Playing video games should always be a fun experience, and if I find myself not enjoying time spent in a game, I begin to seriously question my use of said time. There were moments of Mabel and the Wood that I genuinely enjoyed, but bugs, glitches, poor design, and frustrating mechanics created an affair of disappointment. Considering I was actually unable to finish the campaign to completion, as well as the multitude of quality metroidvania adventures available on nearly every gaming platform, I can not in good conscious recommend a game that is, at its core, broken.
I can’t think of any other single player game that has offered such a wide breadth and endless stream of content without having to pay for every new level. Whether you are a creative and inspiring designer, a swift fingered speedrunner, or a casual weekend Mario newbie, there will forever be another flagpole to grab, castle to conquer, and princess to save in the incomparable Super Mario Maker 2. The team at Level Down Games can not put it down, and if you decide to make the purchase, we’re certain you won’t be able to either.
Stranger Things 3: The Game does little to add to the mythos of the Stranger Things universe, but still serves as a worthy companion piece to champions of the Netflix series. Fan service is high in the game and though it rehashes the story of the third season with each step, I didn’t grow weary of controlling the not-so-young-anymore children through their high-stakes adventure. A lot of the charm from the show’s dialogue is lost in the translation to gaming, but much of what you love about Stranger Things is still very much intact. Side quests and collectibles not mentioned in the show fill in the gaps that otherwise would have made the game feel lacking. This game is not a revolution of television tie-in gaming experiences, but offers enough content for the price point to satisfy even a casual watcher of the series.
Everything in My Friend Pedro works just right with plenty of shock value and jaw dropping moments to keep you excited throughout. The challenge ramps up wonderfully and by the end of the game, you’ll be Googling to see if the developer has plans for a sequel. But don’t worry, something as novel and beautiful as this is only a few years away from becoming a Triple A title in franchises that you already love.
Dauntless is a free-to-play action RPG developed by Phoenix Labs and debuted a full release across Windows, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 with fully functional cross-play. The game closely resembles the gameplay structure of the popular Capcom series, Monster Hunter. Though not without its problems, Dauntless might be one of the best free-to-play games currently available.
I didn’t hate a single minute of my time with Shakedown: Hawaii; in fact, I rather enjoyed almost all of it. The game retails for $19.99, which is a fair price if you are a fan of the genre. Vblank took a pass on the creative storytelling to bring ultimately satisfying and responsive gameplay, and mowing over pedestrians in a hijacked vehicle while shooting an automatic rifle out the window and using a flamethrower to wreak havoc in a trailer park feels (in the most non-psychotic way possible) as fulfilling as you can imagine.
BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is a fun and interesting game concept that could have been a wonderful entrance for the characters onto Nintendo’s new platform, but falls short in game length and exploration of its mechanics. I enjoyed the time I spent with the game, but did not ultimately feel that the total experience justified the $9.99 price point. With Nintendo’s recent foray into mobile games, I can’t help but wonder whether these characters and this franchise wouldn’t be more appropriate to represent Nintendo in that market.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are familiar with the nightmares and stories of horror from Cuphead veterans. The game is notoriously difficult and unforgiving, and some battles can be repeated ad nauseum for hours before you finally perfect the techniques. But if you’re able to set aside your rage, get a good grip on your Pro Controller, and power through try after try, you will be lucky enough to dive into one of the prettiest and most unique games of this generation, and maybe ever.
Katana ZERO is a modern masterpiece with a nearly perfect aesthetic. The graphics are beautifully rendered and animated, the music masterfully composed, and the gameplay tight and satisfying. Almost every moment of this game is used meaningfully and, despite its overall relatively short play time, leaves you with a full story with enough twists and turns that keep you playing to the end and ultimately leave you satisfied.
In a few hours of play, you will see almost everything this game has to offer you, but I doubt you’ll be done with it. It’s easy to boot the game and temper your stresses for anywhere between minutes and hours. ISLANDERS is a wonderful excursion into a simple world of city building, puzzle fitting, and high scores.
There’s a lot of good to be said about the world of The Division 2. The world feels very real, characters feel absolutely believable, and the game was crafted with obvious love. For some, especially fans of looter games, they will find a satisfying loop of running, gunning, grenades and gear to please the palate. For others, myself included, the core gameplay loop never becomes anything deeper than exactly what it appears, and the seemingly endless cycle of upgrading gear just to get more will wear itself thin before you reach the highest tiers of power.
My mother always told me that forgiveness is a virtue. EA, publisher of Apex Legends, has made it difficult to embody this attribute because over the course of many sunken dollars, they have disappointed me with undelivered promises, pricey in-game transactions, and abandoned developments. However, like a beaten dog, I’ve come whimpering back to their wide open, well-polished arms. Apex Legends is fun, it’s addicting, and the urge to play JUST ONE MORE is ever present. It’s difficult to say after not even a week since its launch, but if you’re looking for the next big competitive game, Apex Legends might just be it. I, for one, will be happy if it is.
Sometimes, I want to relax and play something that doesn’t require too much effort or thought, and Pikuniku certainly filled that hole in a playing catalogue that, for me, is usually occupied by the newest hardcore, realistic, blood-and-guts grit fest. The game garnered plenty of laughs from me and I’ve recommended it to a few friends to try; especially since it was free on Twitch for Amazon Prime subscribers for a few days. The price tag on Steam is set at $12.99, which may be a little high for a short, low-budget game with little replay value, but if you find yourself bored and looking for something fun to do with a few extra bucks and one of Steam’s frequent sales on your radar, Pikuniku isn’t a bad choice at all.