What I find most remarkable about Sea of Stars is that, despite not caring all that much about its characters, the gameplay was good enough that I was invested throughout. Managing the meters of each battle, and exploring the colorful landscapes and dungeons that connect them, is so entertaining that my quibbles about other aspects couldn't bring the experience down. The story isn't especially compelling, but it perfectly serves the purpose it needs to: getting you from the fun of A to the fun of B without any real hiccups in between. Howard Hawks once said that a movie needs "three good scenes and no bad ones" to be great. That's what Sea of Stars has going for it. Nothing that'll bother you too much, and plenty of good.
Despite its flaws, Scars Above's engaging combat and expansive toolkit keep it interesting for its entire 10-hour campaign. Though its world is gray and the story leading you through its levels is a let down, the moment-to-moment gameplay makes the journey worth taking. This space adventure isn't the final frontier of third-person action games, but it manages to offer roughly the same thrills as a pretty good SyFy Original movie. It isn't the cutting edge, but it's sharp in its own right.
Once you do find the paths you need to take, the story is over before it ever got going. The game's opening makes it feel like your character is embarking on a quest, but that journey ends after one stop. In that way, Season is structured like spring. You barely realize it's here before it's already gone.
Immortality feels like a logical endpoint for the last seven years of Barlow's work. Though his cast has expanded to include a full Smash Bros. roster's worth of characters, and the script has expanded to include three full movies with contributions from several writers, it feels like he has ended up, basically, where he started. Like Her Story, Immortality is really about one woman. As in Her Story, she may not be who you think she is.
Though this is the weakest map in the Hitman 3 lineup — excluding, maybe, the experimental train level, Carpathian Mountains — it’s still a Hitman level, i.e. pretty good. It doesn’t hit the standard IO Interactive has set for itself (and it will be a shame if this is the last map Hitman 3 gets), but that still makes it more interesting and worthy of exploration than the vast majority of video game levels I've played this year. IO is playing with interesting ideas, but this iteration just isn't there yet.
Still, Who Pressed Mute On Uncle Marcus? is an enjoyable and sometimes funny yarn, with a strong script, solid performances, and an intriguing central mystery. It doesn't push the FMV genre forward in any meaningful ways like Sam Barlow's Her Story and Telling Lies did, and it could use a better log to keep track of which lines of questioning you've already pursued. But, it's an enjoyable genre exercise that takes a dull experience we're all familiar with after two years of a pandemic, and somehow makes it fun again.
This is a small project, but it packs in its share of indelible images. Aperture Desk Job confirms that, even when working on a limited scale, Valve is still the best in the biz at plopping you down in the middle of a well-realized sci-fi world and conjuring up a host of imaginative sights before your wide, unblinking eyes.