Hood: Outlaws and Legends is committed to a very specific multiplayer model that may or may not have legs. The game feels unbalanced, populated by a large number of surprisingly high-level players wreaking havoc on newbies, and squads interested in subverting the flow of gameplay. Some of these issues will get ironed out in time with tweaks to balance and matchmaking but what remains is still a fairly limited experience even under ideal circumstances.
With its close-cousin-to-Legos look, smallish levels, and fast load times on current consoles, Dungeon and Gravestone has some addictive curb appeal but ultimately fails to deliver anything really new to a very crowded genre. There is depth to be sure, both in the options for character progression, stuff to find and fight, and the dozens of levels of the dungeons and hidden areas. The buzzkill for me was not the expected and familiar roguelike loop, but the frustrating movement mechanics, the necessity of replaying the uninspired, bare-bones early levels over and over, and the slow progress towards building a reasonably powerful character. Dungeon and Gravestone will scratch an itch for the devotees of the genre but I suspect those without a lot of patience will bounce off pretty quickly.
I did not play the original release, so I can’t compare this new version to the old or verify its improvements or the effectiveness of its multiple ending variants, but if the game’s frequent load times have been improved, they must have been really egregious before. In the end, although The Signifier Director’s Cut has a solid intellectual conceit and an interesting story to tell, I’m just not convinced that a point-and-click puzzle game is the ideal medium for telling it. Despite its improvements, it’s still rough around the edges in lots of little ways. Still, the new release of the game manages to drop more than a few thought bombs for later contemplation, so while The Signifier Director’s Cut lacks in polish and execution, it is worth checking out for fans of the point-and-click genre and brainy games in general.
Patient gamers waiting for a new installment of MechWarrior will be pleased to find a graphically modern version of a classic franchise, but also a game that struggles to compete with the story, pacing and characters of recent action games that have learned to balance complexity and momentum with a little more panache.
Games are often escapist entertainment, but not everyone enjoys games that are full of tension, conflict or violence - at least all of the time. Lost Ember is a different form of escapism, an emotional and soothing journey into the natural world and its nonhuman inhabitants.
Although it doesn’t include all the PC game’s extra content, Civ VI comes to the PS4 and Xbox with both the Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm expansions and the latter in particular is a literal game changer. I can certainly imagine using Civ VI as an engaging educational tool to consider the many competing forces around climate change.