Etrian Odyssey Untold doesn't capture the same imaginary dimension—the once-enchanting hedge mazes becoming a flurry of slain woodland creatures. There's simply too many tweaks and choices at your disposal for an old pro like me not to fiddle with them.
Given the obscene number of hours I put into BF3's multiplayer mode, I'm clearly not immune to Battlefield's pleasures, especially the breadth of vehicular warfare, its scary-real weaponry, and the way it prizes teamwork over COD-mandatory fast twitchiness. But at a certain point, boredom sets in, one that the addictive mechanics of next-level, next-gun, next-gadget cannot slake.
The organic "lobby" structure of Rivals' open world is a promising idea, unfortunately mismatched with a low player limit and an imbalanced power relationship between the cop and racer. I suppose you could seek to defy the odds and play as a racer, but eventually the cops will find you, and they will wreck you—probably more than once. Don't be offended though; they're just doing their job.
Resogun does introduce some new things: all that visual razzle dazzle turns into a sort of optical obstacle in places, hinting at what a modern bullet hell game might feel like. But the game's warm reception is ultimately just a testament to how much fun those old arcade games are, even in 2013. That, I am obligated to say at this juncture, is my final answer.
Doki-Doki Universe wants to be a Pixar film. You know: artful, sentimental, tapping into a core of childlike earnestness that was buried beneath years of front-page tragedies and daily grind. But it wants to play it safe; it avoids getting too weird and abstract, as Noby Noby Boy, another storybook toy-game, did. No, Doki-Doki Universe is a Dreamworks film. It teeters between juvenilia for the kids and knowing winks for the adults, never committing to, or satisfying, either.
In a way, the game, too, is a shell of what it once was. Season one was a slow build and a horrible pull. There was a lot of humanity to it, focusing on its characters above anything else. The sequel has a lot of that pull, but none of that subtlety or ease. So far, it's just a list of tragic events. This is, of course, just the first episode. As we've learned from the first game, it only gets worse from here. Maybe it'll also get better.
Risk of Rain winds up feeling as insubstantial as its pursuing Wisps and free-floating Jellyfish. It looks small to me not because it takes such a wide view, but because I was given such a minor stake in it. The tiny figure of my Bandit character doesn't stand in for the sum of my decisions, or my engagement with rewarding systems of movement and attack. He doesn't begin to represent anything. He's a piece of the landscape, not part of a game.
The moment when Banner Saga starts to make sense is basically the last minute of the game. It gathers its meandering thoughts into a forceful statement at last, but that message doesn't redeem all the wasted breath before it. The game winds up in a neat place, but it's a shame about the road you take to get there.
Remember: NES Remix only pretends to be a simple game. Nintendo understand the deadly allure of both nostalgia and perfection: they introduce new players to The Way Things Were; they also challenge long-time players to prove their skills. Make no false move in any given level and be granted three "rainbow stars," an award for mastery and masochism in equal measure. I've lost hours to repeated attempts at meaningless three star scores.
I don't know that I'd be disappointed by a game like this if it didn't bear the weight of Halo moniker. That's the double-edged sword of cashing in on name recognition. Spartan Assault is an installment of a venerable franchise whose technical savvy and artistic flair are marred by missed the spectre of missed opportunities. Even as a dumb college kid I couldn't have played this game for hours, because you just can't lose yourself in a shooter where all there is to do is shoot.