With over 200,000,000 lives for people to lose, it's going to be approximately forever before we see whatever happens at the end. The Flock is a promising idea dressed in the blandest of clothes. It's damning that I was convinced I was doing an Early Access impressions piece until I looked and realized the game had been released two weeks ago. This lack of content and polish is acceptable when there's an implicit promise of more to come, but aside from a nebulous end segment that may take literal years to reach, this is all The Flock is and will ever be.
There's already a large contingency of the Warhammer 40K defense force saying that people disliking the game just don't "get it," that this is the perfect video game adaptation of Space Hulk. Expect to see them in the comments, saying that I played it wrong. Maybe that's true, and I'm just a big dumb idiot! Or more likely, this game was pushed out too soon. Streum is already working on fixes, including reducing multiplayer crashes. I hope that in the next few months, Space Hulk: Deathwing goes through some drastic changes and becomes a more engaging romp through grimdarkness. For now, I'd say get your bloody jollies elsewhere.
This is a world worth exploring, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of it. Maybe that'll be in the form of a huge patch that puts this broken machine back together, or a sequel that brings the best of Hard West to the forefront. What I'd really like to see is a tabletop game in this setting, because it honestly feels like it might be better suited in that realm. Either way, I hope there'll be a reason to come back.
In fact, in a few more months (or even years), Sword Coast Legends' creation tools might be a powerhouse. If n-Space remains steadfast and keeps working on them, this might eventually be the digital Dungeons & Dragons many were hoping for. People won't mind buying new adventures, classes, and races if they come out alongside new pen-and-paper releases! But don't blow all of your goodwill with sectioned-off content. As a Dungeon Master, I'm selfishly rooting for you. Just no more gods-damned 3x3 light grid puzzles.
After finishing the too-long campaign, there's an Ironbro mode (where each Bro only has one life) and a level editor to tinker with. It seems robust, but I didn't spend much time with it. This all adds up to a decent amount of bro-time if you really want it, but I'm fairly certain whoever you play this with will end up being a not-bro for a little while. Broforce could have been a fun "Hoo-rah 'Murica" romp, but it comes with artificial difficulty and bugs that aren't worth dealing with. You're better off watching First Blood again and pretending Satan is going to show up at the end.
These problems are extra frustrating, because when Dead Rising 2: Off the Record functions properly, I have a blast with it. The story is nothing memorable, but the toybox that is Fortune City allows for all sorts of emergent storytelling that I'll remember for some time. I'm hoping that Frank's return in Dead Rising 4 fares better.
Shadow Warrior 2 is in no way a bad game, and I found myself grinning through a lot of it. I'd groan at Wang begging to cut off a penis immediately afterwards, but some people will probably get a laugh out of that. Definite flaws and a laser focus on making the game a more universally sellable experience hurt it, but if you want to shoot shit while shooting the shit with some buddies, you could do a lot worse.
I did enjoy being in the water, but I can't help but feel the beautiful visuals and music were jamming pictures of places and emotions in my face instead of earnestly telling a compelling story. There's an unshakeable air of falsity about Abzû. As a treat to the senses, however, it's hard to beat.
Despite some repetition and a handful of weird glitches, it'd be hard for me not to recommend Stories: The Path of Destinies. The "Goosebumps" kid in me was just too excited to have branching narratives from a developer that had fun with the concept instead of using it as another box to check in its marketing plans. I'd gladly return to this wonderfully weird world, but if there is a next chapter, I hope that there's more to see.
The Swindle is nowhere near an entirely negative experience. It's a festival of moments, of anecdotes filled with failures and smiles. I found myself holding my breath as I hacked a computer with just enough time to dodge three heavy guards coming my way, jumped over two electricity traps, clung to a wall to let a patrol pass, and bombed myself a new escape route. These pockets of perfection kept me hooked, and made me boot up The Swindle again and again in order to preserve this world of rogues. That, and my dedication to you guys. Now, the Devil's Basilisk is for all of us to share. You're goddamned welcome.
All-in-all, Banned Footage Volume 1 is an interesting little package. You get a tense puzzle-focused escape room, a fun-as-heck action mode that I'm sure I'll be playing in the coming months, and a bastard-hard masochist-a-thon for those who want that. While I'm not a huge fan of Ethan Must Die, there'll be people out there who dig it, and those two tapes continue aspects of Resident Evil 7 that I'm hungry for. I hope Volume 2 has a similar value, and that the upcoming free DLC Not a Hero answers some burning questions I have from the game's ending.
An abrupt ending that doesn't have much of a climax and some moments of fist-clenching frustration keep Human: Fall Flat from the upper echelons of puzzle gaming, but it's still something I plan on going back to with friends. Plus, it lets you draw on your character, leading to the butt you see in all of the screenshots. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought this was hilarious. This one was for you, Laura!
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is just as great of a game as it was eight years ago. Having it perform better and run smoother is a gift. A few things hold it back from perfection, but I'd rather have a war game strive for something new and risky like this than go with safe boilerplate action sequences. I'm happy Sega took a chance on this one. And maybe if enough people pick this up, the next game in the series will come this way.
Oh, and Windows 10 decided to update when I finished this review the first time, deleting everything I did and making it so I had to rewrite this two hours before embargo. DedSec, is that you? 8.5 is a great score, please never touch my computer again.
It's difficult to be disappointed by a great studio taking solid mechanics and narrative beats from one of the best studios around, especially when the result is something as well-crafted as Salt and Sanctuary. While I do wish Ska Studio's latest had more of its own identity, I can't deny that I enjoyed every minute of it. I already spent about 25 hours with it, and I'm salivating, eager to go through New Game +. Now be proud that I didn't make a "salty" joke like every other outlet will in their review.
The Following was larger than I expected, and it maintains a high level of quality throughout. Being pared down from the bloat of Dying Light earns it more moment-to-moment excitement, and I greedily consumed it over the weekend. The last few minutes have me pondering the future of what's clearly going to become a franchise, and I'm ready for whatever Techland brings next.