Tales from the Borderlands is killing it in just about every capacity. The writers, the aesthetic, the voice actors, the gameplay, everything is living up to what I would want out of a non-FPS Borderlands game. But the humor does rely heavily on knowing the Borderlands universe. So if you haven't played any of the games, you might want to play through them before you pick up Tales. (Just a heads up, you can skip the first one if you want to get straight to the good stuff.)
This War of Mine delivers a setting that is depressing and unsettling. It's a slow-paced resource management strategy game that will hang over you long after you walk away from it. Admittedly, it tip-toes into being melodramatic at times, and the controls could benefit from some hotkeys to back up the point-and-click interface. But the mechanics and setting are so well done, it's an absolute must play for anyone looking for an example of how all the different parts of a game can come together to create an affecting and immersive experience for a player.
As far as introductions go, Zer0 Sum gives us a hell of a welcome to Tales from the Borderlands. The aesthetics and writing are true to the source material, the humor is on point, the characters and voice acting are great, and the story is entertaining and engaging. Since they're turning a traditionally FPS series into a point-and-click adventure, it heavily relies on quicktime events and action sequences, but it does a good job of mixing objectives and pacing to keep it from getting stale. "Zer0 Sum" sets up a lot of exciting possibilities and daunting mysteries into motion, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
Heavy Bullets encourages smart, slow, and steady tactics instead of jumping in and unloading in every room. It lets you be a bad ass one man army, while still keeping you struggling and hungry for more. Outside of a few ergonomic missteps, especially with the controller integration, it delivers an intense and immersive experience that rivals a lot of AAA FPS titles.
The newest installment in the Gauntlet franchise is a lot of fun, and the gameplay is strongly reminiscent of classic gaming, while taking advantage of some modern conventions. All of the characters handle differently, and each world has a distinct flavor to it. I like how the leveling system works, since it depends on multiple playthroughs- it fits very well with what I expect from a Gauntlet game. Unfortunately, the lack of variety in levels doesn't warrant more than a couple playthroughs. Which really hampers a game that hinges on you and your friends beating it and coming back for more.
Overall, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare lives up to the franchise's expectations. It looks, feels, and plays like a CoD game, and there's been quite a few additions to make Halo fans like me interested. They've done some work to make the game more welcoming to newcomers, and a lot of detail has gone into the single player campaign to make it as cinematic as a summer blockbuster. And despite a few hiccups, it plays a lot like one. If you already like Call of Duty, and you're a Halo fan to boot- you won't be disappointed by this installment in the series.
Even though it has a few annoying and erroneous elements and an uncompelling, cringeworthy story, Dead Rising 3 is still an incredibly fun game. If you're looking for something where you can turn your brain off and go ballistic- Dead Rising 3 is going to be a perfect fit for you.
This is a game that's three inches deep, but nine miles wide- and I mean that as a compliment. The gameplay and spellcrafting mechanics are easy to understand, and between of the sheer number of spells, races, and classes you can combine, you aren't going to run out of stuff to discover any time soon. And the good news is that there's a ton of enemies that will require you to find and master these spells as quickly as possible. If you're a completionist, Runers is a dream come true.
Overall, The Wolf Among Us has been an amazing experience. While the gameplay and layout are nearly identical to The Walking Dead; the tone, story, and artwork take The Wolf Among Us out of its predecessor's shadow and give it a permanent place at its side as a prime example of expert storytelling in gaming- with the side effect of the two games being cursed to forever being mentioned in tandem. I know I already said this up top, but if you haven't already started playing The Wolf Among Us (or The Walking Dead for that matter) you need to get on it ASAP.
While obviously being influenced by games like Limbo, Monochroma has a flavor and story all its own. Monochroma is a good game at heart, but it's hidden under technical errors and gameplay flaws that gave me no end of frustration. If you're on the fence about buying this game, you should play the Demo they released with their Kickstarter project to see what you think. But at the very least, you should definitely check out the OST by Gevende.
Dark Souls II lives up to the series' reputation for being unrelentingly difficult- but it's worth digging in your heels and spending a lot of time with it. The PC port is just as good, if not better than it's console counterpart, but you're going to want to use a gamepad. Using a keyboard is possible, and there's even a few mods out there to make it more functional and ergonomic, but it's still clunky and unintuitive compared to using a controller.
Fabletown is in upheaval, and these characters that I've cared about for a long time are getting thrown into increasingly dark and tragic scenarios. And I love it. Telltale continues to be faithful to the source material while adding characters and plot twists that surprise you. Even though the controls threw a roadblock into my immersion in a couple places, I'm still heavily invested in The Wolf Among Us, and can't wait to see what happens to Sherif Bigby and Snow next.
The easiest way to summarize Luftrausers is to call it the Hotline Miami of dogfighting games. It's incredibly difficult, but it's really good at sinking it's claws into you to keep you launching your planes onto the battlefield. It's a game that's really easy to binge on, but since it naturally comes in bite-sized battles, you might get a bit more staying power if you get it on the Vita and play it a couple hours at a time.
If you're looking for a turn-based strategy game with brutal combat, and you're into managing resources for a team of characters, Blackguards is just what you're looking for. It's a gorgeous game with memorable battles. But because the game's focus is obviously on combat, no matter how pretty the towns are, they feel like backdrops for your character sheets and inventory.
While Smoke and Mirrors is a little on the short side, The Wolf Among Us continues to impress with its story-driven gameplay that adapts to your previous decisions in unexpected ways. The story gets even more sinister and takes us to the darker parts of Fabletown, which is saying something, since episode one opens with The Woodsman beating up a prostitute in a run-down tenement building. Even if you've never heard of Fables before, if you're a fan of noir fiction and like a healthy dose of mysticism, you should be playing The Wolf Among Us.