In many ways Beacon Pines is a fairly standard adventure game but the great emotive writing and specifically the branching narratives exploration do make it feel quite different from other games of this style. Being able to go back and undo any decision and choose differently, and then play through that path before jumping back to the old one can lead to interesting developments, such as meeting certain characters earlier, or learning information which while you as a player know, Luka and his friends experiencing this linearly do not. There are minimal traditional puzzles and most of the game involves talking to the right characters, but there is certainly plenty of atmosphere and personality in every part of the game. Beacon Pines is a lovely way to spend some hours in the company of some charming characters and a nicely emotional sequence of branching narratives.
The core concepts for a good adversarial game are certainly present in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. With a patch or three to fix the crashes that I ran into while playing the PC version for review, as well as the various issues that I mentioned, along with improving the overall online performance during matches could potentially make it a viable online game. And if you can find like-minded folks to play it with, it can definitely be quite a bit of fun for the little that there is to do in it.
The subject matter in Dropsy is shockingly deep, and in a similar way to Horace, a platformer I reviewed a while back, the more you play it, the more there is to uncover, and what might seem like a shallow premise at first eventually turns out to be anything but. Dropsy is just that. Layer upon layer of subtle storytelling in a way that’s rarely found in videogames today. I was moved by it and I’m sure you will be too if you give it a chance.
A Plague Tale: Requiem is an absolute spectacle of a game. And it’s in almost every way a superior game to Innocence. It can be downright disgusting at times, but in the best of ways. Seeing the loving relationship that the de Runes share and the struggles that they endure during their journey, elements that were already so well developed the first time around and are just as good if not even better this time around help elevate Requiem to a level of its own among similar story-driven games. You won’t want to miss this.
To anyone looking for a starting point to the frankly intimidating saga that The Legend of Heroes might seem at first, Trails from Zero is as entry level as it can be. And it also provides even more of the rich backstory that those already into series are bound to eat up.
If this happened to be a budget game with an original take of its own, it would merely be a decent buy for on and off throwaway play, but as part of a very iconic series such as Valkyrie Profile, it’s a baffling proposition. Square Enix themselves have done a commendable job taking similarly traditional genre games such as Final Fantasy VII, essentially turning it into an action RPG with its brilliant remake. That only makes for an even bigger disappointment seeing how mediocre Valkyrie Elysium turned out in the end. It’s not a terrible game by any means, but it’s far from being what could be considered a worthwhile follow-up to the classic JRPGs that came before it.
Dome Keeper is a labour of love for developer Bippinbits, a two-person team based in Dresden who are also a couple. According to publisher Raw Fury, it was in profit from day one and it is easy to see why – this is a simple game, but one made to a high standard. Its pixel art, wealth of upgrades, and clever sound design are all praiseworthy. Those looking for a deeper roguelike experience should look elsewhere, but ironically Dome Keeper is ideal for players in the hunt for something a bit more surface-level.
Overall, it’s quite obvious that both of the Turrican Anthology collections should have just been one product to begin with. The bonus features such as the jukebox, re-recorded soundtracks by Huelsback, art museum that encompass a generous amount of flyers and covers, and extra emulation options, as well as the special Score Attack Mode – a new leaderboard feature that’s exclusive to both Anthologies – are identical between the two. Neither volume has a whole lot of content to warrant splitting them up into separate downloads. Then again, it’s undeniable that what they encompass, some of the best titles in gaming’s most traditional run ‘n gun shooter franchises, makes Turrican Anthology very much worth picking up regardless.
While it might stick true to the standard point-and-click formula, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow works because it uses its atmospheric story and great, interesting characters to draw the viewer in, helping you to inhabit Thomasina and her point-of-view in a manner like a role-play game. As the dire warnings about what might happen if Thomasina excavates Hob’s Barrow continue to mount, there is a real theme of the clash of science vs. faith and superstition, which the game explores really well. If you like adventure games and you’re looking for a thoughtful horror story with plenty of worldbuilding, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow has it in spades.
Sunday Gold represents a bold effort to teach the old dog of point-and-click adventure games some new tricks. While there are some flaws and frustrations, BKOM Studios’ experiment has been broadly successful and players who would never normally touch an adventure game may well enjoy this one. In any case, Frank, Sally, and Gavin are likeable new characters who hopefully will get to humble the rich and powerful once again.
If you thought Shovel Knight was done and dusted, you’ll find that there’s still plenty of cooky ideas left to explore that involve digging and treasure hunting. Shovel Knight Dig is a simple twist on the formula to be sure, but it’s one that’s done incredibly well and is a whole lot of fun to play. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next!
Ultimately though, No Place for Bravery is so heavily indebted to its influences that it never carves out a real identity of its own. A game that should lean heavily on its combat, and on telling its story, instead becomes bogged down with frustrating traps and repeatedly going over the same ground. The reliance on opaque systems and too many written lore extracts also detracts from the accomplished visuals and sound. In a market increasingly crowded with games drawing from the same well, it isn’t clear that there is a place for No Place for Bravery.
The special editions of Monkey Island 1 and 2 in 2009 and 2010 respectively showed that there was still a voracious appetite for more of Guybrush’s adventures, so I’m glad that Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman finally got to have another shot at “ending” the Monkey Island story in a manner which they envisaged. Return to Monkey Island is more Monkey Island, and if you’ve been missing out on that for years, this is an excellent return to form.
Wayward Strand is a very unique game with a lot of heart, and it tells its non-linear, intertwined narratives in a very naturalistic fashion, which you can freely jump between as you guide Casie across the decks of the airship. The game’s ending is somewhat lacklustre, but I admire that the game didn’t attempt to invent a dramatic finale simply for the sake of it. It’s certainly worth a playthrough or two to see the various stories and conversations you missed the first time around, and the heartfelt, caring atmosphere it fosters will help to raise your spirits.