Having just finished playing Outbreak: The New Nightmare a couple days ago, it’s almost impressive how forgettable it was; I had to keep going back to the game to remember what I saw and experienced, even after going through every Campaign and Experiments mission, each of which lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Sadly, this has the look and feel of an incomplete Steam game, and I had to triple check the price for this because I couldn’t believe that it really is $13 on PS4. Given the short amount of time between most releases in the Outbreak series, I can only recommend that the developer spend much, much more time on each entry. That way, maybe the next one will play better and the visuals might not only look better, but consist of way fewer reused assets that didn’t look so good in the first place. I realize this will fall on deaf ears since Outbreak: Lost Hope, the fourth game in the series, will likely be out on PS4 by the time this review goes up. Maybe (or should I say, hopefully) the later releases are better, because this is priced way above what it’s actually worth.
Colt Canyon does many, many things right. The core gameplay is addictive. The visuals and presentation are wonderful, in spite of brown being the dominant color much of the time. I wasn’t bored for a second. However, I also feel no need to go back to it again, even with the slew of unlockables. Fans of rogue-likes and semi-top-down shooters will likely have no regrets shelling (heh) out $14.99 for this. Perhaps I’m jaded from playing the unpatched version at first, but after riding off into the sunset once, I’m content to drop the six-shooter, rifle, shotgun, bow, knife, and whatever other weapons I found in this game and move on.
I have mixed emotions with Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break. There are nagging technical issues and the game design incorporates a game genre I despise, but I can’t deny how much fun I had with most of it. I got about six hours of entertainment out of the single player campaign alone, close to an hour of which was me begrudgingly playing the modes more focused on tower defense. $30 might be a bit much if you’re like me and aren’t as into the tower defense aspects of the game. If it goes on sale though, go right ahead and be prepared to rock and/or roll.
Indiecalypse stands as an example of misplaced effort. Instead of being one polished game, it’s a cobbled together mess of several different incomplete builds of games. Even the Kickstarter backer list seems rushed, since none of the names are in alphabetical order. The humor isn’t dark so much as desperate and annoying to a degree that even Meet the Spartans thinks it’s overdoing it. In a way its portrayal of video game fans and developers reminds me of the movie Ready to Rumble, which is about pro wrestling and designed for its fans, but ends up depicting those fans as dumb, immature, irrational troglodytes. This game isn’t even four hours long, but not only did it feel much longer, I had to keep taking breaks every twenty minutes or so. Sometimes I just had to play something else, but usually I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling because this game’s sense of humor has that effect. $12.99 is far too much, and I’m not sure any sale price could justify ever buying this.
While it’s functional as a game, I expected more from Habroxia. That may sound unfair, but my expectation was not to breeze through everything the game had to offer in less time than a Lord of the Rings movie and feel no urge to return to any of it. What it does right, it does with no particular finesse. It’s a shooter in which I was able to get away with not shooting anything, or mindlessly holding the fire buttons on way too many occasions. Considering what else is available, not just on consoles but on PC as well, I struggle to recommend this to anyone, barring a massive discount from its $7.99 asking price.
Treachery In Beatdown City well surpassed my expectations. I was skeptical of the combat system and how long it could hold my interest, but after nearly six hours I find myself wanting the second episode to drop the moment I finish typing this review. It scales up nicely in difficulty and sprinkles in new moves, new enemies and new tactics at just the right rate to keep things interesting the whole way through. I’m usually the “wait for a sale” type and not keen on episodic games, particularly ones that cost $20 on the Nintendo eShop, but even if the second episode somehow bombed I’d still be happy with what the first delivered. Here’s hoping that wherever the game goes from here, it involves even more fighting and a healthy helping of Farooq’s halal.
I want to like Bookbound Brigade more than I do. I like the concept of working in several references to classic literature and historical figures in a big ol’ side-scrolling adventure. As is, it’s a serviceable Metroidvania with somewhat awkward combat and levels composed of rooms that blend together and stretch on for way too long. It took almost 18 hours for me, in large part due to navigation problems. Like how every word in a good book is written with purpose, this game needs to better apply that methodology to its level design. It could easily scale back some rooms and/or improve navigation and trim a few unnecessary hours off its run time. If monotony isn’t an issue, you’ll probably find the $19.99 it costs to be worth it in the end.
As much as I like the world and story of The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, as well as most of the gameplay, I can’t overlook how much it felt like the game was being padded with fetch quests and picky event triggers. I lasted eight hours on the first go, but had to keep taking breaks every 30-40 minutes or so because I could only do so much backtracking or scanning of every wall in every room for hints before needing to do something, anything else. For those with a higher tolerance for it, the $15 asking price (or about $23 for a deluxe bundle with the artbook, soundtrack and two DLC costumes) should be well worth it. After all, someone needs to help Mina out so she doesn’t have to settle for a disappointing B on her exams. Yes, really.
Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san! A River City Ransom Story is a fun, if not frustrating at times, spin-off of the Kunio-kun games. However, as a game designed to be played through several times, often completing vague objectives to get certain endings or rankings, it quickly lost its charm for me. If you’re confident the gameplay loop won’t get old, the $13.99 asking price will probably seem like a good deal. Otherwise, I’d look elsewhere to get your fix of high schoolers beating up other high schoolers and/or time travelers.
Devil’s Hunt is a game that knows the look of a high-quality video game, but stumbles on most other fronts. It has the skeleton of the game in place, but struggles to flesh things out beyond that. Clocking in at about six hours, it’s a mostly functional package that takes a grandiose story as its base and delivers something less bombastic. Hopefully Desmond can get his act together should another installment come to fruition.
Whether or not Jet Kave Adventure is worth it comes down to whether you think you’ll replay the stages to complete all the extra challenges. My initial playthrough lasted just short of four and a half hours, but I completed almost no challenges and missed several trophies. I want to recommend it to people who just want a nice platforming experience, but between its other shortcomings and the asking price of $19.99, I’m leaning more toward waiting for a sale. It’s functional fun, though not necessarily a total package.
Silver Chains is a story-driven horror game that almost immediately can’t keep its story straight. Even if it did, the aimless wandering and general lack of threat the two monsters pose make the already tired scare tactics at work even weaker. It’s competently made (which is rare nowadays for a Steam horror game) and has some clear inspiration, but badly needs a more creative take on its character design, setting and gameplay. As is, it merely blends in with the sea of Steam horror titles that use the same settings, scares and game mechanics. $25 is too much for this short, disjointed experience. Even with a price drop, there’s not enough to distinguish Silver Chains as anything other than another brick in the Steam horror wall.
If this were just a review of the first ninety percent of Unruly Heroes I’d give it a higher score. It’s enjoyable and challenging enough to keep wanting to see what’s next. However, the perfect storm of problems near the end left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s still a fun experience, one that lasted almost seven hours for me, though one that comes with a big asterisk. If having friends along for the ride helps, there is local and online co-op, inexplicably called “Player Vs Player” in-game, for up to four people (though I couldn’t find anyone to try it with). At $20 across all storefronts, I’d recommend it as long as you’re patient enough to make it through the endgame.
It seems like the narrative is supposed to carry the day, what with the gameplay being rather uninspiring. However, after a little under five and a half hours, I got an ending which left several plot points unresolved and felt like sequel bait. There’s little reason to go back to it, outside of finding the collectibles. Even then you can’t see them outside of when they’re picked up, so it’s just for those desperate to say they accomplished everything. In the end Close to the Sun is a competently made game, but one with more style than substance. Its backstory and setting end up being the most engaging parts, with little else to keep the player slowly jogging deeper into the bowels of the Helios. For $30, there are more fulfilling and better executed experiences to be had.
It only took me about an hour and a half to finish Classic mode on normal, then another half-hour to get the other secret items and finish the final stage. That doesn’t sound like much, but there’s enough to do in Venture Kid that I played through it a couple times and went through Survival mode too. Also, there’s next to no downtime in this game; it’s almost constant action, and it just feels good to clear a room of spike pits or avoid flame jets and the like. It’s a pleasant retro-styled experience, one worth the $10 price tag if you’re planning to do all there is to do. Whether a veteran of the genre or just getting into it, there’s room for both to enjoy this.
Sweet Sachiko’s Hysteric Birthday Bash may hold appeal to hardcore Corpse Party fans, giving the chance to see several characters from different schools meet or reunite and interact with each other. Beyond that, the story can’t figure out what it wants to be, tries to be everything, doesn’t do anything particularly well, and ends up undermining what it does right. Padded out to about 10 hours in length, it’s at least worth the $20 price tag in that regard. I’ll still play the regular Corpse Party games some time, but ultimately I took little away from this spin-off.
All in all, I spent over 15 hours going from Zama to the farthest reaches of the game’s world and back. It’s extremely ambitious for Kiro’o Games to dive into the deep end with a game of this scope right off the bat, even with the framework they built up from years prior. Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a game which shows tremendous heart and dedication to making a legitimately fun and beautiful game, but also some of the pitfalls of a developer’s first big title. That said, in spite of the technical issues, I do recommend playing Aurion. It’s available right now on Steam for $14.99. For those who want more of the lore behind the game, there is also a comic which delves deeper into the game’s events.
All said, for $25 it’s hard to go wrong with Distance. The intensity and challenge are there, but don’t feel overwhelming outside of where it’s expected like, say, in Challenge mode. While the campaign’s attempt at storytelling can be hit or miss, the strength of its gameplay across all modes carries the day for it. Reckless and wild in all the right ways, Distance is the change of pace in racing games I didn’t realize I needed.
With the main game split into eight acts, it took me a little over four hours to get through Engage mode. There is some enjoyment to be had floating around a derelict space station for a bit, but in the end it comes off as a game which isn’t bad per se, doesn’t particularly excel at much. The various design pieces don’t quite fit together, but are forced to fit like an impatient kid with a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle. For $19.99, considering how short the game ended up being and the technical issues affecting the experience, I’d give Downward Spiral: Horus Station a chance if there were a decent sale, but a pass at full price.
This is unacceptable for a $5 game, let alone Crimson Keep’s $20 asking price. After dozens of attempts and five hours I will never get back, I managed to get to the third level once, then almost immediately starved to death. Crimson Keep is a thrown-together mess that feels like it only got halfway through its development cycle before being shoved into the limelight. The only people I could possibly recommend this game to are the most hardcore eShop collectors, but that’s only if my conscience stops screaming at me to take that statement back. I don’t know if the Steam version is any better, but because of this I have no desire to find out. Give this a hard pass and randomly generate your way to something better.