There are moments when The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria hints at what it could have been, such as when you’re mining a rich vein of ore in some dark tunnel, and your dwarf becomes inspired to sing. They’ll clear their throat and give voice to a story of trolls and orcs and the beating that will rain down on them if they cross your path. The game briefly feels alive, the story making the cold mines warm. But then the song stops, and you’re still mining, and all you have to look forward to is a long walk back to the forge.
Everything about the dinosaurs is a joy, as it should be in a Jurassic World game, but it makes the weakness of the park management layer plain. The disparity between managing the dinosaurs and managing your guests is all the more apparent because Frontier made the excellent Planet Coaster.
All of this makes Titan Souls a tough game to recommend. Personally, I found it a chore, becoming so caught up in my frustration that it became difficult to enjoy the detailed pixel artwork, take in the soundtrack, or even find satisfaction in finally killing a boss. However, I think there are players who will love this game. It is an unforgiving, unrelenting challenge that almost no other game offers.
I wanted to like Hotline Miami 2. I adored the first game, and everything the trailers promised - new weapons, enemies, mechanics, and violence, oodles of violence - looked excellent. However, it's just not as enjoyable. The first game felt like a focussed blast of adrenaline. Hotline Miami 2's always stopping and starting, its new characters feel rough and buggy, and the new reliance on guns restricts how you can approach combat.
The strange characters you meet never become more than a whimsical cut-outs with a few lines of dialogue. Shortly after you meet them you're off to the next surreal setpiece. It gives the sense that the city simply looks lovely but the team haven't put similar thought into the people who live in the place. In games like Broken Age, which is far weaker on the puzzle front, there's a fascinating story that's pulling you through the game. It lets down an otherwise excellent game.
The real problem is that Talos suffers in comparisons. While Portal was just a series of connected puzzle chambers it always felt that a developer was leading you through it. The Talos Principle feels like boxes within boxes, left by the developer for you to play in.
All these problems could be fixed in the coming months - the bugs can be patched out, quests can be rewritten and made more varied and lively, crafting can be balanced to make it worthwhile, and the number of dynamic events can be increased. Something can be done, too, to encourage team play. But, until then, there is no reason to start playing.
In The Fall, NFusion have taken a scalpel to to Human Revolution's template, collected together a pile of game meat - the essential giblets of a Deus Ex game - stitched it together and presented you with a serving. It's recognisably Deus Ex but it's not very appetising. NFusion get an extra point for not including a single boss fight.
This is a big planet and there are a lot of caves needing clearing, think of raids as housekeeping. You go in and kill as many bugs as you can before your timer runs out and we extract you. You won't be furthering our campaign but you will be earning cash for every bug you kill and hive you burn. The opportunities for combat are endless