Although Midnight Suns has its hits and misses when it comes to character development – I may have leveled up my friendship with Tony Stark, but I didn’t enjoy a single minute – the Deadpool DLC finds the mark well, emphasizing this character’s most annoying qualities while also letting his inner softie burst through. His playstyle in combat didn’t exactly blow my mind, but his personality was the real draw for me, and the writers got that part right. Firaxis has three more DLC packs on the way, each featuring a new character, and after Deadpool’s arc, I can’t wait to spend more time with the next weirdo who joins the squad.
If all you care about is button-ramming combat that’s similar to Devil May Cry, you’ll have a ball. But if you ever wanted to believe that there was something deeper to Bayonetta’s story — some grander statement about femininity and sexuality and power dynamics — you’ll find the truth to be quite a disappointment.
More than once, I’ve wished the entire game could be as satisfying as those research stations. But these little side quests don’t advance the plot, and they offer barely anything in the way of story tidbits or character development. They don’t even put a strain on my graphics card. But they do offer a glimpse at what could have been — a version of Spider-Man who helps out where and when he can, not using the power of a massive surveillance state, but rather his own eyes, ears, wits, and web-shooters. It’s a lot easier to maintain this illusion on the Steam Deck, only halfway paying attention to the plot as I swing through Central Park and rescue a homeless man’s pet pigeons. Spider-Man should stay small. He’s a friendly neighborhood type, after all.
The Last of Us Part 2 delivers these moments of emotional whiplash over and over again.
Outer Wilds is not a power fantasy. It is a game about discovering how little power you have, and how maybe that isn’t as scary as you might initially have thought. The galaxy is huge, but you can still make your mark on a small part of it.
Gears 5 doesn’t top the original Gears trilogy, but it’s easily my favorite of the latter-day Gears games.
Unlike Max, I can't see where this game is going. I think it's too late now for me to hope for a "less is more" level of storytelling or a take on teen romance that's grounded in characters and conversation rather than inexplicably overdramatic stakes. I don't know if Life is Strange can handle topics like rape, murder, suicide, homosexuality or disability in a responsible way—but maybe responsibility just isn't what Life is Strange is about.
That's Mortal Kombat in a nutshell: looking cool, even if there's not that much going on behind the curtain. Mortal Kombat X has some new tricks on offer, but the fun of the game is in its blood-splattering finishers and cocky jokes.
Life Is Strange has a few more episodes to prove me wrong—and as always, I sure hope they do. They still have time, but unlike Max's, it's running out.
Ultimately, I found myself charmed by the game's premise, and happy to skip the occasional boring "historical" cut-scenes entirely in order to spend more time with my cute clique. The compelling combat mechanics made up for the tedious administrative tasks of setting up spells and weapons for my huge party. I could imagine a younger version of myself with more free time—and a higher proclivity towards digital teen crushes—getting lost in the world of chocobo breeding and conversations with feisty Moogles. In many ways, the game serves as a decent introduction to the tropes and aesthetics of latter-day Final Fantasy games; it's too bad that many of the cut-scenes lay on the lore too thick, or I'd be able to recommend the title to new players with no reservations.
It's essentially a glorified DLC pack of new levels, plus a level editor for folks who want to make their own murder rooms. The exact people who Dennaton Games were supposedly condemning in their first title are, apparently, the exact audience of people whose money they would like to take, again and again. I guess they figure those people like rape and torture, too, plus more methodical killing. Maybe they're right—but it's too bad, since it comes at the expense of making a game that has anything whatsoever to offer beyond phoned-in grindhouse schlock.
What matters most is not the story, but the telling—and that much, Grim Fandango has mastered. Thank goodness it's no longer unplayable.