Rich, hand-drawn worlds inspired by the tapestry of Nordic legends and lore make Jotun a fantastical and breathtaking journey, although it sometimes feels barren between the big encounters.
8.5 out of 10 Review
The Final Station challenges the player with scarcity and survival and weaves just enough context to make the world built around it interesting.
Narrative-heavy games always have a particular set of challenges to overcome to bridge a gap that makes them worth a player’s time. The story has to be good enough to carry a lack of actual gameplay elements without overdoing it and collapsing upon itself. Furthermore, the gameplay elements that are present have to be meaningful and interesting enough to maintain engagement without weighing down the story in something too meddlesome or extraneous. For Zero Escape, a series that has previously seemed to delight in the convoluted, balancing story and gameplay has been hit or miss. Thankfully, the third game in the series, Zero Time Dilemma, is adventure full of disturbing and compelling twists and turns with gameplay make it interesting and inviting, even if you haven’t followed the series from the very beginning.
Kirby: Planet Robobot was a blast from start to finish. The platforming, combat and level design are better than they’ve ever been in a Kirby game. The new Robobot Armor is fun to use, especially with all of the enemy abilities, though it does have some disappointing limitations. Coupled with the great use of the 3D environments on a 2D plane, Kirby: Planet Robobot has become my favorite Kirby game.
Eight years is an eternity in video games, and perhaps that's why it feels like it's been longer than that since the first time we booted up Mirror's Edge. The ambitious first-person parkour experience was one of two games that defined EA's 2008 --- the other being Dead Space --- and while that survival horror franchise went on to spawn two sequels proper (and a rail shooter), a potential follow-up to Mirror's Edge has languished in development forever. It almost seemed like we would never see Faith again, but then DICE surprised the gaming world by announcing a follow-up (technically a remake) for a new generation. Now, Mirror's Edge Catalyst is here with nearly a decade of hype and hope to live up to. While it doesn't quite shatter the mold, Catalyst is a welcome return to a once-forgotten world championed by a dedicated few.
When it comes to the horror genre in the gaming industry, it’s become somewhat standard at this point that the biggest and best titles sell themselves in horrific gore and/or jump scares. Classic series like Resident Evil established a formula and more recent games like the widely praised Until Dawn and the Five Nights at Freddy’s series have carried the torch fueled by brutal monsters and intense in-your-face frights. Ape Law set out to buck against the trend with Albino Lullaby: a first-person experience that takes players on a psychological horror adventure without gore or jump scares. While Albino Lullaby’s first episode doesn’t quite succeed in keeping tension or fear all the time, it is nonetheless an engrossing and unique take on the horror genre.
I had forgotten just how cool The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was as I was replaying the HD remake for this review. The original release being almost ten years ago as a launch title for Wii, it's been a long time since I journeyed through Hyrule as Twilight Princess presented it. I had forgotten how dark some of the scenes get, how completely badass Ganondorf is, and how much this story grips me from beginning to end. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD reminded me of all of it — just as a good remastering should — but this return to Hyrule isn't without its flaws.
The feeling of walking into a crowded ballroom with the intent of committing a murder and leaving without anyone being the wiser is something only the Hitman games have really achieved. Eavesdropping on conversations to learn about an evil dictator’s favorite food so you can poison the dish and leaving as he dies of food poisoning is a special kind of satisfying. Combining the better elements of previous entries in the series, Hitman presents all of these scenarios in a very open-ended fashion in some very elaborate and detailed environments. Even if the episodic release schedule does cut a lot of the fun short right when it gets going.
EA UFC 2 is one of the most realistic UFC games since THQ reinvigorated the MMA genre with UFC Undisputed back in 2009, and I'm still not sure if that's good or bad. On one hand I have to plan out each fight as if I were mapping out strategies for a real MMA fight — which will never happen in a million years — and that requires thought and quick decisions on when to strike and when to try a takedown. On the other hand I'm really bad at planning for MMA, preferring to just punch and kick the crap out of an opponent as opposed to clinching or going to the ground, and that approach gets me beaten up a lot.
Firewatch is a gorgeous game. There are breathtaking vistas around every corner, bubbling rivers flowing to crystalline lakes and sprawling meadows more verdant than any you've ever known. It's all realized with an eye that captures the majesty of the natural world, but exaggerated for effect by painting a landscape in the way a poet would sonnetize a moment in time. Being out in these Wyoming expanses is incredible, as everywhere you turn provides a different, stunning perspective of Campo Santo's vision of the world.