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9:00 PM on 10.24.2014

Review: Dreamfall Chapters Book One

It wasn't surprising to hear that the long-awaited Dreamfall Chapters would be split into separate episodes -- it's in the name, really. Episodic adventure games are well established now, so in my mind, separating a new Dream...

Alasdair Duncan


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Review: Mind Zero  photo
Review: Mind Zero
by Brittany Vincent

At a glance, it's easy to look at Mind Zero and compare it to the Persona series given its art style and the narrative advertised within early trailers and promotional materials. And you wouldn't be incorrect in declaring that it borrows several elements from the popular role-playing series.

Still, it's unfair to call Mind Zero a copycat when its most fundamental elements are much different from the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff. That doesn't mean the game is actually all that impressive, however. Acquire and ZeroDiv's Vita RPG features an interesting premise, but in the end it's a weaker product than those that obviously inspired it.

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Review: Bayonetta 2 photo
Review: Bayonetta 2
by Chris Carter

Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust.

Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.

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Review: Fantasy Life  photo
Review: Fantasy Life
by Brittany Vincent

One of the biggest gripes I hear from friends interested in but hesitant to play Japanese role-playing games is that they're too "complicated." It's a sentiment I've never understood; several take great pains to be accessible and enjoyable to a wide variety of players. Unfortunately, my explanations of tropes and tried-and-true mechanics aren't usually enough to sway the potential players, and they're swept away by a title of a different ilk.

That's why Fantasy Life is such an interesting case. It takes familiar elements such as classes, grinding for XP, and character customization and distills them into something that can be digested by just about any type of player. Oh, and it helps that it's a lot of fun, too.

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Review: Pokémon Art Academy photo
Review: Pokémon Art Academy
by Brittany Vincent

Educational games that impart knowledge while remaining entertaining are certified rarities. Too often you're left with staggering amounts of informative material and meager side portions of "game" that contribute to a rather lopsided product.

Pokémon Art Academy is an interesting blend of both, with useful tips and tricks, drawing instruction, and helpful guidance for fledgling artists or those who simply want to learn how to draw their favorite Pocket Monsters. It's just like the learn-to-draw books you could pick up at the store, but with real-time feedback.

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Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse photo
Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
by Chris Carter

I've always thought that Shantae is a bit of an underrated series. While WayForward can be hit or miss these days, I can always rely on their ability to craft a good platformer. Shantae: Risky's Revenge for the DSi is one of my favorite games in the genre, so naturally I gravitated towards the follow-up, Pirate's Curse.

While Curse takes a few steps back from the formula developed by its predecessor, it's still a great action-romp that any 2D fan can get behind.

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Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth photo
Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
by Darren Nakamura

"Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet." That is really all Firaxis and 2K needed to say to get people excited for the next entry in the long-running turn-based strategy series. There is a fair amount of new ideas to be found here: new systems to explore, new technology to research, and new obstacles to overcome.

But even with everything new, Civilization: Beyond Earth is still Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet. And it is exactly as good as that sounds.

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Review: A City Sleeps photo
Review: A City Sleeps
by Nic Rowen

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

It's a weird time to be Harmonix. It is hands down one of the most successful and influential independent developers of all time. It led the development and popularization of an entire genre of games over the last generation; who else can say that? At the height of its power, the company released a near-perfect game with Rock Band 3, and it's still just about the only studio to have ever done right by the Kinect.

But times change, the rhythm-game craze is over. All of those plastic instruments Harmonix built its name on are gathering dust in closets or bargain bins, and the masses openly celebrated when Microsoft took the Kinect out of the box. So what is Harmonix to do?

Go and make an old-school 2D shoot-'em-up, apparently.

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Review: The Legend of Korra photo
Review: The Legend of Korra
by Chris Carter

One of the biggest surprises of 2014 had to be the announcement of a Legend of Korra game, published by Activision and developed by Platinum Games. Yes, that Platinum Games -- the current master of action titles.

It's only been a few months since the reveal of said Korra game, and already it's out on just about every platform imaginable outside of the Wii U. While the core result is indicative of Platinum's seal of quality, it feels rushed in many ways.

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Review: Samurai Warriors 4 photo
Review: Samurai Warriors 4
by Chris Carter

While the Dynasty Warriors series is often heralded as the pinnacle of Omega Force's hack-and-slash catalog, the lesser-known Samurai franchise has been churning out some of the best games in the stable.

Based around the Sengoku era of Japan, Samurai Warriors mixes things up with unique offerings like ninjas, samurai, and historical figures such as Goemon Ishikawa and Musashi Miyamoto. If you can get past the repetition, Samurai Warriors 4 delivers another hearty helping of action the developer is known for.

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Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved photo
Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Fantasia holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I both grew up playing instruments, and whenever a song comes on from the film, we get to share a little moment as Disney fans. Yes, PhilharMagic is one of our favorite attractions at Disney World.

So when I heart that Harmonix was making a Fantasia game, I got excited -- until I heard that it had at least one song by Drake in it. Of course, my full judgment was reserved for the finished product, and I found it to be a magical experience overall.

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Review: Fairy Fencer F photo
Review: Fairy Fencer F
by Brittany Vincent

If you want to think outside the box, the role-playing genre may not be the perfect playground for you -- at least, when it comes to traditional Japanese titles, which generally confine themselves to a set of tried-and-true mechanics. For some, that’s acceptable. We know what we’re getting into, and what to expect. When it comes to Compile Heart’s latest, Fairy Fencer F, it’s clear that the company. famous for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. went back to basics in order to tell its newest story of fairies, furies, and fencers.

Unfortunately, “back to basics” in this instance translates to a dull slog through menus, tutorials, and conversations interspersed with combat. And while the combat is enjoyable, there just isn’t enough of it to propel you through the slower parts.

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Review: The Art of Alien: Isolation photo
Review: The Art of Alien: Isolation
by Alasdair Duncan

Alien: Isolation has received a lot of praise over its faithful recreation of the original film's lo-fi take on science fiction. "Truckers in space" was the aesthetic director Ridley Scott set out to capture and the decks and corridors of the shipping vessel Nostromo defined a sci-fi art style for 35 years.

Titan has a new book out showcasing the concept art and illustrations that inspired Isolation but they could have just as easily come from a book showing the ideas behind the original movie.

[Don't forget to enter our competition to win a copy of The Art of Alien: Isolation. Just click here for more info.]

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Review: The Evil Within photo
Review: The Evil Within
by Chris Carter

I grew up happily playing Shinji Mikami's games, and he's probably one of the most influential directors/producers that ever lived. I remember the first time I played Resident Evil, the day I bought Devil May Cry from EB Games, and the exact moment when my friend showed me God Hand.

All in all Mikami has worked on over 20 major games that have impacted the industry in some way. Even if The Evil Within is one of the worst in the bunch, it's still in good company.

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Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus photo
Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
by Brittany Vincent

In the world of Senran Kagura, excess is the rule. The outfits are skimpy, the plot threads are ludicrous, and the breasts are laughably large, so huge in fact that you wonder how the skimpy bras the girls are eventually stripped down to are actually wrangling those things.

But beneath a veneer of silliness and near-parodical levels of fan service lies a brawler with plenty of hack and slash goodness to offer.

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Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments photo
Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
by Alasdair Duncan

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's weighty novel Crime and Punishment, the central character robs and murders a loan shark and pawn broker but justifies the act in his own mind because he will use the money for good. Doestoyevsky's anti-hero believes that even murder is justified if some benefit can come of it, that even a wicked act can have some merit. Eventually, besieged by guilt, he confesses to his crime and accepts his punishment. 

Throughout Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, there are frequent loading screens where you'll see the titular detective flick through Dostoyevsky's work and it seems to have had an effect on him. Now Sherlock can decide if a crime truly was justified and how he will punish the guilty. It's a novel approach that unfortunately only partially works out.

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