Steven Scaife


74 games reviewed
65.5 average score
70 median score
49.3% of games recommended
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Sep 23, 2021

And because the atmosphere encompasses so much of Sable’s appeal, the technical issues can be absolutely ruinous. When the bike disappears into the ground, when the menus break, or when Sable passes straight through an object that she should be able to land on, the illusion collapses and we’re left not with a vivid sense of place, but with a video game where the mechanics are all a bit of a chore. With its restrained approach toward collectibles and its rudimentary traversal, Sable attempts to depict exploration for the sake of exploration, but in doing so it only clarifies that such a concept is not necessarily as enticing as it sounds.

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Aug 24, 2021

Psychonauts 2 in particular is a game of surprising psychological insight, full of rich, flawed characters at the end of their ropes. If so much of this game is a reiteration of what worked about its predecessor, it functions as a reminder for just how much of the medium is still catching up to Psychonauts.

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Aug 5, 2021

Further glimpses into this breathtaking universe are often reward enough for exploring the game’s multitude of alternate paths, but even GRIME’s level design is surprising for featuring a world much larger and more complex than it appears as you discover involved platforming challenges and optional bosses. Though GRIME emerges into an almost comically overcrowded genre, its initial familiarity and rigidity belie a world of intricate and formidable imagination.

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Jul 27, 2021

The Forgotten City certainly doesn’t need to answer the philosophical questions that it poses before it’s allowed to examine them in a narrative context, but the ludicrously tidy conclusions to the main story and most side quests feel like substitutes for any deep engagement. The game handily transcends its mod origins and tells an ambitious and thought-provoking story, but it eventually reaches a point where it doesn’t seem sure how to end.

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Jul 21, 2021

Eventually, each story hurriedly resolves itself, foregoing tidy lessons or ironic endings but still lacking that crucial, elusive sense of lived-in authenticity. For as much effort has clearly gone into voicing and animating these characters within their 3D environments, we never spend enough time to seem like we really know them; quirks of the game’s strict linearity ensure we remain at a distance, observing relationships that are otherwise too thinly sketched to sustain the game’s emotional ambitions. Last Stop eventually arrives at an all-too-familiar game-design destination, hamstrung by its attempts at verisimilitude.

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May 24, 2021

Where other games tend to have a greater purpose and complexity behind more granular mechanics that demand closer attention from the player, Biomutant remains a rather simplified, if overstuffed, game of loot-hoovering. In practice, you’re still chasing objective markers and wandering salvageable areas in hopes of spotting the “interact with object” indicator. But while Biomutant’s breadth of options does indeed make that familiar process more rewarding than the norm, it never quite offsets the accompanying increase in tedium.

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May 20, 2021

While these limitations have the potential for forcing nail-biting compromises, the irritating micromanagement clashes with other elements that otherwise suggest a breezier game experience, like the rudimentary combat and the way the environment practically overflows with currency and crafting material. So much of The Wild at Heart elegantly sidesteps the usual pitfalls of a resource grind that it’s disheartening whenever it devolves into busywork.

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Mar 17, 2021

Mundaun's greatest achievement is the Swiss Alps setting that's brought to life with tangible vigor.

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Mar 8, 2021

Loop Hero functions as a statement of persistence in the face of the seemingly insurmountable.

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Jan 24, 2021

Hitman 3, for better and worse, splits the difference between player freedom and focused storytelling.

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