Washington Post's Reviews
These issues are not unique to “The Devil in Me.” “The Quarry” often felt uneasily patched together, struggling to reconcile all of its plot threads. All of this raises a question that haunts the experience of Supermassive’s games: Amid players’ expectations of visual fidelity and complex narrative, how sustainable is a format where, at any point, any fully voice-acted, motion-captured character can die and be cut from the game in an instant?
There are funnier games out there, from the refined comedic diction of “Untitled Goose Game” to the sardonic humor of “Portal.” But it’s the thrill of discovering ludicrous scenes, and the delight of digging into every crook and cranny in search of more absurd secrets to unearth, that elevates “Goat Simulator 3” above the one-note joke of the original game. Take a long walk along a quiet street, or hitch a ride on a moving van toward the next city. Perhaps you’ll spot the sigil of Baphomet, or meet a clandestine group of occult worshipers, hidden behind the dense foliage of bushes and low-hanging trees. Drag a scarecrow into a satanic circle or two, and see what unfolds; it’s usually an unexpected treat.
One thing Game Freak does have working for it is that people want to play this game. People want open-world Pokémon. Game Freak may be struggling to get there, but it’s been really cool to be able to see it getting closer with each new generation.
“Somerville” reminded me of the qualities that I cherish in adventure games, particularly their ability to plunge one into the unexpected. I appreciated how its mechanics sidestep the usual weaponry that goes along with science-fiction games. (A gun-toting, super-soldier shows up at one point, but things don’t end well for them.) “Somerville” effortlessly pulled me in from moment to moment because I was eager to discover the next audiovisual flourish around the corner. There is a sequence toward the end where the man revisits places that is particularly captivating for the way in which it makes the familiar strange. That said, I was a little disappointed with the final scene in the game, which struck me as an overly familiar allusion to the ending of Tarkovsky’s film “Solaris.” But that aside, “Somerville” is the best adventure game I’ve played since “Little Nightmares 2.”
The game’s name refers to the reappearance in a painting of an element that an artist had painted over. As much as characters in “Pentiment” might fight to maintain the status quo, or to turn away from history and heartbreak, they’re no match for the forces that send humanity hurtling forward. While I initially started “Pentiment” hoping for a riveting distraction, what I ended up with was a game about uncovering history and past trauma. In many ways, it is more admirable, brutal and perhaps healing to just face these problems head on.
As enjoyable as “Modern Warfare II” is — and it is certainly enjoyable on the whole — the moments when the story prompts uncomfortable real-world questions about the game’s intentions shatter its illusion of immersive entertainment. In those moments, I forget about whatever it is that Capt. Price and Co. are tasked with doing and just wonder what people were thinking when they made the decision to include whatever cringeworthy moment I just witnessed. As Infinity Ward plunges ahead with this story — teasing an upcoming Russian attack during a mid-credits cutscene that includes a nod to the airport massacre from the original “Modern Warfare 2” — they’d do well to devote a little more scrutiny to such decisions.
In engaging with the story’s opaque and contradictory surfaces, one may flail about, tentatively reaching for this or that hypothesis. But if the game wants to get nuts, let’s get nuts. Maybe Ariane is somehow adrift in her own dream, in which her subconscious is drawing from the tyranny of the Eusan regime and from Ariane’s personal torments, which are adumbrated in notes and cutscenes. Elster may be a dreamed-up figment after all, a conduit for Ariane’s vague psychic baggage, whereas Ariane may herself be subject to the dreams of a less discernible entity (“the red eye beyond the gate”). In any event, Elster and Ariane seem to be searching for each other, and for some mystical escape hatch — a means of jettisoning their dismal surroundings. They do not wish to die, but they long to see beyond the veil, and to answer at last some dimly perceived wake-up call.
“Scorn” is an art house experience. I’m sure that other reviewers will plumb “Scorn” for its hidden high-minded commentary on the human condition, but for me, the appeal of the game is how it made me feel rather than think. I felt a constant, humming anxiety for simply existing in its macabre world. I was never particularly scared of anything I encountered; like the playable creature, I just wanted out.
At its core, “PGA Tour 2K23” remains a good, solid golf game that has benefited greatly from a lack of competition. I’m not too bothered by not being able to play St. Andrews at the moment because I simply don’t have that option unless I want to dig out “Rory McIlroy PGA Tour” on PS4. But when EA returns to the field, will the most enjoyable parts of “2K23” still hold up? Or will the appeal of those courses I badly miss pull me back to EA?
Modestly priced at $40, “Nier: Automata” offers dozens of hours of content in a port that sees sensible compromise (blurrier textures, a capped framerate) while retaining what makes the experience an opera of spectacle and mood. Its launch this week further strengthens the deep quality of the Nintendo Switch’s growing library, and it is immediately one of the best titles you could own on the platform.
By officially revealing the Secret and bringing the series full circle, “Return to Monkey Island” is deliberately closing a chapter in the franchise’s life. It’s not the end of Guybrush Threepwood or Monkey Island, but it’s a swan song for the bygone era that birthed them.
In a way, it’s the FPS genre that grants players a kind of agency that rhythm games haven’t — the freedom and exhilaration of performance. You can execute kills to the beat of your internal pulse, with the act of shooting bodies and popping heads forming a pleasing rhythm. That’s why playing “Metal: Hellsinger” can almost feel like you’re holding the drumsticks yourself, as you blaze through demon hordes with a percussive flow of your own.
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.
Splatoon 3 doesn’t drastically change the formula because it really doesn’t need to. Its modes are varied and offer truly different experiences that would shine on their own. If you’re a newcomer looking to break into the series, you may be a little lost at first, but stick with it. It’s an inky mess well worth your time.