Ryan Gilliam


32 games reviewed
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Jun 29, 2022

With so many good brawls in Sunbreak, it’s frustrating that it falls victim to one of the biggest villains in AAA video games: bloat. I’d much rather see Sunbreak offer a shorter campaign with more of a focus on new monsters, and give me the option to fight Master Rank versions of the original roster at my leisure. But instead, I spent the opening hours of the expansion bashing familiar foes, just so I could get to the good stuff. As such, playing Sunbreak feels a bit like unwrapping an exciting present covered in too much tape.

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Unscored - Rogue Legacy 2
May 5, 2022

Rogue Legacy 2’s extremely random nature would crush a lesser game, but Cellar Door Games uses that pressure to create diamonds. Even if it’s occasionally frustrating, Rogue Legacy 2 refuses to ever let me be bored, and that’s more than enough to set it apart from the heap of roguelites that have followed in the original game’s wake. I’m 30 hours into Rogue Legacy 2, and I’m still discovering new toys to play with. But I still haven’t found another spoon.

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Mar 23, 2022

Kirby and the Forgotten Land burns too brightly, too soon, and that initial joy was hard to recall by the time the credits rolled.

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Mar 2, 2022

Eight years after those first clumsy beginnings, the series isn’t about Hope for the Future anymore. The Destiny I’ve always wanted is here.

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Many players will undoubtedly grab these versions to replay some classics from their childhood, and I already feel for them when that wave of disappointment hits. But truth be told, I feel worse for people hoping to finally give the series a try now that the entire collection is on a mobile, family-first platform. If that describes you, and you’ve been waiting for this moment to finally dive into Kingdom Hearts: Keep waiting.

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Jan 26, 2022

Still, Pokémon Legends: Arceus made me care about battling, and I actually wish there were more trainer battles scattered throughout the world. But I missed some of the predictability found in the mainline series. Whenever I'd go to swap out one Pokémon for another mid-battle, I held my breath, never knowing if I'd have to take a hit from the enemy before I could attack. Hours in, I felt like the game didn't give me enough information to make some of the strategic decisions I wanted to. I love the direction in which the battles are going with Legends: Arceus, but a handful of "what the hell" moments killed some of my enthusiasm.

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Unscored - God of War
Jan 12, 2022

Nothing compares to playing a game like God of War for the first time, seeing the way the water rushes out of the Lake of Nine as Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, rises from beneath the waves. But when the giant snake opened his mouth, and his voice bellowed through my headphones, I was even more awestruck by his design - his 4-year-old model and textures look excellent, even with my face just inches away from the monitor. The water dripping off of his mossy beard, the shadows in his nostrils, and his throat wavering while he speaks - it all looks better than ever. It's the same game, but with its already impressive sets and visuals turned up, creating an even more immersive experience.

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Unscored - Destiny 2
Dec 15, 2021

The next time I can sucker a friend or co-worker into playing Destiny with me, the first thing I’ll tell them to buy is the Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack, and I’ll run them through the Grasp of Avarice dungeon. Not because it’ll earn them Gjallarhorn — the series’ most famous weapon — but because it’s the perfect showcase of how special Destiny can be when Bungie’s own passion shines through.

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It’s rare that a single feature adds both accessibility and depth, but Hextech Mayhem stands out as a unique title capable of generating creativity on what otherwise seems like a linear path.

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I’ve spent years — the better part of a decade, since the Ruby and Sapphire remakes on 3DS — going through the motions with new Pokémon games, trying desperately to fight through superfluous features and recapture the magic of my childhood. But the Diamond and Pearl remakes’ simple, derivative, and basic formulas helped refocus my love for a franchise almost as old as I am.

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Nov 5, 2021

The message of the movies is that you can’t control nature, but Jurassic World Evolution 2 hits back by saying, “We’ll let you try anyway.” And I succeeded numerous times over nearly 20 hours with this park builder. Jurassic World Evolution 2 let me correct the sins of the past by corralling loose dinosaurs and building one of the most famous movie settings in history. And it let me do it my way while also making me feel like I’d succeeded where others failed.

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Oct 28, 2021

But in the end, despite its value for video game preservation and appreciation, Mario Party Superstars is more than that. It’s a collection of Mario Party’s best work, perfect for veteran partiers, newcomers, and everyone in-between.

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Oct 25, 2021

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the biggest surprise of the year

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Unscored - Back 4 Blood
Oct 8, 2021

Left 4 Dead is a beautiful relic, something I and many others spent hundreds of hours playing in high school and college. But with games like Warhammer: Vermintide 2 and even Aliens: Fireteam Elite branching out and taking more of a class-based approach, I was sure Back 4 Blood’s more classic bone structure would crumble under the pressure. But Back 4 Blood is more like that makeshift, armor-clad Hummer you see in every zombie show and movie: The bones of what it once was are easy to see, but it’s been reinforced to survive in a new environment.

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Oct 4, 2021

It’s the grim veneer that not only saves Alan Wake, but like his flashlight, burns through the darkness that is its cloying gameplay. Alan Wake’s sense of place, its themes, the mood it creates, makes it a classic, and nothing — not even time — can overshadow that.

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Sep 8, 2021

All of WarioWare: Get It Together!'s characters can compete in every single one of its microgames. And while some characters have clear strengths and weaknesses, it's impressive to see how co-developers Nintendo and Intelligent Systems made tweaks to each microgame to ensure that characters like 9-Volt or 18-Volt can still stand a chance against their more mobile co-workers.

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Unscored - Death's Door
Jul 29, 2021

For Dark Souls veterans, Death’s Door provides a less stressful but moody journey through a new world that offers familiar gameplay from a new, top-down perspective. But for players who’ve never played a game like this, Death’s Door gradually leads you into the deep end.

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Jun 10, 2021

Children are like sponges, eager to learn and soak up new knowledge to apply to the decades ahead of them. If you’re an adult who’s curious about how games work, Game Builder Garage is a fun, informative experience most of the time — but it’s one you may prefer to experience in short bursts, lest the slow-moving lessons force you to snap your Switch in two.

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Jun 8, 2021

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart earns its PS5 exclusivity

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Mar 23, 2021

Rise’s gameplay variety and mobility — all fueled by that little Wirebug — make it a must-try game for Monster Hunter skeptics and hardcore fans alike.

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