There’s an expectation for next-gen remasters to be cash-grabs, but Bloober Team went beyond resolution upgrades. Observer: System Redux shares a similar release history with Blade Runner: a newer version releasing with extra content and impressive visual polishes. It doesn’t avoid all the pitfalls endemic of walking sims nor of this studio, but it deserves augmented respect like its closest inspiration eventually earned.
The Wake: Mourning Father, Mourning Mother is too uncoordinated in the game being made and the story being told. It hits a strange chord with me because I find Somi laudable and his previous work worth investigating. The visual/audio design’s toned-down, retro ethos marries well with the saccharine storytelling and yet, obstructive gameplay frequently flatlined my drive to turn the next page.
“Short but sweet” is the emphasis for Neversong, both in its three-or-four hour runtime and the yarn it’s weaving. This comes at the cost of its substandard gameplay never invested in any particular idea. Each new bauble and character share the same story: neither feels like enough stock was given. But as an indie auteur’s expansion of a historical flash game, the effort poured into its revitalized presentation and atmosphere is something platforming fans could still admire.
Jumbled, infuriating, and unfinished are a few choice adjectives I can attribute to Doug Hates His Job. The panoply of gameplay styles it wants to flex should be treated as a canary in the coal mine for other young developers. The mockumentary approach makes its dull humor more of a mockery than of the white-collar job climate it’s lampooning. As a result, Super Villain Games succeeded in helping me relate to Doug's plight in one crucial way: hating my reviewing job — if only for a short time.
Separation is an apt title to illuminate its central problem. The adventure beckons you to experience a desolate world, utilize a VR headset, tingle your sensory stimuli in a way you can almost touch, and engage with a narrative tackling uncomfortable emotions. But, despite this magical potential, all of the accumulated shortcomings reveal the integral quality it sorely lacks: authentic connection.
In the end, The Suicide of Rachel Foster feels like the quintessential first draft of a horror/drama flick latched to a graceless gameplay template. The excitement and deliberate pacing early on suggest learning from the industry’s best exemplars. Ominous warnings suggest ghosts are roaming The Timberline’s halls. As it progresses, however, uncoordinated game design and tonally-tangled storytelling turns that engagement frozen stiff. Like walking through a grand hotel with years of decay, you can’t help but wonder how it could fare under new management.
STONE arrives at an uncomfortable middle more akin to a pile-up than a tightrope balancing act. The anthropomorphized backdrop feigns a more peculiar and memorable adventure, but the story is mostly lifeless and forgetful. It’s another third-person walking sim that’s not bothered to utilize our protagonist’s skills in any interesting or tangible way. Add on a fifteen-dollar retail price and you’re left considering a few rounds at the pub has more value, and I doubt our marsupial lead would protest to that.
Whether it’s in respect to the repetitive gameplay structure, unsatisfying flight controls, or deflating brevity, there’s really no reason to see what the buzz is about. Bee Simulator is a well-meaning edutainment game but its honeymoon period is gone at breakneck speed. You’ve bee-n warned, and I’ve run out of puns.
Patient gamers waiting for a new installment of MechWarrior will be pleased to find a graphically modern version of a classic franchise, but also a game that struggles to compete with the story, pacing and characters of recent action games that have learned to balance complexity and momentum with a little more panache.