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Review: Her Story

Jun 29 // Laura Kate Dale
Her Story (PC [reviewed], iOS) Developer: Sam BarlowPublisher: Sam BarlowMSRP: $5.99Released: June 24, 2015 From the first set of clips tagged murder, I had several options of which narrative thread to pull at first. Did I want to look for clips related to the victim's name first? Maybe I should try to track down the name of the person accused of the crime? Perhaps I wanted to go in a completely different direction and try to find references to the murder weapon on the database. Right from the start, several different avenues opened up and the number of narrative options to explore only expanded as I went deeper into the case. You can't organize clips you find chronologically or watch them in order without re-searching for them, meaning that a lot of the work of piecing the narrative together is down to you as the player. There's an in game application that will show you which pieces of the case you've watched and which you have not, but it's up to you to keep track of where each statement falls in the timeline of police interviews and how their placement fits together. Much of the mechanical challenge in the game comes from piecing the story together in a way that draws conclusions you're personally satisfied with. At around two hours in, I had seen enough that the game offered to let me see the credits roll, but I personally wanted to know much more of what was happening and ended up playing for around six hours on and off before I was truly satisfied with my understanding of the events. Others I know felt they knew everything they needed within half an hour. In terms of pacing, Her Story lasts however long you want it to in regards to narrative. Any time you feel the game is ready to end, you can draw your conclusions and walk away. Ultimately, Her Story is a really inventive way of exploring a narrative with an impressive number of twists and turns. Every time I thought I understood what was happening, a clip would become unearthed that turned my understanding of the case on its head. The story was personal, uplifting, dark, twisted, insightful, and unnerving all at once. I know we get a lot of talk of narrative-focused adventures as "not games," but this is a narrative that undoubtedly benefits from its open-ended interactive nature. If this isn't a perfect example of how video game interactivity can enhance a narrative, I don't know what is. Being able to unearth these twists out of order, rushing to understand what you've found, and bouncing tonally back and forth across a series of interviews truly is the perfect way to experience this skillfully crafted narrative. It's not a typical structure for a game, but the mechanics really do work in the context of the narrative. If you like the idea of an open-ended '90s murder mystery with no guarantee you'll find a solid answer to its mysteries, then I can't recommend this highly enough. Her Story is a spectacular video game, and one of the most gripping personal narratives I've experienced in some time. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Her Story review photo
Let's solve a mid-'90s murder
Her Story is certainly not what you would call a traditional video game. Set entirely on a police computer database in the English town of Portsmouth, it breaks a lot of new ground in terms of blending its narrative and gamep...

Review: Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities

May 07 // Jed Whitaker
Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6 Plus], Playstation Vita, Wii U)Developer: Psychose Interactive Inc.Publisher: Psychose Interactive Inc.Released: April 23, 2015 (iOS) / TBA 2015 (Android, PlayStation Vita, Wii U)MSRP: $4.99 Rose Hawkins wakes up after being shot in the face, only remembering that she was searching for a missing girl named Eden. She doesn't recall who shot her, how she is alive, or where she is.  Upon exiting the room Rose is greeted by a hallway formed in red curtains, the kind you'd find at any theater. An antique dictation device is waiting for her, and a message plays automatically from a woman named Noah who has been waiting for her. Noah knows Rose by name, and promises her more information on Eden if she can free her nurse friend from the asylum she is about to enter. Rose comes face to face with Noah in a throne surrounded by mannequins one last time before entering the asylum, Noah still talks through audio dictation for some reason. This is the kind of tone you can expect from Forgotten Memories. [embed]291661:58457:0[/embed] Like any psychological survival horror game, the story is deep, twisted and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Most of the lore you'll come across in case files, notes, and a couple of cutscenes. Forgotten Memories is very old school in this regard, but still manages to have an engaging story worth searching for. Old school is a  word that can be used to describe most parts of the experience, for better or for worse. I almost didn't finish the game due to how difficult the game is, just because the developers felt the need to shove in old school mechanics for old school sake. Saving the game requires tracking down a computer and using a floppy disk, an item that is extremely limited in the game. While classic survival horror games used this save game mechanic, most notably the original Resident Evil series, it sucks for a game on mobile, especially when the game is brutally difficult. Forgotten Memories' app store description originally warned prospective buyers to only purchase the game if you are a hardcore gamer due to the level of challenge involved. They weren't joking -- I almost didn't finish it to how quickly and often I'd die. Luckily I must not have been the only one as the developer quickly released an update that included an easy mode. It provides players with unlimited saves, more ammo, easier enemies and more medkit pickups, among other tweaks. Even with this easy mode I found myself in situations with a sliver of health, no medkits and some distance between myself and the nearest save point.  Touchscreen controls were a mistake, plain and simple, and hopefully they don't carry over to the Vita and Wii U versions of the game. The left side of the screen controls character movement, while the right side controls the camera and aiming. The first place touched on the left side of the screen acts as a center axis, and Rose will move in the direction of your fingers position in reference to said axis. Camera and aiming control seems inconsistent on how much movement there is, often times leading to needing multiple swipes just turn around. On the right side of the screen are also icons that allow you to run or go into an aiming mode with your flashlight or weapon. With a weapon drawn tapping anywhere on the screen will cause Rose to attack. The pipe, the only melee weapon I found in my playthroughs, can be used three times consecutively to perform a powerful combo attack that pushes enemies backwards. Since this piece of junk is your main weapon, combat boils down to letting enemies get close enough to attack, performing the combo, rinse repeat. It leaves a lot to be desired. Shitty controls aside, Forgotten Memories nails the survival horror atmosphere unlike any game I've played in years. Haunting violins can be heard as you search for clues and keys, pounding drums mixed with noise play during combat, and the intro music is haunting, a mainstay of the Silent Hill series. I found my heart beating in my chest with my breath held as I ran past enemies to escape rooms. Hearing distorted singing coming from a shadow-like child that is just down the hallway where you need to go is fucking horrifying. While it is indeed a horrifying affair, it ends all too abruptly at just under an hour and a half on my first playthrough.  Having been in development for years, Forgotten Memories feels like it was purposely cut short to allow for sequels or download content. That being said, the pacing is tight and there is no filler whatsoever, but it still feels like the first chapter of a longer game. Aside from the brevity, awful controls, and dull combat, the game is easily recommendable for those looking for that Silent Hill feel. Though only the desperate should pick up the mobile version, or those that have a compatible controller, otherwise wait for the console and PC releases sometime this year. While the graphics are some of the best I've seen on mobile, they can only be better elsewhere. Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities is about the best you can do for survival horror currently, if you can stomach the control scheme. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Forgotten Memories review photo
Horror-ible controls
Survival horror has always been one of my favorite genres, with Silent Hill being the absolute king. When I heard about a game inspired by and with voice actors from Silent Hill 2, arguably the best in the series, I was ...

Review: Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain

May 01 // Chris Carter
Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentReleased: April 2, 2014 to April 30, 2015MSRP: Free-to-play (with microtransactions) For the entire month of April, Blizzard slowly unlocked each of the four wings of Blackrock Mountain expansion. The entire experience is finally available for $24.99 (or 700 in-game gold per wing), and I'm happy to report that it was worth the cash, as it's a step up from Naxxramas in most respects. The key to success with Blackrock is the commitment to the lore and having it fit within the confines of Hearthstone. That classic nostalgic rush you got as a raider in vanilla World of Warcraft is still there when you fight Ragnaros, Nefarian, and their crew, but with all of the goofy quips and dialog you'd expect from a card game that takes place within the same universe. In fact, it's still there even if you're meeting these characters for the first time. What really surprised me is how well Blizzard adapted these boss fights into engaging encounters. There were some bright spots in Naxx as well, but a few Blackrock battles really blew me away. Take Garr, who constantly destroys his own minions in an effort to take you out by way of Deathrattle damage. The catch is that each minion that dies on the same turn does an exponential amount of damage, forcing you to either whittle each enemy down individually, or just go for the all-out kill in four turns. Majordomo Exectus is another amazing confrontation, as he has a specific 8/8 card that he can summon for free if he drops below a certain amount of health. You have to strategically keep him alive until you have enough cards to take him out in one swift blow, or risk fighting an army of super-powered cards. The latter situation is doable with the right deck, which highlights how versatile Hearthstone is in general. There are plenty more unique levels too, like one that only lets you and your opponent play one card per turn of any value -- with concepts like these, the Heroic mode (unlocked after beating each wing) presents the biggest challenge yet. Class challenges are also back, and reward you with two class-specific cards after conquering an enemy with a pre-set deck. Mechanically this is probably the best part of Blizzard's Hearthstone expansions, as they allow you to step out of your comfort zone and experience new styles of play while rewarding you appropriately. It's a tradition that I'd love to see continued. The main aspect that I felt was a step down from Naxxramas however is the general theme of the expansion itself. Naxx felt like a completely different game, with bright hues of green, purple, and red. The cards were utterly unique and unlike anything you had seen before from a design perspective, and I still use many of them today solely based on their aesthetics. With Blackrock there are a lot of great cards as rewards, but a lot of them share the same artwork as the rest of the core set. While it may not look as dazzling as Naxxramas, Blackrock Mountain expansion is still the best add-on yet, edging out the card-only Goblins vs Gnomes. I'm still chipping away at the Heroic fights, and with how many card options are available at this point, I'll probably be messing around with custom decks for weeks. [This review is based on a retail build of the expansion provided by the publisher.]
Hearthstone DLC review photo
The best expansion yet
As I've described in the past, my history with Hearthstone is pretty much inline with how Blizzard wants most of its customer base to enjoy it. I'm loving it in spurts, as it's perfect for quick pick up sessions with fri...


The first three rounds of Sid Meier's Starships are not enough

Feb 24 // Darren Nakamura
Sid Meier's Starships (iPad, Mac, PC [previewed])Developer: Firaxis GamesPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: March 12, 2015MSRP: $14.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit I don't mean to hate on Starships just yet. In fact, a lot of the design decisions make perfect sense from a gameplay perspective. It makes sense for a tactical combat game to begin with only a few units rather than an army. It makes sense to enclose arenas for the combatants to actually encounter one another. These elements make for a good game, but they run counter to the narrative of taking control of the Milky Way. Starships is broken up into two distinct sections that affect one another. Resource management and area control take place on the galaxy map, while combat occurs zoomed in to a piece of a solar system within that galaxy. By influencing planets on the galaxy map, players gather resources and eventually take control of sectors. The resources are similar to those found in Civilization: Beyond Earth, but with a few tweaks to their functions. Food is still used to increase population, which raises the overall resource output of a planet. Science is used to upgrade technologies to buff starship systems. Metal (formerly production) is used to construct buildings on planets, providing specific resource increases and other effects. Energy is used to add ships to the fleet or to install new or upgraded systems onto existing ships. Credits are a new piece of the puzzle, used to convert to any of the other resources, or to buy influence on a planet. [embed]286382:56944:0[/embed] By moving the fleet around the galaxy map, the player can initiate combat encounters. These take place on a two-dimensional hex grid centered around the planet of interest, sometimes featuring moons and filled with an inordinate amount of asteroids. On a turn, players can activate their ships in any order. For each ship activation, it gets some amount of movement depending on its component makeup, and one action that can be executed before, during, or after movement. A major selling point of Starships is the customization of the titular vessels. Energy can be spent to upgrade weapons systems, armor, stealth, sensors, and more. The more stuff a ship has piled onto it, the slower it will move, so engine upgrades are key for tactical maneuverability. One neat thing: as the ships are tweaked with new parts, their stated classes automatically update. The basic corvettes can eventually become cruisers, destroyers, or battleships with the right gear. There is no strictly correct setup for a fleet. In my first run through the preview build, I engaged in a few battles that emphasized sensors, and a few others that allowed only my flagship. For my second playthrough, I beefed up my flagship and neglected my others, but came across a different set of encounters. The variety in combat missions is an unexpected treat. The objectives range from simple (destroy all enemy ships) to complex (control three outposts at once) to just strange (navigate through an asteroid maze in a set number of turns). Each round on the galaxy map, players have a certain amount of fatigue to spend before being forced to take shore leave and end the turn. This usually amounts to about three combat missions per player per round. Combat missions can run quickly, with some taking as few as five minutes, though I can imagine that when larger fleets clash, it could draw battles out. Although there is a resource management aspect, it doesn't require nearly as much micromanagement as a typical Civilization game does. There are only a few types of upgrades for a planet, a handful of technologies to research, and marginal differences between the three Affinities introduced in Beyond Earth. Upgrades are purchased instantaneously rather than built up over time. It has a certain rhythm to it. The galaxy map is a strategy exercise, where influence over certain planets and adjacency to other players is important. These strategy considerations are punctuated by the tactical battles around each planet. The constant switching between the big picture and several small theaters is a little tough to get a hang of at first, but it helps to inject some variety into the experience. After the third round, just as I felt like I was getting the hang of it, the preview build ended. Three rounds played in less than an hour, and on my second playthrough I had covered about 20% of the galaxy. Though I can't say for sure how long an average game would run, a full Starships game is definitely meant to be less of an undertaking than a run through Civilization. Therein stems the one concern I have for Starships. From a pure gameplay perspective, the board game-like combat and area control work well together. As a followup to Beyond Earth, where the playground now includes the entire galaxy rather than a single planet, the simpler scope is counter to the conceit. Conquering the Milky Way should be an enormous endeavor, but everything here just feels small.
Sid Meier's Starships photo
A taste of what's to come
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth released to mixed reactions. I loved how it took the took the classic gameplay to alien worlds, and I especially appreciated its underlying narrative about the future of the human race. ...

Review: Sons of Anarchy: The Prospect: Episode One

Feb 03 // Chris Carter
Sons of Anarchy: The Prospect: Episode One (iOS [reviewed], PC)Developer: Orpheus Interactive, Silverback GamesPublisher: Fox Digital EntertainmentReleased: January 29, 2015 (iOS) / TBA (PC)MSRP: $2.99 per episode ($14.99 Season Pass) Plain and simple, this is a Telltale-style affair complete with item-based seek-and-finds, player choice, and a ton of dialogue. In other words, there's little room for exploration as you hop from one tiny child-sized sandbox to another -- otherwise known as the new school adventure genre. As a grizzled veteran who has spent hours pixel hunting in Myst and King's Quest, I'm generally okay with the push towards more visual novel and less adventure. Some of you may not be. The Prospect kicks things off with a rather interesting flash forward, giving the player character a choice to execute someone else with a bag over their head. Who is this hooded person? Are you even in control of the "main" character, or are you in the hood, and are you deciding to pull the trigger on yourself? It's a neat method of storytelling and likely won't be explored until the finale. [embed]287005:57140:0[/embed]The core narrative however will be spent setting things up for the rest of the tale. You'll meet the main character, whose Dad is terminally ill and could go at any moment. His brother happens to be part of the notorious Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club (this time called SAMLIN, based in Oregon), and his father thinks that he's been saving up to send his favorite son to college -- only, you've been spending that cash to keep the lights on, and keep him alive. Methods to earn unscrupulous cash are literally knocking at the door. Over the course of the show we've seen many unlikely people become members of the club, and it's interesting to see it unfold from their eyes. Your landlord, the local police, your dad, and of course the Sons play a vital role in your character's future, and the hook actually isn't bad. There's also some loose ties to the show with fan-favorite character Tig Trager, also played by Kim Coates, who makes a decent impression and not just a cameo. Thematically the dialogue is also very similar to the show, which is fine by me, but may offend others. In other words, the dialogue is very male-driven, and you'll likely find plenty of sexist and racist lines in the first 15 minutes. But while the setup is great on paper, the actual follow-through isn't so exciting. Visually the game looks similar to something Telltale would create, but with less emphasis on character design and world building. It just feels off and uninspired at points, like development was straight-up rushed. The motorcycle portions are probably this biggest offender, all of which feature the same dark highway. Choices aren't that prevalent either, so the visual novel comparison couldn't be more apt. You basically get a few options to shoot people or not, and that's about it. There are "relationship" counters of sorts where if you say something mean an icon will pop up with a "minus" symbol, or a heart symbol for something favorable. There's no indication that these actually mean anything or will matter later on. This initial episode will run you $1.99, and the season pass costs $15, which will net you all 10 episodes. This is a rough prospect, because although I am supportive of the episodic format, I'm generally in for four or five -- ten is way too many, to the point where a mere hour is very difficult to really drive anything meaningful home. Even the show started running hour and a half episodes eventually. Maybe this will turn out great over time with the planned PC version as a bundle, but the jury is still out. Even with its faults, The Prospect really isn't as bad as it looks. The cheap fan service of Tig (one of my favorites) drew me in, and the idea of slowly working your way into the Sons of Anarchy is fun enough. Since there are going to be so many episodes, I'll likely do a check-in at the halfway point and again at the end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Sons of Anarchy review photo
SAMCRO takes a backseat
I was skeptical of Sons of Anarchy at first, but once I realized it was Hamlet on wheels I was in. Its seven season run wasn't perfect (particularly the Belfast plotline), but it kept me thoroughly entertained throu...

Contest: Win an iPad courtesy of World of Warriors!

Jan 15 // mrandydixon
*NOTE: To paste a link to your tweet, click the time stamp in the tweet, then copy and paste the URL below. It should look something like this.
iPad contest photo
A $400 value!
Destructoid has partnered with the fine folks behind the awesome World of Warriors to give away a 16GB iPad Mini 3 to one lucky reader! World of Warriors blends fighting and RPG gameplay in a pick-up-and-play, console-quality...

Project Scissors dev: 'Working with a renowned film director could easily become a nightmare'

Jan 14 // Jonathan Holmes
Dtoid: The Ju-on series is largely psychological horror, where Clock Tower is more physical. In short, Ju-on plays upon my fears of insanity, mortality, and crushing guilt/depression/shame, where Clock Tower mostly makes me afraid that a small man will stab me. How do you plan to combine these two brands of horror into one game? Kono-san: I intend to focus on the atmosphere along with the physical fear from the Clock Tower franchise. That is, focusing on the psychological fear in the process leading up to the murder. Also, being killed with scissors will have an additional significance. This kind of fear at a deeper level comes from Ju-on and the influence from Mr. Shimizu. Dtoid: Hideo Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro are teaming up for the next Silent Hill. What do you think of their collaboration, and do you see this pairing of game and film directors becoming more and more common? Kono-san: Upon seeing the movie starring the ghost of Mr. del Toro (The Devil's Backbone), it felt like a Japanese film with a fateful confrontation between the characters. I've heard he has a deep understanding of subculture, including games, so I think it has great potential for a successful creative collaboration. Working with a renowned film director without a proper understanding of games who might force his off-the-point suggestions could easily become a nightmare. However, if it is possible to establish a partnership with mutual respect for the culture each party embraces, these kinds of collaborations may become more common. It goes without saying that my relationship with Mr. Shimizu is this kind of positive partnership. Dtoid: What's truly going to set Project Scissors apart from other games in the genre? Why will audiences want to play it? Kono-san: Since this game is a point & click "adventure game," it is possible to create a cinematic effect in the storytelling, more so compared to games that emphasize action. As such, similar to my previous work, there are many in-game events with a touch of dark humor being prepared. Moreover, I think there is no game that emphasizes "escaping" and "hiding" as much as this game does. The anxiety when playing hide-and-seek, or playing tag. I would like to deliver entertainment that evokes the sense of butterflies in your stomach, at its purest. [Part 1] [Part 2]
Project Scissors photo
The final part of our interview series with Nude Maker
[Art by Mariel "Kinuko" Cartwright] We're closing out our Project Scissors: NightCry pre-release interview series with director Hifume Kono by bringing the focus back on the historic pairing between developer K...

Mistwalker's new RPG is unlike anything we've seen before

Sep 07 // Kyle MacGregor
Terra Battle is an upcoming strategy role-playing game for mobile and tablet devices, but it doesn't bear much resemblance to Final Fantasy Tactics and the like. Actually, the battlefield looks more like a chessboard than anything, which Sakaguchi tells us is by design. It takes inspiration from shogi, a popular board game, otherwise known as Japanese chess and the general's game. One way of playing shogi involves capturing stones by flanking them on both sides, a concept developer Mistwalker is incorporating as the centerpiece of Terra Battle's combat system. In order to attack enemies in Terra Battle, players will need to make quick and purposeful finger-swipes to position their units on the battlefield. However, since characters cannot fight alone, players will need to bump into and corral their allies into formations around monsters. That's the only way to vanquish your foes and emerge victorious.  [embed]280518:55533:0[/embed] In some small way, Mistwalker is also taking notes from Puzzle & Dragons. Sakaguchi told us a story about how we went drinking one night with the team behind GungHo Online's incredibly successful mobile game, and how it helped spur him to create Terra Battle. Sakaguchi gleaned insights on how to build an experience for a vertical screen from swapping stories with these folks. The conversations helped him address challenges like how to condense a rewarding experience into something easily enjoyed here and there while on the go. These types of problems seem to genuinely excite Sakaguchi, who wishes to use his forays into the mobile world to explore new ideas in the medium. Part of that involves a more fluid development process, where, unlike console games, the developers can continue to add content long after the game first ships. Mistwalker is using a "download starter" model with Terra Battle, which means the developer plans to add new content upon the achievement of certain milestones. These upgrades include new music courtesy of famed composer Nobuo Uematsu, co-op and versus battle modes, and even a console game based on the world and characters in Terra Battle. Mistwalker seems concerned with the stigma attached to mobile games, and hopes to ensure Terra Battle is not overly simplistic. Something we were more anxious about was how the developer plans to monetize the game. Terra Battle will be free-to-play and uses a stamina mechanic that limits the number of battles players can engage in quick succession. Energy regenerates over time, but impatient players will always have the option to pay. This shouldn't be overly alarming, as the title is designed to be played in short spurts, but it's something to keep in mind. Sakaguchi assured us players will never feel forced to part with their money. We were excited by what we saw of Terra Battle and are eager to give this unique take on tactical role-playing games a try when it arrives on iOS and Android devices this October.
Mistwalker's new RPG photo
Terra Battle is something else
Hironobu Sakaguchi is best known as the creator of Final Fantasy; a man responsible for some of the most influential and well-respected role-playing games of our time. His sprawling worlds and epic adventures have touched mil...

Review: Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas

Sep 02 // Chris Carter
Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentReleased: July 22, 2014 to August 19, 2014 (iOS, Mac, PC) / TBA (Android)MSRP: Free-to-play (with microtransactions) Initially I was enamored by the first wing that was given away for free, but in terms of its overall presentation, Naxxramas is fairly bare-bones. In short, I expected a bit more out of an expansion that costs $24.99 in real money (though if you save up your coins, you can afford it in-game). You're going to get a standard menu with a level-select function, and occasional taunts from big bad Kel'Thuzad, the Archlich. The dialog is cute as it often relies on puns or out-of-character/fourth-wall devices, but it doesn't do much in terms of telling a story or adding to the overall lore of Hearthstone. No, where Naxx truly shines is by providing more solid gameplay elements, and rewarding you with cards that will likely find their way into most decks. If you want more Hearthstone and are tired of playing online constantly -- this is the way to do it. Be warned though, if you're a veteran player with a great deck, it will likely take you an hour or so to clear everything on normal mode, which may come as a disappointment. As someone with a standard deck, I got at least five hours worth of play. After completing the standard battle and earning your cards, you'll have a chance to take on both class challenges and heroic battles. These aren't terribly exciting, but they're something else to do, and the former can earn you even more cards. Think of them like re-hashing previous encounters, with the occasional exception (the Hunter class challenge is a fun minion-based battle that causes you to rethink your strategy). Heroic fights on the other hand are often battles of the random-number-generator (RNG), which can get frustrating. [embed]280068:55532:0[/embed] Not every battle is the same test of brute force, thankfully. Patchwerk is one of my favorite encounters in Naxxramas. As an unconventional boss, he doesn't have any cards. Instead, he constantly attacks every turn for five damage and uses an ability that instantly destroys a minion. You can build a deck just for him, or adapt your strategy to quickly knock out his health before he can act. It sounds simple enough, but he was so vastly different from the rest of the game that I enjoyed it. Instructor Razuvious is another cool fight that involves mind control and taking back enemy minions to do your bidding. Kel'Thuzad himself is actually a "two-phase" fight. There are so many ways Blizzard can theoretically bend the rules to make encounters, although it must be said that Naxxramas doesn't have too many of these unique opponents, and some wings are a bit uneven -- it would be nice if future add-ons had fights that entirely consisted of different mechanics. Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas isn't too exciting for expert players, as they'll likely breeze past the content, but as a delivery system for cards, it's novel --  not to mention that all the same cards are given to every person. The bottom line is I'd love to see more add-ons like this in the future, and hope Blizzard supports Hearthstone for years to come. However you look at it, bare-bones or not, Naxx is a great start.
Hearthstone DLC review photo
A clever way to deliver new cards
This year, Blizzard embarked upon an interesting experiment. Instead of just charging people for card expansions, it bundled together an add-on called the Curse of Naxxramas, and released a different "wing" each week. To earn...

Pokémon iOS photo
The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?
Nintendo has said time and time again that they have no plans to start making games for other developer's hardware, and time and time again, analysts, editorialists, and enthusiasts have called them out for this decision. Nin...

Review in Progress: Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas

Jul 25 // Chris Carter
Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentReleased: July 22, 2014 to August 19, 2014 (iOS, Mac, PC) / TBA (Android)MSRP: Free-to-play (with microtransactions) After you've unlocked all nine classes, you can enter the solo adventures portion of the main menu and start your quest into Naxxramas. There's five wings, and as previously noted, only the first is unlocked right now for free (for a month) -- the rest will unlock over the course of the next month or so. The pricing scheme is very simple: for each wing, it's 700 gold, or roughly $5 per wing, not accounting for discounts. When all is said and done, all of the content will be available on August 19 for $20 if you picked up the first one free. The good news is this slow trickle of content doesn't really sting, since you truly do have enough to play around with for an entire week. The idea is that it's a single-player affair, but it allows you to add cards to your deck, which will no doubt lead to tons of deck re-working and lots more general play. You'll do battle with three bosses per wing from Warcraft lore like Anub'Rekhan with small voiceovers and a tiny narrative that adds a different feel to the DLC. There's also a new playing board environment to click around in (or tap), which does a decent job of differentiating the adventure. Even if you're a hardcore player who has lots of cards, Curse is going to offer up quite a challenge (mostly on the enhanced difficulty level), which is good news if you're bored of beating down the arena and the AI. Each enemy has a unique hero power, some of which border on the broken (the first boss can summon a 3/1 minion for the same cost as a Paladin 1/1 hero power minion), and most of the cards will force you to rethink everything you know about the current meta. [embed]278600:55013:0[/embed] Inline with the death theme, lots of cards focus on deathrattle and self-damage, making them risky endeavors, but still extremely effective methods of dealing damage to your enemy. Like Warlock cards they tend to have some sort of downside, but have a low mana cost -- so expect to get pummeled right out of the gate. While you could generally beat CPU opponents in the past by throwing the book at them so to speak without any major changes in strategy, you'll have to rethink everything if you want to clear Naxx and earn your reward. There's also a challenge mode to engage in for each class, as well as normal and heroic difficulty settings -- the latter unlocks after your first clear of each wing, and is definitely worth playing over again. What you get out of it after all is said and done is 30 cards (across all five wings), a nifty card back, and a guaranteed legendary card with each unlock. It's not the most amazing set of rewards for a DLC, but for $5 a pop, you're really getting your money's worth if you partake in at least two or three full playthroughs for each wing. Plus, dedicated players will be earning the necessary gold to unlock them for free anyway. Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas is a cool add-on so far that gives hardcore players a lot more to do. Not only does it offer up challenging fights with characters from Warcraft's history, but it also kicks off with a free initial taste and some very interesting cards that will mix up the overall meta for weeks to come. I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the DLC can do once Blizzard starts charging money/gold for it.
Hearthstone DLC review photo
The Arachnid Quarter
When many Warcraft fans hear the name Naxxramas, it conjures up memories of late nights and pizza, while taking on the tough-as-nails raid in World of Warcraft (or as I know it, Naxx). It was one of the mo...

Reviews In Review: Watch Dogs, Monochroma, Wolf Among Us

Jun 01 // Ben Pack
World End Economica Episode 1 (PC)Developer: Spicy TailsPublisher: Sekai ProjectRelease: May 5, 2014MRSP: $12.99 World End Economica has so much going for it: an interesting premise, a protagonist with an actual design and personality (even if it is a little rotten) and the opportunity to capitalize on a business rarely (if ever) explored in video games: stock trading. Unfortunately, it squanders the opportunity to capitalize on these great bullet points and winds up a generic, muddled mess of pacing issues, bland dialogue, and characters too difficult to connect with. Verdict: 4/10 - Read the full World End Economica Episode 1 review  Watch Dogs (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Ubisoft MontrealPublisher: UbisoftRelease: May 27, 2014 / TBA 2014 (Wii U)MRSP: $59.99 Despite the fact that Watch Dogs hasn't made any meaningful impact on the genre, I found myself having a ton of fun with it. Between the deep levels of customization and the sheer breadth of content, there's no shortage of things to do. If Ubisoft can take the game's core fun factor and marry it with an actual "next-gen" experience the next time around, they'll have something truly special. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Watch Dogs review The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothing (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesRelease: May 27, 2014 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) / TBA (iOS)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) Having said that, Wolf Among Us continues to wow me with all of the details therein. From the Little Old Lady who lived in a shoe in a random painting to Curds and Whey in a jar, there's lots of lore building, and all it makes me want to do is read the comics proper. While The Walking Dead always feels like more of a micro-tale with each individual group, Wolf Among Us feels like something greater, and bigger than Telltale -- and that's a good thing. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothing review Monochroma (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Nowhere StudiosPublisher: Nowhere StudiosReleased: May 28, 2014MSRP: $19.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The narrative itself is generally engaging overall, but it suffers from a few holes. Aside from being told that the little brother is in fact the protagonist's little brother, the player is given no intrinsic reason to want to help him, and in fact, the player can grow to resent the character. Otherwise, there is not a good reason given that the two brothers decide to walk to the city and infiltrate a corporation instead of staying home and calling for medical help. Verdict: 4/10 - Read the full Monochroma review Worms Battlegrounds (PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Team17Publisher: Team17Released: May 27, 2014MSRP: $24.99 Like most Worms games, you'll need other people to play with or risk monotony. Enemy AI still isn't the sharpest tool in the shed even this far in the game, and they can take far too long between turns, leading to boredom. Given the price tag of $25, it's perfect for those of you who haven't played a Worms game in years and have the itch. But if you've been playing along for the past few years, you might be able to skip this slightly upgraded collective of recent entries -- unless you're a fanatic, of course. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Worms Battlegrounds review  
REVIEWS! photo
Plus World End Economica
Reviewer? I hardly know her! This week's reviews in review goes out to Steven Hansen. Check out the video and all the reviews below.

Reviews In Review: Wolfenstein The New Order, Transistor, Drakengard 3

May 24 // Ben Pack
Kero Blaster (PC [reviewed], iPhone)Developer: Studio PixelPublisher: PlayismReleased: May 11, 2014MSRP: $7.99 (PC) $4.99 (iPhone) If Cave Story was Amaya's answer to Super Metroid, Kero Blaster is his Mega Man X. It's dense and perfectly paced, just begging to be replayed over and over. If I were to have to introduce someone to the genre of 2D action/platformers, it is probably the game that I'd give them, as it starts off easy-yet-engaging, and ends with giant bosses, swarms of enemies on screen, and everything else you could want in the genre. It's a game you may beat in a day, but will be playing off and on for a lifetime.  Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Kero Blaster review Moon Chronicles: Episode 1 (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Renegade KidPublisher: Renegade KidReleased: May 15, 2014MRSP: $8.99 It's really difficult to give Moon Chronicles a strong appraisal one way or the other. It's far from a stellar experience, but isn't a bad one either. There just isn't anything here that hasn't been done better elsewhere, and I can't see anyone other than FPS-starved 3DS owners or hardcore fans of the original being too interested. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Moon Chronicles: Episode 1 review Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: MachineGamesPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksRelease Date: May 20, 2014MSRP: $59.99 In many ways, Wolfenstein: The New Order is "First-Person Shooters: The Game," but it gets most of the important details right. It's still weird to me seeing Wolf games developed over and over by new devs, but MachineGames did a great job adapting the franchise in its own way. With a few tweaks, the next iteration could be something truly special. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Wolfenstein: The New Order review Drakengard 3 (PS3)Developer: Access GamesPublisher: Square EnixRelease Date: May 20, 2014MSRP: $59.99 It's not too challenge of a game all things considered, because the difficulty curve is meticulously designed to not overwhelm or frustrate players. It's well made to the point where you won't feel like everything is too easy, and if you really need that extra edge to overcome a certain task, you can go back and level-up with sidequests. If you want to do everything you'll probably find yourself around a 100-hour completion rate, but the story is roughly at the 40-hour mark. Drakengard 3 is a bit unconventional at times (like its developer) with tales of extreme hair cutting and dragon piss, but action fans will want to seek this one out immediately. Within 15 minutes I was drawn into its world and its cast of characters, and I wanted to see Zero's journey through from start to finish. If you like games like Nier, you'll loveDrakengard 3. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full Drakengard 3 review Transistor (PS4, PC [reviewed])Developer: Supergiant GamesPublisher: Supergiant GamesRelease: May 20, 2014MRSP: $19.99 / £14.99 While Transistor initially feels like a whole new game, structurally it sticks closely toBastion. Both games feature a beautiful but abandoned city that has undergone huge tragedy. In Bastion it was called the Calamity; in Transistor, it's dubbed The Process. Both feature areas where the player can rest and take stock; Red finds special doors which take her to a deserted island where challenge rooms are located (much like the Proving Grounds in Bastion). If the game isn't sufficiently challenging, Limiters can be installed that will make things harder for Red but at the benefit of gaining extra XP or other bonuses. These can be installed like Functions, swapped in and out at access points, but work the same way as the Idols in Bastion.  Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full Transistor review R-Type Dimensions (PS3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: Irem, Tozai GamesPublisher: Tozai GamesReleased: May 20, 2014MSRP: $9.99 If you have any fondness for the series, or if you're just looking for a solid side-scrolling shooter that's about as hard as can be, R-Type Dimensions faithfully re-creates the original experience and before long you'll be wondering why you did this to yourself. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full R-Type Dimensions review  
REVIEWS! photo
And more!
Look, E3 is coming up soon and that means we're about to get super excited about games. Let's take a minute and be thankful for the games we have right now, ok?

Reviews in Review: Mario Kart 8, Super Time Force and more!

May 17 // Ben Pack
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 1Publisher: NintendoRelease Date: May 30, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Mario Kart 8 is my favorite series entry since Double Dash, and if it gets arena battle tracks at some point by way of DLC, it will be a near-perfect package. Its vibrant visuals will hold up for years to come, ensuring that the game will withstand the test of time, and it will be a staple in my household for a long, long while. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Mario Kart 8 review Ether One (PC)Developer: White Paper GamesPublisher: White Paper GamesReleased: March 25, 2014MRSP: $19.99 Ether One nails its puzzles, atmosphere, and sound (ambient and voice acting). It also nails its story -- whether or not you decide to fully unravel its world and its mysteries -- culminating in a, well, refreshing, smart finale that will stay on my mind for years to come. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Ether One review The Walking Dead Season Two: In Harm's Way (iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesRelease: May 14, 2014 (PC, PS3) / TBA (iOS, Vita, Xbox 360)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) Episode three was probably my favorite from season one of The Walking Dead -- so far, I'm feeling the same way about In Harm's Way. Based on the preview the next tale seems to be a buffer of sorts before an explosive end, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how Clementine's journey ends. You hooked me yet again, Telltale. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full The Walking Dead Season Two: In Harm's Way review Super Time Force (Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Capybara GamesPublisher: Capybara GamesRelease date: May 14, 2014MSRP: $14.99 All told, Super Time Force is a satisfying run-and-gun game made even better with a fun (and funny!) take on time travel. It's as enjoyable to play as it is to look at. You'll likely be able to burn through the game in a few hours if you're not going for full completion, but it has such a winning personality that you'll find yourself coming back for more. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Super Time Force  review Demon Gaze (PS Vita)Developer: Kadokawa GamesPublisher: NIS America Released: April, 2014MRSP: $39.99 You'll have to have plenty of patience and a pretty good imagination to get the most out of Demon Gaze. The dungeon crawling is great and the NPC interactions outside of the dungeons are fun, but it's insanely challenging (even on the easiest setting) and the high level of repetition and mostly static presentation could get to you after some time. And you'll also have to be okay with the game's many horny NPC situations as they didn't skimp on the fan service. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Demon Gaze  review Cloudbuilt (PC)Developer: CoilworksPublisher: Rising Star GamesReleased: March 20, 2014MRSP: $19.99 Cloudbuilt is frustrating. It's frustrating to play and frustrating to recommend. I like the style, I like the parkour mechanics overall, but there's a lot of junk to contend with. The antagonistic design (minefields everywhere) is one thing, but the unforgiving checkpoints and limited lives lead to a lot of repetition. Meanwhile, the combat ends up about as unsatisfying as Mirror's Edge, with worse enemies that either absorb too many bullets or deflect them with shields anyway. If you want something that is going to fight you every step of the way as you shave seconds off of run times (and you have a strong pinky finger), this is for you. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Cloudbuilt  review JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle (PS3)Developer: CyberConnect2Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesRelease Date: April 29, 2014MSRP: $49.99 Overall, despite its shortcomings, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is a colorful spectacle that both fans of the anime and future fans of the anime will want to pick up and experience, even if just to watch a man use only his upper body strength after hopping off his horse to hold his own in combat. It's funky, gorgeous, and oozing with style. And where it comes up short, it simultaneously delivers in terms of fanservice and content. You won't be putting it down for quite some time, unless, you know, you need some time to eat a few more breads in your life. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle review
REVIEWS! photo
Plus The Walking Dead, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Hey, what are you doing here! There's a ton of good games that came out this week! No wait, come back and watch this video for a couple of minutes, read the article, then you can go play those games.

Reviews in Review: Sportsfriends, Amazing Spider-Man 2

May 12 // Ben Pack
Bound By Flame (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360)Developer: SpidersPublisher: Focus Home InteractiveRelease Date: May 9, 2014MSRP: $39.99 The game is actually on your side when it comes to whipping your character into shape, too, as if to compensate for dim AI and the repetitive grind that some may not find as rewarding as I did. There's plenty of loot scattered throughout the multiple winding passageways and easy-to-navigate dungeons, giving you numerous chances to craft new potions and other necessary items for use in battle. While gold isn't exactly in short supply, you'll still be faced with enough opportunities to make your own fortune rather than looking for your next payday. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Bound By Flame review Hitman GO (iOS)Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixReleased: April 17, 2014MSRP: $4.99 Still, I was more than enamored with the numerous nods to classic Hitmanmoments, additional costumes, and the amount of polish lavished upon this bizarre yet savory addition to the Hitman universe. It's not perfect, and it certainly won't appeal to everyone, but if you're jonesing for your next taste of the life of an assassin, Hitman GO is the hippest way to emulate everyone's favorite sharp-dressed agent.  Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Hitman GO review Republique: Metamorphosis (iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 5], Mac, PC)Developer: Camouflaj, LoganPublisher: CamouflajReleased: April 30, 2014 (iOS) / PC (TBA)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) I had my doubts about the Republique project as a whole, but it's clear to me now after two episodes that Camouflaj "gets it." The studio is finding a way to improve upon the core tenets of the game while maintaining an episodic format, which many other developers don't tend to do. While I wouldn't recommend that everyone rush out and buy the Season Pass right now, I'm looking forward to seeing what the next episode brings to the table. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Republique: Metamorphosis review Sportsfriends (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Die Gute FabrikPublisher: Die Gute FabrikRelease Date: May 6, 2014MSRP: $14.99 Despite the fact that I don't think I'll be playing Barabariball or Super Pole Riders for very long, Hokra's level editor gives it legs, and Johann Sebastian Joust shouldn't be missed by anyone who enjoys having company over. It's a very uneven package in the sense that there could have either been a few more games and a few could have been better, but honestly -- $15 isn't a terrible price just for Joust alone. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Sportsfriends review Raiden IV: OverKill (PS3)Developer: MOSSPublisher: UFO Interactive GameReleased: April 29, 2014MSRP: $19.99 Raiden IV: OverKill could have used a few more extras, but the fact that you can get it cheaper than the Xbox 360 version when it launched (it's $20 now digitally as well) is a compelling reason for genre fans to pick this one up. While theRaiden series in general isn't my favorite collective of shmups, it's been a steady staple for over two decades for a reason. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Raiden IV: OverKill review The Elder Scrolls Online (Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One)Developer: ZeniMax Online StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksRelease: April 4, 2014 (Mac, PC) / June 2014 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)MSRP: $59.99 ($14.99 subscription fee, with 30 days included in base game) I think right now, the most prudent thing to do is to wait for ZeniMax to iron out all of The Elder Scrolls Online's kinks (including how it handles post level 50 content to make it less grindy), and play the console version of the game. Not only will it arrive with all of the updates from the PC version in tow, but it'll also have full native controller support -- which feels more natural than a mouse and keyboard in this instance. Verdict: 6.5/10 - Read the full The Elder Scrolls Online review Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: Big Finish GamesPublisher: AtlusReleased: May 7, 2014MRSP: $19.99 / £14.99 The humor doesn't always work and the puzzle design is still rooted in the series' 1990s adventure game roots, meaning it feels archaic in spots, but there are some welcome concessions to modern design with the flashlight and hint system. Tex Murphy might be alive in 2014 but he'll need to learn a few more tricks if he's to stay around for another adventure.  Verdict: 6.5/10 - Read the full Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure review  
Review recap photo
Plus Tesla Effect, Raiden IV: Overkill
Hey some dude in the comments said I should do this drunk so Max made me drink malt liquor. Anyway here are the reviews I reviewed last week (as well as a couple more that went up after the video).

Review: Hitman GO

May 07 // Brittany Vincent
Hitman GO (iOS)Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixReleased: April 17, 2014MSRP: $4.99 Playing through one of the included fifteen scenarios feels a lot like messing about in a serial killer's macabre dollhouse, viewed through copious amounts of Instagram filtering outfitted with new-school HUD icons and menus so clean they're almost surgical. Five board game boxes await you at the onset, with four requiring unlocks as you work your way through each scenario. Should you choose to skip straight to your favorite, unlocks are available as in-app purchases, but there's no dire need to since Hitman GO moves at a reasonable and organic pace. Every ornate game board is set up with a grid on which limited navigation is possible. Lavish mansions, dingy basements, and plenty of other seedy and sometimes exotic locales are up for exploration as you move 47 one space right, left, up, and down per turn. Each assassination is split up into several puzzle sections you'll have to power through in order to have a go at your main target. Kills are so straightforward it's scary, requiring you to simply walk into an enemy into their blind spot. For instance, to take down a target, you need to position 47 so that his next move intersects with an enemy board piece. As long as you're not facing the enemy, you're golden. The only trick is that you're forced to move 47 one space ahead during each turn rather than hiding in a strategic hiding spot and waiting for guards with AI as dumb as a bag of rocks to maybe spot you like in the regular games. There are places to hide, though, as well as shortcuts that may or may not place you exactly where you need to be in regard to an enemy's location. A well-timed move through these "chutes and ladders" could be the key to victory, or starting over again. [embed]274166:53781:0[/embed] Pickups vary from board to board, and are one-use items that must be used once obtained. In some situations this works out well, and in others it's disastrous -- you may find yourself armed with a tennis ball to use as a distraction, but it might not be the best time to use it. It must be deployed during the turn you pick it up on, so planning your pickups accordingly is required if you want to use them to aid you in your quest to reach the goal space on each board. Whether it's a rock, a tennis ball, or a silenced pistol, timing is everything. Each mission plays out until either all targets are eliminated or 47 is taken out in the same way. As you progress, you'll find that once-docile targets may suddenly possess traits like the ability to turn and face 47 at different increments, and some may patrol the board in a manner that can make even the most seasoned of stealth vets nervous. It's as tense as it is stylish, and sometimes you have to be able to make the call and restart the mission before you're inevitably caught between an enemy and a hard place. But perhaps ironically, what makes Hitman GO work so well as a board game also strips away much of what made the rest of the franchise so much fun: the ability to choose your own pathway to victory. Some missions are adamant that you not harm one hair on one guard's pretty little head, and as someone who regularly powers through enemies and terminates with extreme prejudice, I was a little disappointed that there weren't options built in for a little more carnage. That appeared to be the same direction Hitman: Absolution was headed in, and stealth obviously makes sense for a board game situation, but it would have been an interesting addition for players with a powerful thirst for blood to be able to tackle missions with a little less finesse and a lot more shots to the head. Still, I was more than enamored with the numerous nods to classic Hitman moments, additional costumes, and the amount of polish lavished upon this bizarre yet savory addition to the Hitman universe. It's not perfect, and it certainly won't appeal to everyone, but if you're jonesing for your next taste of the life of an assassin, Hitman GO is the hippest way to emulate everyone's favorite sharp-dressed agent. 
Hitman GO review photo
Murder, simplified
Agent 47's steely gaze and austere demeanor are far too threatening to be properly translated to a stoic board game piece. That, and given the nature of the Hitman series revolving around stealth and murderous intent, a mobil...

Review: Republique: Metamorphosis

May 07 // Chris Carter
Republique: Metamorphosis (iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 5], Mac, PC)Developer: Camouflaj, LoganPublisher: CamouflajReleased: April 30, 2014 (iOS) / PC (TBA)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) There's no long exposé or lengthy tutorial sequence at the start of Metamorphosis, as it picks up right after the first installment ends. Our protagonist Hope is on the run and searching for answers to the dystopian society she inhabits, and you'll start things off in a typical "locked room puzzle" -- which functions as a way to re-acclimate yourself to the game's controls. If you had your save file erased and are worried about not being able to access Metamorphosis, you can go straight to episode two even without a prior save file. For those who haven't played it before, you're basically playing the role of a shadowy "helper" type character that can operate the world's various security cameras and bits of technology, and you can only see things from the viewpoint of said cameras. In many ways it's like Metal Gear Solid, just with touch controls (that work well) and a different viewpoint -- but more of an emphasis on stealth since Hope isn't exactly battle-hardened. Gameplay is relatively the same as before, but I feel like the series is just starting to hit its stride. Episode two takes place in a futuristic library of sorts, and as a whole, the story is more interesting from the get-go, and the locales are brighter and more fun to explore. There's also a new enemy (the ARC Prizrak) that's smarter and tougher, which changes up the gameplay significantly from the relatively weak AI in the first episode. For starters, Hope can't use stun weapons against these foes and they tend to just wander around random paths rather than set beats, which makes everything more unpredictable in general. It's a nice way to mix things up and keep it fair, as you'll still have to be slowly escorted to a prison when you're caught. New to Metamorphosis are the prediction and spy powers, which allow you to calculate enemy paths and see through walls, respectively. It's a perfect addition for a second episode, because I really liked how the game handled its currency and power system to begin with. The beauty is that abilities aren't overpowered in the slightest (as they run on a limited battery), and in order to acquire them, you need to find intel to sell it back to the vendor NPC. It encourages you to explore for rewards, which is genius for a stealth adventure game. If you spring for the Season Pass, you get extra access to some behind-the-scenes commentary tapes by locating the various developer tags across Metamorphosis. These are very well done as you not only get some insight into the game's creation process, but some candid shots of the developers as well as some concept art. The audio logs are also short and to the point, so you'll want to listen to them bit by bit. I had my doubts about the Republique project as a whole, but it's clear to me now after two episodes that Camouflaj "gets it." The studio is finding a way to improve upon the core tenets of the game while maintaining an episodic format, which many other developers don't tend to do. While I wouldn't recommend that everyone rush out and buy the Season Pass right now, I'm looking forward to seeing what the next episode brings to the table.
Republique 2 review photo
I'm starting to see some more hope
Republique started off with a lot to prove. As a Kickstarted stealth game featuring stars like David Hayter and Jennifer Hale, the project garnered an equal amount of high expectations and skepticism. The move towards an epis...

Reviews in Review: Child of Light, Daylight, Kirby Triple Deluxe

May 04 // Ben Pack
LEGO The Hobbit (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PSVita, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One, WiiU)Developer: TT GamesPublisher: Warner Brothers InteractiveRelease Date: April 8, 2014MSRPP: $29.99 (3DS, Vita), $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) Still, there is a good bit to like about the game as well. If you've enjoyed the many other LEGOadaptations, this one is not without it's charm. The characters and backgrounds match the films well, and the game follows the story of the movies very closely, down to the questionable bonus material padding. Though again, being a bit limited by the original voicework may not allow for the normal LEGO slaptick-type humor, and a few scenes of real tension and whimsy from the films seem to fall a bit flat. Verdict: 6.5/10 - Read the full LEGO The Hobbit review Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)Developer: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoReleased: May 2, 2014MSRP: $34.99 Kirby:Triple Deluxe is yet another winning entry in the franchise. It delivers the core Kirby experience alongside of a few very well done extras, which is pretty much everything a fan could ask for. While the Kirby formula could easily be getting stale for some, it still represents a whimsical corner of platforming games that's centered around one central ideal -- fun. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Kirby: Triple Deluxe review Child of Light (PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Ubisoft MontrealPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: April 30, 2014 Child of Light will satiate pretty much everyone but the most hardcore of RPG fans, and even then, they'll find plenty of enjoyment. There are a few minor issues here and there that hold it back from instant-classic status that could be enhanced in a sequel or future work, but regardless, Child of Light is a noble effort from Ubisoft Montreal, and another win to put in the studio's diverse portfolio. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full Child of Light review FRACT OSC [Mac, PC (reviewed)]Developer: Phosfiend SystemsPublisher: Phosfiend SystemsMSRP: $14.99Released: April 22, 2014 FRACT OSC is a game where you need to be willing to go in blind and just explore; this might be something that puts a player off within the first 10 minutes, as there's no tooltips or tutorial to tell them what to do, unlike most modern games. If you allow yourself to be drawn into the strange, geometric landscape and understand the structure of the puzzles and progression, then you'll be rewarded with a great experience. Verdict: 8.5/10 - Read the full FRACT OSC review Life Goes On (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Infinite Monkeys EntertainmentPublisher: Infinite Monkeys EntertainmentReleased: April 17, 2014MSRP: $12.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Life Goes On might not start with the most mindblowing hook, but the idea is solid and Infinite Monkeys develops it well. By constantly adding new tricks into its repertoire and not dragging itself out unnecessarily, it maintains a good quality throughout. Puzzle difficulty ranges from easy to medium-hard; it rarely gets diabolically difficult, and when it does it is only when completing optional objectives. Although it is not particularly nice to look at, the underlying gameplay is worthwhile for any puzzle platformer enthusiast. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Life Goes On review Borderlands 2 Headerhunter 5: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Gearbox SoftwarePublisher: 2K GamesReleased: April 15, 2014MSRP: $2.99 As with the other entries in the Headhunter series, Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax is a short experience with a relatively low price tag. Although it does not complete Borderlands 2 with a bang, it does a decent job of rounding out the series and setting up for the next one. Those particularly interested in the path of the characters moving forward will enjoy what this DLC does toward that end, but most other Borderlands fans would be just as well waiting for the release of the Pre-Sequel this fall. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Borderlands 2 Headerhunter 5: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax review Daylight (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4)Developer: Zombie StudiosPublisher: Zombie StudiosRelease: April 29, 2014MSRP: $14.99 Overall I felt as if Daylight was made as a jump-scare machine with a loosely tacked-on plot. I never felt invested in Sarah or cared much for the mysterious man rambling through her phone. In fact, I was more concerned with getting Miss Ghost off my back so she’d stop screaming, more so out of annoyance than fear. Daylight would have benefited from a fresh set of spooks rather than intermittent scares and muddy plot lines, but at the end of the day if you’re looking for a cheap thrill you've found it. Verdict: 4/10 - Read the full Daylight review Destiny of Spirits (Vita)Developer: SCE Japan Studio, Q EntertainmentPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentMSRP: Free-to-play Released: March 25, 2014 As is the case with any free-to-play game, you really have nothing to lose but time by trying outDestiny of Spirits. It helps if you're a hardcore Sony fan and strive for some of the more unique characters, but otherwise the pace is far too slow, and the rewards are far too little for the amount of time you need to invest in it. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full Destiny of Spirits review The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BeenoxPublisher: ActivisionMSRP: $59.99Released: April 29, 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't a complete disaster, and I can easily see fans of Spidey enjoying it at a deep discount. It's just a shame that Beenox somehow got worse at makingSpider-Man games over time, and that the powers that be insist on rushing them as movie tie-ins. Somehow, someway -- we will get our Arkham of Spider-Man games again. Until then, you can just pick up a used copy of 2004's Spider-Man 2. Verdict: 6/10 - Read the full The Amazing Spider-Man 2 review Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer:  Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month, with a free PS3-to-PS4 license transfer) Released: August 27, 2013 (PC, PS3) / April 14, 2014 (PS4) Despite those issues, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is my favorite MMO since World of Warcraft. It has a lot of things going for it, tons of content to explore, and best of all -- lots and lots of support. I have no doubt that the popularity of A Realm Reborn will continue to rise with every major update and expansion, and I wish Square Enix nothing but the best. I didn't think it was possible, but they have absolutely atoned for the original mess that was Final Fantasy XIV -- and then some. Verdict: 9/10 - Read the full Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn review
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Plus LEGO The Hobbit & More
It's the end of the week which means that it's time for another episode of Reviews in Review. This week a TON of games came out, so if you missed any of our reviews just check out the video for a quick recap. Seriously, what else are you going to do for four minutes? This week I use some really bad accents.

Reviews in Review: FFXIV, Arkham Origins DLC & NES Remix 2

Apr 26 // Ben Pack
Batman: Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold Heart (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montréal / Splash DamagePublisher: Warner Bros.Released: April 22nd, 2014MSRP: $9.99 (part of the Season Pass) Cold, Cold Heart feels like a legitimate addition to the Arkham Origins lore, and not just a cheap cash-in. It's definitely a side story that's too big to be shoved into the core game, even if it doesn't really innovate in any meaningful way. While I wouldn't go out of my way to buy Arkham Origins just for it, I'd implore any current owner to take a look. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Batman: Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold Heart review NES Remix 2 (Wii U)Developer: indieszeroPublisher: NintendoReleased: April 24, 2014MSRP: $14.99 This is something that I'm going to be playing for quite some time with friends every so often, comparing scores until the cows come home. I wish this mode was a bit more fleshed out overall though (two Mario games is a bit much), and I'd love to see it as a standard in future iterations of this franchise (SNES Remix, perhaps?). In other words, I wouldn't buy it just to play Championship mode, but it's enjoyable all the same. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full NES Remix 2 review. Disney Magical World (3DS)Developer: h.a.n.d.Publisher: NintendoReleased: April 11, 2014MSRP: $29.99 That's the theme of Magical World -- simplicity. There are no secret times you need to get to a club to hear a certain song, no special residents that will only grant you a rare item on a certain hour of a certain day (there is a clock, but its effects are mostly aesthetic). For those of you who like min/maxing turnip prices and the like, you won't scratch that same itch here. It's not like that's a bad thing in my book -- I think an increased amount of accessibility is great -- just be wary that it can affect the game's longevity. Verdict: 7/10 - Read the full Disney Magical World review Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)Developer: CamelotPublisher: NintendoRelease Date: May 2, 2014MSRP: $29.99 Mario Golf: World Tour's presentation is strong, especially when it comes to the varied characters and costumes. The course designs are colorful and exciting, and they're packed with little secrets to find. The low resolution of the shot grid is the only place where the presentation of World Tour lets you down. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Mario Golf: World Tour review  
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Review these Reviews in Review
Reviews in Review is back, and due to the fact that this is episode 2, it officially has lasted longer than that time Fox tried to bring back The Osbournes after it got cancelled.  Anyway, onto the reviews. This week I talked about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Batman: Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold Hearts, NES Remix 2, and Disney Magical World. Check 'em out.

Reviews in Review: Steins;Gate, Half Minute Hero 2, Trials Fusion

Apr 19 // Ben Pack
Trials Fusion (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: RedLynx, UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftReleased: April 15, 2014 / April 24, 2014 (PC)MSRP: $19.99 / $39.99 physical release with Season Pass (Xbox One, PS4) Trials Fusion is a good game -- and I can only see it getting better over time as user-made levels excel and DLC is released -- but what's there now, at launch, is a step down from Trials Evolution. It's disheartening, then, to see the game come in at a higher price point than its predecessor and also try to sell users on a $19.99 Season Pass in-game right out of the gate. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Trials Fusion review. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (PS Vita, 3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: AtlusReleased: April 15, 2014Price: $39.99 As the game progresses, the ritual scenes become a bit longer and naughtier. Toward the end of the game, when you've maxxed out the bonds with the girls, the scenes of baby making become even more horny. You'll see hands against walls, rears out, with girls wincing. Again, nothing is happening as far as contact is concerned, but depending on your tastes, these scenes could be offensive. I've been around the block a few times and have seen way worse. For me, these scenes were more silly than anything. Verdict: 7.5/10 - Read the full Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars review. Steins;Gate (PC)Developer: 5pb., Nitroplus Publisher: JAST USAReleased: March 31, 2014MSRP: $29.99 And things will indeed get intense. Steins;Gate is a taxing game, but it's also quite beautiful, from the talented Japanese voice cast (no English dub, unfortunately) to artist huke's unorthodox visuals. It's an exemplary visual novel with a thrilling premise, memorable characters, and a fantastic "true" ending that may very well move you to tears. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Steins;Gate review. Putty Squad (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Vita)Developer: System 3 SoftwarePublisher: System 3 SoftwareReleased: March 11, 2014MSRP: $29.99 You should only pick up Putty Squad if you're a fan of the original, and have an unhealthy affinity towards platformers. Everyone else need not apply unless the game drops to a rightful price of $10 or less. Verdict: 5/10 - Read the full Putty Squad review. Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming (PC)Developer: Marvelous AQLPublisher: Marvelous AQLRelease: April 4, 2014MSRP: $19.99 Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming makes a number of improvements on an established formula. It's endearing, provocative, and silly. But it lacks variety and never quite recaptures the magic of its predecessor. No longer a breath a fresh air, The Second Coming settles for being an enjoyable lark. And I'm perfectly okay with that. Verdict: 8/10 - Read the full Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming review.
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Review these Reviews in Review
"Reviews in Review" is a new show that releases every week where I will go over the reviews published this week on Destructoid, as well as give a score to the week in general. This week I talked about the reviews for Steins;...

The best and worst games of the week - A Bravely January

Feb 02 // Wesley Ruscher
The Banner Saga (Windows PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux)Developer: StoicPublisher: StoicRelease: January 14, 2014MSRP: $24.99 This game feels like a project created by artists. It's uncompromising to a fault. Tiptoeing its way around trite conventions and hackneyed design choices, I have no doubt that the team at Stoic created the game they wanted to make. By the end of the journey, I cared for my banner like a shepherd tending to his flock. I commiserated with their hardships, as the thread of despondency wove its way throughout virtually every aspect of the experience. Read the full The Banner Saga review  Nidhogg (PC)Developer: MesshofPublisher: MesshofMSRP: $14.99Release Date: January 13, 2014 Nidhogg is a perfect game wrapped in a not-so-perfect package. When playing locally against another human, it is the epitome of competition. Playing online is a mixed bag of lag, disconnects, and a weird chat system. Hopefully some of the bugs get ironed out over time, especially whatever stopped the tutorial from functioning, to make everything more functional as a whole. Read the full Nidhogg review  Muramasa Rebirth: Fishy Tales of the Nekomata (PlayStation Vita)Developer: MarvelousAQLPublisher: Aksys GamesReleased: January 14, 2014 (US) / January 22, 2014 (EU)MSRP: $4.99 I heartily enjoyed my time as a cat in Muramasa Rebirth, and I can't wait to see what the other DLC stories can do. Vanillaware ingeniously was able to tie the heart of the game into its first Genroku Legends side story, while giving it a fine heart of its own. It's so well done in fact, that I could easily see a full game starring Okoi one day. Read the full Fishy Tales of the Nekomata review  Two Brothers (PC)Developer: Ackk StudiosPublisher: Ackk StudiosReleased: December 3, 2013MSRP: $14.99 It's very much the type of game you play for the story, which has flashes of brilliance that can only be effectively realized in an interactive medium such as this. Unfortunately, it's tied to lackluster mechanics, technical problems, and a disappointing lack of polish. Two Brothers may not be an overall success, but its best moments are worth experiencing first-hand. Read the full Two Brothers review  Continue?9876543210 (Linux, Mac, PC[reviewed])Developer: Jason OdaPublisher: Jason OdaMSRP: $9.99Release Date: January 3, 2014  Continue?9876543210 truly does feel like a personal and emotional experience: someone else’spersonal and emotional experience. It did not connect to me the way it was seemingly intended to. Good “experience” games either have super simple controls so that the player never has to think about them, or the controls and mechanics tie directly into the game’s central themes. Continue?9876543210 does neither. Read the full Continue?9876543210 review  OlliOlli (PS Vita)Developer: Roll7Publisher: Roll7Release Date: January 27, 2014MSRP: $12.99 There's a lot to love about OlliOlli. The game is in the sweetspot of "simple to control" and "just difficult enough" to keep you playing without tearing your hair out. The Daily Grind and Spots challenges will keep the score-centric crowd happy, and Career mode will have you blistering your thumbs as you try to perfect each level. A masterpiece. Read the full OlliOlli review  Broken Age: Act 1 (PC)Developer: Double Fine ProductionsPublisher: Double Fine ProductionsRelease Date: January 14, 2014 (for backers) / January 28, 2014MSRP: $24.99 (with free update for Act 2) I haven’t felt this surge of nostalgia and excitement about a game in a long time, and I truly thinkBroken Age will be looked back fondly as one of the greats. That being said, the first Act is only a few short hours and ended on a nail-biting cliffhanger with no word on how long we’ll be waiting for the rest of the game. In some ways I feel cheated, but in the end it’s the heart of the game that matters - and that certainly isn't broken. Read the full Broken Age: Act 1 review  Dead Rising 3: Operation Broken Eagle (Xbox One)Developer: Capcom VancouverPublisher: Microsoft StudiosRelease Date: January 21, 2014MSRP: $9.99 As it stands, there is literally no reason to get Broken Eagle. It's criminally short, you can't enjoy it with a friend, there are no real benefits if your character is maxed out from already playing the core game, and it doesn't add to the overarching lore in any meaningful way. Hopefully the other Season Pass offerings will be an improvement, since we still have three to go. Read the full Operation Broken Eagle review  Soul Fjord (Ouya)Developer: Airtight GamesPublisher: Airtight GamesRelease: January 28, 2014MSRP: Free, with microtransactions Soul Fjord started with a good idea, and even has a few redeeming qualities, but in the end, it is just too dull to be enjoyable for longer than a few minutes. The free-to-play aspects don't ruin the experience, but they don't particularly help it either. If nothing else, Ouya owners should probably give this a try since it costs nothing upfront, but this is not the system savior that we have been hoping for. Read the full Soul Fjord review Bravely Default (3DS)Developer: Silicon StudioPublisher: Square EnixRelease: February 7, 2014MSRP: $39.99 Bravely Default gave me an experience that seemed to put me right back in my bedroom in the middle 1990s, where I'd sit in front of a small Hitachi television set and play the day away with a Super Nintendo controller in hand, so engrossed that I'd forget to eat. It harkens back to a time where we were all in love 16-bit Japanese role-playing games, and couldn't get enough of them. Read the full Bravely Default review Call of Duty: Ghosts: Onslaught DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Infinity WardPublisher: ActivisionReleased: January 28, 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One) / TBA (PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) I was pleasantly surprised by Onslaught, especially considering the fact that Ghosts was so underwhelming. Although it won't do too much to change your mind if you're an adamant Call of Duty hater, the new Extinction episode is promising, and there are three solid maps here for the taking. Read the full Onslaught review  Octodad: Dadliest Catch (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 4)Developer: Young Horses, Inc.Publisher: Young Horses, Inc.Release: January 30, 2014 (Linux, Mac, PC), March 2014 (PlayStation 4)MSRP: $14.99 ($11.99 until February 6)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit n the end, I would not be surprised to hear that the Octodad community is thriving years down the road. It exudes a certain weirdness and charm that makes it stand out from a lot of other titles out there, and there are tools in place for it to live on past the point when the credits start to roll. Though it has some issues with framerate drops and its approach to control is definitely not for everybody, Dadliest Catch kept a smile on my face for most of its duration. Read the full Octodad: Dadliest Catch review Dungeon Keeper (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5])Developer: Electronic Arts, Mythic EntertainmentPublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: January 31, 2014MSRP: Free It's a huge shame, because Dungeon Keeper is such a great franchise. I vividly remember getting hooked on the original for the very first time, and hooking in non-strategy fans with its unique perspective and visual style. But you're getting none of that here, as you're instead presented with a hollow freemium shell of what once was. Do yourself a favor and go to GOG.com and grab the original. Read the full Dungeon Keeper review Polk N1 Gaming SurroundBar
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Week ending 2/1
January has come and gone, but that doesn't mean there weren't some great games to play. Just look at all the amazing "indie" games that hit the PC this month. We had the fruition of two KickStarter campaigns finally see the ...

Review: Republique: Exordium

Dec 20 // Chris Carter
Republique: Exordium (iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 5], Mac, PC)Developer: Camouflaj, LoganPublisher: CamouflajRelease Date: December 19, 2013 (iOS) / PC (TBA)MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) Republique is a stealth game at heart, with a bit of adventure style exploration involved. It follows the Telltale scheme of distribution, so you can buy the roughly two hour first episode now, and the four other episodes will arrive at a later undisclosed date. Right off the bat it's pretty easy to understand the concept, as the theme is your standard dystopian tale of freedom versus control. You play the role of Big Brother. Literally. Using an entire network of cell phones and cameras (just like the ending of The Dark Knight), your job is to save Hope -- a young woman who is in danger of being "re-calibrated" because she read some literature she wasn't supposed to. The tale is told by way of top voice talents, and as a general rule, is on par with some of the biggest AAA games out there. An Otacon-like partner named "Cooper" (who talks only in text-to-speech) helps add some welcome comedy to the proceedings. Having said that, Camouflaj hasn't really sold me on the world or the lore yet. Barring a cliffhanger ending and some hints of an interesting story, Republique hasn't offered anything unique in its first episode that really has me hooked. It's mostly just straight stealth, with constant (underwhelming) hints at what's to come. It's a good thing then that the series has plenty of promise. [embed]267744:51971:0[/embed] As I said before, the entirety of Republique is seen and played through a security system, and it's done so well that it doesn't feel like a gimmick. Lest you think that a stealth game cannot work on a mobile device -- think again. Republique basically blew me away with how responsive its icons are, and the way Camouflaj handled the design is brilliant. Pressing the camera button in the top right corner "pauses" the game, and views every selectable object in the field instantly. No matter where an object or individual is on the screen, there's an icon attached to it, floating off to the side -- just tap on that icon, and it instantly selects it. There's no pixel hunting, or "precise pinky touching" here -- you just tap the giant picture and go. It helps, because there are no clunky virtual joysticks or controls -- you touch an area to make Hope move, you touch a camera to "jump" to it, and so on. Everything is done by pointing at it like you would a mouse, and I was pleasantly surprised at how I had little trouble getting to where I needed to go. The only problem is that traveling long distances is incredibly slow going. Even if you double-tap to get Hope to (slowly) "run" to the area you wish, only some of the time will the camera automatically switch to her new area. So basically, you have to command her to go to an area, press the camera button, pause the game, find a camera, jump there, then un-pause. In short bursts it's extremely fun to quickly switch and change up tactics on the fly, but it gets really old if you're just running around looking for items. Republique initially stated it had elements of a Metroidvania in its Kickstarter, but I don't really see much of that here. Given the fact that you don't really want to explore too often because of the camera, it doesn't help that a lot of the first episode consists of heavy backtracking and one room, linear areas with nothing of interest. Maybe that'll change with subsequent episodes, but for now, the idea isn't fully realized yet. Republique makes some compromises though, because although Hope is mostly defenseless from guards, she does have a few tricks up her sleeve like pepper spray and tasers. By equipping either one of these items, Hope can either attack a guard or use it as a defensive ability -- similar to the daggers in the Resident Evil remake. It works as these items are sparing in nature, which helps keep Republique as a stealth game without getting too action heavy. It's incredibly addicting to steal from every guard too, similar to the dogtags from Metal Gear Solid. You can also sell data to the "Data Broker" at select terminals to earn upgrades like eavesdropping on phones (for more data, basically), and distraction hacks to keep guards busy. It's not too overpowering a feature, and it adds some RPG and progression elements to the proceedings, which is pretty unique for an episodic adventure.  There's another hang-up here, though. Hope can't die, as she is "ordered" to undergo a certain punishment by the higher-ups -- so if the guards catch you, they'll always bring you to a containment cell that you can quickly hack out of. At first, it's pretty unique, as you can thwart guards leading you to the cell by locking doors behind you (thus shutting them out), but you'll get sick of it very quickly after going through it every time. Eventually you can press a "fast forward" button to skip the escort part, but most of the time, it's more painful and pace-killing than a checkpoint or game over screen. Unexpectedly, Republique brings with it a cool like meta-world element to it, similar to Kojima's oddball videogame, literature, and film references. Beyond the obvious Orwellian jibes, it may very well be the first videogame to heavily reference other Kickstarter projects, and pick-pocketing guards will sometimes yield old gaming cartridge collectibles with some commentary from Cooper. These little jokes range from "I spent too much on this Kickstarter for this poster," "before Infinity Blade, I thought mobile games were for babies," and so on. Scanning guards will even sometimes yield the mugs of heavy backers. It's not overly funny, but it's a cute way to tie-in the game's roots.Like any episodic series, Republique's quality will be based on its offering as a whole, and not necessarily a single episode. Having said that, the game has the solid framework of a serviceable stealth title, but the story and cast haven't sold me yet that this will be a tale worth telling. I'll be waiting with bated breath to see if episode two is an improvement.
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Running on a touch of Hope
Republique was quite the ambitious Kickstarter project. With big names like Jennifer Hale and David Hayter attached, not to mention the million dollar budget, to say this stealth adventure promised quite a bit is an understatement. Having played the first of five episodes, I can safely say that most of the lofty goals have been met, but there is a bit more that's yet to be seen.

Review: Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time

Aug 15 // Chris Carter
Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time (Android, iPad [tested on an iPad Mini], iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5])Developer: PopcapPublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: August 15, 2013 (iOS) / TBA (Android)MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) Plants vs. Zombies 2 starts off innocently enough. Just like the first game, you'll defend your house in a grid-based fashion from a typical zombie horde, using the same basic plants and structures. Then your neighbor Crazy Dave has to go and eat a taco. But it's not just any taco, as it happens to be the best taco ever made -- and good enough to go back and time for. Of course, Dave's talking time machine doesn't quite work as planned, and you end up traveling across time and space, battling zombies for no apparent reason. Without a doubt the entire narrative is just an excuse to travel through time and explore various historical locales -- but that's completely okay with me, because time traveling happens to be a ton of fun. Actually playing the game is just as easy as the first, simply collecting sun to pay for and place towers (plants). In addition to the same tried-and-true strategies of the original (placing sun-producing Sunflowers in the back, with Peashooters in the middle to fend off zombies), you'll encounter a ton of fresh faces, like the Bonk Choy, a melee fighter that can't shoot projectiles, but packs a huge punch if properly protected, or the Spring Bean, a unit that can launch zombies into the water for an instant kill. You'll traverse across three worlds in the launch edition of the game, including Ancient Egypt, the Pirate Seas, and the Wild West. Each realm has specially themed zombies, like a Pharaoh-suit zombie that uses the staff of Ra to steal sun, and so on. But different shades of zombie aren't the only variants in these new levels, as there are also unique mechanics like limited space and planks in the Pirate world, and maneuverable mine carts in the Wild West. You can buy every level outright with an in-app-purchase, or you can just go through the game in a linear fashion. Thankfully, I didn't encounter paywalls of any kind that were progress related, so it is definitely possible to clear Plants vs. Zombies 2 without buying stages. Unfortunately the mini-game selection is pretty skimpy and you'll only get to occasionally experience a fresh gametype, which is a big step down from the cavalcade of diversions in the original. If you've played Plants vs. Zombies on a touch device, you've arguably played the best version of the game, and the smooth control scheme faithfully translates into the sequel. All you have to do to place plants or collect sun currency is to tap them, or tap wherever you want your plants to go. I had zero issues controlling the game on an iPad given the larger screen real estate, and outside of the occasional mis-tap on the iPhone, I didn't have much trouble in general. The brand new mechanics in It's About Time also work great with a touch screen. These come in the form of plant food that buffs one unit at a time temporarily, and offensive magic powers (inconsequential things like pinching zombie's heads off) that cost gold to cast. Although the powers are a pretty throwaway addition, plant food is easily my favorite welcome change for the sequel, as it adds a whole new layer of strategy that wasn't present in the original. Now, instead of simply planting your towers in a perfect formation and calling it a day, you can use plant food to spring special powers that are unique to every single plant. For instance, the Sunflower will generate more sun power on the spot, the Cabbagepult will launch projectiles randomly across the entire map, and the Wallnut will don a suit of armor for extra defense. Knowing when to use these abilities (and on what plants) is key to your success in Plants vs. Zombies 2, and it kept me a bit more engaged in some of the later levels. Plant food isn't an IAP-only item, either -- throughout each map, defeating glowing zombies will earn you single-use packets of plant food. You can also restock plant food or use powers by spending in-game gold (which I'll get to later). As you may have noticed from the info box above, the game is free -- so it has terrible microtransactions, right? Well, surprisingly, not really! At least, not yet it doesn't. The only content that's walled off is a small selection of plants for $3 each -- mostly legacy plants from the first game (the Squash, Imitator, Snow Pea, Jalapeno, Torchwood, and the Power Lily) that won't make or break your enjoyment in the slightest. Of course, it's always possible that EA will add "freemium" unlocks for other worlds and crucial plants down the line, as the game is already hinting at future updates. As it stands I'm actually quite surprised at how well IAPs have been handled in Plants vs. Zombies 2, especially given the fact that it's free. There are other microtransactions available in the form of boosts (like starting with more sun), and the ability to straight-up purchase gold. Again, these IAPs do not break the game, as you can still very much complete the entire experience without them. Having said that, they're basically cheats you can pay for, and the gold costs are so high that it's very unlikely you'll be able to use them consistently without paying real money, if that matters to you. Launching Plants vs. Zombies 2 exclusively on iOS platforms first is a really odd choice for a game that was originally a big-hitter for the PC, but it may very well pay off -- especially given the fact that the game is actually good. So long as EA and PopCap don't eventually ruin the game through greedy in-app purchases, the base game at launch is a treat, and worth a download from every iOS owner out there. What you're getting is basically more of that classic Plants vs. Zombie experience, with just enough tweaks to keep it interesting -- and that's more than enough for me.
PvZ 2 review photo
Just as addicting as the first
Plants vs. Zombies launched in 2009 on the PC and absolutely changed the face of tower defense games. It was a cultural phenomenon, inspiring even the most infrequent of gamers to play for hours on end, popping off one zombie...

Review: Deus Ex: The Fall

Jul 11 // Chris Carter
Deus Ex: The Fall (Android iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5])Developer: Eidos MontrealPublisher: Square EnixReleased: July 11, 2013 (iOS) / TBA (Android)MSRP: $6.99 The Fall opts to jump in at a fairly odd part of the overall Deus Ex narrative, picking up with the story of soldier Ben Saxon after the novel Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect. The "Icarus Effect" is the psychological practice of limiting the individual potential of humankind to maintain the status quo, and the "Tyrants" -- a PMC of sorts that Saxon formerly belonged to before he was betrayed -- are a delivery system for said effect. To be blunt, the narrative is not nearly as engaging as the story of Adam Jensen in Human Revolution, as the vast majority of the story tends to fall short of your typical "soldier's revenge" tale. But despite the less engaging narrative, Ben's method of revenge and destruction is very similar to Jensen's tactics in Human Revolution, as the core gameplay of the franchise is preserved despite the move to the mobile platform. I'm pleased to say that although they are pared down at times, there are situations that faithfully mirror Human Revolution, such as the ability to choose between a guns blazing, stealth, and hacking approach (or any combination thereof). This freedom is immediately evident, as one particular area towards the beginning of the game gave me the ability to hack through a shortcut to avoid a dangerous trip through a drug den -- but only if I had enhanced my hacking abilities fairly early into the game. This design continues throughout the entire game, offering up a decent chunk of sidequests, hidden areas, and collectibles to keep you interested. Ben can upgrade his abilities via augmentations in all three disciplines, which allows you to customize him the way you want to play. The first and third person mixed perspective returns from Human Revolution, offering up a zoomed out viewpoint when in cover, and an FPS style view during the vast majority of the game. Movement and aiming are controlled by two virtual joysticks on the left and right side respectively, and most of your actions (including firing) are performed with virtual buttons, which can get a bit dicey when you're really in the thick of combat. Now, I don't mind touch controls in the slightest for the vast majority of mobile experiences. Games that are designed for the platform tend to have a variety of tricks of the trade that help curb the lack of tactile feedback, and sometimes, games can actually feel better with touch controls. But here, even with the accommodations with auto-aiming and on-screen buttons, I can safely say a controller would have provided a clear-cut better way to play The Fall. Thankfully, there are some moments of reprieve, such as the ability to re-arrange the entire UI to your liking, and the option to toggle the virtual analog sticks on or off. You can also just tap the screen to move to the desired location, tap cover to snap to it, and tap enemies to auto-target them, so it is manageable if you embrace it -- it's just not ideal. It helps that the visuals look very sharp on an iPhone 5, to the point where it approaches early life cycle PS3/360 quality. The Fall should last you around five hours, which, for a Deus Ex game, is fairly brief. There are a few story choices, to make but these don't really feel poignant as much as vessels for a slightly different narrative. Thankfully, the variety in how you approach actual scenarios is where you're going to get your replay value from, and thanks to a New Game+ option, The Fall offers a chance to try out different missions, augmentations, playstyles, and seek out new areas or collectibles. There are microtransactions present that allow you to buy items with real cash, but I never felt compelled to use them, and many times I tested the game in Airplane Mode just to see if it would break if it couldn't contact the in-game store -- it didn't. Thank goodness for that, because The Fall would be a pretty hard sell with egregious paywalls. Deus Ex: The Fall works far better with touch controls than one would think, and it offers up a lighter, if a little bare-bones Human Revolution experience. In many ways though this experiment feels like a waste, as it would really be stronger as either a PlayStation Vita game or even a downloadable console title. Until a potential port rolls along, I'd only really recommend The Fall for mobile veterans who are already acquainted with first-person games on the go.
Deus Ex: The Fall photo
Falls just short of a mobile revolution
After a pretty tantalizing teaser, Square Enix was all set to announce the anticipated follow-up to the successful Deus Ex Human Revolution -- and much to the ire of fans, it ended up being a mobile exclusive. It's not all ba...

The best and worst games of 2013: May Returns

Jun 03 // Jordan Devore
[embed]255225:48921:0[/embed] Zeno Clash II (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) The world of the original Zeno Clash was genuinely interesting, and certainly an example of less is more, but this time around it merely seems interesting, before revealing itself to be a bit shallow under the veneer of zaniness, though the veneer is certainly impressive and did succeed in keeping me eager for more. Zeno Clash II might be bigger than its predecessor, but it fails to be truly better. It's worth experiencing for those who loved the original, because it still contains a lot of what made that title unique, and the combat -- when not descending into huge brawls -- is wonderful. But in an attempt to spin a meaty, almost Argonautica-style epic, ACE Team might have gotten a wee bit lost, just as I did when I tried to use that good-for-nothing, half-arsed map. Read the full Zeno Clash II review Haunted Hollow (iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Haunted Hollow is a surprising little game. It manages to rise above the status of a throwaway mictoransaction-begging App by providing a deep and compelling system at the core of the experience. With a few more tweaks, it would be worth spending more time with, but as it stands, depending on your ability to play with others it may be a more fleeting experience. Read the full Haunted Hollow review Anodyne (PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux) Anodyne’s weaknesses would’ve been greatly justified by a solid narrative. Instead, we’re left with a semi-decent dungeon crawler featuring some rather attractive sprite art and great soundtrack. So while Anodyne’s minimalistic riff on Zelda is definitely unique enough to warrant a purchase, it unfortunately never comes close to inheriting the legacy of its father, too lost in its odd pretentiousness to ever arrive at the point. Read the full Anodyne review Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut (PS3) The foundation of Deadly Premonition, the stuff that matters, is still absolutely perfect as far as I am concerned. It is true, of course, that this perfection has been scarred somewhat by the faults found in The Director's Cut, and there's no denying that longtime fans may not be getting what they hoped for in this package. To newcomers or the severely dedicated, however, this is still a bloody great time, and remains one of those games that truly, desperately, must be experienced to be believed. Read the full Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut review Way of the Dogg (Android, iOS, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Way of the Dogg is a wasted opportunity. As someone who consumes pretty much all the media on offer in this game it doesn't even appeal to me, which should tell you that something's wrong. It's a shame, because with an "M" rating and a little more plot tweaking, this could have been something special. Someone call the popo -- this game just did a 187 on your wallet, foo. Read the full Way of the Dogg review Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo (3DS eShop) Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo is just what it advertises itself to be: a fun little portable game experience built for quick play sessions. It's not overly difficult, but does add challenging goals for those who wish to have them. There's a decent amount of content for such a little game, and I defy you to not have fun with it. Simple, addictive, and easy-to-control gameplay, coupled with the goofy looking cartoon-y characters make for great bite-sized fun. Read the full Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo review Jack Lumber (iPad, iPhone, PC [reviewed]) All in all, Jack Lumber is pretty straight-forward with what it's offering you. While it could have stood to include a bit more content with the PC re-release and a few enhanced tweaks, it's still an incredibly fun time-waster that happens to challenge you from time to time. You'll cut wood, you'll freeze time, repeat, and somehow it remains compelling. Read the full Jack Lumber review Poker Night at the Inventory 2 (Mac, PC (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) If you are looking for a good poker game, then this is a no-brainer, but even if you aren't a huge poker player don't overlook this. The witty conversations and fleshed-out characters make this a fantastic little game, with very little holding it back. While it would be nice to not hear repetitive dialog, minor faults don't ruin Poker Night 2 as a whole. For five bucks (on PC) I highly recommend this gathering of fictional celebrities -- and I'm not bluffing. Read the full Poker Night at the Inventory 2 review Mars: War Logs (PC) Mars: War Logs is the kind of experience one can only call serviceable. It exists, it does what it does, and it performs its job suitably. It doesn't do anything terrible, but it never once goes above a basic standard of acceptability. It's very clear that it wants to ape the best action-RPGs of the genre, but its too basal and hurried to pull off a single remarkable thing. It's a shame because Spiders' last attempt -- Of Orcs and Men -- was genuinely great, a game that similarly failed to be all it wanted to be, but at least had an interesting story and some wonderful presentation.  War Logs, by contrast, simply exists. Read the full Mars: War Logs review Star Command (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) Star Command is an addictive sci-fi simulation experience, provided you're willing to stick it out until the second playthrough to get to the real meat of the game. There just isn't enough there the first time around to captivate the majority of potential buyers, as most of the initial gameplay boils down to a few repetitive, shallow actions. Still, good things come to those who wait, and if you're looking for a fun, cheap sci-fi game on the go, this is it. If you go in expecting a more zen garden-like experience than a real space sim, you shouldn't come out disappointed. Read the full Star Command review Gears of War: Judgment Call to Arms DLC (Xbox 360) Even with the VIP Pass, what you get is only total of six maps and two game modes, and the ability to play for double XP. For a game that is already light on multiplayer content, this really feels like a lazy, half-hearted effort to generate a quick buck from the fans of a dedicated franchise. While the Master at Arms game mode is fun and injects a certain level of enjoyable chaos to your standard free-for-all game type, and Blood Drive is a nice throwback to Gears of War 2, three maps and one new game type simply isn't enough for the price. Read the full Call to Arms review Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS eShop) A part of me misses the classic arcade action that seemed poised to make a comeback at the start of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, but I'm still glad Nintendo decided to explore new avenues for the Minis. Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move retains some of the Lemming-like quality of the more recent MvsDK titles, but the drastic changes to the gameplay have resulted in a faster, more free-form experience. It can be as simple or as mind-bending as you want it to be; either way, you'll be satisfied for many hours on end. Read the full Minis on the Move review [embed]255225:48924:0[/embed] Game Dev Tycoon (PC, Mac) When Game Dev Story introduced the idea of a game development sim to Japan in '97 and then the West in 2010, it was a novel concept that made overlooking its flaws easier. While Game Dev Tycoon is a superior experience with a better interface for its platform, it still suffers from the same pitfalls of monotony and lack of player feedback that Game Dev Story suffered from. While I appreciate the perspective Game Dev Tycoon has given me on game development, from indie studios in debt to huge studios juggling multiple projects, it was never the game's sim elements that had me returning. It offers a pleasant walk down memory lane of past consoles and technology, but that's about it. Read the full Game Dev Tycoon review Victoria II: Heart of Darkness (PC) Heart of Darkness still contains many of the issues that hampered the core game, with the frequency of rebellions making the late game frustrating, as populations become extremely liberal and demanding, and the tutorials are still insufficient when it comes to explaining the game beyond the most basic principles. Put in the work, however, and Heart of Darkness will reward you for the effort. It's still huge and uncompromising, but there's no better way to experience Victoria II. The improved combat and naval mechanics were oft-requested, and Paradox followed through, while the new features make the studio's vision of Victorian war, politics, and economics all the more believable and grand. Read the full Heart of Darkness review Color Commando (DSiWare) Color Commando has initial shades of fun, but it's basically over before it starts. Despite the cheap-looking enemy designs, there is a decent amount of charm here -- the game just doesn't get an opportunity to develop it. If you're itching for a platform puzzle title and have exhausted all of your choices on both the DS and 3DS, Color Commando is a decent way to spend a couple of bucks, but otherwise, it's skippable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Read the full Color Commando review [embed]255225:48925:0[/embed] Metro: Last Light (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Metro: Last Light is a disappointment in several respects. That simply has to be said. Its design painstakingly addresses criticisms of Metro 2033 to such an overzealous degree that it actually undoes many of the things 2033 was praised for. The fact you have to pre-order or pay to access a game closer to the original's heart is also damn near inexcusable, and again I emphasize that I will not review a mode that has been tacked on in such a fashion. However -- and it's a big however -- Last Light is also a fine game on its own, and if we're to judge it without the shadow of 2033 looming overhead, we can say it's a game packed with structurally sound combat, a rewardingly fluid narrative, and an atmosphere that runs the gamut from intriguing to chilling. Read the full Metro: Last Light review Reef Shot (PC) Reef Shot could have been much, much more than what is offered. As a first-person adventure game, it does little to stimulate the player to keep pressing on, except perhaps to hopefully see more fish variety. If you're like me and want to just meander about the ocean floor and take some photographs of virtual fish to relax and enjoy yourself, Reef Shot offers very little. Read the full Reef Shot review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Blade Wolf (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Blade Wolf rides on the coattails of an interesting character, but suffers from some of the same issues as the Jetstream DLC in that it doesn't do enough. With all new environments and maybe some more of the aforementioned old-school VR mission action, this would be a must-buy. As it stands, only the most hardcore should apply here, but at least it offers up some good old-fashioned robotic chainsaw-hacking fun. Read the full Blade Wolf review [embed]255225:48926:0[/embed] Anomaly 2 builds upon the original in every way, leaving me to wonder if this is as good as the concept of a deconstructed tower defense game can get. Anomaly 2 is an immediate and exciting strategy game unlike any other, but over time the repetition and lack of depth leaves something to be desired. It’s a welcome distraction on a phone or tablet, but the limits of the game are quickly noticed when played in long bursts on PC. For fans of the first that looked past these shortcomings, Anomaly 2 is a bigger, smarter, and better looking game. Read the full Anomaly 2 review Eador: Masters of the Broken World (PC) Eador: Masters of the Broken World is laden with good ideas and myriad reasons for strategy nuts to go... well, nuts, but for every compliment I could pay it, there's a caveat. Strange design choices and a serious lack of polish mars the things it does so very well. For a while, I couldn't even play the damn thing it was so unstable. Crashes every few minutes, and a bug around every corner made it not worth my time. After a few patches, I finally managed to play it without fearing that I'd be dealing with a freeze or a crash every time I moved my hero, and I'm glad I stuck it out. It manages to capture what makes titles like HoMM or Kings Bounty so gripping without simply treading the same old ground. Yet it's still really quite flawed. Read the full Eador: Masters of the Broken World review Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS) Truthfully, as a retro gamer, while I never found the core game to be that challenging, attempting to get everything (including the extra mirror mode that restricts you to one heart and no power-ups) is one of the hardest quests you can ever embark upon in gaming. While I gave up in the original due to some motion frustration, I'm well on my way to utterly completing the 3DS version (I only have mirror mode left), and I'm loving every minute. If you missed out on Donkey Kong Country Returns the first time around, or you disliked the motion-heavy controls of the original, pick up this version. With solid tactile feedback, the 3DS edition of the game has cemented itself as one of my favorite platformers of all time without question. Read the full Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D review Dust 514 (PlayStation 3) Dust 514 has promises of greatness. It reaches high and attempts to accomplish something not many games have even tried to this day, which should be commended. But right now, it needs a few more major updates before it gets there. With a hefty amount of microtransactions that border on offensive, there is a very ambitious, competitive game underneath the sloppy veneer. Read the full Dust 514 review The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop) Despite being entertaining in its own way, The Starship Damrey ultimately fails to provide a hardcore, old-school adventure as promised. There's potential for an even more expansive campaign, which I hope Level-5 explores one day -- if Liberation Maiden can get a sequel, so can this! For now, rein in your expectations. Read the full Starship Damrey review Resident Evil Revelations (PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U [reviewed], Xbox 360) Resident Evil Revelations isn't as good on consoles as it is on the 3DS. It clearly wasn't designed for larger machines, and the somewhat clunky, rudimentary controls indicate that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up to prove a superior alternative. However, it's still a fine game and still the best Resident Evil game available right now, and if you've not played it already, you truly ought to. If you've already tried it on 3DS, there's not a lot to bring you back, but any other Resident Evil fan would be best served giving it a go. Read the full Resident Evil Revelations review Plants vs. Zombies Adventures (Facebook) Plants vs. Zombies Adventures is fairly inoffensive fun, and serves as the appetizer to PvZ 2's main course. The implementation of sprays makes combat a bit more interactive, and there's a decent variety of plants to keep your strategy liquid. It could stand to implement a more forgiving energy mechanic, but unlike many other social games, it at least gives you something to do while you wait. Read the full Plants vs. Zombies Adventures review Reus (PC) The pace of Reus, starting players off with tutorials and then short games, ultimately growing into two hour sessions where all of human history plays out, off-sets the game's complexity. Its simple controls and clean interface also makes something that could have been an obstinate chore pleasant to get to grips with. At first I bemoaned the lack of more detailed menus and alternative control options, but I miss them not at all now. Reus is a game of logical, organic systems presented as simply as possible. It's a delight to play at every turn, and it strikes the perfect balance between providing new content and not overloading players. Beneath its unassuming appearance exists a challenging experience that will last a good long time. Maybe not as long as it took for humanity to grow from nomadic tribes to city-dwelling go-getters, but who the hell has time for that?   Read the full Reus review Sanctum 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) As a whole, Sanctum 2 feels confused. It isn't quite as much tower defense as fans of the first game would probably hope for, since more of the emphasis this time around is placed on the first-person shooting element. It also hides way too much information from the player, leading to a lot of guess-and-check strategies. The game remains a refreshing hybrid of genres, however, and many of the frustrations temporarily wash away as you lay witness to the last enemy in the last wave die, proving that your strategic planning and accurate shooting have paid off. Read the full Sanctum 2 review Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PC [reviewed], PSN, XBLA) Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a funny game and a satisfying romp, with clearly influenced ideas that all have their own unique little spins. I'll fully admit that I went into it expecting another damp squib, but came away thoroughly impressed. While it sadly won't get much attention, given the fact it launched quieter than a church mouse with its mouth stapled shut, I wholly recommend it to fans, newcomers, and those who felt burned by the last awful game in the series. Not only is Gunslinger the best Call of Juarez game, it's a damn fine and worthy shooter in its own right. Read the full Gunslinger review Might & Magic Heroes VI: Shades of Darkness (PC) There are many games that will only appeal to "fans of the genre," but this goes farther than that and becomes a game that appeals to "fans of the series." It's not really a terrible thing, but it's not a great thing, either. If you like Might & Magic, you should definitely play Shades of Darkness. It's a solid expansion with an insane amount of new content; you'll be giddy for dozens of hours. If you don't play the series, however, this doesn't provide a great reason to check it out. There need to be more tool-tips with information and an introduction to the factions, lore, units, and abilities -- none of that happens here. Read the full Shades of Darkness review Leviathan: Warships (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed]) Leviathan is best enjoyed if you already have friends playing. It's a game that offers little to the solo player, despite the single-player campaign. With pals, it's an entirely different, much more entertaining experience. If you do have a tablet, then I recommend picking it up for that rather than PC, purely because of the much lower price. All versions are completely identical, so you won't be missing out unless you desperately want to play it on a larger screen.  Read the full Leviathan review Best Park In the Universe - Regular Show (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) Best Park is spread over 15 levels, all of which feel roughly the same. Once again, the repetition begins to set in mostly as you face similar foes across levels that actually are quite different looking. More updates are planned for the game which will add extra levels, but for now, you'll have to deal with the ones you've got. It's a better attempt than prior efforts but Best Park in the Universe doesn't really aim all that high. As long as you're not expecting much, it's a decent beat-'em-up that somehow manages to produce a solid control scheme. If you're a diehard Regular Show fan, you may enjoy it. Read the full Best Park in the Universe review StarDrive (PC) For a one-man effort, StarDrive is impressive. It's huge, looks great, and it has a nice balance between automation and micromanagement. Lamentably it's also buggy, with crashes and glitches raising their head frequently -- though admittedly less now, since it's been out for almost a month -- explains its systems poorly, and it becomes extremely boring only a couple of hours into a game.  It doesn't add anything drastically new to the genre, and thus there isn't much reason why you should get it when titles like Galactic Civilization II are better and cheaper, or the contemporary Endless Space -- for all its flaws -- offers a more unique take on the 4X experience. Read the full StarDrive review Fuse (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The most troubling thing about this review is that I am possessed of self awareness enough to know it's going to look like a punishment. It's going to look like I'm one of the many disappointed gamers who saw the changes from Overstrike to Fuse and was prepared, from the outset, to hate it. I cannot disprove such a perception, if that is the perception you wish to have. All I can say is that I, a fan of Insomniac, had faith when I was assured Fuse would be just as good as Overstrike promised to be, and I was looking forward to playing it. To have my residual doubts about the game brought miserably to light was not pleasant, and certainly not desired.  Whether it's true or not, Fuse does feel every bit like another victim of the heavily focus-tested, leader following, perpetually terrified mainstream game industry. It's every cloying and desperate element of the retail console market, brought together -- fused, if you will -- to create a factory standard example of a game that tries to be everything the hypothetical mainstream consumer drools over, and ends up as nothing remarkable. Read the full Fuse review Dragon Fantasy Book 1 (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita [reviewed]) In staying true to its roots, Dragon Fantasy Book 1 is a bit of a drag. I like the main characters well enough, but I'm not particularly interested in the glibly presented story or world, and some of the retro JRPG systems are super aggravating or simply mind-numbing. That being said, the game did grow on me in the last three sections, and I think the bridging of storylines -- and mechanics -- in Book 2 could prove a bit more fruitful. Read the full Dragon Fantasy review The Night of the Rabbit (Mac, PC [reviewed]) What got me through those instances was the menagerie of woodland critters (and an Alan Moore-inspired forest guardian), the sumptuous art, and the mystery that is slowly teased, but ultimately unravels in a quickly wrapped-up, anti-climactic ending that I could definitely have done without. Yet for all its flaws, The Night of the Rabbit may still be Daedalic's best adventure game. The issues are numerous, but the significant size of the game also offers up a lot of opportunities for it to redeem itself, which it does manage. The Night of the Rabbit still contains all of those classic "ah ha!" moments when you, at long last, cease to be dumbfounded, and the novelty of the magic spells surprisingly doesn't wear off, continuing to be implemented cleverly throughout the long experience. With a lot of patience, you could find yourself having a bloody good time. Read the full Night of the Rabbit review The Swapper (PC) I came away from The Swapper with nothing but amazement. From the first time you see the literally hand-crafted visuals until the final moment in the game, which is sure to give you pause for thought, you will be in complete awe. Brilliant puzzles with even more brilliant solutions compliment the philosophical plotline, leaving an unforgettable experience unlike any other. Read the full The Swapper review
May 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of May 2013
May was largely a quiet month for new game releases. Despite what felt like a slower schedule, especially coming off of a rather absurd April, here on Destructoid we did have a pair of 10s with the portable Donkey Kong Countr...

Exploring the connected city of Chicago in Watch Dogs

May 10 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Watch_Dogs (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Next Xbox, PC, Wii U, iOS)Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Reflections, Ubisoft RomaniaPublisher: UbisoftRelease: November 19, 2013 (NA) / November 22, 2013 (EU) / November 21, 2013 (AUS) The team at Ubisoft started work on Watch Dogs over four years ago, and Dominic Guay, senior producer on the game, gave us some background info on how they came up with the concept. "We were inspired by how technology had changed the way we lived our lives," Dominic said. "How we were connecting with others -- with information, with work -- through computers but also smart phones. As we dug deeper into that vision we were interested in the vulnerabilities, the new types of flaws, and crimes, and hacks that were possible because of that. We continued to dig deeper and we finally discovered that we were gradually moving from smart phones, to smart cities. "Now smart cities are really happening in our world right now. Some are being built from the ground up in Asia, the Middle East, and in Europe. Even in established cities those technologies are being put in one step at a time, for good reasons. I mean if you think about it, city governments are the closest form of government for us to deliver most of the core services we need. Clean water, they gather our garbage, they give us electricity, transport systems, security -- all things we need and that we need to make efficient. Now they use technology and connectivity to do that, and in smart cities they start intertwining those networks to make them even more efficient." [embed]253434:48595:0[/embed] So with all that in mind, the developers wanted to ask players what if you had all of those systems right at your fingertips? What would you do with that sort of power? You as Aiden Pearce have access to such powers, and will use it get back at those that harmed his family. Aiden's number one goal is to get revenge, but Aiden will quickly find himself getting addicted to looking at people's life easily and covertly. You can spy on others via their webcam, listen in to people's phone calls, see text message conversations -- there is no such thing as privacy as far as Aiden is concerned. With such easy access then, the question becomes what do you do with these powers? You can help others in need, you can rob them blind, or you can even just ignore them completely. Watch Dogs is exploring morality here, but it's not just simply focusing on right and wrong. There's a lot of gray area too. "It's more your interpretation of the story that we want to change, then having like a black and a white ending," Dominic told me. "You know one is you become an angel, and the other one is you spend an eternity in hell [in other games]. That's interesting, possibly, but that's not really what we're exploring. "It's all going to be nuance, and how you perceive the story. Our creative director likes to say if you show a paining, two people can interpret it totally differently. Our hope is depending on how you play it and how we reflect your way of playing back to you, you will have a different interpretations of what just happened, and what was the actual story of Aiden Pierce. We think that's stronger than two different cinematics." In the demo, the player hacked into one of the free Wifi hotspots located around the city, and from there barged into someone's apartment via their laptop webcam. We could then see a guy and a woman sitting on a couch having a conversation. Aiden then jumped to a tablet nearer the couple for a better look, and from there you saw that the woman was actual a real doll. Something completely private was exposed to Aiden's prying eyes. It was here where the player could see the man's license plate info too, which you can take and trade to car robbers that would then allow you to get this guy's car for yourself. Later we saw Aiden intercept a text conversation where a guy was trying to track down someone that raped his wife. You go to where the rapist is in the city, and from a safe distance you can observe the two men have a confrontation. Do you interfere? The rapist is scum but does he deserve to die in a back-alley somewhere? It's up to you, and in this case you just sit back and watch the accused rapist get gunned down. Choices like this will be everywhere, and how you respond to them will actually affect your reputation with how the media and citizens of Chicago see you. You're a vigilante, and if the press and citizens are in favor of you, maybe they won't call the cops when they see you confront a target. Or maybe if they find your actions to be too violent then yeah, they'll probably call the cops. As a side note, if you see someone calling the cops you can totally go up to them, grab their phone, and smash it to the ground. Chicago is a smart, connected city in the world of Watch Dogs, and that's all thanks to ctOS, a computer system that controls and manages everything in the city. There are a number of ctOS operating centers that protect districts from hackers like Aiden, and while they're functioning you can't simply hack into systems or people's phones. You first need to infiltrate and insert a backdoor into the ctOS system before you can have fun with your abilities. Essentially, think of Far Cry 3's Outposts. You have to infiltrate your way into these buildings that are full of armed guards. You can go and take on guards with deadly force head on, or you can sneak your way in and avoid ever firing a bullet. You'll always have options when it comes to combat, but note there will be moments where you do have to kill others. These ctOS takeovers are all totally optional as well, as there are no specific missions telling you to take these over, but there are rewards for doing so. In the demo we saw Aiden hacks open the security gate, which lured a security guard out of view from other guards, thus letting you take him down with a quick choke hold. Later Aiden climbed to a roof, and opened fire onto guards on the ground. While the guards are shooting at you, you can jump into one of the cameras in the base and use it to see exactly where the enemy is positioned at, allowing you to then hop back to the action and throw a grenade with greater accuracy from cover. It's here we also saw that players can engage a meter that slows down the action, allowing you to lineup shots with greater accuracy. This can be employed while driving cars and boats as well. With the ctOS building taken over you now have everything under your control in the district. This opens various perks, including optional missions. ctOS can predict crimes, and you can go investigate suspicious events should you want to. All throughout the demo you can easily see people's private information as they pass by you. You can see people's names, their occupation, criminal records, income -- their lives are just as easy to access as everything else. It's quite eerie seeing such private info so easily, even if this is just a game. We passed one guy who had his bank account info tied to his phone, which Aiden promptly sucked away all his money for himself. Later in the demo Aiden is trying to buy some guns -- there's a wide variety of weapons from pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, and more -- and while in the middle of purchasing a weapon the TV behind the counter lit up with a news alert warning citizens to look out for Aiden. The gunshop owner recognizes the photo on the screen, and immediately trips the silent alarm. Once the cops are called, they'll use the ctOS system to pinpoint the source of the crime in an area. You have a few moments to escape their search net, but if caught cops will be able to track you down. Like most other games, you'll lose the heat once you get far enough away from their search grid or break line of sight long enough. Your powers over the city work especially well in chase situations, as you can forcibly change traffic lighting, raise guards rails behind you, or enter private garages. You can easily take any car you want too as car locks are all electronic so no need to smash open windows. We didn't see a single mission from Watch Dogs yet there's so much to say. The overall mechanics from the cover system, to the climbing and free running look pretty fluid. There's an economy system where you can buy, sell and even craft items. You can acquire legal and illegal phone apps that allow you to do things like find out what song is playing that you can then add to your music player, to forcibly changing a song that's currently playing somewhere to something you enjoy instead. There's even augmented reality games you can play, with the one we saw having you shoot flying, retro looking alien bugs. Like real augmented games, the citizens of the world will look at you like you're crazy while you're shooting invisible things with your phone. There are leaderboards for these games where you can challenge your friends for the highest score too. There's so much to Watch Dogs, yet we've only scratched the surface. While I'm intrigued by the story, I think I'm looking more forward to just getting lost in this big brother take on Chicago. Check back later today for more coverage on how Ubisoft built a new game engine for Watch Dogs, and to get a taste of what they're planning for the multiplayer.
Explore in Watch Dogs photo
Everything can be hacked
Watch Dogs has been on everyone's radar ever since its surprise debut at E3 last year. It's an open world game, but what makes this one so unique is that you play as Aiden Pearce, an expert hacker who can control the connecte...

The best and worst games of 2013: Hyperdimension April

May 02 // Jordan Devore
The Organ Trail: Director's Cut (PC) Organ Trail: Director's Cut has a few things going against it. It's a parody game, which is always a risk, and it involves zombies; an increasingly tiresome creative crutch. But through wit, ingenuity, and good old fashioned sadism, it manages to succeed against the odds and provide a truly rewarding spin on a number of classic ideas. For the price, you really couldn't ask for more. Read the full Organ Trail: Director's Cut review Ms. Splosion Man (iPhone [reviewed with iPhone 5], iPad) When you add it all up, buying all three worlds solely through in-app-purchasing amounts to less than the asking price of the original XBLA game (less than $10). But there's something really wrong with the way the system is presented here. Simply put, if it's a paid app, the game should be fully unlocked -- especially if there are microtransactions already in place -- and especially since there is no warning of this withholding of content before you purchase the game. It's a shame that there's such a weird barrier between the player and actually playing the levels they want. With a bit more tweaking of how many coins it takes to unlock each stage, or the elimination of the system entirely, Ms. Splosion Man would be one of the finest games on the entire App Store. Read the full Ms. Splosion Man review BattleBlock Theater (Xbox Live Arcade) If you absolutely positively hate platformers, I'm not so sure you'll enjoy BattleBlock Theater. UnlikeCastle Crashers which had the benefit of the simplistic, pick up and play beat 'em up genre, you get more out of BattleBlock the more you're willing to put into it. Positive reinforcement is gained through skill and triumph rather than simply bashing things in mindlessly, so in that regard, the universal appeal is a bit lower than most of Behemoth's older titles. But as long as you're willing to give it a chance, you'll reap the rewards of a fairly deep, interesting game that was built with a lot of heart. I can't wait to see how Behemoth follows this up, and I hope it doesn't take five years to do it. Read the full BattleBlock Theater review Toki Tori 2 (PC, Wii U [reviewed]) Although charming and admirable, Toki Tori 2 at times is almost too minimal. Puzzles never really reach maddeningly difficult levels until more than halfway in, but often times it's hard to feel inspired to move to the next area -- or bother discovering it -- if there's no real incentive for doing so outside of general completion. Read the full Toki Tori 2 review Evoland (PC) Evoland makes for a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, and I'd recommend it to any Zelda or Final Fantasy fan in a heartbeat. While a few of the referential jokes cross over into cringe territory, most of them hit the mark, and there are a few little gags that really encourage a smirk, if not a real-life, out-loud chuckle. It's incredibly difficult to fault what's on offer, but it's quite easy to lament what isn't there -- chiefly a lot more of what's on offer. Read the full Evoland review Edge of Twilight: Athyr Above (iOS) Athyr Above comes across predominantly as a game on the wrong system. With some design tweaks, it may have enjoyed a far better time on something like the PlayStation Vita, which can handle a game clearly more suited to physical buttons. I've got nothing against the touch interface, and enjoy quite a few iOS games, but Edge of Twilight clearly has no place using it, not if this is the best it can do.  Read the full Edge of Twilight: Athyr Above review Dungeon Hearts (PC [reviewed], iPad) Once a game of Dungeon Hearts is won, new soundtracks unlock (five total). This would a stick instead of a carrot if it weren't for how great of a musical score it is. Along with the graphics, the music is a clever homage to the days of SquareSoft but manages to have an identity of its own. I can extend that statement to the entire game. Dungeon Hearts takes the Final Fantasy worship that has inspired many a RPG Maker indie and does something far more inspired and enjoyable with it. On a positive note, Cube Roots has been very active on listening to feedback on social networks and even provided a noteworthy update four days after release. Whether you are a fan of fast-paced, challenging puzzle games or an old-school RPG fan, Dungeon Hearts' charm will rub off on you. And if you are a fan of both of those things, you won't even mind its shortcomings, in time. Read the full Dungeon Hearts review BADLAND (iPhone, iPad [reviewed]) Much of the fun that comes from BADLAND is from the anxiety it will cause you in narrowly avoiding an insane deathtrap with your last fuzzy after watching a whole mess of clones explode throughout a rough patch of poisonous plants. LocoRoco this game ain't, as it's nearly impossible to save ALL of your community and so it becomes quickly necessary to focus on the ones that you just might be able to save and let the stragglers fall by the wayside or get burst into pieces by razors blades, gears, or javelin spikes. Read the full BADLAND review Tactical Intervention (PC) For those of us who remember the days of hostages falling down canyons and giant APCs glitching through walls in Counter-Strike, Le has made a game for you. It's unfortunate then that the game is buried under a myriad of problems, from dated, ugly presentation to shooting that feels clumsy. With how Le has talked up the game over the years, it's not a surprise that it's so ambitious. And with the many delays and last minute open beta, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's a total mess. Read the full Tactical Intervention review Receiver (Windows [reviewed], Mac, Linux) Just like the skate. and Monster Hunter franchises, Receiver focuses on the player's mastery of the game's unique mechanics. It will take some time and dedication to truly "master" the game, especially considering that each pistol demands the player to spend a lot of time with it just to understand how to reload the damn thing. By the same token, Receiver is one of those games that feels so incredibly satisfying once it is finally understood and everything clicks. Then you remember that a group of talented people made it in a week and you question what exactly you're doing with your life.  Read the full Receiver review Slayin' (iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Slayin' is one of the best games I've played on iOS in some time. I'm really glad that it keeps In-App-Purchasing down to a minimum, and delivers enough thrills (retro or otherwise) to justify the meager price tag. If you're a fan of retro games and prefer gaming in small chunks, give this a shot immediately. Read the full Slayin' review Guacamelee! (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita) The game fully supports PS3/PS Vita crossplay, and you can use the Vita to control Tostada in 2P co-op on the PS3. The perks don't stop there either. Collectibles, a horde mode-style dungeon, side quests, a new difficulty mode upon completion, and plenty of other secrets help with the replay value. None of those bonuses would mean squat if the Guacamelee! didn't provide a fun world to mess around in, which it does. Right from the start, Guacamelee! offers up a sugar skull-covered playground to delight in and devour with mucho gusto. It's a game I'll be playing and replaying again for some time to come. Read the full Guacamelee! review Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory (PlayStation 3) It reeks of laziness, but that pales in comparison to what is easily the worst part of the entire experience. The quest system. Ugh! Poorly implemented and only there to waste your time, a seemingly endless number of errands awaits just to artificially lengthen the game. Rarely challenging, never interesting, these fetch quests exist only as arbitrary roadblocks that will need to be surmounted before the story is allowed to advance. Dwelling somewhere between mediocrity and greatness, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It just isn't a very good one either. A nuanced, rhythmic, and generally entertaining combat system awaits alongside a nascent story for those that can endure more than their fair share of suffering. Read the full Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory review Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition (PC) InSanity was never going to be a great game. It would have struggled to be considered a good one. It did, however, have that certain special something, possessed of enough charisma to at least make me debate whether or not it was a bad game. That is, until the gear shift and rapid decline, at which point I gave up trying to be nice and settled in for an absolutely terrible time. It's a shame, because it had its hands all the tools necessary for underground success, but failed to prove itself consistent enough to stand out from all the other obscure, low-budget, bottom-feeding action games on the market. Read the full Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition review Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Jetstream DLC (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Hardcore fans will most likely want to experience Jetstream because it's more Revengeance, but if you were lukewarm with the core experience, more of the same probably won't wow you in any way. Platinum Games doesn't really do DLC all that often, and the studio really need to up its game if it wants to dive into add-ons in the future. Read the full Jetstream review Tekken Card Tournament (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on iPhone 5], PC) If you're actually interested despite the constant paywalls, the good news is there will be physical cards this Summer with QR codes to add to your digital deck. If you're a card game fan like myself, finding a group of people to play this with in a social gathering and getting free digital cards may be more enticing than ponying up for microtransactions. But again, that isn't available yet. In many ways, Tekken Card Tournament is a shame, because it's actually a decent, simple little card game. If someone laid a real-life starter deck in front of me, I'd actually play it for an extended period of time, but as it stands, it's not worth slogging through the mictrotransaction and "energy" nonsense to do it. Read the full Tekken Card Tournament review Sonic Dash (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) Sonic Dash isn't a bad game, but it could stand to be much better than it is in its current state. With more zones and less weighty in-app-purchases by way of an update, Dash could be one of the more enticing endless runners on the market. As it stands, you might find yourself picking this up, and running right past it after a fleeting sense of enjoyment. But said time with it will undoubtedly be enjoyable, nonetheless. Read the full Sonic Dash review Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS) Soul Hackers is not a full-on remake, and more of a re-release. But you know what? Considering how well the game holds up even today, that's ok. Soul Hackers may have a number of antiquated principles and mechanics, but none of them are unprecedented or that difficult to deal with. So long as you're willing to put up with a bit of age, you'll be diving into one of the most accessible and enjoyable Shin Megami Tensei games in the series. Read the full Soul Hackers review Pandora's Tower (Wii) I previously called this title a "middle," but maybe that's doing it a disservice. Curious gameplay issues abound, only some of which I touched upon, in addition to the visual and voice acting mishaps. Still, it's bursting with so much content that you are bound to find a morsel that tickles your taste buds. There are even shades of that infamous NES-era challenge, though the difficulty thankfully stops shy of being completely overwhelming. It's just a damn fine videogame. Pandora's Tower is a bittersweet end to the Wii's life: a taste of the kind of software that could have carried the console during those slow months. As it stands, it won't be anything more that an engaging action RPG with a clever hook. But I suppose I can live with that. Read the full Pandora's Tower review Age of Empires II HD Edition (PC) Yeah, it actually took me longer than I’d like to admit to notice and fully grasp the importance of that inclusion. It’s only been a few days since the game dropped and there are already a pretty decent set of HD texture packs, gameplay tweaks, and tons and tons of other goodies. In the same way that Skyrim took my initial investment of 75 hours and magically extended that to something in the neighborhood of 500, the Workshop for AoE II is an amazing bonus. And, combined with access to multiplayer via Steam, it's really the only addition the game needs. All told, while a little frustrating if you’re not into tons of micro-management, Age of Empires II HD with the Workshop and updated multiplayer features is an excellent title. The brilliance of the game’s design is still there, you just might need to look past its age to see it. Read the full Age of Empires II HD Edition review Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Uprising DLC (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) One arena withstanding, Treyarch had a lot of fun with this map pack, and it really shows. From the joke-ridden Studio and Magma, to the surprisingly refreshing Mob of the Dead, there's a lot of solid content on offer here in Uprising. In terms of raw layouts, pretty much every map on offer here delivers solid FPS action, and there wasn't one arena in particular that I outright disliked. I feel like at this point in Call of Duty's history, the design needs to be a little bit more out there to really sway new users, but for fans and enthusiasts alike, you really can't go wrong with these maps. Read the full Uprising review Terraria (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed]) Terraria is an incredible experience, and no game has filled me with the same sense of wonder and drive to explore in a very long time. In this port to consoles, those feelings are preserved, but perhaps not as elegantly as they could have been. The control scheme turned out better than expected, but the multiplayer functionality is far from ideal. Still, I cannot recommend this enough to anybody with a heart for exploring the unknown and an inherent passion for discovery. Read the full Terraria review Cities in Motion 2 (PC) Though these issues hamper the overall experience, Cities in Motion 2 is a jump in the right direction, and is a significant improvement over its forebearer. It's more polished, though the occasional minor bug cropped up from time to time, and Colossal Order cut the chaff while adding in new, oft requested features such as the timetable system, which allows players to tailor the departure times of vehicles to cater to demand -- or lack of demand -- during certain times of the day, like the morning or evening rush hour. I didn't expect the game to grip me in the way it did, and I certainly couldn't have predicted how excited I would become at the prospect of getting people to their jobs in time. Cities in Motion 2takes a mundane and, frankly, boring subject matter, and makes it genuinely compelling. It has made my dreary real-life bus journeys a tiny bit more interesting. Read the full Cities in Motion 2 review ShootMania Storm (PC) Shootmania Storm is a community-centered first-person shooter with next to no community. It's an unfortunate situation, but one that the game finds itself in nonetheless. Though the menus are clunky and the game doesn't do much to welcome new players, the core game of Shootmania Storm is so wonderful to play that I can't help but want to always improve. It has a remarkably high skill ceiling, even if the basic controls seem simple at first. I believe the phrase is "easy to understand, difficult to master." Yeah, that fits this game perfectly. Read the full ShootMania Storm review Sacred Citadel (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) A nice presentation helps make things a little more interesting, but there's still no escaping the fact that Sacred Citadel fails to inspire much passion. It's an okay game, a solid arcade throwback, but it's a mere face in a crowd and doesn't stand out very much. It'll give you five or so hours of satisfactory action, dishing out amusement and annoyance at varying points, and while I think it's worth checking out for Sacred fans, most brawler connoisseurs would be better off sticking with the classics.  Read the full Sacred Citadel review Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger (3DS eShop) Like a lot of country music, The Last Ranger suffers from being repetitive and overly simplistic at times. Thankfully, it's very well performed, infectious, and packed with plenty of personality. If you play in occasional 20-30 minutes burst, you may never grow tired of this composition, but if you try to marathon through this album of outlaw armadillo hits, you'll be tempted to put the thing down for good. Read the full The Last Ranger review Injustice: Gods Among Us (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad) As mindless as it is, Injustice iOS is a very easy way to get reacquainted with your favorite DC Comics characters. It would have been a much better experience as a straight $4.99 download, with the ability to unlock every character in the game through straight progress, but despite that wasted opportunity, you really can't go wrong with at least trying out this free game. Read the full Injustice mobile review Fish out of Water (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5]) If you're looking for a new time waster, Fish Out of Water is a decent experience, despite its lack of depth. If you require something with a little more meat on its bones, feel free to wait, because in all likelihood, just like Jetpack Joyride, this will go free at some point given the fact that in-app-purchases are already featured. Read the full Fish out of Water review [embed]252288:48312:0[/embed] Dead Island Riptide (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Is Dead Island Riptide a fun game? At times, yes. In terms of raw combat and power fantasy, it's just as good as Dead Island ... and it's just as bad at the same time. The bottom line is that there's no excuse for it not being superior. Being "just as good" isn't good enough, especially not whenDead Island had things on its side that Riptide doesn't. Those new to the series entirely will likely not notice the problems quite so much, and be as forgiving to it as newcomers were to Dead Island. While Riptide banks on you having loved the first, in actuality you have a lot more to gain if you've never touched it.  If you played the first game, however, I'd recommend waiting for a real sequel, because Riptidefails to get away with pulling the same trick twice. Read the full Riptide review God Mode (PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) As mentioned earlier, God Mode is the type of game that grows on you. The biggest complaint I have is a lack of variety, which is to be expected of a budget title. What Old School Games did include in this straightforward, arcade-centric shooter shows promise of a more fleshed-out project. There's also a hint of personality with a goofy narrator, but the execution isn't quite there.God Mode is an easy recommendation to make for those who want relatively mindless entertainment -- just don't go in expecting much more than that. Read the full God Mode review Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) While The Knife of Dunwall's missions may not reach the heights of the Boyle's masquerade or the Golden Cat, the first mission -- which sheds more light on Dunwall's grisly whaling industry -- is undoubtedly one of the best designed game-spaces in both the DLC and game proper. It both encapsulates what makes Dishonored such a delight to play and introduces a few new things, including the horrific Butchers -- a particularly nasty enemy who requires a wee bit more thought that most to dispatch. The new protagonist and plot may have been underwhelming -- and completely unfinished until Arkane releases the next piece of DLC -- but I'm less disappointed due to the polished gameplay. Daud has less tricks than Corvo, and damn do I miss the talking heart, but it all goes towards making The Knife of Dunwall a more focused package. Read the full Knife of Dunwall review LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS) The long load times from the Wii U version are also back, but with a vengeance! I'm talking load times that will trump even the earliest of PSOne Classics, sometimes dipping into the two minute mark. In addition to serving as an overall nuisance, it also makes going into buildings and loading new areas a chore -- and when load times impede exploration, you know it's really bad. Considering how other 3DS developers have done more visually with their titles, it's a bit odd to see a game like LEGO City suffer on the 3DS, especially given the aforementioned aesthetic sacrifices. If you're a diehard LEGO fan, odds are you'll get some form of enjoyment out of The Chase Begins. For everyone else, you're better off skipping it entirely, or picking up the superior Wii U version of the game. It's one thing to pare down an experience on a portable: it's another to sacrifice its integrity in the process. Read the full The Chase Begins review Monster Loves You (PC) If you go into Monster Loves You with the knowledge that this is really an interactive story for children, then you can get plenty out of it. It's quick to get through and packs the same kind of charm and sweetness as a good kids book but it really is a game designed for younger gamers. If you're looking for in-depth mechanics, then there's really not much on offer here but given the target audience, that is understandable. Read the full Monster Loves You review Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Arcade) Monaco: What's Yours is Mine truly is a game for anyone and everyone. It is simple enough to pick up and immediately understand how things work, while at the same time offers the complexity to have multiple players spend a few minutes sitting still, devising a self-titled "Best Plan Ever" complete with tracing the plan on the screen with fingers, saying “Ready? GO!”, only to see it backfire in seconds. Regardless of whether you plan on flying solo or with some buddies, do yourself a favor and go play Monaco. I know I'll be doing the same for a long time into the future. Read the full Monaco review Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Redemption (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) Across all three parts, it took me a little over four hours to complete the content in total (with a few more hours tacked on for 100% collection/completion). But however you choose to buy this DLC, whether it's by way of the Season Pass or piecemeal, I'm not so sure the two first halves are worth putting up with to get to this. In fact, despite my enjoyment of the final chapter it's probably best to just wait until a proper Game of the Year Edition hits and play the side story that way. Ubisoft had major potential with King Washington, and sadly, there were a few missteps that prevent me from recommending the package as a whole. If you've already picked up the first two parts and are on the fence about Redemption though, it's probably a good idea to just bite. Read the full The Redemption review The Sims 3: University Life (Mac, PC [reviewed]) University Life is decent on its own as an expansion, but when you stack it up against the other eight for The Sims 3 it really doesn't jump out as being that special. It's better than Seasons, but it's not game-changing. If anything, this just serves as a sign that the series is getting long in the tooth, and EA needs to think about releasing a complete edition to make all of this stuff more accessible to more players. Read the full University Life review Robot Unicorn Attack 2 (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 4S]) Every added element invites you back into the core game, where you lose yourself to the sights and sounds, literally chasing your dreams. And with the incorporation of community events, you feel a pleasant connection, touching the lives of others as they are touching yours. It's a heartwarming thought to know that, rather than trying to eclipse someone else's high score for your own self-satisfaction, you are working together for the benefit of the whole. Nothing about this game can bring me down. Not even the curiously long load times when you open the customization menu -- which I'm sure will be improved via update later down the road. Simply put, it lifts me like few other games have. And you too can be as content as I am right this very moment. Read the full Robot Unicorn Attack 2 review Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R (PlayStation Vita) If it wasn't for the major omission of new features, the lack of online play, and the fact that Plus R is coming to consoles for free, I would have enjoyed Guilty Gear on the Vita a whole lot more. The fact of the matter is, the game still holds up even today, and the series is still relevant, tight, and competitive. So long as you aren't bothered by an utter fumbling of features in this port, you're still getting a solid fighting game that should at the very least, function as a portable training simulation for the console version. I'm pretty torn on the review given the omission of such a major function, but ultimately Guilty Gear is a great game, and that core was preserved here. Read the full Accent Core Plus R review Signal Ops (PC) Signal Ops is far from the game it could have been. The concept is great and for the most part delivers, but the Bolt character class and his job of carrying a radio does a lot of damage to the overall design. It feels incredibly restrictive, refusing to let the player go where they please and take their time getting there. It definitely has some moments of brilliance, but they are often quickly forgotten.  Read the full Signal Ops review Strike Suit Infinity (PC) Strike Suit Infinity is a solid deal, given its lower price point. It doesn't claim to be anything but a wave-based, score-centric space-arcade game, and that works in its favor. The simple design allows the game to focus on its wonderfully satisfying mechanics, even if they aren't communicated very well through the poor tutorial. If the crashes can be ironed out, what will be left behind is an absolutely great way to marvel at space and its beauty while blowing the crap out of some big, hunking space ships for that ever-so-tasty high score. Read the full Strike Suit Infinity review Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) In an odd move, the game is only available currently in its fully priced form -- so if you own the original, you need to purchase the $39.99 disc or full digital game with no option to purchase a discounted DLC package. As a result, it's really tough to recommend the game to anyone who felt lukewarm with the original given the fact that it's essentially the same experience, just with a new island. The small extras almost feel like a bribe of sorts, and Capcom could have done much better than this. Then again, it works both ways as you could rent the original, save a file, and then reap these benefits with Dark Arisen as your first experience. While I can't wholly recommend Dark Arisen to anyone but the most hardcore of Dragon's Dogma fans, if you haven't touched the franchise yet, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Despite the issues, the series is an intriguing prospect that does many things right, and shouldn't be missed by action or RPG fans alike. While Capcom could have done a whole lot more with this expansion, the fact of the matter is the solid game underneath is still faithfully preserved. Read the full Dark Arisen review [embed]252531:48411:0[/embed] Don't Starve (PC) Playing Don't Starve can be infuriating. There's absolutely no guidance, and the initial punishing difficulty only increases. It demands that players figure things out for themselves and progress through exploration and experimentation rather than being spoonfed hints and tips. Its uncompromising nature will undoubtedly leave some unsatisfied and irritated, but for those who are willing to work and take risks, it pays off. The feeling of accomplishment when you manage to fend off countless cruel beasties, survive unrelenting foul weather, and fill your belly is potent. Mastering the wilderness is a difficult road, but from it comes a sense of empowerment. Of course, you could still lose it all in an instant. Such is the fickle nature of Don't Starve.   Read the full Don't Starve review Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita) Soul Sacrifice, true to its driving idea, is a game of compromises. There's a staggering wealth of content, but it can be tiring in its repetition. Battles are frantic and fun, but can be exhaustingly annoying if you choose the wrong friends. Very much like the game's Lacrima system, however, many of the sacrifices one must make to enjoy the game are negligible in the long run, and there's nothing that should stop one having a damn good laugh and getting utterly hooked on an adventure that really can be played until the Vita's batteries run dry.  Read the full Soul Sacrifice review [embed]251865:48405:0[/embed] Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The result of all this is a deep and well crafted premise in a somewhat shallow game. Blood Dragon is well made, and thoroughly entertaining to lovers of the eighties, but in many ways, it becomes a victim of its own success -- the core ideas are so fun, so lavishly crafted, one aches to see them in a game equal to their quality. Blood Dragon is a good little game, and I highly recommend checking it out, with the caveat that it's one of those games that does a few things well enough to inadvertently highlight its own flaws.  As critical as I may be, however, I'd rather have Blood Dragon exist as it does than not exist at all. A game this delightfully stupid can only make the world a better place, and I sincerely hope this isn't the last we see of Rex Colt.  Read the full Blood Dragon review Star Trek: The Video Game (PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) As predicted, this is yet another movie tie-in game that feels rushed and incomplete. Oddly, it has nothing to do with the plot of the upcoming film, so why it was rushed to coincide only proves it was made merely to cash-in on the popularity right at the film's release. With as many mechanics that it borrows from other titles, and how poorly it implements them, it should be beamed directly into the trash compactor. Sloppy, glitchy controls and graphics, tedious gameplay, and spotty co-op makes for one adventure you'll wish would boldly go away. It's dumb, Jim. Read the full Star Trek review Witch and Hero (3DS eShop) Outside of an interesting final battle, a decent twist ending, and an unlockable hard mode, there isn't that much substance here. You'll keep bumping over and over until you've bumped your way to the final boss (really, the only good part of the game) -- then if you want, you can bump some more. Variety could have really done wonders here. Even with a small budget, tiny nuances like sword animations, items in the shop, and mini-boss depth could have gone a long way. Witch and Herotakes a simple, charming concept and somehow manages to make it repetitive, dry, and unfun. Given the price, you're better off skipping this retro-centric experience in favor of the endless sea of classics on the 3DS eShop. Read the full Witch and Hero review Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U) When DC Comics’ most popular heroes and villains appeared in 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Aquaman was nowhere to be found. Thought of as a laughing stock with a shaky history in videogames -- the less said about Battle for Atlantis, the better -- Aquaman was tossed aside. Now, Aquaman is a total badass. Injustice shows a lot has changed in the world of DC since 2008. It also shows there is a lot that can still be changed in fighting games.For a game weighted down by genre conventions that are further imposed by fictional characters that have been around longer than most of our lifetimes, Injustice is full of the type of grand ideas we stopped seeing in fighting games since the late '90s. Whether it becomes embraced by EVO players or not, it's a nice shot in the arm for a genre that often feels niche to a fault. Read the full Injustice: Gods Among Us review
April 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of April 2013
This review recap is brought to you by Daft Punk's Alive 2007, which fueled the incessant copying and pasting efforts needed to put one of these together. I don't feel like I've blinked since I started working on this, but it...

Review: Sonic Dash

Apr 12 // Chris Carter
Sonic Dash (Android, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5], iPad)Developer: HardlightPublisher: SegaReleased: March 4, 2013 (iOS), TBA 2013 (Android)MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) Sonic Dash is one of "those" mobile games. You know, the endless-runner type that doesn't have a finite goal, and entices you with in-app-purchases to help you get "just a little further." But despite the fact that there's no endgame in sight, like Temple Run, it can be a great way to waste time in-between some of the more meatier offerings in the mobile market. Where Dash truly shines is the set of very responsive controls, which I've found to be some of the best in the runner genre. Instead of a convoluted and dead-zone prone tilt method, you simply control Sonic by swiping left or right to switch between three lanes, up to jump, and down to slide. That's it. It all works wonderfully well, and for the most part, Sonic does everything I want him to do with no issues. It's a stark departure from market leader Temple Run's forced tilt system, and an appreciated one. [embed]247989:47437:0[/embed] Another area that wasn't skimped on are the aesthetics of the game, which are surprisingly beautiful on the iPhone 5 (users are reporting issues with earlier iPhone models). The draw distance is fairly well done, Sonic himself looks colorful and great, and the world is faithfully recreated and translated to Sonic Dash quite well, to the point where it doesn't feel like a knock-off in any way. With the right team, a full-on game using a modified version of this engine could easily be a reality. But aside from that solid veneer, the lack of inspiration or effort starts to seep through the cracks. Mechanically, Sonic doesn't die if he hits an enemy with rings, which is a nice touch, but if he hits a wall, he instantly loses that run (barring your use of a revival power-up). It really kills the pacing of the game to say the least, when you add in the fact that certain checkpoints must be made to "bank" coins, lest you lose all of your progress during that part of the run. Losing a large amount of currency you've earned not only makes the player feel like he's wasted his time, but it also feels like an incongruous design to have one method "sort of" eliminate the run, and another method end it instantly. A lack of variety also hurts the experience significantly. You'll encounter a whole two environments throughout the game: the Green Hill Zone, and the Seaside Hill Zone. That's it. After a few hours, looking at the same exact scenery that you've already seen a million times at the start of nearly every Sonic game devolves the experience into a chore. Like Sonic Generations, a solid variety of stages would do nothing but help the game, and I sincerely hope that more levels are in the cards for a future update. In-app-purchases range from "not needed" to "pretty damn annoying." After every run, a "tip" will come up on the screen, usually having nothing to do with that particular run, that advertises an IAP of some sort. This was less acceptable when the game had a $1.99 pricepoint, but now that it's free, it doesn't bother me as much. Honestly, if you keep doing the challenges (of which the rewards have been upped since launch), you shouldn't feel the need to buy anything outside of the exorbitantly-priced characters, which are optional anyway; if you don't want to earn the stars to buy every character, it'll cost roughly $15. Sonic Dash isn't a bad game, but it could stand to be much better than it is in its current state. With more zones and less weighty in-app-purchases by way of an update, Dash could be one of the more enticing endless runners on the market. As it stands, you might find yourself picking this up, and running right past it after a fleeting sense of enjoyment. But said time with it will undoubtedly be enjoyable, nonetheless.
Sonic Dash review photo
Temple Run with Sonic in it
Not content with taking the Doodle Jump formula and simply placing Sonic in it with Sonic Jump, Sega has tapped a new mobile avenue, the 3D endless runner. Surprisingly, this sub-genre is the one that actually suits Sonic the...

The best and worst games of 2013: Infinite March

Apr 06 // Jordan Devore
Etrian Odyssey IV (3DS) Etrian Odyssey IV the best series title yet, and an excellent place to start if you've never played one before. It is, by far, the most accessible series game yet, with its Casual mode and its wide-open, free-exploration gameplay. And for the first time, despite being a dungeon crawler at heart, an Etrian Odyssey title feels like a sprawling adventure.  For series fans, everything you love about Etrian Odyssey is here, and then some -- better music, art, monsters, and mapping. You will not be disappointed. For everyone else: fans of classic dungeon crawling, fans of planning and plotting, or fans of a sizable challenge, I cannot recommend Etrian Odyssey IV enough. Read the full Etrian Odyssey IV review Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (PlayStation Vita) On top of the technical issues, there's barely anything new that's been added here to justify another purchase. It's a shame, because I really enjoyed the original Ninja Gaiden 2 and Sigma 2. Team Ninja really missed the opportunity to add a killer feature like the ability to replay Time Attack missions with extra characters or enhance Ninja Race, which would have justified a double/triple-dip. With the removal of content like Japanese audio and online co-op, this game doesn't offer enough to truly justify the "Plus" in its name. Team Ninja really needs to get its act together going forward, or the Ninja Gaiden series will be beyond repair. Read the full Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus review March of the Eagles (PC) There still remains some obstacles to an enjoyable evening of name-calling and war-declaring, unfortunately. Throughout my multiplayer matches, there's been players dropping, a shoddy "metaserver" that simply didn't work, the need to connect directly via IP as if we were still in the '90s, and the weirdest issue so far: the checksum of half the players changing, stopping us from being able to play together for about 30 minutes. Get past that nonsense and it's bloody marvelous. If you have the patience.  I'd happily recommend March of the Eagles based exclusively on the multiplayer, but if you prefer your gaming to be a solo venture, then it might not really offer quite as much. Those looking to get stuck into a historical war and not a lot else may still find conquering Europe and giving ol' Bonaparte what for entertaining, though, and as a game doesn't tend to go on for longer than eight hours in single-player, it won't devour your life.  Read the full March of the Eagles review Driftmoon (PC) [...] diehard RPG fans like myself will find things like the lack of party controls and the basic skill tree a bit too simple when compared to games like Baldur's Gate orThe Witcher. Driftmoon is, in its own right, an adventure worth having though, largely thanks to its witty writing and absolutely splendid humor. It’s a bit of salvation in a genre that seems to be limping by these days. Driftmoon is very obviously a labor of love. A lot of time and dedication went into creating it, and it shows. Though it may fall short in some areas, this is a classic RPG through and through. Beginners and veterans alike should take note and try out the demo at the very least. Read the full Driftmoon review Alien vs. Predator: Evolution (Android, iPhone, iPad) In fact, as I think about it, I have to give the devil his due. AvP: Evolution is actually worse than Colonial Marines -- ever so slightly worse. At least getting from A to B in Gearbox's insulting mess was relatively stress-free and didn't cause me to want to break something. For that roaring triumph, Colonial Marines now gets to enjoy not being the worst Aliens game to be released this year.  Congratulations to AvP: Evolution! You've managed to be marginally worse than an unfinished, buggy, outsourced piece of trash. You must be very proud.  Read the full Alien vs. Predator: Evolution review Tomb Raider (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Tomb Raider could so easily have gone wrong, and its opening gambit looks like it's heading down a most erroneous path. It starts off with some ambushing QTEs and absolutely pummels Lara Croft into the dirt to such a degree, you'd almost suspect the developers were getting off on it. This first impression is an awkward obfuscation, however, one that soon erodes to reveal a savvy, thoughtful, and above all, immensely enjoyable game. In fact, I'm happy to go on record as saying this is the best Tomb Raider game I've played. Tightly produced, competent in both its puzzling and its combat, this is one reboot that manages to be unequivocally superior to its predecessors. Read the full Tomb Raider review Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires (PlayStation 3) The Empires series is generally considered the best type of Dynasty Warriors spin-off, but with Koei's latest efforts smacking of no effort at all, this particular release comes across as unnecessary and pointless, especially with Dynasty Warriors 8 already out in Japan and inevitably preparing for a Western launch in a matter of months. This is still a decent enough game if you literally cannot get your fill of Warriors games, but for this lifelong fan of the series, Koei's been delivering too much of too little for a while now, and I'm about at the end of my tether. Read the full Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires review Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Hangman (iOS, PC [Reviewed]) As a first episode, The Hangman does more right than it does wrong. The influence of Jane Jensen, and Phoenix Online's previous work on its labor of love, The Silver Lining -- itself inspired by the hey-day of adventure gaming -- makes Cognition feel very much like what I suspect Sierra Online would have been putting out now if they were still around. Most importantly, I'm eager to get stuck into the second episode.  Read the full Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Hangman review Dollar Dash (PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) Dollar Dash is a serviceable game, even if it doesn't aim very high. If you're bored of constant deathmatches in Spelunky's multiplayer versus mode, or you've saturated every last round of Bomberman and the many clones it spawned over the years, Dollar Dash will give you a few evenings of enjoyment. Read the full Dollar Dash review Mass Effect 3: Citadel (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC) For those of us who are heavily invested in the series, for whatever reason, it means putting away something special. This was a modern sci-fi epic that attempted, at least, to give the player a voice. I don’t think this trip quite took the path that anyone thought it would, but it’s been an interesting ride. If this is how BioWare wants to close Shepard’s chapter, I can live with this. It’s not a perfect finale, but it’s one that highlights the best we’ve seen from the series so far, and it’s not without its own set of endearing idiosyncrasies.  Read the full Mass Effect 3: Citadel review DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) In a way, Vergil's Downfall represents the game DmC might have been -- less fluff, more style. But at the same time, like many areas of DmC, it lacks substance. You'll fight very samey enemies across five areas that also bear a resemblance to stages from the core game, which at the end of the day, just isn't quite enough to justify DLC pricing for everyone. If you loved DmC, you really can't go wrong here. But if it wasn't everything you had hoped for, Vergil's Downfall will do little than give you a glimpse into the stylish Devil May Cry of old, at least from an aesthetic perspective. Read the full DmC: Devil May Cry: Vergil's Downfall review God of War: Ascension (PlayStation 3) Ascension had challenges coming from every direction from early on. Some of the franchise's core mechanics have grown a bit tired over the past years, which had gamers questioning the need for another title. Beyond this, some questioned the need for a prequel story. Most of all, the idea of a multiplayer addition was initially off-putting to vocal series fans. But, like Kratos, Sony Santa Monica ripped through every one of these challenges with their bare hands to bring us a game that is so fantastic that it should make anyone that ever questioned them feel bad for doing so. God of War has never looked or played better than this. Kratos has never been as deep or interesting as this. They've set the bar so high that I have no idea how they'll be able to follow this one up. Sony Santa Monica should be proud. Series fans should be proud.  Read the full God of War: Ascension review Kersploosh! (3DS eShop) With a bit more content and some tweaking, Kersploosh! could have been one of the best games on the 3DS eShop, because as it stands, it's a hard sell for people who like their experiences padded with more content. If you're okay with a short, enjoyable journey to the bottom of a well though, it's more than enough. Read the full Kersploosh! review The Bridge (PC) The Bridge surprised me multiple times during the eight or so hours I played it. It surprised me with the devious simplicity of the level design, the dark theme that permeates the entirety of the game, and I was especially surprised by how satisfying the game was as a whole. Some of the puzzles are a bit of trial-and-error since the more complicated mechanics take a certain amount of experience to fully understand. The difficulty can also be a bit wonky at times, alternating back and forth between "hard as a five star Sudoku" and "easy as a word search." Read the full The Bridge review SimCity (PC [reviewed], Mac) There is some promise for this to be a good game, but promise alone isn't enough. Even if they do manage to get their servers back online and functioning, I still know that if something goes wrong on their end I will lose all of my saved games. My cities are at the mercy of EA's servers and my Internet connection, and while there are some nice things to be found in SimCity, the need to always be online and feeling forced to play with other people ruins the experience.  I wanted to like this game, I really did. At first I started to enjoy it, but soon all I found was frustration. I can't recommend this game to anyone, and I don't want to play it anymore myself because I am afraid of seeing all my efforts lost due to server issues. It's a decent game if it worked right, but the online dependency, forced multiplayer, and DRM ruin it.  Read the full SimCity review The Banner Saga: Factions (PC, Mac) Consider Factions for what it is: A testing ground and potential cash cow for Stoic's upcoming commercial release, and a fun sample of what's to come. If I were not in the middle of Fire Emblem, I may continue to play Factions -- hell, I may play a random match here and there, anyway. This unorthodox release that has Kickstarter backers in a frenzy is not worth getting so worked up over, as it suggests the single-player Banner Saga may be a gem -- a gem that some will have Factions users to thank for helping make it what it is. Read the full The Banner Saga: Factions review ATV Wild Ride 3D  (3DS eShop) In many ways, ATV Wild Ride 3D is stuck in the 90s, but that isn't wholly a bad thing. It does everything that it advertises -- it allows you to ride ATV vehicles on some pretty neat courses, in 3D. Just don't expect much more than that. Read the full ATV Wild Ride 3D review Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (Xbox Live Arcade) With its colorful characters, gorgeous sprite graphics, 8-bit tracks, and multiple game modes, there's a lot to love here. I must admit, while I wasn't familiar with the fighting game on which it's based, I'm seriously hoping it passes through localization, as I'd love to play that title as well. Whether playing couch co-op or online, it's a great way to spend an afternoon with friends, though hopefully they'll patch for having a more stable connection for the latter. Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is a simple game that anyone can pick up and play, but belies a deeper feel for combos like a traditional fighting game would, while adding a minimal skill tree for damage and speed boosts like an RPG. It's deep without being too deep, which makes it just the right amount of fun. Read the full Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds review Richard & Alice (PC) There is a lot of text to get through, but Richard & Alice is a well-paced adventure. Dialogue-heavy moments between the titular characters are broken up by Richard, under player control, interacting with his room, emailing the prison staff, attempting to fix the AC, all the time still chatting to Alice, and then there are the flashbacks which are evenly paced throughout.  Despite being a short tale, there are multiple endings and subtle, easy-to-miss pieces of information that make Richard & Alice worth at least a second playthrough, something I just did this afternoon. It isn't required, however, as this is a complete story, and all the endings have something to offer both in terms of the closure they provide and their emotional weight. Read the full Richard & Alice review LEGO City Undercover (Wii U) For all its faults, charming is absolutely the word best describing LEGO City Undercover. While more could have been done to exploit the sandbox scenario, and while it sticks a bit too nervously to formula than it could have, Undercover is nonetheless a frequently pleasurable, occasionally hilarious little romp in a new LEGO world full of potential. Should TT Games get another chance to revisit this idea, I hope for -- and expect -- a lot more of an expansion on the concept, and a lot more focus on the fresh elements that provide Undercover's highest points. As for this first try, we have a pretty damn good effort that I'd love to see more of.  Read the full LEGO City Undercover review Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (3DS) Your mileage may vary; from various impressions around the net, a lot of folks have already voiced their approval. And that's fine. I'm happy if you are able to look past the complete exclusion of any of the traditional Castlevania values and appreciate the Western-focused approach, even if it isn't original in the least. I simply cannot share in your enthusiasm. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate is not the fusion of old and new Castlevania designs that was teased; it merely cements MercurySteam's ambition to keep the Lords of Shadow sub-series as distant from the main branch as possible. Not the worst thing in the world, but still quite disappointing. Read the full Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate review Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3) In short, Gust definitely seems to be straddling the line with Atelier Ayesha, showing that they have the talent to construct a plot which doesn’t rely on swimsuit competitions, yet aren’t quite ready to dedicate themselves to the taxing demands of a full RPG adventure. What we’ve left with then is a game without an audience. Fans of traditional RPGs will be turned off by the minimal exploration elements; fans of anime babes in skimpy costumes are unable to get their fix, while fans of generic cutesy anime nonsense really don’t command the buying power to make Atelier Ayesha anything more than a niche title. Read the full Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk review Naruto Powerful Shippuden (3DS) It may not be a perfect brawler, but it's certainly a fun one, and one that any Naruto fan would enjoy. Don't let the art style dissuade you from enjoying the action here, as the RPG-esque elements of stat boosting and defense increases add a special something that future games in the genre should take note of. The humor may also not be for everyone, but if you're like me, you'll love the fact that the game doesn't take itself seriously. It fits the art style as well as the general goofy nature of the characters and situations. Plus, with it being based on Rock Lee's spin-off, you're already getting a unique experience gamers haven't yet tapped into. It's the ideal mix of fun and funny, without being too over-the-top. Read the full Naruto Powerful Shippuden review Super House of Dead Ninjas (PC) This is one game that I know I'll be playing long after this review is finished with. The instant challenge and frantic pace makes it perfect to just pick up and play for 15 minutes, while the tight controls and potentially limitless number of floors makes it easy to pour hours into. If you're not convinced, then check out the free version and see if it floats your boat. I do have one caveat, however. Whatever you do, don't play this with a keyboard. It's possible, but you'll just be giving yourself another unnecessary and fairly unpleasant challenge. Thankfully,Super House of Dead Ninjas comes with native controller support, and after a few initial hiccups, it seems to work perfectly now. Read the full Super House of Dead Ninjas review The Showdown Effect (PC) The Showdown Effect's success will ultimately be dictated by the number of players that stick around. They need to host the games, and they need to provide the challenge for other players. Unlike Magicka, it's a multiplayer, online-only experience, and that's something of a risky endeavor for a small studio. It's a game that deserves to be played, however, and it's one that's a hilarious spectacle to watch too -- something that Arrowhead clearly realizes and is keen to exploit with its Twitch.tv integration. Maybe I should make one of those video thingymabobs? Nah, I don't need any more people laughing at how awful I am.  Read the full The Showdown Effect review Dead Space 3: Awakened (PC, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3) Speaking as a fan of Dead Space, I feel I could skip Awakened and miss absolutely nothing of value. While some of the new ideas are nice, the sense of disappointment that none of them are capitalized upon offsets any good they do, while the story is nothing you couldn't explain in a single Tweet. While the gameplay is as solid as anything found in Dead Space 3, it could also be acquired simply by replaying chapters of Dead Space 3.  Dead Space 3: Awakened is a whole lot of not much at all. Read the full Dead Space 3: Awakened review Darkstalkers Resurrection  (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) If you're opting to play online, the netcode is extremely solid, and I had a chance to play around 50 games with little to no interruptions or issues. The GGPO-powered online system works just as advertised, and with eight-player lobby support, YouTube upload functionality, and an online tournament mode, Resurrection really shines online. Although the visuals deserved a much larger upgrade than a lazy filter, the fact of the matter is, the engine still holds up amazingly well, and the netcode is near perfect. If you've always been curious about this franchise, now is the time to take the plunge -- if you're a fan of old-school 2D fighters, you won't be disappointed. Read the full Darkstalkers Resurrection review Vampire Crystals (WiiWare) After beating the final boss, the story pulls a Ghosts 'n Goblins and forces you to replay the entire campaign for the true ending, only now the levels take place at night and enemies are unfathomably more aggressive. I died three times during the revamped first stage before dropping the controller and saying, "No more." Clearing the three worlds once only requires a handful of hours, but the tedium that sets in early on makes it feel like far more time has elapsed. There was no way I was suffering through all that again. I can appreciate the classic arcade spirit of Vampire Crystals, but it does little to mask the shortcomings of old-school design while adding its own set of issues. Playing it single-player is chore, but convincing a group to play with you might be even more laborious. There just isn't enough meat on these dusty old bones. Read the full Vampire Crystals review Ridiculous Fishing (iPad, iPhone [reviewed]) Yes, perfect is the word for Ridiculous Fishing. Everything comes together to deliver a cohesive whole that works to alternate between making you smile, making you wonder, and most of all, making you want more. Thankfully, the game is quick to offer more. Just when you think you've seen the end, there's a new area, new item, a new kick in the storyline, or new fish to savor.  Ingeniously designed, continuously compelling, painstakingly crafted, dripping with personality, packed with content -- I like everything about Ridiculous Fishing. Read the full Ridiculous Fishing review Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360) Gears of War 3 was still a great little game, but represented the kind of step down indicative of a series that's running out of steam. Gears of War: Judgment puts paid to that impression, proving there's plenty of vitality in Epic's flagship yet; provided it's willing to try some new spins on its established formula. OverRun alone is worthy of praise, but there's just so much stuff going on in this package, there's something for all followers of the series. A few of Judgment's experiments may not be as fondly received as others, but overall it's hard to complain about a game that tries so much, and succeeds in almost all its endeavors.  Read the full Gears of War: Judgment review StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (PC) Heart of the Swarm is a fantastic addition to the StarCraft series, and quite frankly feels on par with a $60 game. It brings almost nothing new to the table, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to a formula you know works well. If you enjoyed Wings of Liberty, or just like RTS games in general, there's no reason not to pick this one up.  Read the full StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm review Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS, Wii U [reviewed]) Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate definitely isn't for everybody. It requires a lot of time and dedication that some people simply can't put forth. It will take a while to get used to the controls, to determine which weapon is best for you, and to discover the tiny nuances to the gameplay. After all is said and done and the big monster is slain, however, nothing is more rewarding. Encountering monsters in Monster Hunter isn't like most other games. Monsters will take your breath away shortly before they take your life away. This is a game that will force you to learn from your mistakes, lest you repeat them and achieve the same failure as before.  While the visuals are far from stunning and the online lacks any sort of host migration, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the best and most rewarding experiences in a long time, and will certainly keep you busy for a while. Read the full Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate review Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The Betrayal tries to offer more variety than The Infamy did thanks to its high flying antics, but it never truly transcends those ideas on a base level. If it offered a full sandbox with ridiculous spirit powers, it could have made for a pretty amazing superhero sideshow. Instead, the powers feel fairly limiting, as do the worlds they take place in; which feels like a wasted opportunity. Perhaps if the third part can bring the craziness up to 11, this "what if" story will pack a little more punch. Until then, you may want to hold off on going all in, or even partly in, at this point. Read the full Tyranny of King Washington: The Betrayal review Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) In many ways, Dark Moon's ScareScraper is one of the best multiplayer modes I've ever played. There's so much variety to it, and the formula of combining the cooperative nature with competitive, playful elements is genius. My wife and I couldn't stop playing, and every time I had friends over who owned a 3DS, I beamed a download play version to their portables for a quick few rounds. If Dark Moon was just a single-player experience, it would have been a fleeting, yet enjoyable adventure. But with the addition of an infectious multiplayer element that can't be replicated anywhere else, it makes Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon even better than its predecessor, and one of the clear-cut best games on the 3DS. Read the full Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon review Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 (PC [reviewed], Xbox 360, PS3) There is an enjoyable camp quality to the script, which is full of nonsensical twists and tough guy talk ("We've got a major shit sandwich!") that takes itself way too seriously. I can see some appeal in getting together friends and having some drinks while playing. The constant waypoints and enemy icons make me think that being inebriated would make for an acceptable challenge. Nevermind online, which is composed of 2 maps, 1 mode (Team Deathmatch), and 0 active servers. The task set before Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is not a hard one: make sniping fun. Apparently, City Interactive didn't get the memo, filling the game with a never-ending sequence of following an NPC guide through uneventful, recycled, and ugly environments. Even at four hours, Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 requires a level of patience and commitment that even the best snipers won't be capable of. Read the full Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 review Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360) While the game isn't a genuine sea change from its predecessors, it stays true to the franchise's foundations, and makes up for any lack of innovation with the grand, beautiful spectacle that is its hallmark. The iterative refinements Cyberconnect2 have implemented over the series' history have helped to deepen the gameplay as well, bringing a more satisfying competitive experience while still maintaining accessibility. Though it stumbles somewhat due to unfortunate narrative placement, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is a must-play for any Naruto fan, as well as anyone looking to have a good time wallowing in fun anime ridiculousness. Read the full Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 review The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii U) It's easy to believe Terminal Reality had the skeleton in place for a unique and enthralling take on the Walking Dead franchise, but with a deadline looming, added absolutely nothing to the bones and tossed out something woefully undercooked. Survival Instinct clearly isn't finished, and has no business expecting money from any paying customer. It's the kind of hurried, jury-rigged game that risks dealing damage to a property -- an especially sour note considering all the excellent work achieved by Telltale's The Walking Dead. By contrast to 2012's adventure game, Survival Instinct cashes in all the property's goodwill to churn out a botched, incomplete, hideous little waste of time and energy.  Read the full The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct review Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS) It's always tough to judge whether or not a game should be commended or punished for streamlining a series that previously catered to a niche audience. In this case, it simplifies the experience a bit too much, but given that this is the most accessible game yet, it could lead to more potential fans, which is always a good thing. Although it may not be the best game in the franchise, Gates to Infinity is still an enjoyable dungeon crawl, and a beautiful-looking game to boot. So long as you can deal with an easier adventure, this is another mystery worth solving. Read the full Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity review BioShock Infinite (PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) As a game, BioShock Infinite has its successes and its falterings consistent with any suitably complex piece of interactive entertainment. As a story, as an exercise in drawing the player into a believable and relevant world, as proof of exactly what a videogame can mean to a person ...  Well, I already said it. BioShock Infinite is damn near perfect. Read the full BioShock Infinite review HarmoKnight (3DS eShop) [...] HarmoKnight is a wonderful bundle of charm and joy that doesn't really punish failure but rather encourages perseverance and dedication. There isn't even a "Game Over" when you die! Instead, the screen reads, "Oh Dear..." Reminds me of a mother who picks up a child who fell off the jungle gym, dusts him off, and gently urges him to try again. It's such a minor touch, but it's nonetheless uplifting. Maybe I'm sentimental like that. It's been seven years since Game Freak last made a non-Pokémon title. HarmoKnight feels like the promising start of many wonderful new experiences to come, so I can only hope we don't have to wait another seven years for a follow-up. Read the full HarmoKnight review Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360) Satisfying gameplay is the crux of the Tiger Woods franchise. All the new modes in the world wouldn't matter if it didn't feel so amazing to actually play. Luckily, Tiger Woods PGA 14 stays true to the core gameplay, and adds a very worthwhile mode with Legends of the Majors. All of the other new bells and whistles are either mediocre or long overdue. The game is hard to recommend to someone who picked up last year's outing, except perhaps to the big golf enthusiasts among you who would appreciate the Legends of the Masters mode more than anyone else. If you're like me, though, and haven't picked up a Tiger Woods game in a while, PGA 14 has the classic gameplay that made the series stand out from its competitors, even if it is starting to show its age graphically. Read the full Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 review Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Wise Monkey (iOS, PC [Reviewed]) Though The Wise Monkey is not all it could have been, it's a strong second episode. Much of it, however, felt almost like filler. The murder of Erica's brother and The Hangman case remain effectively untouched throughout most of this installment, and it does worry me that it has now set up even more mysteries while answering absolutely nothing. I don't doubt that it will all tie together somehow, but Cognition throws so few bones to the player that even the enjoyment of speculation is fruitless.  Read the full Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller - The Wise Monkey review Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed]) The core of Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is still decent. It's a serviceable game, and provides the kind of no-frills, unimaginative action that can at least provide cathartic fantasy violence. If that's what you want, however, you're better off getting the last game -- one that felt more refined, offered more compelling interaction, and will likely be available to purchase for peanuts these days. The Devil's Cartel, by contrast, is buggy, unnecessary, and outstays its welcome before the credits close.  Army of Two has never been an especially bad series, it's just never been an especially good one.The Devil's Cartel is the ultimate example of this. Is it bad? Not especially. But it's a far, far cry from good. Read the full Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel review Sword of the Stars: The Pit (PC) The Pit is very difficult and has that same feeling of "okay, just one more run" that both Binding of Isaac or FTL: Faster Than Light have, but it still feels a bit "been there, done that." The Easy difficulty setting in conjunction with being able to save at any time are great boons for new players, while both the Hard and Insane difficulties are present for you crazy masochists who enjoy that kind of punishment. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Sword of the Stars: The Pit, there just isn't anything that is really mind-blowing. It is a well-polished roguelike that doesn't stray far from expectations, but instead stays in a rather comfortable zone from a game design perspective. Read the full Sword of the Stars: The Pit review Dead or Alive 5 Plus (PSVita) When it comes right down to it, one of last year's best fighting games on home consoles has become one of this year's best handheld fighters. Play control is never hampered by the more cramped constraints of the small button layout, graphics aren't sacrificed on the smaller screen, and just about everything from the feature-rich home version is included here, with a few noticeable exceptions. While not all the extra modes are fantastic, there's something to be said for extra content at all in a port, and the cross-save and cross-play functionality is a welcome addition to any Vita game. Read the full Dead or Alive 5 Plus review DLC Quest (PC [reviewed], Xbox Live Indie Games) Still, for less than five dollars, there's enough charm to justify the entry fee. The game's dialog induces anything from smirks to cringes, while the retro-themed graphics and music are joyful in their simplicity. It's a cheap game, with a rudimentary premise, that does enough to keep its joke fresh and feels inherently validating for a player who's grown weary of the game industry's less savory practices.  At the very least, you'll get your money's worth, which often cannot be said for the many games DLC Quest owes its creation to. Read the full DLC Quest review
March 2013 reviews photo
Review round-up: The games of March 2013
What a month! Now that March is well behind us (and we remembered to take a look back to ponder), I feel confident in saying that between BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider, and yet another Gears of War, we are well into ...

Review: Ridiculous Fishing

Mar 16 // Jonathan Holmes
Ridiculous Fishing (iPad, iPhone [reviewed])Developer: VlambeerPublisher: VlambeerReleased: March 14, 2013MSRP: $2.99 Like real-life fishing, Ridiculous Fishing is simple enough on the surface, but once you sink past that surface, you'd be surprised at the depths you'll plunge to. The game utilizes three phases of interconnected gameplay types to make every round of casting into a three-act adventure in and of itself.  First is the "dodge" phase. After casting your line, your goal is to dodge as many fish as possible in order to make your way as low as you can go. This runs counter-intuitive to your fishing instincts, as it pays off when you get to phase two. The farther down the briney depths you sink, the more types of fish you pass, with each new breed being more exotic and valuable than the last. [embed]248860:47604:0[/embed] When you hit a fish or reach the end of your line, your line starts its way back to the surface. That's when the "catch" phase begins. Now you play the aggressor and work to catch all those fish that you ran in fear from while passing them by in the "dodge" phase. The more fish you grab, the more fish you'll reach the surface with for the "shoot" phase. This is the part of the game where you fling your fish into the air and blast as many of them as you can with various firearms. It is ridiculous.  These three phases work on the "Pac-Man principles" of design. You're first made to feel afraid of making contact with other in-game characters, putting you in a nail-biting mode of heightened awareness as you negotiate a maze of threats and obstacles. That tension builds until the "power-pellet moment" of phase two, where the tables are turned and you work to aggressively gobble up everything that you were running from mere moments before. That rush of "get it while you can" is then turned up a notch in phase three where you have seconds to cash in on the lives of your defenseless quarry. It's an amazing formula, which is probably why the game's predecessor Radical Fishing was "admired" enough to be shamelessly ripped off by a-game-which-will-remain-nameless-as-to-reduce-how-successful-it-may-become. Suffice to say, Vlambeer (the developers of Radical Fishing and Ridiculous Fishing) had something to prove here. They had to make a game that not only made Radical Fishing totally obsolete, but would also completely outclass the game that ripped them off as well.  Vlambeer's personal drive to create the very best iteration of the Radical Fishing concept has paid off for all of us. Everything about the game has been maxed out in both content and quality. There is huge amount of fish to catch, each with their own behaviors and level of scarcity. Some of which actual steal money from you if you catch them, which is a great way to turn the the formula on its head. There are fish that can only be caught at certain times of day, in certain areas of the map, or otherwise require some unconventional means of discovery. There are even boss fish battles. No expense was spared in the creation of this world of fish and the people who kill them. The more types of fish you discover, the more areas on the world map you unlock, and the more money you're likely to acquire to use toward purchases of the game's many (often hilarious) items. There are loads of different guns, lures, and other items to collect, all of which add gameplay twists, but are never overpowered. This speaks to the game's finely tuned difficulty curve, which never leaves you feeling hopeless, but always gives you the idea that you may do just a little bit better after just "one more game." When you're not fishing, you can explore the game's largely optional narrative through the in-game Twitter parody Byrdr. What seems like a inconsequential trifle at first quickly unfolds to be quite an emotionally charged tale, which makes sense considering that it the ARG was written by The Stanley Parable creator Davey Wreden. The theme of redemption and questioning of self worth are perfectly in tune with the life of a fisherman. The art direction here utilizes an angular mosaic style that evoke the strengths of sprite-based graphics without leaning on the idea of "retro" appeal. The abstract look exudes an unpredictable, playful character that's the perfect fit for a game called "Ridiculous Fishing." The music is simple and strange, also a perfect fit for a game with such a name. Yes, perfect is the word for Ridiculous Fishing. Everything comes together to deliver a cohesive whole that works to alternate between making you smile, making you wonder, and most of all, making you want more. Thankfully, the game is quick to offer more. Just when you think you've seen the end, there's a new area, new item, a new kick in the storyline, or new fish to savor.  Ingeniously designed, continuously compelling, painstakingly crafted, dripping with personality, packed with content -- I like everything about Ridiculous Fishing.
Ridiculous Fishing review photo
It's the best fishing game
A lot of great game developers are fascinated with fishing. Pokémon, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Animal Crossing all feature the option to fish. Earthbound/Mother creator Shigesato Itoi created a ...


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