Washington Post's Reviews
As a friend and fellow writer advised me when he heard that I would be reviewing this game, we should take the creators of Bayonetta at their word when they tout the game's "Climax Action." This game is all about smothering players in a cloud of lust. If such a gambit falls outside of your tastes, "Bayonetta 2" will irk you.
As sensory entertainment, "Advanced Warfare" is about as pleasant as licking a battery for eight hours while a crowd of angry men surround you and chant your name. As a parable about the dangers of corporatizing the military in the 21st Century, it feels like a massive failure.
In sum, "Dragon Age: Inquisition" feels like a game in which the writers were set free to craft a story for contemporary adults. As I listened to the poetic diction of Cole, a character prone to alliteration and utterances such as, "The air smells like rocks," I wondered if the gaming industry might swell to provide a berth for poets as academia has.
In "Unity", the arc of the "Assassin's Creed" line has become ever clearer as a devolution myth, a lone runner chasing the thread of conspiracy which is unspooling across the centuries derailed by business experiments, untrustworthy technology, and the increasingly insupportable weight of its own storytelling. The result is a regal mirage, opulent and complex but ready to fall apart at the first sign of stress.
Like jazz, open-world games promise the bliss of structured randomness. Developers load up games with multiple systems – traffic, pedestrians, wildlife, etc. – which players probe to create unique moments. Ubisoft's Far Cry series marries this open-world game design to a caricature of guerrilla warfare, the improvisational aspect of which fits well with the player's need to make the best of whatever is in his or her toolset.
Though I certainly believe that video games are an art form, there are precious few games that I would hold up as works of art, which for me – in its narrative varieties at least – has something to do with extending one's capacity for empathy or adding depth to one's sense of the human condition. On both counts "This War of Mine" succeeds.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U holds these two opposite impulses — the creative and destructive — together for a few moments. While it's impossible for that union to endure, there is some magic in seeing the worlds overlap for a few moments, swollen to the point of bursting, with the kind of make-believe that one forgets about in adult life but never really outgrows.
Measured solely as a puzzle-platformer, "Never Alone" has nothing on games such as "Braid" or "Portal," which offer far more intricate challenges. However, this is a game that transcends its gameplay. The bio of one of the game's scriptwriters, Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, mentions that in his younger days he was ashamed of his Native Alaskan heritage.
If you haven't kept up with your metaphysical thinkers, you might need to play through "The Old City" more than once to master its storyline. Personally, I find it exciting to think that video games have evolved to a point where they can sustain that level of scrutiny.
The Talos Principle is rarely capable of answering the questions for which it makes you want answers. But in leaving enough space to wonder, it lets players name the questions in their own terms, a freedom that only leads back into a cell, dependent on language from long-forgotten generations, like computer code we're no longer conscious of running but can't seem to escape.
Call me selective, but I wanted the comedy without the tedium which broke the cinematic effect. Perhaps this inability to fawningly linger over "Grim Fandango's" highly static environments is a product of time. Regardless, the bony truth is that our lives sometimes intersect with games at inopportune moments.
The zombie is the perfect antagonist for this kind of interactive delusion, always justifying new abandonments by threatening another victim, a cycle which goes on until the entire world has been infected and stands in the streets, needed by no one, and with nothing left to want.
While playing the game, I thought of my father, who is a far better sketch artist than I am. He is one of those people who is interested in video games but professes to be allergic to dual analog stick controllers. If the game's stylus-driven mechanics can win him over, I might owe Nintendo a heartfelt tweet.
As obvious as the game's criticisms are about the encroachment of the police state or the ease of character assassination in the digital age, they're worth reiterating until we, in the real world, find a way out of our predicament. That doesn't make me fault the game less for its heavy-handedness, but I give it credit for having arguments to make.
"Ori and the Blind Forest" will tax the dexterity of just about anyone who doesn't eat games like "Super Meat Boy" or "I Wanna Be the Guy" for breakfast. If that disclaimer doesn't give you pause, know that this is a game that made me want to hug the developers.
Like a punchdrunk heavyweight in the 15th round, "Revelations 2" is both a sad echo of former glory and an agonizingly perfect summation of it. It should have been over long ago, but it remains a marvel to see how much will remains in the slouching goliath, the once powerful frame of sculpted muscle and sinew slowly turned into dead weight, counting as a victory anything that keeps it on its feet for another round.
There are some who can dominate Battlefield's multiplayer with an Olympian efficiency, but the overwhelming majority are marooned in the middle, where the concussive sound of bullets and the smoldering plumes left by grenades aren't signs of domination but reminders that you're still on your feet, not dominating the world, but surviving in it for another few seconds. There's genuine awe in these moments, a beauty particular to video games, demanding respect for scale and the necessary investment of thought, coordination, and time to accomplish simple acts like moving a duffel bag from A to B. It's a poetic antithesis of the game's story mode, proof that order can more easily come from conflict than from conflict's preemptive repression.
When I finished "Dark Souls 2," I felt utterly burnt out with the series into which I had poured over 400 hours. But "Bloodborne's" labyrinths and fantastic creature design ensnared me from the first. Whereas "Dark Souls 2" felt to me as if it was laboring under the weight of its forebears,"Bloodborne" feels like the swaggering culmination of them. From Software has, in the best possible way, brought the evil back.