The Long Gate took the fun parts of my Computer Science degree and mashed it back in with the tedious stuff. The puzzles are good, the world built around them is fantastic, but the marriage of the two is one destined for divorce. This type of first-person puzzler just doesn't work for me. Keep the First Person to the Shooters, and keep the puzzlers top down. I commend the attempt and vision of the game, but for me it was a combination doomed to fail.
I'm not sure what happened with Greak: Memories of Azur. The elements are all there. The ingredients in place to create something wonderful, and it does look stunning. But the execution is a complete let down. The promise fails to bind together because for every clever idea, every good intention, there is some frustration looming alongside. For every good bit there is something bad, and the end result left me feeling like the package was less than the sum of its parts.
Action roguelikes is a genre seeing a bit of a surge of new entires lately, and Hades is as good or better as anything you will find in that field. It offers an overall experience in storytelling and gameplay that is top-notch regardless of genre. It's this incredibly unique type of game and play loop that turns your every failure and death into a reward of unlocking more story, injecting more humor, and inviting you to take a stab at one more run. It's won numerous game of the year awards on PC, and there is no reason for those accolades to stop with the port to consoles. Just don't forget to give Cerebus a pet on your way to the next run.
Dreamscaper combines solid gameplay elements and narrative in an excellent and carefully crafted adventure. While there are occasional difficulty jumps that break the loop, there are mechanics to put things back together and push onward in a journey of discovery and heart. It's a good roguelike outright that also succeeds weaving in storytelling that most games are often too fearful to even try.
Sniping is a mechanic found in just about every FPS game, but it's the rarer entries into the genre, like Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, that focus the entire gameplay loop around it. That loop is done well and the core of the game is an excellent, puzzle-like experience of picking off a target with precision and skill from a kilometer away. The game mostly falters in that, with only five missions in play at launch, and very little offered around this core loop, it all feels a little short. There is a good game here, and here's hoping the planned DLC can really reveal the best bits and offer more of that satisfying core experience.
I am a sucker for this very type roguelike deck building game, and in RogueBook I have found a worthy successor to my favorite in the space, Slay the Spire. While I might think Slay the Spire has that edge on the given mechanics and strategies of a single run, I believe RogueBook excels at world building, game progression, and re-playablity as new power-ups, characters, cards, map items, and challenges are unlocked not just on every run but especially after successfully completing the core game. Each is excellent, each game deserves to be enjoyed. To prefer one over the other is to prefer chocolate syrup over caramel, but in both you are treated to a delicious dessert of fun and strategic gaming.
I really appreciate what Beautiful Desolation is trying to do with creative storytelling; well-developed characters; and a mind-bending and beautiful, albeit desolate, sci-fi world. I just ended up too frustrated by the limitations of the console medium and a lack of direction in many of the quests to ultimately recommend this game on this platform. It's a point-and-click adventure presented without a pointer or a clicker, better played on PC.
Biomutant attempts to channel many inspirations into a compelling package. It does much of that extremely well, excelling at world building and creating a fluid combat system to drive the experience. The one area it falls short is in tying it all together with an engrossing narrative. It not only fails at the narrative, but even worse, fails at the very mechanics of delivering the story. Wander the world on your own initiative and experience a great game; follow the path of the main quest and suffer the letdown of a mediocre tale, told poorly.
Trials of Fire is a fantastic deck-building game. It is enhanced by also acting like a rouguelike for endless replayability, and it crafts a rich world around its characters. Trials of Fire only disappoints on one front: that the story it actually tells seems more like a teaser than an epic. While I can't complain in that it is priced like a single episode in a longer saga, I am left wanting for the rest of the saga. Maybe that's altogether not the worst thing...
Curse of the Dead Gods is a finely polished roguelike that embodies the best elements of the genre. It has a battle scheme that is simple to grasp but requires skill to master. It balances the progression of each run with penalties to maintain a steady, yet shifting, challenge. It brings a few elements over that a roguelike purist might scoff at, but does so purely to the benefit of the game, and aids a progression system that feels meaningful while not demeaning the overall challenge. It nails that hallmark of the roguelike where you always feel like maybe dipping in for one more run.