Escape Plan Bravo solidifies Tales as a must-play series for those interested in the Borderlands universe. I cannot wait for the last episode, The Vault of the Traveler.
If only there were more variety in the structure of the victory conditions between divergent philosophies, Civilization: Beyond Earth would be a perfect game. Even with that dissonance, it is damn close. The Civilization pedigree holds a lot of weight after all these years, and Beyond Earth more than lives up to its name.
Aside from the disappointing lack of puzzles and limit on exploration, Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum is excellent. Where the first episodes of other Telltale series can start off slowly, Tales maintains high energy throughout. Its consistently funny writing and duo of unreliable narrator protagonists set the stage for a great overarching story, and it feels very much like it belongs in the Borderlands franchise. If the rest of the season maintains this level of quality, Tales from the Borderlands will be up there in history with the other great recent Telltale adventures.
On the surface, The Beginner's Guide is a game about game design and critical analysis. Digging deeper, it provides a window into the mind of a man I might not have fully understood otherwise. It does all of this in a way only a video game could. More than anything else, it has caused me a lot of introspection, a feat few games ever achieve.
This last episode maintains the action, drama, and comedy present throughout the series. It ties up all the major loose ends while leaving just a hint of room for more to come. Most of all, it solidifies Tales from the Borderlands as Telltale's best series to date, a pinnacle of modern adventure gaming.
In all, Tomodachi Life is filled with pure, unbridled joy. It puts a stupid grin on my face and keeps it there through its duration. Some might complain that it is "not a game," but they can go on hating. It does require the player to put in some love, flair, and wit, but what comes out is magic.
Even though Golf Story isn't quite what I expected it would be, it is an absolute delight. It's more than just a golf game with RPG mechanics, but it's not quite a full RPG with golf mechanics either. It lies in a sweet spot in the middle, where people who care about one but not the other can still get into it.
All in all, Lost Orbit is a winner. At about two to three hours to get through its campaign, it doesn't overstay its welcome, but it can definitely last longer for those who want to go for all the platinum medals. It is only ever as easy or as hard as the player wants it to be, and it does that through smart design rather than by artificial difficulty tweaks. Boiled down to its essence it's a game about dodging obstacles, which isn't exactly an amazing concept. But it takes that concept and runs with it, doing its dodging thing well.
Adding to the old school woes is a small collect-a-thon element that could have been handled much more elegantly. Hidden throughout the tower are 36 capsules, each containing one of the aforementioned still images explaining Teslagrad's back story. Often, they are presented clearly in a room as a reward for completing an optional, more difficult puzzle than the standard one in that location. In that form, the optional capsules are great. Elsewhere they are hidden from plain sight and only attainable through tedious exploration of every room. Compounding on that is the largely unhelpful map screen, which gives no indication of even general areas in which any missed capsules reside. Toward the end, there are hints that something special happens if a player were to collect all 36 capsules, but only the most meticulous searchers would be able to find them all without outside help.Taking all of that together, it is not obvious for whom Teslagrad was created. It requires a very particular set of interests and skills to fully enjoy. The incredible artwork and wordless storytelling style invite those who want to experience a unique narrative, but the difficult action gameplay and tedious exploration for capsules actively work to keep players from that experience. For those who are interested in the history to be discovered and who are able to persevere through the products of old design philosophy, Teslagrad is highly rewarding and an ultimately fantastic game. However, I would not be surprised to hear of others unable or unwilling to see it through to the end.
But as a whole, the group finally has direction. Where the first two episodes took their time setting up the narrative machine, The Sword in the Darkness finally puts that machine into motion. Telltale's initial promise that each character's actions will ripple out and affect the others is coming to fruition. I only expect to see that even more with the next episode.