Every aspect of Flower serves its singular vision: nourishing and maintaining a 1-2 hour Zen-like experience. Vibrant colors, an incredible score, and meticulous eyes overseeing the game's pacing—Flower rises to the occasion. A decade later, little has changed, though the PC port suffers a good deal on account of its mouse and keyboard controls.
New studio flukyMachine's 2D runner-style platformer is every bored student's notebook come to life, proudly embracing its own eccentricities in the visuals department. But turn the page and one will find that the gameplay lacks the same luster, living in the shadows of its influences. While it does sport more-than-serviceable gameplay, Escape Doodland is a game worth playing for its charm and simplicity, not for its depth of mechanics or level design prowess.
SoulCalibur VI's combat could crack even the toughest case of fighting game-phobia; it's strategic, fluid, and deep, but remains as accessible as ever. It's unfortunate that it's hampered by a lack of interesting modes, and that its hefty single-player offerings attempt to shift the focus away from the robust combat system and towards stale, cumbersome stories.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 brings the series back to its roots and polishes that experience to a shine. It's a return to form for the decade-old tactical RPG series and its best entry to date, albeit playing it extremely safe. While it does iron out some of the kinks that plagued its predecessors, it does little else.
We Happy Few is an ambitious open-world survival game that does not benefit from being one. Tedious exploration courtesy of poorly-designed environments and underdeveloped survival mechanics detract from an otherwise strong main adventure. Charming presentation, colorful writing, and powerful environmental storytelling are highlights that are unfortunately eclipsed by a shallow open world.
Trion Worlds' “reimagined” Defiance does little to fix the crippled MMO and instead, uses the opportunity to try and capture a new audience with the same bland experience of yesteryear. Defiance 2050 has nothing to leverage but its free-to-play status, nothing to separate itself from the competition, and nothing of quality for new players to latch onto.
GARAGE: Bad Trip is a top-down twin-stick shooter that wants nothing more than to impress and excite. The sleek visuals and sublime sound design lure you in, then the fast-paced, challenging combat keeps you hooked on clearing level after level. However, missed opportunities and wasted potential take their toll on the game, limiting gameplay variety and giving rise to the game's tamer moments.
Rainbow Skies is an indie old school SRPG hiding a wealth of content behind its charming exterior. Improving upon the Rainbow Moon formula, the game doesn't skimp out on quality or quantity, featuring extensive party management, in-depth combat, a vast world to explore, and a myriad of foes to conquer. Unfortunately, the hundreds of hours of gameplay are not free from tedium and suffer from a lack of variety.
There are a decent amount of weapons, enemy types, and environments, but those are cold comforts in the face of frustrating issues like awkward weapon management, unpolished platforming, wonky enemy AI, and tedious combat encounters. A good first attempt, but the game suffers from poor design all around.