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 light of day -- The Banner Saga and the first act of Double Fine's Broken Age -- the quirky Octodad, and the totally rad OlliOlii on PS Vita.
There was definitely some great stuff to keep us busy this month, and February is looking just as smooth. I can't even tell you how much I can't wait to get my thumbs on Bravely Default on the 3DS. Well... I guess I just did.
The Banner Saga (Windows PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux)
Release: January 14, 2014
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
Release 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)
Publisher: Aksys Games
Released: January 14, 2014 (US) / January 22, 2014 (EU)
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 Studios
Publisher: Ackk Studios
Released: December 3, 2013
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 Oda
Publisher: Jason Oda
Release 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)
Release Date: January 27, 2014
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 Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Release Date: January 14, 2014 (for backers) / January 28, 2014
MSRP: $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 Vancouver
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: January 21, 2014
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 Games
Publisher: Airtight Games
Release: January 28, 2014
MSRP: 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 Studio
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: February 7, 2014
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 Ward
Released: 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 Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: January 31, 2014
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