For Dark Souls veterans, Death’s Door provides a less stressful but moody journey through a new world that offers familiar gameplay from a new, top-down perspective. But for players who’ve never played a game like this, Death’s Door gradually leads you into the deep end.
Will you enjoy Cruelty Squad? I don’t know. It’s a hard game to recommend. It feels like it rips mechanics wholesale out of slick, satisfying shooters like the old Rainbows Six, Deus Ex, or Hitman. Except it’s also intentionally opaque, refusing to lend players a hand in deciphering its visuals or navigating its oppressive atmosphere. And yet, I’m still here gnawing on this coconut, because the pain is worth the taste of that delicious joy.
If you're a fan of the franchise, there's a lot here for you specifically. If you're coming in fresh, the game is going to throw a lot of jargon at you in a very short amount of time, and then it's going to hit you with references to prior events with which you won't be familiar. You don't need to play the previous game or watch its anime adaptation, but doing so might help with context. If none of the narrative stuff interests you, there's plenty of in-game stuff to collect: I'm currently working on completing my pin collection, whittling down my Noisepedia and hunting down graffiti (the game's version of achievements). When this game shines, it really shines, even if maybe too much of that shine is refracted by its past.
In the end, the most I can say is this: Yeah, over a week and change, I spent a lot of time in Warring States-era Japan making a series of emphatic Mermista “UUUUUUGH”s, but maybe that happened because when something shows occasional touches of craft and brilliance, your desire to sand off the last of its rough edges is all the stronger.
Skyward Sword wanted to keep Zelda fresh and exciting, but it did this by making the things you already did as part of its formula feel good instead of finding new ways to do them. But for a series about exploring at your own pace, simplifying dungeons to make them more fun to complete wasn't going to cut it for much longer. The focus on action, on pulling off simple-but-cool things, only works on a platform built around how fun its controller is to use, and it only works once. After this game, Nintendo had to do something different.
Codemasters’ F1 series has taken hundreds of hours from me since 2017, and in return it’s given me a rich, new sports fandom even in my late 40s. And now, F1 2021 is teaching me to expect imperfection, to own my mistakes, and forgive myself. The result may be messy, but it’s mine.
Instead, Chicory asks, "What if there's a better way?" A person's worth is inherent, and it's not chosen for us. If we tear down those systems and rebuild something new, we can shift legacies and choose them for ourselves - it's no longer a gift bestowed upon us by some unfair, undated structure. With a little practice, maybe anyone can wield a paintbrush.
In missions, players have two options upon clearing set areas, which are to increase the rarity of loot that will drop, or to rest at camp, which will create a checkpoint for the player and restore any used healing items. On the Legendary and Ascended difficulty - the final two tiers of difficulty the game offers - I would spend most of these instances resting at camp to refill my resources, because enemies at this level, be they goblins or frenzied psionic cultists, would simply evaporate my health with a single strike. That was also a normal occurrence if my character's power level did not meet the suggested requirement of the selected difficulty.