- Nights into Dreams...
- Mega Man 3
- Dark Souls
Kentucky Route Zero is lost in the illusive premise of the American Dream but found in the elusive dream logic of its weird, wild, and wonderful prose. Through it all are characters who conceal pain and loss with whimsical musings of hope and escape and locations engulfed in a meditative haze where brutal reality is indistinguishable from isolated reverie. At the end lies a paradox that suggests a circuitous path was the shortest course to an inevitable destination, and the assurance that Kentucky Route Zero's seven-year voyage knew its direction all along.
As a game, Wattam is a scatterbrained assembly of goofball logic and cumbersome mechanics. As an experience, it's an earnest expression of love, affinity, and forgiveness shared by all of its moving pieces. The product is a game that elicits joy without the videogame-y demand for precooked gratification. Wattam feels like a birthday party where all of your friends actually show up.
Valfaris is a collection of conventional run 'n gun elements amplified by one of the gnarliest and most committed heavy metal aesthetics ever pledged to pixels. Ideas that belong to Valfaris may not be as well tuned as the Greatest Hits it so liberally samples, but it's easy to overlook in light of the vibrant carnage. Valfaris, in the parlance of its god, shreds.
Untitled Goose Game is a body-swapping fantasy that transforms any would-be suburban miscreant into a waddling force of mischief and destruction. Instead of putting your finger in everyone's freshly baked pie, you menace around town and devastate an ordinary Saturday afternoon. Untitled Goose Game is philosophical exercise to determine if the conniving will of a large annoying bird is either innate programming from a bored deity or a product of our broken society.
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.
With Ichidant-R, M2 has rescued another Sega classic from international obscurity. As either a proto-WarioWare microgame collection or an academic dive into Japan's transitional arcade scene, Ichidant-R's ecstatic presence succeeds in delighting and illuminating its audience. It's another affirmation that M2's work on the Switch's SEGA AGES' line continues to be one of the most valuable projects in gaming.
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.