- Nights into Dreams...
- Mega Man 3
- Dark Souls
Neo Cab's malevolent tech-noir is a vehicle for exploring, and ultimately surviving, the tenacity of its passengers and the ambivalence of its driver. As a narrative adventure Neo Cab is full of conflicted, enigmatic, and sophisticated characters all vying for validation in a tortured world. As an opaque lens on social responsibility and morality, it's as distressing as it is compulsive. Neo Cab's tech-addled dystopia functions a travelogue to the pain and purpose of being human.
Gravity Ghost imagines the maelstrom of adolescence further complicated by its protagonist's untimely death. As an elliptic platformer, it's concerned with reaching a neat-and-tidy series of goals. As a narrative experience, it's consumed by normalizing the despondency of its cast. Gravity Ghost's kinetic novelty may have ebbed since its 2015 debut, but its resolution, which seeks idyllic healing from an enormous tragedy, still creates a powerful statement.
Lucah: Born of a Dream is a neon crash of allusive storytelling, deliberate top-down combat, and distressed, manic ambience. Its indirect means of expression risks losing the player in its internal contradictions—it's hysterical and tender, it's demanding and soothing—but tenacious pandemonium is also its objective. Lucah: Born of a Dream seeks an audience that can relate to its world without needing to make explicit sense of its features.
Catherine remains a talented caricature of a hysterical, impossible man's moral frailty and romantic insecurity. Characters and complications introduced by Full Body, however, lack the connective tissue and social maturity to support its expanded ambition. A (now optional!) tower-climbing puzzle game fused with a supernatural infidelity meditation, even in its spiraling convolution, still survives as a provocative oddity.
Blood & Truth is a savvy and seasoned virtual reality thriller confident in its suave posture and meticulous operation. It is simultaneously a bonkers riff on outrageous action cinema where it's just as easy imagine its main character as narrowly sentient tank treads with gun-hands born to decimate cloned hordes of bungling bald men. Blood & Truth works even as its internal truth is a grinning mystery.
Ritual of the Moon's takes five minutes from twenty-eight consecutive days to consider, measure, and test the variable nature of morality. It's a cycle of play that finds a rhythm with the player's social and behavioral conflict, and questions that seemed trapped in ethereal ambience reveal honest and unexpected conclusions. My own introspection and negligence, as it turns out, have a lot in common.
Everybody's Golf VR's devotion to (and immersion in) the ambience of golf transcends its simulation-oriented peers. As I swing a virtual club with one of my physical hands on a course populated by dinosaurs, instead of feeling lost in the abstract, I'm committed to refining and improving my shot. Everybody's Golf VR's affable pragmatism and judicious feedback grant access to a sport I had always considered too distant and aloof to negotiate.
Saints Row: The Third was a sacred moment in time where lunatics reimagined the animus of an open-world crime game. It enabled players to thunderously lead a prestigious gang of miscreants and also turn themselves into a toilet. Eight years later Saints Row: The Third's glut of Content is more difficult to digest, but its outrageous ambience is (mostly) still so sweet.
Shakedown: Hawaii energizes its open-world satire with the transparent and ruthless cynicism of modern commerce. Its antihero's flagrant and invincible dishonesty would go beyond parody if it weren't kept in check by the player's underhanded complicity. I want the money numbers to go higher, too. And I'll destroy or ruin anyone in Shakedown: Hawaii's lush pixel paradise to see it through.
Jupiter & Mars presents a sincere restoration of the radical environmentalism that permeated pop culture in the early 90's. Steering its pair of dolphins through a neon post-human wonderland measures against its persistent undercurrent of despair and culpability. Jupiter & Mars lets players smile at what's left while scowling at the wreckage we're doomed to leave behind.