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Review: Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes photo
Review: Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes
by Jonathan Holmes

I'm angry that I had to write this review of 1001 Spikes, as I would have rather spent this time playing more of it. That anger makes me all the more similar to the game's titular hero Aban Hawkins. Neglected and disrespected by his famous father and stuck in the shadow of his intelligent and responsible sister, he's got every reason to be a grump. This is a man with something to prove and he doesn't care how badly he's going to get hurt in the process. He's not going to stop until he shows the world that nobody and nothing can keep him down.

Aban's story is a perfect fit for the world of hurt he runs into headfirst. 1001 Spikes is a game of endless danger, a place where eye contact with death is a near constant. The game fights you nearly every step of the way, but it always fights fair, making each small victory feel like a life affirming success. Those who can summon the bravery to risk the challenges here are bound to discover that they are capable of more than they had given themselves credit for.

For the tenacious, nothing is impossible.

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Review: Tomodachi Life photo
Review: Tomodachi Life
by Darren Nakamura

Nintendo catches a lot of flak for relying too heavily on its established franchises. Though it has been producing new properties, few have gained traction among hardcore gamers since Pikmin. Tomodachi Life might be overlooked for the same reasons. Its use of Miis and its nebulous gameplay could lead to some labeling it as too casual.

Do not fall into that trap. Tomodachi Life is one of the best Nintendo games in years.

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Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Invasion photo
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Invasion
by Chris Carter

So far in the saga that is Call of Duty: Ghosts, the fun factor of the game has increased tremendously through the first two map packs -- Onslaught and Devastation, which allow you to play as Michael Meyers and Predator, respectively. Slowly but surely Infinity Ward has been addressing concerns from Ghosts, adding in more interesting locations on top of a ton of little extras that add up over time.

Although Invasion doesn't have a gimmick as strong as say, a playable horror or action movie villain, its tricks are more spread out over the entire DLC, making for one of the best map packs yet.

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Review: Murdered: Soul Suspect  photo
Review: Murdered: Soul Suspect
by Brittany Vincent

Ever since I completed Heavy Rain and walked away from it looking for a similar departure, I've been unable to find a suitable replacement beyond the realm of classic adventure gaming.  Though Heavy Rain was plagued with its own special set of problems, it left a lasting impression on me, a missing link to the golden days of adventure gaming, blended with something decidedly modern. Beyond: Two Souls seemed promising, but I soon realized it was merely a husk of the game I had hoped to see.

When Murdered: Soul Suspect arrived on the scene, it looked like it might fit the bill perfectly. And while the once venerable Square Enix branding may once have meant I could skip along merrily in the confines of the game that wore it so proudly, that certainly isn't the case these days. Thus, it was with much trepidation that I approached Murdered: Soul Suspect, in the hopes that I wouldn't get burned once more. Today, I emerge from the flames with a warning: to stay away until this one invariably hits the bargain bin.

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Review in Progress: WildStar (Early-Access) photo
Review in Progress: WildStar (Early-Access)
by Chris Carter

[We'll be reviewing WildStar over an extended period of time. For more details, check out our new Reviews in Progress program.]

The time has finally come for WildStar to back up all that hype. For years Carbine Studios has said that they will cater to all of the jaded MMO fans out there, as well as the most hardcore of players seeking a challenge -- and that's quite a tall order.

While they haven't quite succeeded with all their claims in the early stages of the game, there's still plenty of time to go on my journey to level 50, and I'm still having a good deal of fun getting there.

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Review: Astebreed photo
Review: Astebreed
by Kyle MacGregor

The rising prominence of independent games has been oft described as meteoric. The center of gravity has shifted over the course of a single generation. As hardware becomes exponentially more powerful and development costs spiral out of control, small teams and virtual unknowns have stepped into the limelight, while the old guard recesses into the shadows.

Or at least that is what's happening in the Western world. Things are a little bit different in Japan, to put it mildly. While the country has a long history of independent development, it's one far more clandestine than our own. Bereft of a strong distribution network and mainstream notoriety, Japanese indies have largely gone ignored, save for a handful of outliers such as Cave Story.

The tides are beginning to turn though, with events like BitSummit and groups like Playism bringing these titles to larger audiences and the global stage. That's the case with Astebreed, a name you almost assuredly do not recognize, but also one that demands your attention.

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Review: Mario Kart 8 photo
Review: Mario Kart 8
by Chris Carter

After the first three console entries, Mario Kart and I have had a semi-bumpy ride. After hundreds, possibly thousands of hours spent playing Super Mario Kart, 64, and Double Dash, I didn't have the same fervor as I once did from the DS iteration on.

I barely played Mario Kart Wii due to a lack of interest, and I was let down in many ways by the underwhelming Mario Kart 7. But thanks to the magic of Mario Kart 8, I'm all in again just like the olden days. It helps that it's one of the most gorgeous and breathtaking games on the market right now.

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Review: Worms Battlegrounds photo
Review: Worms Battlegrounds
by Chris Carter

Coming up on the 20th anniversary of the Worms series, yet another Worms game is upon us.

This is technically the first current-gen title though, worming its way onto the Xbox One and PS4. As you can imagine so early in these consoles' lifecyles, the generational differences really aren't astounding enough to make a difference.

But thankfully, the foundation is still as rock solid as Worms has ever been, even if that isn't exactly a remarkable achievement.

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Review: Monochroma photo
Review: Monochroma
by Darren Nakamura

Stop me if you've heard this one. A young boy must journey through an oppressive greyscale world, navigating through deadly traps, manipulating objects in order to solve physics-based platforming puzzles, all while delivering a wordless narrative to the player. Indeed, Monochroma shares a few characteristics with the acclaimed title LIMBO, and the two have been compared extensively, but it exists very much as its own entity as well.

For one, Monochroma tells a tale of a robot-producing corporation that is probably hiding its more sinister motives. For two, it uses splashes of color in addition to the greyscale palette to highlight elements and add a bit of visual interest. For three, it suffers from poor control and mundane puzzle design that mar the whole experience.

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Review: The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothing photo
Review: The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothing
by Chris Carter

Telltale does a wonderful job of showing you just how tough Bigby Wolf's life really is.

He's constantly trying to do the right thing and fight his feral nature, but every so often you really can't help but rough someone up to solve the case. After all, Fabletown is a dangerous place, and every wasted second could mean a new victim or the flight of a perpetrator.

While In Sheep's Clothing doesn't give us the showdown we've been wanting since the end of the first episode, it still delivers that wonderful feeling of tension that's been sprinkled throughout the series.

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Review: Watch Dogs photo
Review: Watch Dogs
by Chris Carter

What I love most about my job is that I get to test out everything in its final, ready to deliver form, free of the binds of hype. For what feels like half my lifetime, Ubisoft has been trying to convince us that Watch Dogs will change everything. It doesn't.

If you come in expecting a polished high-budget venture on par with the Grand Theft Auto series, you're going to be disappointed. But if you think of it like a more arcadey take on the open world genre, you'll have a lot more fun.

Oh, and you can totally become a giant Spider-Tank and blow people up.

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Review: World End Economica Episode 1 photo
Review: World End Economica Episode 1
by Brittany Vincent

Visual novels are a finicky medium. It's difficult enough to drum up interest because of their exotic origins, and harder still to find an audience due to their nature -- it's a bunch of reading. And you can't always be sure that the story you're reading is going to be one that you'll want to invest dozens of hours in. On one hand, you've got a menagerie of engaging tales that capture the imagination and ensnare the reader until the very end. On the other, you've got a set of stories with dull, flavorless dialogue and uninteresting protagonists.

Why waste time on a less-than-stellar adventure when there are juicier ones at your disposal? I find myself asking this question and others when it comes to World End Economica Episode 1, Spice and Wolf author Isuna Hasekura's three-part visual novel series that follows a teenager who runs away from home and attempts to make a living for himself in the world of day trading. It's ambitious in scope, but ultimately ends up failing due to a lack of interactivity and a protagonist that's difficult to root for. 

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Review: R-Type Dimensions photo
Review: R-Type Dimensions
by Ben Pack

I’ve always been drawn to games that make me mad. It started with Punch-Out!! and evolved through the years into games like God Hand and Dark Souls. The feeling of achieving victory after countless failures is the pinnacle of gaming to me.

If I’m determined enough, very few things make me rage quit. Among them, however, are R-Type and R-Type IIR-Type Dimensions combines these games into one fury-inducing package, and I loved almost every minute I spent with it.

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Review: Transistor photo
Review: Transistor
by Alasdair Duncan

Does the "second album" syndrome exist in videogames? If you're not familiar with that phrase, it's the idea that a band's second album is much harder to make than the first. Should a band break away from the style it forged with debut or should its second effort explore new ground? In the videogames industry, a developer is usually charged with making a direct sequel to their first game, to just build on what came before. 

Bastion, the first game from indie studio Supergiant Games, stood out from the crowd thanks to its sumptuous art style, haunting music, and approachable gameplay. Supergiant has followed up its debut with Transistor, which feels like a sequel despite an all-new setting and characters.

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Review: Drakengard 3 photo
Review: Drakengard 3
by Chris Carter

The Drakengard series doesn't often see the light of day. I had the good fortune of playing the first two games nearly a decade ago, and although they always stay in the back of my mind, it never really comes up in the conversation of games I'd like to see brought back to life.

But here we are nearly 10 years later with Drakengard 3, and I have to say, I love what Access Games has done with the formula.

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Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order photo
Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order
by Chris Carter

Along with Catacomb, Wolfenstein was one of my first FPS games. One of the fondest memories I have of my father is playing it "co-operatively," where one of us moved and the other shot enemies and opened doors.

It was one of the purest FPS games of all time, in an era where maps were more of an elaborate maze than a hallway of cutscenes. While Wolfenstein may play it safe with many modern designs that we've all come to expect, it manages to encapsulate the spirit of the genre when it was in its infancy -- fun.

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