Bland at best, broken at worst, this shallow reinvention of the cult strategy puzzler is hell for both fans and newcomers.
It gives me absolutely no pleasure to report any of this. Sitting at my PC, wearing a Godzilla t-shirt and surrounded by plastic models of the series' wonderful menagerie, I wanted so desperately for this to be the game to truly realise the character's potential in gaming. I wanted Crackdown with kaiju. Instead, I got...this. The only thing being crushed here is the dreams of every monster movie fan who ever picked up a joypad.
A thin and curiously paced stroll through horror cliche that manages a few good frights but not much else.
A welcome revival for a much missed genre, Sublevel Zero's roguelike design can't quite sustain it in the long term.
A bombastically enjoyable action game with serious performance issues gets spread too thinly over a vast map.
Not being able to live up to such lofty rivals is no great shame, of course. Tembo is simply a very pretty, and pretty good, game, albeit one that never quite lives up to its early promise. That alone makes it the best platformer that Sega has released in years, and for that Game Freak deserves our thanks.
As a follow-up to 2011's Dungeons, this sequel is much easier to recommend, fixing many of the problems from that game and introducing new ideas that fit better with the genre. It's still only a partial success, however, and between the fussy menus and interface, and the speed with which you'll find yourself resorting to trudging repetition, this still falls short of the game it could be.
It feels weird to be saying this at a time when sequels are far too prevalent, but while Ronin has its moments of brilliance during its short campaign, it ultimately feels very much like a proof of concept for a more generous and balanced game yet to come.
For now it's a game with a lot to offer, though mostly for players willing to meet its ambitions halfway. I can't help feeling that we'll see this speech mechanic refined and put to even better use somewhere down the line.
There have been more shocking and provocative things portrayed in the biggest blockbuster games than you'll see and do in Hatred. Maybe that's the point. Maybe this is all a garbled commentary on how normalised extreme violence has become in gaming. If so, it'll take something better than this tedious, glitchy shooter to ram the point home.
But Windward is neither of those things. After dozens of hours it still has you doing the same monotonous tasks you did at the very start, even as you claw your way to a slightly better ship in which to run your errands. For a game set on the deep blue sea, it's unforgivably shallow where it counts.
It certainly doesn't help that the debt to the superb Hotline Miami is so obvious. As I wrestled with the gluey movement and bizarre AI to find the fun in LA Cops, I was painfully aware that I could be having that fun already, in a more stylish and polished form, just by scrolling up my Steam library. As Omar so wisely said in The Wire, you come at the king you best not miss. LA Cops shoots way too wide of the target.
In the end, it's the surface details - the dry and gentle wit, the winsome voice acting, and the gorgeous design - that lash it all together. The deeper elements, the bones that might give it structural strength, feel thin. Broken Age doesn't quite suffer the fate implied by its title, but there are clearly fractures that time has failed to heal.
As a lifelong fan of Fortean mystery and atmospheric adventures, Kholat is a game I really wanted to love, but it left me out in the cold in more ways than one.
Provided all you want is the chance to shoot decomposing Nazis in the face hundreds of times over, you can't really fault Zombie Army Trilogy for delivering on the crude grindhouse pleasures implicit in its title. It's also hard not to wish the game didn't do more to deviate from its amusing but repetitive blood-soaked trajectory.
I just wish it wasn't so clumsy where it counts, since there are few gameplay styles more off-putting than poor stealth, and the stealth here is often very poor indeed. Fans committed to the loopy storyline will probably be able to look past that and enjoy the surreal ride for its narrative and atmospheric pleasures. However, such frustrations can't help but drive a large rusty nail into the heart of an otherwise generous pair of expansions.
Hardline is a solid entry in the series, and the fact that it seems to have launched without technical issues is notable though not really something that should need to be commended. It's doubtful that it will end up as more than a stopgap for fans, however.
If all that is expected of an expansion or spin-off is to deliver more of the same, then The Old Blood goes above and beyond its obligations. The decision to downplay the story elements does sometimes leave it feeling a bit overwhelming and stodgy - the textures and rhythms that made its predecessor such a sleeper hit simply aren't here - but as a lovingly crafted continuation of a game that was already pretty bloody great, there's little here worth complaining about.
Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell bypasses the difficult second album hurdle with a simple, elegant and carefully paced stealth puzzler.