Nathan Birch


173 games reviewed
70.6 average score
70 median score
38.2% of games recommended
Jan 26, 2023

The new Dead Space is a mostly-successful revival of a survival horror landmark, offering atmospheric new visuals and a series of precision updates to combat, level layouts, and the game’s scary bits that ought to surprise and excite veteran engineers. That said, there was room for Motive Studio to push ever further, as some game elements still feel a bit dated. Dead Space should satisfy long-suffering fans of the franchise, but compared to the latest, greatest AAA horror competition, it’s no longer a cut above.

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Jan 26, 2023

Season: A letter to the future offers plenty of moments of low-key beauty and, at its best, makes you truly feel part of a unique and enigmatic world on the verge of great upheaval. Unfortunately, the game’s abrupt ending and reluctance to make meaningful statements about the subjects it brings up may leave you questioning what it all meant. While an often-pleasant slice of virtual tourism, as a complete game this one feels a bit underseasoned.

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Jan 17, 2023

Fire Emblem Engage’s story is derivative JRPG nonsense and its social elements are skippable, but the game’s battlefield heroics largely make up for its shortcomings. Classic Fire Emblem combat mechanics make their welcome return here and are nicely elevated by the new Engage system and a slate of varied, surprisingly-challenging maps. Fire Emblem Engage won’t be everybody’s favorite entry in the series, but it should be a critical hit with many seasoned generals.

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Dec 13, 2022

Dragon Quest Treasures offers plenty of charm, solid core mechanics, and a certain slot-machine-style appeal, but fortune favors the bold, and the game holds back in too many ways. Unremarkable visuals, simplistic combat, and the eventual repetitive feeling of treasure hunting limit the experience. Younger players and hardcore fans of the franchise may still covet Dragon Quest Treasures, but the game could have truly sparkled with a bit more polish.

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Dec 6, 2022

Need for Speed Unbound is the franchise’s best entry in a decade, although the competition for that title wasn't particularly stiff. The game offers polished tech, good (if slightly dated) open-world design, and a varied array of events and challenges, but still lags behind the current open-world racer pack leaders. The fantasy of becoming an underground racing champ is also hampered by a restrictive, ill-considered progression system. Nostalgic fans will find plenty to like here, and more general players might want to consider a test drive once the game is marked down, but “need” may be a strong word to attach to Criterion’s latest.

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Nov 25, 2022

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet largely deliver the open-world RPG experience fans barely dared dream of for decades, with a huge, lively map and a surprisingly-engaging trio of stories nicely complementing the franchise’s rock-solid core mechanics. Yes, the game has more than its share of technical issues, but its shortcomings are largely cosmetic and the folks most excited to play probably aren’t going to be that bothered about its pixel count or performance. This Pokémon may be humble-looking, but it brings the fight where it counts.

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7 / 10.0 - Ship Of Fools
Nov 22, 2022

Ship of Fools offers some spirited couch co-op fun and could be a good way to introduce the concept of roguelites to more casual players. Unfortunately, a lack of variety and depth eventually pokes holes in this boat’s hull. Don't be afraid to pick up Ship of Fools if you’re just looking for a pleasure cruise with friends, but you shouldn't expect an epic sea odyssey.

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8.5 / 10.0 - Pentiment
Nov 14, 2022

Pentiment won’t be for everyone. It’s bookish, sometimes a bit dry, and demands you take its questions about the nature of religion, art, and other heady subjects seriously if you want to get the most out of its narrative. If that sounds like your sort of thing, you can look forward to a rich, well-researched world you'll truly feel a part of and a fantastic story that serves up numerous memorable, moving twists and turns. Pentiment will leave an indelible mark on you if you just give it a chance.

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6 / 10.0 - The Chant
Nov 3, 2022

The Chant offers a far-out setting, unique upgrade system, and some vintage charm, but restrictive level design, listless combat, and dingy visuals strike a sour note. While old-school survival horror fans may find The Chant appealing, wider audiences probably won’t be drinking the Kool-Aid.

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9 / 10.0 - Bayonetta 3
Oct 25, 2022

Bayonetta 3 is the series’ best entry yet, offering an engaging universe-hopping story, bombastic cinematic moments, and refined action that’s both accessible and deeper than ever before.

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Oct 20, 2022

The best thing you can say about New Tales from the Borderlands is that it makes you appreciate just how good the folks at Telltale Games were at what they did. While Gearbox’s latest is more technically impressive than Telltale’s series, stale, irritating characters, a slapdash plot, and choices that don’t feel like they matter turn the game’s brief runtime into a slog. These Tales are new, but they’re definitely not improved.

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Sep 27, 2022

Return to Monkey Island ably delivers the charm, humor, and sharp puzzles the series is known for, while offering a few tweaks to make things less intimidating for new crew members. A reluctance to try anything too daring in terms of design or storytelling dampens the proceedings a bit, but longtime Monkey Island fans ought to enjoy the voyage even if the series’ sails are getting a bit well-worn.

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9 / 10.0 - NBA 2K23
Sep 14, 2022

NBA 2K23 builds on last year’s rock-solid entry with some well-considered on-court changes, a deeper, more satisfying career mode, and an array of accessible nostalgia-tweaking content. Most refreshingly, almost none of these additions are designed to push extra spending. If Visual Concepts stays hungry, NBA 2K23 could be the beginning of a new dynasty that would do its cover star proud.

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7.5 / 10.0 - Splatoon 3
Sep 7, 2022

Splatoon 3 may be the series’ best entry yet, featuring some nice gameplay tweaks and new weaponry, an expanded and polished story mode, and more launch content than its predecessors. That said, it’s very much an evolutionary sequel, every bit as iterative as many of the shooter franchises it’s meant to be an alternative to. After a five-year absence, that may not be enough for some. Splatoon 3 is still fun and funky, but Nintendo’s squid shooter series can’t get by on freshness alone forever.

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Aug 25, 2022

I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is an engrossing social sim that offers up deep roleplaying and a wonderfully-realized universe, with fun collectible card game mechanics as a bonus. Perhaps more importantly, it’s one of the best distillations of growing up I’ve ever encountered in a video game. It doesn’t matter if you’ve left the era long behind, don’t miss out on getting these teenage kicks.

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Aug 21, 2022

While Kirby’s Dream Buffet offers some fleeting fun and excitement, a lack of multiplayer options, laggy online action, poor splitscreen performance, and an inflated price tag combine to sour what could have been a tasty multiplayer snack.

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5.5 / 10.0 - Rumbleverse
Aug 17, 2022

Rumbleverse occasionally delivers the type of bruising highlights that look good on livestreams, but is held back by a lack of content and unbalanced mechanics that actually discourage the brawling that’s supposed to be the game’s bread and butter. You may want to go a few rounds with Rumbleverse given its nonexistent entry fee, but don’t expect it to go the distance.

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6 / 10.0 - Rollerdrome
Aug 16, 2022

Rollerdrome produces some badass moments with its combination of X Games action and bullet-time violence, but it doesn’t replicate what made the OlliOlli games such Zenlike fun. Those looking for a challenge will find it here, but given Rollerdrome’s bland presentation, imperfect controls, and grueling approach to level design, many players will quickly skate on to something else.

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8 / 10.0 - Live A Live
Jul 21, 2022

Live A Live is a fascinating lost piece of gaming history that offers up an impressively-varied cinematic saga well ahead of its time, although a slide into more traditional JRPG tropes in its third act diminishes some of what makes the game special. Live A Live is an unpredictable journey worth experiencing, but like life itself, it may leave you feeling a bit worn down by the end.

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9 / 10.0 - Stray
Jul 18, 2022

Stray may be small and scrappy, but it’s also beautiful, lovingly crafted, and bounds from one genre and play style to the next with impressive grace. Even cat skeptics ought to be won over by the game, so don’t be afraid to invite this Stray in from the cold.

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