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FIFA 16 photo
FIFA 16

FIFA 16 includes women's national teams (finally)


Four top players did motion capture
May 28
// Brett Makedonski
The FIFA video game series has been around for two decades, and in that time, it's been a boys only club. There's been outside pressure to reform, notably in 2013 when Spanish player Vero Boquete started a petition to u...
WildStar F2P photo
Here's all the details
For years, WildStar was touted as the next great subscription-based MMO. It was unveiled all the way back in 2011at Gamescom, and the hype kind of built from there. I had a chance to play multiple builds, and I liked wha...

Shooters photo
Shooters

Assault Android Cactus looks like the next solid twin-stick shooter


And there's co-op!
May 27
// Jordan Devore
Assault Android Cactus? Didn't that come out ages ago? No, that was merely the initial Steam Early Access build. Some of us -- myself included, now that I've seen this latest trailer -- are waiting for the finished release t...
Virtual reality photo
Virtual reality

You'll need about $1,500 to go all in with Oculus Rift


Still no price for the actual unit
May 27
// Robert Summa
While we're still waiting for a final price on the retail version of the Oculus Rift, the company's CEO Brendan Iribe said that users will need to pony up about $1,500 for both a computer that will run the device and the actu...
Cat simulator photo
Cat simulator

Naughty cat sim Catlateral Damage now on Steam


Next, we need a cat cleanup simulator
May 27
// Jordan Devore
When we aren't talking video games, we're talking cats. Yesterday, it was servals. (Haha, those little heads!) Today, I'm hoping to steer the conversation from face-shredding wild African cats to the cats of the sea (otters)....

Review: Starless: Nymphomaniacs' Paradise

May 27 // Alissa McAloon
Starless: Nymphomanics' Paradise (PC)]Developer: EmpressPublisher: JAST USAReleased: May 11, 2015MSRP: $39.99 After a slow introduction typical of visual novels, Sawatari arrives at the Mamiya Mansion for his job interview. Almost right away, he encounters the ridiculously busty residents of the mansion. Seriously, the chest sizes of the women range from massive to gargantuan and their outfits leave very little to the imagination. What variety the women lack in cup size, they make up for in personality. Each has distinctly different motivations and fetishes, all of which are showcased regularly through their interactions with Sawatari and the other servants around the house. Even during the initial job interview, each of the three Mamiya women find creative ways to expose their own individual kinks. Starless doesn't drip feed players the smut. It takes place across 14 days, but the first day alone crams a lifetime of anime pornography into a few short hours. During the job interview alone, Sawatari gets handjobs, footjobs, blowjobs, roofied, drugged with horse aphrodisiac, handcuffed, peed on, sat on and then peed on. The list goes on. Seriously, by the end of this first sex sequence I had complied a list of well over 15 different sexual acts the women forced on Sawatari. Each and every one of these acts are accompanied by various sloshing and slurping sound effects that are likely to haunt your dreams, in the not-sexy way.  Oh, and by the end of all that he was still a virgin.  If that three hour introduction scene wasn't enough of an indicator, Starless suffers from horrible pacing issues. Beneath all of the perversion and overly graphic sex scenes lies an actually interesting plot line filled with deeply fleshed out characters. Unfortunately, it's hard to enjoy the story itself during the constant onslaught of sex. Typos and grammatical errors frequently plague what little worthwhile dialogue there is, which can straight up ruin the experience if you're anal about that sort of thing. Yes, tons of erotic content should be expected in an adult visual novel, but the sex scenes just drag on and on. After round one, characters waste no time and quickly go back for seconds and sometimes thirds. Frequently they won't even mix things up. A 20 minute long blowjob will be followed by another, identical 20 minute long blowjob. Even when the encounters get creative and downright weird, the game still feels the need to repeat the exact same scene multiple times in a row.  Starless is focused on showing off some very extreme fetishes, which results in some understandably over-the-top scenes. But so much content, so early in the game just drags on. Rather than build any anticipation for future scenes or plot advancement, Starless just throws the entire experience directly in your face. Progressing through each day becomes more a chore than it should be. On a massively positive note, the dialogue is every bit as outrageous as the sex scenes. Some of the puns and wordplay are equal parts masterful and deeply disturbing. The line "semen would go great with a side of wasabi and soy sauce" takes the gold medal. It might just be the best line in this thing. Starless also takes some hilariously appetite-ruining liberties with food metaphors. I won't go into details here, but let's just say that I won't be eating yogurt for a very long time.  I'd like to say that I spent a week playing Starless: Nymphomaniacs' Paradise because I play anime porn games for the plot, but at the end of it I felt overworked and underpaid. Many of the sex scenes just went too far, too long, or both and more often than not the sex itself was less than consensual. The game tries to dodge the label of rape by drugging characters until they beg for sex, but the sleazy misdirect only makes the scenes feel even worse. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Starless review photo
Nothing can save you now
[NSFW: This review and its subject are both horribly NSFW. Probably don't read further if you're at work, around your grandmother, or under the age of 18.] Broke and bored, Yukito Sawatari picks up a summer job to make a...

Underwater horror photo
Underwater horror

Mighty strange stuff is afoot in this live-action SOMA video


Time to pack up and go home
May 27
// Jordan Devore
"There's something wrong, isn't there?" Yes, Harry. Something is deeply wrong. I'm staying far away from the alternate-reality game for SOMA. Not because I'm not interested in what Frictional Games is cooking up for its unde...
 photo
Win one of 50 copies!
Thanks to Daniel Doan from Blackshell Games, we have 50 copies of their game Overture to give away! What is Overture, you ask? Well check out this blurb, taken from the game's wiki page: "Overture is a strategic real-time mon...

The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth to have daily challenges


Now I can suck daily
May 27
// Zack Furniss
In the months since November 2014, I've slowly developed some semblance of skill in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. While I've still got quite a lot of playing to do if I wish to earn the Platinum God achievement, I'm impresse...
TF2sday photo
TF2sday

Team Fortress 2sdays: I Like Lego!


I want this set
May 27
// Mike Martin
Seriously. That is an awesome set. Me gusta. How is all the Team Fortress action been treating everyone lately? I don't know how you all still play to be honest. Nothing against the game, I just don't have the drive to play the same game every week, every year, for.... how many years now? 6-7? You all are amazing, but you already knew that, right? Now go kill each other, you rascals!

Review: Magicka 2

May 27 // Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Pieces InteractivePublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: May 26, 2015MSRP: $14.99 If you haven't played the first Magicka, the set-up is still familiar enough: up-to-four-player overhead adventuring and monster killing. The trade tools are the big difference. You're granted immediate access -- there's no progression system, really -- to eight different magics, just about all of which can be combined, in different strings and quantities. There's a balance between stronger spells, which are more complex to cast, and dealing with basic elemental affinities. On a controller, spells are mapped to four face buttons, while L1 swaps to a second set of four spells, a system I much prefer over the first's fighter-like quarter circles. Once queued, they can be cast forth offensively, as area of attack, or unto oneself. And Magicka 2 is more than willing to let you drop a rock on your own noggin as easily as you might heal yourself. Or let you set an unfortunate friend on fire. Magicka 2 gets most of its good will for its co-op, which is why controllers for couch play are sort of preferred, though you can play online, and in parties of any make up (two local, one online, and so on). While playing co-op can make the worst game fun, Magicka 2 is definitely improved with and seems designed around having friends to revive you and to separate enemies whose AI encourages them to clump in writhing, obscuring masses. It is no fun to play solo, constantly drowned in a sea of goblins. [embed]292791:58693:0[/embed] The clean interface and easy drop in, drop out are about the only significant improvements over the original. That and the lack of bugs. Enemy AI mildly trips out sometimes and, especially in co-op, being anywhere near the edge of the screen feels like you're constantly stuck on screen restrictions mixed with level geometry, but mostly it's a clean running -- and lean running -- game. Collision detection also comes into play with the physics heavy final boss fight, which was equally the most creative and frustrating encounter.  The story is told over 10 or so brief chapters with replays encouraged by challenge instances and modifiers (collectable artifacts) that allow for Mortal Kombat Test Your Luck-style additions. Madly increased movement speed (please), extra unsafe damage boosts. There's a fair amount to tinker with. That's if you want to tinker, though. Again, Magicka 2 just feels like more Magicka levels and I felt fairly sated not even having finished the first. There's a giant enemy crab as a sort of sub-boss, and then you fight another giant enemy crab, and then you fight two giant enemy crabs. It gets redundant. Enemies are fodder, relentlessly marching toward you en masse, hardly flinching in the face of your supposedly powerful magics. The crowds get messy and you die, or you do a lot of running backwards while spraying spells at your angry entourage like metal filings chasing a Wooly Willy pen. It often feels like the equivalent to a shooter with lengthy mounted turret sections, the discovery of powerful spell combinations evoking sighs of, "Thank god, I can kill the next wave of 20 goblins more easily." And while I appreciate Magicka 2's lighthearted take on fantasy tropes, I don't like the bulk of its humor, which confuses making references with making jokes. It's like a non-hipster version of Life is Strange, allowing you to be self-satisfied for having seen Game of Thrones rather than Battle Royale. Thwacking a wooden cow -- or your friend -- and it exploding into chunks of meat is always funnier, but Magicka 2's actual jokes at least fare better than the winks and nudges. Repeated insistence that Dracula-accented, narrative-driving Vlad is not a vampire? Even a deadpan loading slide regularly reserved for game tips that just says "Vlad is not a vampire." Funny. Oregon Trail jokes? Belongs on Epic Threadz next to the "I [picture of cartoon bacon] BACON" shirts. If you want to pat yourself on the back for getting in-jokes and you can drum up enough play pals for co-op, you might find Magicka 2 [Borat voice] very nice! Like its references, though, Magicka 2 is just a retread.
Magicka 2 review photo
Spelling inside the lines
Magicka 2's tagline is "learn to spell...again," and that sums up the sequel to the Paradox-published, surprise-millions-selling first Magicka. The second fantasy trope stuffed outing comes from Pieces Interactive, makers of ...

Guilty Gear XX Steam photo
Guilty Gear XX Steam

Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R's netcode is passable on PC


It works at least
May 27
// Chris Carter
In the past 24 hours I've spent some time with the PC port of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, and I'm partly pleased with the results in terms of the netcode. Your experience really does differ based on the connection rank...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Out of closed beta, Heroes of the Storm continues its weekly sale schedule


Anub'arak
May 27
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is now readily available to everyone, and that means more weekly sales -- any purchases in the open beta will carry over to the full launch next week on June 2. This week the character on offer for 50...
Perception photo
Perception

Ex-Irrational devs announce new horror game Perception


Realising a vision
May 27
// Vikki Blake
Deep End Games -- a new studio consisting of many ex-Irrational developers -- has announced a Kickstarter campaign for a brand new horror game called Perception. The first-person horror adventure places you in the shoes ...
Battlefield Spring  photo
Battlefield Spring

Battlefield 4's big spring patch adds weapons and a gun-swapping mode


There's a pdf and everything
May 26
// Jordan Devore
DICE rolled out its spring update for Battlefield 4 today and it's substantial enough to warrant a pdf with highlights. The short of it is five new guns, the return of Battlefield 3's Gun Master mode, and a revamp of the dama...
Might and Delight photo
Might and Delight

With art like that, I don't even care what Child of Cooper is about


Last night I had the strangest dream
May 26
// Jordan Devore
I don't know what to make of Child of Cooper, an upcoming PC game out of Shelter developer Might and Delight, and that's exciting. It's pitched as a "visual narrative that challenges aspects of normative video game storytel...
DiRT Rally photo
DiRT Rally

You can fly off Pikes Peak in DiRT Rally


Ignore the signs
May 26
// Jordan Devore
The new DiRT game is coming together piece by piece, and today's morsel has me reminiscing about a certain scenic climb in Colorado. Today's update for DiRT Rally is a big one, and centers on Pikes Peak (both its "full fat m...
Battlefield photo
Battlefield

Battlefield Hardline's new add-on trailer has shades of Hotline Miami


Our first look at Criminal Activity
May 26
// Brett Makedonski
EA and Visceral would want you to watch this new Battlefield Hardline trailer and take away the broader details of the upcoming Criminal Activity DLC. But, that's near impossible when there are guys with guns weari...
Evolve free update photo
Evolve free update

Evolve's free new Arena Mode forgoes the foreplay


You're out of a job, Trapper
May 26
// Jordan Devore
As a hunter, my experience with Evolve often involved catching a glimpse of the beast, giving chase, and then losing its zigzagging trail ad infinitum until it came back all beefed up to wipe us out. If only there were some w...

Donut County is a feel-good physics toy with flashes of Katamari Damacy

May 26 // Jordan Devore
Creator Ben Esposito describes his game as a "whimsical physics toy," and that's apt. A racoon chucks donuts from an airship and also rides a scooter, sometimes. Objects and animals topple when you trip them (and you will trip them). Puzzles feel organic, not forced. [embed]292754:58669:0[/embed] Early on, you'll discover that consuming fire and corn will cause popcorn to shoot back out of the hole (which you can then eat, obviously). Later, nabbing two rabbits results in lil babies spilling out of the pit. Another level involves interrupting an ant picnic with fireworks. The more I played, the more I didn't want to stop. The hungry hole is one of those mechanics that instantly makes sense but never seems to lose its energy or appeal. It just feels right. I wish I could've beaten the whole game in one sitting, right then and there, but this was only a preview. Donut County wont be ready for PC, Mac, and iOS until later this year. I'll be waiting. [embed]292754:58668:0[/embed]
Donut County photo
Unwinding: The Video Game
In Katamari Damacy, you roll up stuff. Small stuff, to start. Then cars, ships, buildings, mountains and, eventually, entire worlds. In Donut County, you slide an insatiable hole around to help it eat anything it can fit inside its maw. The more the hole consumes, the bigger it becomes. Where does it end up? How big can the hole grow? I'm not sure. But damn do I want to find out.

Cyberpunk 2077 photo
Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt RED keeping quiet about Cyberpunk 2077 for a couple years


It's the Witcher's time to shine
May 26
// Jordan Devore
I last spoke about Cyberpunk 2077 over a year ago and noted that the game felt so far off, I couldn't even visualize it despite the cool, seedy, world-building promotional images and trailer. I'd say the project was announced...
Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

Game of Thrones: Sons of Winter screenshots, we have some


Painted with blood
May 26
// Darren Nakamura
Another episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, another batch of screenshots I took while playing through for review. There weren't any huge twists this episode, so I'm not afraid of spoiling too much, but as alwa...

Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: Sons of Winter

May 26 // Darren Nakamura
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: Sons of Winter (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: May 26, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] Those following along with the series shouldn't expect any major changes in how events play out. There is lots of dialogue, lots of split-second decisions, a handful of quick-time events, a little bit of exploration, and not much else. The split between the four living playable characters stays about the same as well: Mira's sections are almost entirely dialogue-based and Asher's are generally more action-focused. Despite being the Forrester known better for stabbing first and asking questions later, Asher's story in Meereen comes with some of the more interesting this-or-that decisions this episode. Where Rodrik has to choose between murder and mercy, Asher has the more nuanced quandary of loyalty to the family that exiled him and loyalty to his sellsword partner Beskha. Parts of Beskha's past come to light in Sons of Winter that give the situation more gravity. Of all the decisions in this episode, Asher's handling of the mission in Meereen is "the big one" for me, and I'm most anxious about the potential fallout from my choice, which won't show up until next episode at least. [embed]292557:58611:0[/embed] Mira's tribulations in King's Landing continue to be a high point for the series. Though this episode lacks the big names -- neither Cersei, Tyrion, nor Margaery makes a significant appearance -- the way Telltale handles Mira shows genuine understanding of what makes the source material so great. Any game could have quick-time swordfights, but a Game of Thrones game ought to be more than that. Her best scene is at Tommen's coronation feast. It comes closest to being like a classic adventure game. She must navigate the celebration cautiously, eavesdrop on conversations to gain information, and use that information at the right time. Even if it turns out not to be the case in the end (as Telltale games often do), the feast scene felt like it could have ended with a much different outcome. As it stood for me, I came out of it laughing, pleased with how clever I felt to have achieved what I wanted and particularly smug about the last line I had Mira say to close out the scene. It reinforced the idea that in King's Landing, shrewd manipulation of information is just as powerful as a sword, if not more so. Rodrik has his own share of politicking to deal with on the home front. A new opportunity lands in his lap that could help return control of Ironrath to House Forrester, and he has his own decisions to make, though they seemed a bit more obvious. Satisfy a desire for petty revenge near the beginning and he loses some leverage for later on in the episode. I'm curious to know how things shake out with other choices; in contrast to the first few episodes I feel like I made the best decisions for Rodrik this time around. There is a tense scene as Rodrik at Highpoint, the Whitehill stronghold. Not only are the stakes high, but it also rewards an attention to detail. Prior to the meeting with Lord Whitehill, some light exploration can help to reveal information that can be used in the encounter. It's another instance where proper intel beats physical force that feels right in place in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Gared's scenes were the least interesting this time around. Where prior episodes set him up to be part of the party that goes to Craster's Keep, he ends up with a blander story. It still has room to get better once the importance of the North Grove is revealed, but in this episode it felt a bit like he was stagnating. The oil paint aesthetic that turns people off remains, though it does feel like Telltale has tuned down the baffling polygon edge blur effect that plagued the first two episodes. It's still present, but not nearly as distracting as it used to be. There aren't any heart-stopping moments or dramatic twists like there were in the early episodes, but Sons of Winter sets a good pace and keeps it up throughout the episode. It's great to see the continued focus on shrewdness over brute strength for most of the characters, especially considering House Forrester's situation in Westeros. What the family lacks in soldiers, it must make up for in cleverness. Being party to the events makes me feel clever, whether I truly have much of an effect or not. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Game of Thrones review photo
Son of a...
At the end of Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series was in an interesting place. Nearly all of the playable characters were in tough spots, but all of them ended the episode with some h...

Bloodstained photo
Bloodstained

IGA's whip gets cracking on Bloodstained level design as Ayami Kojima joins project


$3M bucks later, development gets going
May 26
// Steven Hansen
What with all the excitement around Castlevania: Symphony of the Night assistant director and subsequent series producer Koji "IGA" Igarashi's Kickstarter project, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, it's easy to forget that ...

Life is Strange: Episode Three Achievement guide

May 26 // Brett Makedonski
Chaos Theory: Finish Episode 3: Chaos Theory This is the only Achievement that's earned through story progression. Just finish the third episode. It shouldn't give you any trouble at all. Parallax View: Find optional photo #1 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Break into Victoria’s room after finding out that she snuck off campus. She has a glow-in-the-dark action figure sitting on her desk. Shine your flashlight on it for a few seconds, then take a picture of it. Lenscrafted: Find optional photo #2 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Awww, it’s our little squirrel friend again. He’s sitting on the bench to the right after exiting the dorms. Coming close will cause him to scurry away, but rewind time to get him to pose for a picture. The Reflex: Find optional photo #3 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory After meeting up with Chloe and entering the school, take a quick detour to the science room. Max wants a photo of the fish, so turn on the light in their tank and snap a quick pic. Histogrammar: Find optional photo #4 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory While you’re still in the science room, let’s grab another photo. Head toward the back and take a picture of the skeleton with a cigarette in its mouth. Smoking kills, kids! Bokeh: Find optional photo #5 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory In the principal’s office, take a picture of Chloe behind the bronze hawk. It’s not easy to line everything up; it pretty much has to be arranged exactly like this screenshot. Pinholed: Find optional photo #6 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory After getting dressed in Rachel’s clothes, stop off in the upstairs bathroom for a quick selfie. RAW Strength: Find optional photo #7 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Just like the squirrel, our bird friend is back too. Before eating Joyce’s breakfast, scare the bird from the top of the cabinet, off of the fireplace, and out the window. Then, it’ll land on the fence in the backyard. Go take a picture of it. Viewfinder: Find optional photo #8 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Try taking a picture of the big rig across the street from the diner. The trucker standing outside will stop you. Talk to him, rewind the conversation, and casually bring up the make and model of his semi. He’ll be so impressed that he’ll let you take a picture for real, as long as you also bring up Rachel Amber. Cross Processing: Find optional photo #9 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Immediately after the last photo, move around the side of the diner. There’s an unfortunate birdie being swarmed by a million ants. Snap a picture of the carnage. Flash!: Find optional photo #10 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Toward the end of the episode, Max will discover that her abilities range beyond what she previously thought. After a bit of revelatory dialogue, pick up the camera on the kitchen counter and snap this episode’s final picture. Camera Eye: Find all optional photos in Episode 3: Chaos Theory This one unlocks as soon as you nab all ten photos. Bonus Achievement!
Life is Strange guide photo
Point camera, earn Gamerscore
We're at the halfway point of Life is Strange, and while the story is moving right along, the Achievement lists remain similar. Ten optional photos to snap in every episode, and Chaos Theory is no different. This guide s...

Hack photo
Hack

Locked Steam achievement requires you to hack game's code


Invisible, Inc.
May 26
// Steven Hansen
It's not to say that secrets are no fun anymore, but the internet sure can take the luster out of 'em. I mean, what would have been the point of my dog eared, note scribbled Myst notebook if I could solve the whole thing cons...
Mad Max game photo
Mad Max game

Mad Max trailer is seriously missing some Furiosa


Warboy pale in comparison
May 26
// Steven Hansen
Oh, man. Look, I trust in Avalanche's (Just Cause) ability to make crazy, fun, open action games, even if I'm leery about the studio putting out two in one year (Mad Max and Just Cause 3).  But! And this is a honking 'o...

Review: Life is Strange: Chaos Theory

May 26 // Brett Makedonski
Life is Strange: Chaos Theory (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One[reviewed])Developer: Dontnod EntertainmentPublisher: Square EnixRelease date: May 19, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) As Life is Strange plays out chapter by chapter, it's increasingly difficult to talk about with any degree with specificity. Doing so not only runs the risk of spoiling the many significant plot points that continually punctuate this game, but it also feels like a disservice to discuss Life is Strange's events in black and white when much of its brilliance lies somewhere else. It's not a linear story progression that makes this title worthwhile, rather it's the character building and continually changing relationships that constantly shine. While episode two felt like it meandered too much, it laid the framework for an effective third part. Just spending that extra time inside the head of Max, getting to know Chloe, and seeing the incessant vitriol at Blackwell made for characters who are easier to empathize with. It all pays off in a big way in Chaos Theory as the cast is finally at a place where the audience feels like it knows them and cares for them. At the forefront of this trend is Max's relationship with Chloe, as the duo is ditching the re-introduction stage and have hit a groove of sorts with their interactions. There are plenty of moments when Chloe's rebellious carpe diem spirit rubs off on Max in a charming way; likewise, Max's level-headed and rational demeanor affects Chloe, probably for the better. [embed]292750:58673:0[/embed] These conflicting personalities may have been most at equilibrium during a serene midnight dip in the academy's swimming pool. It's here that the two are at their most introspective and humble. It's here that they express that they lean on one another. There's an understated emotionality about it all that makes it one of Life is Strange's best scenes yet. Really, the swimming pool scene best exemplifies the quality that Dontnod's employed masterfully throughout the three-fifths of Life is Strange that we've seen: restraint. It would've been easy to highlight the moment with some sort of memorable event. But, the developer didn't. Instead, it let the two simply talk, which wonderfully lends humanity to them both individually and as a team. However, it's not just Chloe and Max that are further humanized. Almost all characters have some sort of sympathetic progression, as Life is Strange continues to prove that it excels at dealing in shades of grey. We get a glimpse at how scumbag drug dealer Frank has loved and lost. We see how "step-prick" David password protects his computer not with a nod to his army service or himself, but with a receipt that holds the date he met his wife. The latter of those revelations is discovered through a fetch quest-style puzzle. As painful as it is to admit, this element of gameplay is still where Life is Strange is at its very worst. The reason that's sort of tough to swallow is because it always encourages exploration and will often reward the curious. However, when it forces that wandering upon the player, the pacing drops from a self-imposed standstill to a mandatory one. It's enough to deaden the mood rather quickly. It's a rare instance of Dontnod eschewing that aforesaid restraint to somewhat negative results. Thus far, the developer has done a great job keeping everything in check so as to not go off the rails. The time-rewinding mechanic still doesn't feel as if it's taken over the game nor does it serve as a permanent crutch. Instead, it's mostly sparingly used, usually to glean more information from a tight-lipped witness. Similarly, Life is Strange hasn't yet gone full-out on the paranormal aspect that clearly hangs over the entire story. This reserved approach is appreciated, as it lends weight to the characters and their personal circumstances rather than spotlighting the supernatural. There may be an imminent deviation from that pattern in the very near future, though. In the waning minutes of Chaos Theory, Max discovers a new ability that could easily shift the narrative focus. Chaos Theory is effective in that it's the first time Life is Strange asks the player to evaluate the net benefit of Max's ability to alter time. Until now, it's mostly dealt in small affairs where the results are immediately noticeable. Episode three finds a way to work on a longer timeline and with more at stake. In all honesty, it's the first time I've felt that exact heart-wrenching emotion that I experienced eleven years ago when watching The Butterfly Effect. The cliffhanger that Chaos Theory ends on is so perfect for this portrayal of the fictional Arcadia Bay, Oregon where nothing's ever perfect. However, it's also scarily dangerous in that it very well might render most of the world-building a moot point. It'd be such an absolute shame if that were to happen. We have to wait to see if that's the case. But, Life is Strange now has me in its grips, and if I'm worried, it's only because I care. I finally really, truly care. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Life is Strange review photo
Tornadoes in Texas
I'm worried about Life is Strange. But, it's not the same concern usually expressed when a game's teetering dangerously close to mediocrity or worse. It's the type of uneasiness reserved for a title that's taken three install...

Batman: Arkham Knight photo
Batman: Arkham Knight

Did you really think Batman: Arkham Knight wouldn't have pre-order costumes?


Of course it does
May 26
// Chris Carter
Because WB has to monetize every single facet of their games (hello pay-for-fatalities on top of a Season Pass and lots of paid costume DLC), Batman: Arkham Knight will also feature more pre-order bonuses beyond its $40 ...






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