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The best bits come in an interstitial visual novel that shows how Travis gets the Death Balls themselves; funny, self-aware, and styled with gorgeous retro-pixelated graphics, it’s the one part of the game that feels like the product of someone authentically giving a ****, an expression of the anarchic spirit that made Grasshopper’s early games feel like a refreshing breath of post-modern air in a frequently too-serious medium.
Despite being the product of some obvious pre-existing parts—Dragon Ball’s anime flair, Marvel Vs. Capcom’s frantic tag-team melees, and the skeleton of previous Arc System Works games—it comes together into what’s easily the best Dragon Ball game made in the series’ 32 years of existence and a great fighting game that’s as thrilling to watch as it is to play.
Even without embracing that duality, Celeste would be an exceptionally well-made platformer worthy of sitting alongside its titanic peers, but by caring to find the right amount of warmth to balance its barbs, it ends up standing up and taking a step ahead.
Throughout its runtime, A Way Out is fun, in the way any game with a friend is fun (and that’s definitely the correct way to play it, since playing with strangers would make its communication-based challenges a goddamned nightmare). But outside a few promising flourishes, it ultimately fails to distinguish itself from any number of more engaging co-op offerings, and its best moments hinge on caring about characters who never rise very far above the level of flat, unengaging caricature.
This is the first time in years it’s felt like one of these unfathomably expensive blockbusters is putting its weight into moving that field in a different direction rather than riffing on one of its standardized formulas, and it’s every bit as jolting as that Hydra fight was 13 years ago.
Subset also deserves credit for the game’s deliberately limited, laser-focused scope. Every aspect of Into The Breach’s design—the gorgeous soundtrack, the bleak storytelling, even the way characters quip about the in-game reset button—contributes to making the player’s battles feel like a life-or-death, “We’re canceling the apocalypse” moment.
State Of Decay 2 occasionally feels like the perfect “podcast game,” the sort of experience best served by shutting your brain off and checking off items on a to-do list while gradually improving your little community. But its best moments don’t click when playing that way.