Star Renegades had me enamored from the opening cutscene and sunk its claws deep with its tactically-sound combat, incredible aesthetic, pulse-pounding soundtrack, great story elements, and superb writing. I wish that its meta progression elements were more significant and that it didn't insist on being yet another rogue-lite, but I still felt compelled - even after some really sour defeats - to come back and fight the good fight against the Imperium.
Kingdoms of Amalur was one of the most underrated games of the previous decade and its return will make that pretty clear to some players. However, the remastering of this borderline classic is hamstrung by a 2012 inventory and menu system, a 2012 user interface, and 2012 icons and health bar.
With a haunting and beautiful world as a backdrop to a solid "Souls-like" RPG, Mortal Shell is a much better game than it has any right to be. The magnificent presentation, mixed with the unique take on character progression, steals the show here and despite dying dozens upon dozens of times, I was hooked from the moment that combat started making sense to me.
A combat system that's deeper than it first appears is the real star here, but you'll likely also stick around for the perverse and disturbing universe and the story that plays out within it. The voiceover work will quickly annoy you and the difficulty is unfair, but there is still a bit to enjoy here, assuming you can ignore some of Othercide's shortcomings. I wanted to like Othercide much more than I did.
Part racing game, part destruction derby, and even part tower defense, Rock of Ages 3 is all ridiculous fun. With a variety of gameplay modes and a map editor, there's a lot of life to this game, too. Rock of Ages 3 is a game that focuses on just being plain ol' fun and you know something? It really is.
A run-of-the-mill procedural twin-stick roguelike that has a unique aesthetic and premise, but little else. Without more content, more variety, and more exciting unlockables, West of Dead is dead in the water. Or will remain in gaming purgatory. Either way, I have very little faith in West of Dead's future.
With decent production values, interesting characters, visceral and demanding battles, and great writing, Mutant Year Zero is a game that is easy to recommend to those looking for a unique genre mashup in a fun, if not a bit overdone, setting. Playing on normal difficulty will require you to think a bit more tactically than that you're probably used to and it may cause some aggravation, but getting through the battles and progressing through the game is worth it.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is what happens when you safely positively iterate on a beloved game. It doesn't pull any punches and returns to the series' roots in a way that is both nostalgic and new. By adding more character depth, a new class and expanding the battlefields, Sega has really managed to capture my attention again. It might be too safe, but it's great to see such a solid new addition to a series of games that have had a few missteps.
It's nearly unheard of for a company to pick up the rights to a game franchise and actually do the damn thing justice, but here we are with Star Control: Origins. The adventure is fun, funny, and all together engaging. I'm probably as surprised as you are that the game is actually this good. Thankfully, Stardock really seems to have the same reverence and respect for Star Control as its biggest fans do.