Stifled is a stealth horror game that brings its own flair to the genre by using echolocation to see in the dark. The player has to use their own voice to see, but also must be cautious to avoid attracting the attention of creatures hiding in the void. Stifled has a truly unique core gameplay mechanic that is both interesting and nerve-racking, but it seems underutilized throughout the game. The repetitive design of the levels minimizes the horror impact of the gameplay, and the lack of diversity and AI in the monsters leaves much to be desired. At a $20 price tag, the game felt more like an overpriced proof-of-concept juxtaposed with a completely unrelated story rather than a full-fledged horror experience.
Bus Simulator 18, at its core, is a good simulator game with a whole lot of soul. It brings a lot of playability options to the table, whether you want to just drive a bus or manage the whole company. The driving is complex enough to keep the player involved, and the economic systems provide a respite for players tired of being behind the wheel. However, the game is hurt by some frustrating bugs and sub-par traffic systems.
The Sunken Kingdom is a fairly small expansion for the Strange Brigade, and while it doesn't exactly bring a whole compendium of new mechanics and adventures into play, it serves as a strong continuation of all the things I enjoyed about the original Strange Brigade campaign. Players get a chance to explore a beautiful and fun mission, all in the shoes of a brand new character. The DLC also brings some new weapons, equipment, and amulet powers to the playing field, giving players some room to experiment with different combinations. In addition the DLC, Rebellion has done a great job of periodically adding new (and free) content to keep players entertained, so there's no reason to expect them to stop now.
Ashen is a game created in the same vein as some of the predecessors of its genre, like Dark Souls or Bloodborne. It imitates a great deal of the mechanics from those games but also brings a unique and beautiful art style as well a sense of organic progression that enhances the feel of the game. For those lovers of games like Dark Souls, it's hard to guarantee that you'll find the same experience, but there's still a heck of a lot to like about what sets Ashen apart.
This game was good. It was everything I hoped for. The style and design of the game are interesting and fun. The gameplay has great fighting mechanics, a mix of easy and challenging puzzles, and beautiful environments. Horde mode and Score Attack work together to provide a strong alternative to the story.
Nioh 2 does what a good sequel should. It capitalizes on the best parts of its predecessors while providing new content and mechanics to advance the franchise. While the story structure and level design are largely the same, added weapons, more build depth, and new combat mechanics all enhance what the game has to offer. It doesn't always hit the mark perfectly, but it's a solid addition to the series. And let's face it, being a samurai is awesome.
Zombie Army 4 feels like an old friend you're reconnecting with after a few years. Even though it's similar to its predecessors, the game has been refined into something that holds greater mass appeal. Weapon upgrading, fresh enemy design, and a packed progression system give players a reason to keep coming back. The core gameplay loop is even better more when tackled in co-op, yielding some hilarious and action-packed adventures. Despite the good, the game's core issues arise from a bland campaign that lacks the impressive set pieces and locations from the previous iterations.
Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle is another successful entry in Capcom's recent efforts to bring more retro games back into the fold. It's a solid experience whether you're looking to relive the glory days of the arcade, or discover the types of games that cost your gaming predecessors all their coveted quarters. With seven different arcade brawlers in the game, there's plenty to love if you're just looking for a relaxing night of solo games. But bring a few friends into the fold, and you've got the makings of a solid game night.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the fifteenth iteration of a storied Call of Duty franchise, blends old and new to put itself in the upper echelon of Call of Duty games. Despite its lack of a traditional campaign, the game impresses in plenty of other aspects. The newcomer mode, Blackout, puts a fun and compelling Call of Duty spin on the battle royale genre. Multiplayer's boots find the ground again and take me all the way back to my fondest memories of the original Black Ops. Although it's not historically my favorite type of mode, Zombies really kicks it up a notch, with more maps and customization than ever before (not to mention even crazier Easter Eggs).
At its core, the game just feels great to play, and that's a small detail that a lot of nearly great games miss out on. The remaster polishes almost every system, while somehow leaving the soul of the game perfectly intact. Both longtime fans and first-time commanders would do well to give this one a shot.
Forsaken looks and feels like the Destiny 2 we all wanted at launch. It now has to stand the test of time, but the first few weeks of the game are a solid indication that Bungie has learned from their mistakes, and are on a path to perfecting what the game should be. Good story, great core mechanics, a satisfying and rewarding grind, and a really exemplary unique game mode mark Forsaken as one of the best expansions in the life of the series. If you were holding out or looking for the moment to dive into Destiny 2, this is it.
The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an absolute pleasure and a strong continuation of Activision's commitment to remastering classic games. For those who grew up with or loved the old Spyro games, I can't imagine you won't find yourself engrossed in the collective quality of these remasters. For those new to the world of Spyro, this game is a winner even without its history. Plus, a very attainable set of achievements (or trophies) means you can earn yourself some rewards along the way.