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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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Review: Moon Chronicles: Episode 1 photo
Review: Moon Chronicles: Episode 1
by Kyle MacGregor

Five years ago, a little game by the name of Moon launched on the Nintendo DS. Being a competent first-person shooter on a portable platform, it was something of a curiosity. Studios seldom attempt the genre on handhelds, and examples of decent experiences are even rarer still.

So perhaps it doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Nintendo 3DS library is one with a dearth of first-person shooters. Enter Renegade Kid and Moon Chronicles, an updated version of the 2009 DS game with remastered visuals and a new episodic structure, to fill the void.

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Review: Kero Blaster photo
Review: Kero Blaster
by Jonathan Holmes

Kero Blaster stands directly in the shadow of not one but two other games by creator Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya. First is Gero Blaster, the original build of Kero Blaster which was announced back in early 2013. Gero Blaster was based on comics that Amaya drew in college about himself as a frog and his girlfriend as a cat. The cat is kidnapped by cyclops aliens and the frog must head off to rescue her. The game looked to be a lot of fun, and was quite far along before Amaya  reportedly scrapped the whole thing and rebuilt it as Kero Blaster

The other game that Kero Blaster has hanging over its head is Cave Story. Released in 2004, Cave Story changed the way many people viewed independent game development. It took Amaya five years to develop the game, and he released it for free. Later, it would receive enhanced ports for WiiWare, DSiWare, 3DS retail, 3DS eShop, and Steam. Fans of the game will tell you that it's one of the greatest Metroidvania titles ever made.

Seeing that Kero Blaster is the first action-platformer that Amaya has released since Cave Story, expectations are understandably high. Ironically, it's diehard fans of Cave Story who may be the most disappointed with Kero Blaster, as they are in for a much shorter, less ambitious experience. That's not to say it's any less worthwhile. If Cave Story is a rock opera, then Kero Blaster is an album of energetic, perfectly paced pop songs. As long as you don't go into one expecting the other, there's no reason you can't enjoy both in equal measure.

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Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle photo
Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle
by Brittany Vincent

How do you like your fighting games? Personally, I like mine with a sizable dose of pop culture references and eye-melting color palettes infused with a healthy dose of humor that's hilariously self-aware. That's what you get with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle, the most gleefully insane anime-inspired fighter the genre has seen in some time.

Distilling a good 25 years' worth of story arcs from the wildly popular JoJo's Bizarre Adventure into an accessible fighter that anyone can enjoy is no easy feat, and yet developer CyberConnect2 has done an admirable job that should be praised. Even if your heart is as black as professional jerk Dio Brando's.

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Review: Ether One photo
Review: Ether One
by Steven Hansen

Talking to someone you know -- maybe have known your whole life -- who is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia is heartbreaking. At best, they stare at you, smiling warmly but helplessly. Any mental associations or memories shared crash down one-sided. The person is well meaning, but can't reciprocate.    

Ether One deals with mental breakdown with a sort of reverse Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind approach. What if memories could be restored?

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Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: In Harm's Way photo
Review: The Walking Dead Season 2: In Harm's Way
by Chris Carter

Season two of The Walking Dead is off to a really great start so far. Unchained from the binds of the father-daughter tale of season one, Clementine is on her own, stuck between various factions, groups, and relationships.

Seeing the end of the world from her eyes has made for a significantly different season, and the last episode raised the stakes considerably. It's amazing that Telltale can keep it going yet again.

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Review: Super Time Force photo
Review: Super Time Force
by Jordan Devore

Capybara Games has been demoing Super Time Force at trade shows for years now, offering players a chance to become acquainted with its neat take on side-scrolling shooters but not enough time to truly dig in. The people hovering behind you in line have stuff to do too, after all.

Here we are, at last. We can play Super Time Force in the privacy of our own homes, spending as much precious time as we'd like to perfect runs without feeling guilty. Life is good.

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Review: Demon Gaze photo
Review: Demon Gaze
by Dale North

I'm a dungeon crawler at heart, so any game that throws me into the pits and makes me claw my way out is a good time on at least some level. Difficulty? Unforgiving systems? Bring it on. For me, just about any grind is an enjoyable grind.

But even as a diehard genre fan, PS Vita dungeon crawler Demon Gaze tried my patience and resolve.

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Review: Cloudbuilt photo
Review: Cloudbuilt
by Steven Hansen

When you seemingly combine Mirror's Edge, Mega Man and a Gravity Rush aesthetic by way of color pencils, my ears perk up. I did not know what I was getting myself into.

Cloudbuilt is hard. Like, real hard. When this review was more timely and I was clawing my way through levels, I would periodically take breaks to unwind with Dark Souls II when Cloudbuilt got too frustrating. And that's the biggest issue with Cloudbuilt. It's hard and it's frustrating.

The latter isn't so good.

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