As much as I didn't feel any profound level of resonance with the content of The Beginner's Guide, I will certainly defend its right to exist. I think that it makes a showing in a side of the industry that doesn't get a lot of attention, and that's a good thing. However, my personal opinion is that there are other games that do a far better job of making that showing, and this includes The Beginner's Guide's immediate predecessor.
It's been a long time since I've played a game I've liked as little as I liked Albert and Otto - The Adventure Begins. The sum of the problems found within this game can be no accident; mere chance or just bad luck couldn't possibly result in something so diabolical. It's almost as if the game was developed in some kind of bizarro world where frustrating gameplay elements were cherry-picked, pored over like fruits of anguish, their ripeness gauged by the bitter distress inherent to them. The result is something too hard for casual players, too frustrating for dedicated gamers, and too uninteresting for everyone else. It's a mess, and I couldn't recommend it to anyone.
All in all, Nitroplus Blasterz is profoundly underwhelming. The mechanics are there, but they're implemented poorly. The character sprites are well-designed, but not necessarily well-animated. The backgrounds are dull, the soundtrack is just there, and the game doesn't offer much to the player outside of frustration. There's no reason to pick this up unless you fit one of two criteria; one, you love Nitroplus visual novels and want to play the fighting game that features all their characters, or two, you're a fighting game player that will literally play anything handed to you. If you're that rare fusion of both, I'd say it's a must-buy. For everyone else who's not big on the source material or hardcore enough to play everything that the fighting genre has to offer, you'd be far better off dropping forty dollars on something else. Hell, Skullgirls is half the price, has just as much fanservice, and is a mechanically superior game by all measures. Go play that instead, because this...this just ain't it, although I will say that it isn't for a lack of trying.
The game's "whodunnit" caper isn't the only mystery that needs solving in Calvino Noir. Some other design choices will leave folks scratching their heads. The greatest complaint I have here is movement -- characters move dreadfully, painfully slow. They're trying to be sneaky, and that's all very well and good, as it's a genuine way to stick to the stealth theme. However, when you die as much as you do in this game, playing through an area for the 3rd or 4th time at a slothlike pace becomes a bore, and a player will likely begin to question why they're putting themselves through this. When trying to move characters into hiding, they will sometimes move past the spot and shuffle around a bit before moving into place. Such side steps can be deadly. The game's "collectibles" present another puzzle. From time to time you will happen across money or other abandoned treasures while sneaking through gloomy hallways. This is fun at first, until you realize that said findings bear no discernible use. It's a strange loose end that makes the game feel a bit half-baked.
Submerged is not a broken game. It functions and provides an intriguing little story over its three hour timespan. However, there's no sense of joy to actually playing. Why isn't there even a feeling of awe when exploring this flooded cityscape? It's incredibly strange how this game managed to flounder so badly but it seems the key factor is uncompelling (and sometimes aggravating) gameplay. Even the most diehard collectible hunters will find it tough to slog through the slow ascent up samey buildings multiple times to grab a new drawing. Submerged had a fabulous idea but its execution simply couldn't stand up to the concept.
Mordheim is par for the course as far as tabletop-inspired tactical RPGs are concerned. The game foregoes accessibility for the sake of being "hardcore." This leaves many players to resort to trial and error before hitting their stride. If you're not well versed in the genre, this can be a bit of a time sink, which is especially unappealing when there are many, many other games to play that you'll find more enjoyable.
I really wish that I could have enjoyed The Witness in the way so many others seem to. I tried, really I did. I attempted to see what was so "mindtwisting," "transcendental," or how it provokes "natural epiphanies." I just couldn't though. All I saw were endless line puzzles which felt like endless padding, like the creation of the island itself was as far as the developer got in planning and then realized they had to have some sort of driving mechanism to justify it. The depressing thing about it all is that it's such a waste. The island is a lovely place, and its oversaturated colors give just the right touch to a world that is vaguely fantastical. If Blow had put some variety into the puzzles, preferably using the excellent environment to its fullest, and actually telling a story instead of the lazy minimalistic mess that we got, this title could have been a Myst for a new generation. Instead, it's a dull, frustrating, pointless hike through a lovely, colorful, dead place. If you're looking for the same effect on the cheap, I recommend a box of crayons, a puzzle book, and a nice coloring sheet. You can use the money you have left over to get a game worth your time.
Overall, Back to Bed is a puzzle game that has a lot of potential to be something memorable because of its surreal art style and interesting premise, but it doesn't really stride to do anything more with them. While I'd have a hard time recommending this to someone — I know it's the first to go if I need to delete something on my hard drive — it's not like it was a very sour experience that had me cursing every second I was playing. It's not a very engaging title, but it's not a very offensive one either.
I almost wish Earth Defense Force 4.1 offered the ability to upgrade your weapons rather than crossing your fingers and hoping you'll get some good weapon drops after each mission. More bizarre, though, is the absence of any sort of mission score screen. Nobody seems to care how long you took, how many of your fellow EDF soldiers died alongside you, or how many pedestrians became bug lunch, although these factors seem to be mysteriously tied into what sort / caliber of weapon drop you get afterward.
I really want this game to work. I want it to be another breakout hit from a studio known for engaging and relatively-simple titles. I want it to be something I'll return to time and time again, to land the world's least reliable spacecraft, piloted by the world's most fickle space crew, upon the surface of Mars, and revel in the rush of victory felt when tremendous odds have been surmounted. It's a bummer, then, that it just isn't. Tharsis is a brilliant title that is ironically marred by its reliance upon dice rolls, and as such, I'm doubtful that many players will be able to reach through the game's thick veil of frustration to the genius that awaits just beyond.
I wanted to like Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, I really did. Sports games are a specialty of mine, and I'm always excited to try the latest versions of the big time franchises. My disappointment with the game rests solely on how recycled everything feels. I want some innovation in my sports games, some new ideas that will challenge me and test my limits, but here I get the video game equivalent of a uninspired shrug. Konami, if you read this, please try something new with PES 2017, as I really don't want to be disappointed as soon as I press start next year too.
If you're curious enough to pick up this title, and for some reason you have the inexplicable urge to treat it like the simulator that it is, I say give it a whirl. For everyone else in the gaming scene though, just stay the heck away and don't give it a second glance. If I could, I would appear across space and time to smack that copy right out of your hands.
Perhaps if the team had aimed for a visual style just a bit more detailed, they could have landed on an aesthetic that really stood out, but unfortunately the dead-eyed caveman stare just doesn't do it for me. With some more varied weapons, a bit of a re-balancing on the health situation, and some re-arranging of stages so that they come along by theme rather than at random, Dinocide could have something going for it, but as it stands, I'm afraid it's just not noteworthy.
In Too Deep lays a foundation for where Michonne's little side trek is heading, and I am legitimately interested in what's to come. However, this first episode doesn't feel like anything I haven't already experienced outside of story, and I was hoping for a little bit more. Luckily, there are two more episodes to prove me wrong — and I hope that happens — but for now, The Walking Dead: Michonne is just another episode of zombie apocalypse drama to add to the pile.