While there was fun to be had with the absolute bonkers nature of Slam Land, the fun ran out very quickly. It soon became evident that the mechanics were half-baked, and the disorientation that the game depends on for fun eventually turns into annoyance. At $7.99, the game is at least at a decent price—but with so many four-player action party games out there, the only reason to choose this over the rest would be to check out its weirdness, and even that would only last an hour at most. There are more coherent, if but less flamboyant, games of its ilk out there, ultimately making Slam Land a difficult sell.
On paper, the concepts of Morphies Law sound original and creative, but once you dive into the game, you'll find a more shallow experience than you were expecting. And that's disappointing—while it may sound like I'm harping on the game for copying others, I love all of the games that inspired it and was hoping that this would be another unexpected indie darling for my beloved Nintendo Switch. But ultimately, Morphies Law ended up being less like Splatoon, and more like the game's namesake, Murphy's Law—a lot of things could have gone wrong with this game, and they did.
The fun of Ultimate Chicken Horse may be limited without others to play with, and its simple art design left a lot to be desired, but at $14.99, these are not good enough excuses to miss out on it. Single-player level creation games are intimidating and not for everyone, but with this particular multiplayer spin on it, you may find yourself to be more creative and thoughtful than you thought you were.
With that, it could be time for Jackbox Games to slow down, just a little. I question the need for a new Pack every year, because the more games you throw at players, the more creative concepts go underplayed, because people will just keep going back to something like Drawful. I still think that every Jackbox compilation is a treat, especially now that the studio has perfected the visuals and presentation for their games—but they run the risk of turning their annual treat into a chore.
I think about the supposed difference between “sentiment” and “sentimentality” when comparing this game to other story-driven titles: sentiment produces real, personal, and genuine emotions, while sentimentality is often a cheap, telegraphed way to provoke reactions by spelling everything out, usually in a hamfisted and highly-charged way (*cough*David Cage*cough*). Wandersong, with all of its mysticism, with its charming simplicity in both graphics and gameplay, expresses real sentiment. I very nearly missed this game, and I certainly don't want you to miss it.
Children, if you are somehow reading this, make sure that your parents do not get Nickelodeon Kart Racers for you. This game is a cruel punishment, and while I don't know you, I'm sure you do not deserve it. If you are gifted this game, tell whoever gave it to you to return it—that itself is a gift to them. If you cannot get rid of it, then get rid of it. Bury the game case in your backyard. Give it to your local Pagan to use it for their next Wiccan burning ritual. Go on a profound journey across the land and toss it into the nearest volcano. Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a sin masquerading as a video game, and now we must all wish for forgiveness.
Of course, this game is best with, well, a group of friends. Otherwise, while you still may have that same motivation playing the game as an individual, it doesn't feel nearly as rewarding as a team victory. I'm lucky to be a part of groups of people that gather on weekends to play games such as this, and Joggernauts is certainly one that I intend to add to our regular rotation. I think that attempting to play through the whole game as one unit may be too much to ask due to the game's difficulty, but it may be fun in short bursts and a few levels at a time. I won't be too hyperbolic and say something outlandish like “local multiplayer is dying,” but for anyone who may think that, it's wonderful that we have games like Joggernauts to keep that spirit alive.
I had the feeling while playing through The World Ends With You: Final Remix that with some more time, Square Enix might have made a combat system that utilized those darn buttons that the Switch has while still fitting everything on a single screen, which is wider and clearer than the DS button screen. Final Remix eventually became a physically exhausting chore to play—just try to find a comfortable position for long, extended sessions. The graphics and sound made the hassle all worth it, but by not taking full advantage of the Switch, the beauty of Final Remix runs the risk of only being viewed through YouTube walkthroughs.
I'm really eager to delve into this "platform" of Hitman 2 as it evolves. Like the first game, "Elusive Targets" will be made available, with their missions only playable once per player, whether you succeed, fail, or miss it entirely. Even with the existing content, there is so much to extrapolate from. The game encourages players to "master" each level, complete challenges, do all the story missions, and come with new ways to approach these situations. You are rewarded with new starting points, items, and other useful trinkets and perks. Unlike most games that are dense with content, I actually want to take advantage of it all, rather than quickly getting through the story through brute force and never stopping to smell the roses like I do in many open-world games currently on the market. As I write this Hitman 2 review, I am super antsy to finish it up, because I just really, really want to play more.
So there you have it—we’re late to the party, but Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the best games of 2018. There are a good number of people who may not digest game criticism the same way we journalist folks may, so to be fair to us, Lucas Pope’s game is one that may fall through the cracks and be off the radar. Despite late game gripes, this mystery game is one that everyone with a computer needs to at least try. Pop in your earbuds, turn up the volume, perhaps close the lights, and get ready to watch some people die.
The Shrouded Isle did not feel like a game for beginners to the genre. The premise, the world-building, and sound all made the game into a wonderful sensory experience. But for some time, it also felt like a beast to wrestle with, and an experience that felt more Sisyphean than Lovecraftian. Perhaps that’s just on me to “git gud” in managing my damn cult.