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Past Cure isn't going to be for everyone. It's a budget title from a group of first-time game developers and that's prevalent throughout the game. From odd mechanic changes and tone shifts between Ian's nightmares and reality, to the often confusing story, it feels like Phantom-8 had a lot of different ideas for how they wanted the game to shake out. It just didn't quite weave them together as seamlessly as they had hoped. On the flip side, they definitely have the potential to crank out an amazing horror game as their blend of puzzle-based gameplay and environmental work made for some both satisfying and eerie moments. Navigating through Ian’s nightmares were some of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with a horror game since Resident Evil 5. There’s a delicate balance of tension that many horror games can't seem to find, but Past Cure felt just right in this regard to me. I just wish there were more of this aspect throughout the game. If you don't come in expecting The Evil Within or Resident Evil and keep your expectations in check, you’ll likely find something about this budget psychological action flick that you'll like.
Despite its shortcomings in regards to the puzzles, combat, and overall length, I still walked away from Pinstripe moved by the emotional tale surrounding Teddy and why he is headed down this dreary path. The art style is excellent and appealing, and each area is unique in its own way and littered with cynical characters who clue you in on Teddy’s haunted past. Coupled with a fantastic score and solid voice acting, Pinstripe manages to overcome its imperfections with an excellent presentation and a touching story that makes it worth a look.
The Fall Part 2 carries on many of the strengths we saw in the first game, including an interesting story, likable characters, and thought-provoking puzzles. Unfortunately, along with Unbound’s expanded scope comes growing pains, several of which detracted from my overall enjoyment of ARID's latest outing.
I cheekily titled this review “A Novel Game.” While it is assuredly a unique experience in gaming, it’s also literally a novel game. The device you play Little Red Lie on, the graphics, the way you control the character and interact with the environment, it’s all a vehicle for you to read the story that developer Will O’Neill has penned. And there's nothing wrong with that. While I would have loved to see Little Red Lie take advantage of the medium and include more actual gameplay, I understand that's not the way the game was designed. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path with a heavy focus on character and narrative, give Little Red Lie a look. If you’re a gamer looking to read more, I actually think Little Red Lie is the perfect way to facilitate and reconcile a love of gaming and the desire to read. This title won’t appeal to everyone, but to those that do take the plunge, a distinctly rewarding game awaits, especially if you’re able to talk about it afterwards.
At the end of the day, Innerspace hit just enough of a chord with me to walk away appreciative of PolyKnight Games’ effort. As I made my way through the wonderfully detailed levels, I was in awe of just how many hidden secrets there were to discover. Figuring out the puzzles needed to progress through the different area was a nice challenge, and the boss battles were just as complex to figure out. For some, the controls may take some getting used to, but by the time the credits roll, you should have a firm grasp on the flying mechanics. I would’ve liked a much more impactful soundtrack to complement the game’s unique visual aesthetic, but that’s not the case here. I feel it would have enhanced the experience even more. That said, if you’re in the mood for an exploration game that will reward you for searching every inch of the map and offers up some challenging puzzles along the way, Innerspace will provide you with just such an experience.
So to sum it all up, if you’re looking for a zany and fun multiplayer experience on the Switch (or your platform of choice), then Worms W.M.D. is a solid choice. Just don’t expect any revolutionary new features if you’re an old veteran of wormy warfare.
The technical issues, while still present, have been cleaned up considerably since launch, and the game’s sense of progression based around its epic skill tree and fun abilities is top notch. I’ve come to appreciate Sundered’s intense and challenging horde-based combat as well. When this is all wrapped up in an insanely beautiful hand-drawn package, full of innovative creature design and mammoth bosses, it’s easy to see why Sundered eventually dug its hooks into me. If you’re a fan of the Metroidvania genre, or 2D action-platformers in general, give this one a try. It’s a unique title with a scope unmatched in this space. Oh, and it’s drop-dead gorgeous. Have I mentioned this yet?
Mages of Mystralia is a game that is right up my alley. It features solid gameplay, upgradable abilities, engaging puzzles, a fantastic musical score, and an interesting story. It takes elements from classic Zelda games, but gives them a fresh new spin with its brilliantly-designed spell-crafting system. Despite a few performance issues, I'm confident that this game is going to be on my year-end list as one of the best things I've played this year. I sincerely hope the fine folks at Borealys Games will continue Zia's saga in a future installment.
I had high hopes for Perception, which made this experience all the more unfortunate. Clearly The Deep End Games had a unique idea for a video game here, but it just doesn’t translate well to the medium. It’s evident by the care that went into researching the hardships that blind folks must deal with daily — like how Cassie uses her mind and technology to survive — that The Deep End Games is very passionate about the subject matter. However, in the end, this is a video game, and when the main gameplay mechanic becomes a hindrance during the first hour, there’s not much that can be done from a presentation perspective to help alleviate it. The whole game-breaking bug that forces you to start over from the very beginning doesn’t help either.
Nex Machina is another infinitely re-playable twin-stick arcade shooter that’s easy to pick up and play, difficult to master, and fun as all hell. And make no mistake, this game is difficult. While there are different difficulty levels to tackle based on your skill level with the game, this is probably Housemarque’s most challenging title to date. It’s a fair challenge, though (well, maybe with the exception of the game’s final boss, but that’s a conversation for another day!). The buttery smooth gameplay and perfect controls mean that any mistakes you make are your responsibility and yours alone. While Nex Machina is not re-inventing the “arcade shooter wheel” so to speak, the little ways in which this game turns Housemarque’s tried-and-true formulas of of the past on its head make for an experience that feels familiar but fresh.
If you're looking for a unique, surreal adventure with puzzle-solving and emotional storytelling, then Rime is a game that I can heartily recommend. Although there are some very noticeable frame rate issues, I still found myself immersed in the story being told and engaged by the puzzles. Rime takes cues from some of my favorite titles of recent years, and it also features some very clear influence from the films of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle). If that's not enough to convince you, then I don't know what will.
The Surge is an impressive package overall. Souls fans, or players seeking out a challenging endeavor, will likely be pleased with what Deck13 has brought to the table here. This game builds a strong case for itself as a worthy entry in the brutally challenging third-person action sub-genre popularized by Dark Souls and the like. Although the story isn't quite as memorable as I would have hoped, I came away feeling this game was more about the journey than the destination. Even if the story was great, the addictive gameplay would still be the thing bringing me back for more. With a fun combat loop, huge and dangerous areas to explore that are filled with secrets and precious loot to uncover, and some adrenaline pumping boss fights, The Surge is more than worthy of your time (and patience).
Embers of Mirrim is still a very interesting game that brings some cool ideas to the table. Even though there was some frustrating moments with some of the glyphs and the waterfall section, many of the puzzles and secrets kept me engaged and made me want to see what was next. The developers did a great job of teaching the player the mechanics of the game, as well as steadily infusing new things into the mix so as to keep the proceedings from becoming stale. The story is sparse with zero dialogue, but the game world is unique and beautiful with awesome backgrounds and impressive lighting effects. Finally, the fully orchestrated soundtrack is fantastic throughout. If you're looking for a good game with an attainable Platinum trophy, and you're able to resist the urge to throw your controller at your TV a few times, then Embers of Mirrim is worth a look.
I really wanted to like Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 considering how CI Games made the bold choice to change the series formula up completely in an attempt move the franchise forward and away from its awful predecessor. Early on, the story hinted at a tale much deeper than any Sniper Ghost Warrior game deserves, but it ultimately loses focus about halfway through and ends up nosediving in the final act. While the sniping mechanics are solid and the mission variety is admirable, the technical issues are a distraction, to the point where you may not even be able to finish a mission. With games like Sniper Elite 4 out there, as well as the much better Far Cry games that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 models itself after, it’s hard to recommend a game where the only memorable thing about it are its horrific load times.
Although GNOG is a brief experience — it can be completed in less than 3 hours, by my count — it still is a very enjoyable one. The soundtrack is great, the presentation is unique, and the puzzles kept me engaged throughout. It's definitely a game worth considering if you love music as much as I do — especially if you also have access to PlayStation VR.
From the intriguing story to the rewarding fun of exploring the mansion and discovering its many secrets, it's not hard to recommend The Sexy Brutale to everyone. It can be tough to ignore a few of the technical mishaps currently present in the game, but I felt it was even tougher to ignore the gorgeous environments players are given to explore. Solving each murder puzzle and learning more about the various guests and the mystery behind the host of the ball, Lucas, is quite possibly one of the best experiences I've had with a game this year.
Yooka-Laylee is a great first effort from Playtonic Games. The characters and environments are quirky and unique, the collectibles all have a purpose, and the unlockable abilities are fun to use. Despite a few performance issues and some baffling ease-of-use omissions, I enjoyed my time with this game. It takes over 30 hours to complete the game with 100% of the collectibles, which is plenty of content to keep you busy, especially considering the $40 price tag.
Although it's a very brief experience, I enjoyed my time with Psychonauts in The Rhombus of Ruin. The game has a good sense of humor, some interesting puzzles, and it made me excited for the prospects of what a fully-fledged point-and-click adventure game could be like in virtual reality.
I really enjoyed my time with Sniper Elite 4. The sniping mechanics, well-designed maps, and incredibly fun co-op play won me over. The less-than-thrilling narrative and minor bugs aside, this is a package that is more than worthy of your time and attention. Sniper Elite 4 is bigger and better than Sniper Elite 3 in every way, and I can't wait to see where the franchise goes from here.