That's precisely what makes Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons so endearing -- the undeniable contrast created by the highs and lows that come with the entire experience being driven by love. It's so strong that it even dwarfs the game's core mechanical flaws, making them feel trivial when they should sully the whole affair. It's a powerful venture that isn't necessarily about where you began or where you end up; it's about everything that happened in between.
That's where Chariot truly shines -- its cooperative play. Going at Chariot solo adds up to a competent and unique platformer that's satisfying, yet somewhat unfulfilling because of all the opportunity that's unfortunately necessary to pass up. However, once you have a friend in the mix, any concern dissipates and you're left with a memorable social experience that just happens to be almost flawless in its execution.
Those who yearn for a return to Black Flag's sandbox will take comfort knowing this is "more of the same," as the clichéd review expression goes. But, Rogue's systems do nothing to move Assassin's Creed forward, leaving it fittingly stuck in the past like the last-generation consoles it graces. Anyone who expects more will be disappointed. Anyone who just wants another open-world adventure replete with sailing, exploration, and killing might find comfort in its familiar ways.
Never Alone is only the first entry in an initiative by E-Line Media to create a series of world-culture games. It's an important step for a medium that's all too often stuck in its own familiar ways. Sure, Never Alone is far from perfect, but its highs are much more significant than its lows. Rarely is an experimental take flawless, and that's the case here. But, hopefully everyone involved can take what's on display with Never Alone, improve the formula next time, and continue to teach because it's a fascinating way to learn.
Classic Mode's inclusion might just be a nod to the mindset of Lucid Games when developing Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions -- improve as much as possible while still staying true to the core of the franchise. That old game is still there, it's just unspeakably better now. It may have been past installments in the series that were billed as evolution, but Dimensions is where Geometry Wars truly evolved.
All in all, Dead Kings adds up to a package that's somewhat schizophrenic in nature. At times, it seems like both the story and the gameplay aren't quite sure where they want to go. Even more surprising, it kind of works. Anyone that knows Assassin's Creed will feel an innate familiarity with Dead Kings and maybe even a bit of excitement (particularly the last section, which conjures memories of a classic series moment). However, there's an air of freshness about it that works in some ways and falls flat in others. Dead Kings isn't likely to reignite anyone's love for Assassin's Creed, but it certainly won't extinguish any existing flames, either.
For now, we're left with our first glimpse at Arcadia Bay, our initial look into the life of Max. It was a slow, yet well-paced initial chapter that set the table more than anything else. There's no telling where the story will go from here. But, as Chrysalis faded out, an indie song played that felt wonderfully at home in this setting, and served as a warning of things to come. It chanted "We will foresee obstacles, through the blizzard, through the blizzard."
While those complaints are niggling to perfectionists, it's not the takeaway here. What's remarkable is that No Goblin took what had all the makings of a gimmick mechanic and turned it into something that feels like a legitimately useful staple, something that requires patience and skill to figure out. Roundabout manages to be simultaneously cumbersome and stiff, and brilliant and endearing -- chances are you'll go 'round and 'round. Actually, that's precisely what you'll do.
However, impressive aesthetics and weighty mental gymnastics aren't enough to compensate for puzzle design that becomes a slog before long. It's a shame because Pneuma boldly asks questions about player agency, but in ways that are bogged down in tedium.