The story that should compel us to keep playing instead becomes an annoying digression from what the game does well. These environments, those puzzles, and the size-changing gimmick that lets you solve them comprise a unique and fascinating vision that depends on the kind of esoteric thinking familiar from classic point-and-click adventure games. Instead of pulling us in deeper, though, Michael and Kenzie's romance pushes us away. That's the real tragedy of Maquette.
In a way, Bowser's Fury's restraint in world design and simplicity actually puts it more directly in line with 3D World than Odyssey, feeling like its true successor, but settling for this halfway step between them due to how it was released. Regardless of how both titles were delivered, I'm absolutely delighted with 3D World and fascinated at what a fuller title in the vein of Bowser's Fury might look like. Here's hoping we see more like both of these standout Mario titles sooner rather than later.
I felt the care that went into making this game, from the suspenseful overarching narrative to the breathtaking visuals and malleable gameplay. Agent 47 is surprisingly personable, cracking jokes that wink at the fact that you're a hitman in disguise in high stakes situations. He also has a passion for cosplay that's embroidered into the way he operates, using fashion as stealth, blending into any room like a chameleon. When I embodied Agent 47, travelling from spectacular location to spectacular location to complete each dastardly deed on my checklist, I truly was Mr. Worldwide.
Little Nightmares II's ambition makes the original look like its introduction, and although this added ambition contributes to some of its frustrations, they ultimately don't prevent it from becoming even more clever, gripping and chilling than its predecessor.
It all comes down to the aesthetic-the muted color palette, the hushed tones when characters speak, the overarching sense of loss and despair that permeates the game. And most notably, those archaic visuals that look like they're from the latest Sierra game you and your friend play on his Tandy computer every afternoon after school. Olija roots its mysteries in the ever-distant, increasingly forgotten past, with all the warmth and sadness that implies.
A good horror game can make rifling through old postcards and personal letters a compelling experience. But The Medium seems entitled, in that it expects me to be titillated by its character design and atmosphere but won't give me enough context to actually care about them. Between that and its tired puzzle-based progression barriers and dull character powers, The Medium fails to justify its existence.
Between the lack of marketing leading up to its release, its poor pacing, and the thin writing and investigation mechanics, Twin Mirror smacks of a game that just wasn't given enough time. With some polish on the game's earlier moments and more thoughtful dialogue, it could have stood a real chance. Unfortunately, between the stilted narrative development, cheerless puzzles, and wooden, small-town cliches, there's less here than whatever remains of Sam's journalistic career.
Much like the characters within the game, Immortals Fenyx Rising has its flaws-but what makes it a bit charming is that it owns them. While it's absolutely a AAA title, I'm beyond thankful it's not another one that sets itself up as bait for Keighley's Game Awards, or feels the need to fiercely defend its validity and depth. Sometimes, a game can just be good, cheesy fun, and Immortals Fenyx Rising is precisely that and better for it.
So, while I didn't play Ikenfell when I was 12 because, ya know, it didn't exist in 2004, this game somehow manages to capture an unassuming sense of nostalgia that comforted me throughout the entirety of my playthrough. It brought me back to being that jerk of a preteen, wondering if my crush would message me if my AIM away status was the right set of Green Day lyrics, or if it would ever feel like I was wearing my Hollister shirt rather than it wearing me. But beyond these trivial issues that felt monumental at the time, it made me wish I'd have been gentler to that weird little girl, and told her it's okay to be selfish right now-but make the goddamn most of it and do it with ferocious sincerity.