Some writers have described “Immortality” as being about burnout or auteurism (the final few scenes can be read as evidence for that theory). But that’s not quite right, akin to saying Star Wars is about space. Artistry does not grant privileged access to decency or good nature. That is what the game is, not what it is about. It’s text, not subtext. For so long as “Immortality” uses that as a starting point to probe further, it is a high water mark for gaming in 2022. When the characters are allowed to be people — not vampires nor aliens nor angels but people who are tired, embarrassed, horny, funny, naive, voyeuristic, creepy and more — each frame’s richness is its own reward.
At the highest level, the AI puts up a genuine fight; I’ve lost more than I’ve won in that difficulty tier. But because the game’s rules are so simple, every win feels earned (I’m was in control, there’s one thing I had to do and I did it right) and every loss can be traced back to the source (I was in control, there was one thing I had to do but I did it wrong). Tennis is probably the best mode to start playing — and the one I know I’ll stick with the longest.
There’s no need for hyperbole. “Extraction” isn’t an early game of the year contender. There’s virtually no story, and the bare-bones cutscenes that are present aren’t really worth taking seriously. I doubt I’ll be playing it in a month. But I don’t need “Extraction” to go on forever, and so, I’ll be rooting for it. Like other recent titles in Ubisoft’s catalogue, it sets up one core gameplay loop and executes compellingly on that vision. When the time comes, I’ll call in the helicopter to airlift me out, and I’ll be more than satisfied with my time spent in “Extraction’s” ugly world.
If all you’re looking for from Call of Duty is an incremental change to the multiplayer along with a slate of new maps, “Vanguard” will do right by you. I can’t deny that the multiplayer is engaging, just as it was in the game before, and the game before that one, and so on. It is evident, also, that a lot of effort went into making the game look and feel good. But as a whole package, the game is a tremendous disappointment. Untold amounts of money, technology and talent were drained into “Vanguard,” a boring, joyless and pointless game. And for what? A profit, maybe. Beyond that, nothing.
For lack of a better way of phrasing this, “Riders Republic” is extremely breadlike. You can enjoy bread on its own merits. But more often than not, just eating bread is a very sad experience. Good eating means toppings: olive oil with some pepper, butter, cold cuts, a bagel with a thick schmear — you get the idea. Likewise, “Riders Republic” is a game that cries out for some kind of second thing — music, a podcast, a phone conversation, whatever — while also completely avoiding the now-common language of tasks and chores that usually comes with “maintenance” or “podcast games.”
So inasmuch as I’m certain of my opinion of “Far Cry 6′s” gameplay, I am not confident at all when it comes to the game’s story, of which, coincidentally, the franchise has repeatedly invited scrutiny. There are good performances and narrative beats that are compelling and trenchant. But less charitably, some of these moments evoke conversations you might find if you poke around on Twitter for a few minutes. The story invites reflection on questions that are unresolvable — and are likely to remain that way, “Far Cry 6′s” effort notwithstanding.
In that way, “Deathloop” is a big winking self-reference. It is not really a social space, even with (limited) multiplayer. It is not a shop, or a metaverse or a simulation. It is not film, and efforts to translate it to prestige TV would snuff out its red hot heart. It is not borne of a producer’s latent anxieties about games being kids’ table fare. It is a game with ambitions to be great at being a game, and mostly just that. It exists in a clear lineage of games. It includes games, and is about games. It is refreshing to participate in something that is so itself.
Just over a half-decade later, I played “Breath of the Wild,” which, for me and many others, became the gold standard Zelda game. It is hard — even a bit unfair — to compare the two titles. Their design intentions are different. The mechanics and technological specifications both were built around are incomparable. Even still, it cannot be denied that “Skyward Sword HD” exists in “Breath of the Wild’s” shadow, in the lull before the arrival of the latter game’s sequel. The freedom of style, movement and choice that defines the newer game cannot be forgotten or wished away. It dates “Skyward Sword HD” more than the motion controls — a throwback to the Wii — ever could.