Nathan Birch


139 games reviewed
69.9 average score
70 median score
36.0% of games recommended
7.5 / 10.0 - Pyre
Sep 5, 2017

Pyre is an admirable attempt to create a new hybrid -- part sports, part RPG -- but only one of the game's halves is a true success. Surprisingly, that's the sports half. Pyre's world is an enticing one, it just isn't conveyed in the best way.

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6 / 10.0 - Tokyo Dark
Sep 13, 2017

At first, Tokyo Dark seems to be little more than a pale replica of better Japanese adventure and horror games. The game's presentation is amateurish, its characters are stereotypical, and its depiction of Tokyo doesn't break any new ground. Thankfully, the game's innovative SPIN system and focus on player choice heightens what would otherwise be an uninspired homage. Tokyo Dark falls well short of greatness, but hardcore point ‘n' clickers looking for something a bit different may want to give the game a stab.

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8 / 10.0 - NBA 2K18
Sep 19, 2017

NBA 2K18 has a few holes in its game -- the series needs to improve its writing, the ballyhooed MyCareer Neighborhood hub falls flat, and the tech powering the series is nearing retirement age. That said, boil the game down to its essentials and you have a rock-solid, well-balanced sports sim that provides an immensely entertaining shoulder-to-shoulder same-couch multiplayer experience. It's that strong core that keeps NBA 2K18 and its vast array of modes and features from collapsing in on itself. NBA 2K18 isn't a milestone entry in the series, but it's a solid playoff contender well worth basketball fans' time.

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6 / 10.0 - Darkwood
Oct 1, 2017

Darkwood is a fine open-world survival experience, and spins a good yarn, but doesn't quite succeed as a horror game. The ominous veneer wears off quickly enough, and you're left with a somewhat cumbersome Don't Starve clone. Darkwood has its moments and will please a certain dedicated breed, but less masochistic general gaming audiences may find the title more tedious than terrifying. Don't venture into these woods unless you're prepared to rough it.

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Oct 3, 2017

Like the original comic book series, Battle Chasers: Nightwar looks fantastic but feels a bit hollow. The game's JRPG battle system and Diablo-style dungeons are rock solid but don't bring many new ideas to the table. If you're really into Joe Madureira's art or grinding for loot, you'll find plenty to like here, but the general RPG audience may find the game slightly lacking in flavor. Not bad at all, just a little flat. Perhaps it's unsurprising that a video game, based on a comic book, based on earlier video games feels like it's spreading its inspiration a bit thin.

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5.5 / 10.0 - WWE 2K18
Oct 17, 2017

This franchise is almost out of chances. This is the fifth WWE game from 2K, and they've still only figured out one of the three ingredients. WWE 2K18 is great if creating wacky wrestlers is all you're interested in, but those looking for solid in-ring action or a compelling career mode will be let down yet again. If WWE 2K18 were a wrestler, it'd be Jinder Mahal – all flashy show muscles, no fundamentals. I realize a lot of hardcore fans will buy WWE 2K18 regardless of reviews, but if you actually want the series to change, it might be time to tap out.

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Oct 20, 2017

Gran Turismo Sport is a good game, and yet, it's still a disappointment. Given this series' pedigree, good simply isn't good enough. GT Sport still brings it on the track, but its lack of content can't be ignored, and you can't give the game top marks in world where Forza Motorsport 7 and Project CARS 2 exist. If you're a diehard fan of Sony's series or really into online racing, GT Sport is worth a shot. If you just want the best racing sim out there, you may want to kick some more tires.

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Oct 27, 2017

Ironically, AER Memories of Old doesn't leave much of a lasting impression. It feels like a prototype you might show a publisher to convince them to fund a full game. What's here is charming, but it feels underbaked compared to the games it patterns itself after. If you're looking for a laid-back Zelda-like adventure and don't mind spending $15 for a single play session, AER Memories of Old is a pleasant-enough distraction, just don't expect to be swept off your feet.

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Nov 7, 2017

Need for Speed Payback is a well-designed sandbox that's at its most entertaining when you ignore what's supposed to be the core of the game. The story is dud, and the game's Ultimate Team-inspired upgrade system is an attempt to force a square peg into a round hole, but there's no denying tearing down desert roads at 180 mph in a souped-up 1965 Mustang is a blast. Need for Speed Payback is a fun joyride, but it doesn't quite hold up over the long haul.

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8 / 10.0 - Sonic Forces
Nov 10, 2017

2017 is the year the Sonic franchise stops running from itself. Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces celebrate different eras, but they both take the same shameless “all-in” approach. Sonic Forces is a confident game, serving up a story and stages that go for broke, while dodging the pitfalls of the past. As long as you're not a hardline 3D Sonic hater, this earnest, entertaining adventure is worth a spin.

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Nov 23, 2017

As long as you don't take the “Serious racing on Switch!” pitch too seriously, you'll have a lot of fun with Gear.Club Unlimited. This is an engaging, retro arcade racer with a rewarding structure that puts bigger-name games to shame. I've reviewed most of this season's major racers, including Gran Turismo Sport and Need for Speed Payback, and I can honestly say Gear.Club Unlimited was the most entertaining of the bunch. Gear up for a good time, Switch owners.

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6 / 10.0 - Hand of Fate 2
Dec 1, 2017

Hand of Fate 2 captures some old-school RPG charm, but deals a few too many bad cards in the process. The game's appealing premise is marred by unsatisfying progression, punishing randomness, and clunky combat. Nostalgic RPG fans will find things to appreciate here, but given the popularity and diversity of actual tabletop gaming these days, it's hard to fully recommend the half-stacked Hand of Fate 2.

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4 / 10.0 - Hello Neighbor
Dec 8, 2017

I honestly didn't hate Hello Neighbor, but an interesting setup and good intentions don't make up for sloppy design, unwieldy controls, AI that isn't half as smart as advertised, and myriad of other issues. A very specific type of player who loves finding secrets and proposing fan theories may be able to overlook Hello Neighbor's problems, but most will want to bury the game in the backyard.

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Resident Evil 7's final round of DLC feels like a step backward. While both Not a Hero and End of Zoe are competently built, they replace the genuine horror and more nuanced characters of the main game with schlocky action and dumb wish fulfillment. The worst thing that can be said about Not a Hero and End of Zoe is that they leave me feeling uncertain about the future of the series. Let's hope Capcom hasn't already forgotten how to do Resident Evil right again.

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Resident Evil 7's final round of DLC feels like a step backward. While both Not a Hero and End of Zoe are competently built, they replace the genuine horror and more nuanced characters of the main game with schlocky action and dumb wish fulfillment. The worst thing that can be said about Not a Hero and End of Zoe is that they leave me feeling uncertain about the future of the series. Let's hope Capcom hasn't already forgotten how to do Resident Evil right again.

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Dec 20, 2017

Bridge Constructor Portal is a well-assembled holiday treat. Those expecting Portal 3 will be let down, but if you're willing to set aside unfair expectations you'll discover an accessible, flexible puzzle game that avoids many of the genre's frustrating pitfalls. Bridge Constructor Portal passes the test, and that's no lie.

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Jan 19, 2018

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition finally brings the fight to everybody. Whether you want button mash with friends, prove your skills to the world, just engage in some low-stakes solo fighting, Arcade Edition has you covered. If you've been holding out until now, it's finally time to step up to the streets.

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6 / 10.0 - Lost Sphear
Jan 30, 2018

Lost Sphear is a competently assembled retro product that may dredge up fond memories of older, better JRPGs, but it lacks a personality of its own. The unique, melancholy world of I Am Setsuna has been replaced by soulless tropes, and incrementally improved battle mechanics and dungeons don't make up for that loss of identity. Sadly, the makers of Lost Sphear have lost the thread.

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Feb 5, 2018

Candleman: The Complete Journey is one of the best indie platformers I've played in some time. Certainly, one of the best 3D indie platformers. Candleman mixes clever mechanics, varied level design, and a whole lot of charm to create an experience that's guaranteed to light your fire.

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Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker's Memory is a confusing product. It's too complex and longwinded for kids, but too easy, repetitive, and derivative for most adults. The game was made with fans of the original Cyber Sleuth in mind, but will frustrate those same fans with its rampant rehashing. Hardcore Digimon devotes may find something to enjoy here, but most will want to forget Hacker's Memory.

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