the service because you might just find something that speaks to you. And if you don't, well, all it has cost is a few hours.
As a game that stands on its own, I find Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse to be disappointing and a little dull. Yeah, it did tease a few laughs out of me, but nothing to the same degree as the animated shorts available on Youtube or the web comics. And the gameplay doesn’t stand out, either. There are numerous excellent point and click titles out there that are both hilarious and that feature challenging, well-designed puzzles that tickle the grey matter in a most delightful way. Compared to these, Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse is like Cooper himself: kinda boring.
Sir Lovelot is a fun, well-designed precision platformer with a funny premise and tight controls. It never manages to platform its way up to the upper echelons of brilliance where the greatest examples of the genre are busy lounging around. But at £7.99 its hard to complain about that too much because you’re still getting a competent, enjoyable platformer that’s more relaxed and forgiving than something like Celeste or Super Meat Boy. Personally, I think that’s a good thing because Super Meat Boy makes me want to smash my computer and live out the rest of my life as a monk.
I love how Nebuchadnezzar looks, and I love its core values of recapturing the feeling of classic city-building games. But I don’t think it succeeds in going up against either those classic games, or the more modern versions of the city-building genre. The lack of consequences damages almost every element of Nebuchadnezzar, and it doesn’t have the breadth of creativity needed for it to be so chilled out. So unless you’re really desperate for a new Impressions style city-builder, this isn’t worth checking out.
I love the core concept of Bullets Per Minute, and I admire the developers for trying to bring it to life. But…it doesn’t quite work as well as it could have, or should have. It’s like they had this awesome idea, and then glued, taped and nailed a rough game around it. It has flashes of brilliance. Moments where it all comes together and your timing is perfect and your foot is tapping. Those moments are rarer than they need to be. Between them you deal with lack of musical variety, the aggressive colouring and the rogue-like structure that doesn’t quite work. It needs more fleshing out. But I think for some people it’s going to really click with them, and for around £15 you’re getting something different and interesting. Maybe that’s enough.
Putting together a final rating for this package is tricky, much like it always is for a remaster. Ultimately, then, I’m aiming this final score more toward people who have never played the game before. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning needs some spit and polish to get it working properly. If that happens you can bring the score up to a full four out of five stars. But right now, if you can deal with its issues there’s an RPG that was clearly made with love waiting for you.
There’s a lot to like about Iron Harvest. It looks lovely and the battles have an excellent sense of spectacle to them as the gigantic mechs unleash hell while infantry squads exchange fire. And while the gameplay isn’t as tactically deep as Company of Heroes or other RTS titles on the market it’s still a lot of fun, flaws and all. But those flaws can’t be ignored: dishonest marketing, uneven campaign difficulty, dull A.I., and very few maps. I think Iron Harvest has a mech load of potential, and in a year or two could be an excellent game. Here and now, it’s a decent RTS and worth playing if you aren’t looking for something deep and fancy some spectacle.
Ultimately, I like the idea of Griefhelm and with some work it could be fantastic. However, it also feels like a game that would have been better served launching in Early Access to iron out its kinks. If you’ve got a group of friends willing to jump in with you then there’s fun to be had provided you don’t take it too seriously.
Hellpoint is another one of those games that wears its Dark Souls inspirations proudly but doesn’t understand what exactly makes Dark Souls so beloved. It struggles to forge an identity for itself, while also not doing any of the main Souls mechanics as well as other games. It does, however, have a certain rough charm hiding within its bleak sci-fi corridors and behind its many, many hidden doors. If you’re a glutton for smacking evil stuff around and getting lost then Hellpoint might be worth buying after a price drop.
There’s a lot of things I think Death Stranding gets wrong. Many of them I’ve not even mentioned here because they’re small things, but things that add up. And yet I found myself thinking about playing Death Stranding even when I was doing other things. Despite everything, I was perfectly happy to fire the game up and spend a few hours building roads, dragging boxes up hills, delivering a pile of stuff in a truck and riding ziplines around. Along the way I thought about life and death, my own health and the state of the world, the people I love and my plans and so much more. Above all else, I thought about how crazy Kojima is and how I’m really glad he’s crazy and has the clout to make games like Death Stranding, games that would never otherwise get to see the light of release because publishers would be terrified of it. Because Death Stranding is like nothing else you’ve ever played. It’s unique, and that’s not an easy thing to be these days.