Tower 57 Review

Tower 57 is a game that’s a lot of fun, but how much fun you’re bound to have with it will depend on a few things. First, whether or not you have a controller. This game is hard, but only when using the keyboard and mouse controls. The difficulty is more reasonable when using a controller (even more so with aim assist), so having one can mean the difference between ragequitting and steamrolling the entire game without much of a problem. It’s also a fairly short game, lasting between 2 and 3 hours if you don’t find yourself stuck on a boss or something. There are supposedly modding tools coming despite the topic all but vanishing from updates around late 2015, though, and that should help give the game some legs. Hey, speaking of legs, this is a game where enemies can remove yours, leaving you to flail around helplessly as a torso in a desperate bid to fend off enemies with whatever crazy weaponry you have. Of course, that’s assuming that your arms haven’t been removed by a dinosaur, because that’s also a possibility, and you’re not going to be shooting anyone without arms. The fact that such sentences can be written in complete seriousness speaks to the utter absurdity of Tower 57, but it should also be mentioned that the game isn’t so wrapped up in craziness that it doesn’t do anything else. We’re talking destructible environments, great art, lovably downsampled voice clips, and a Dieselpunk world just dystopian enough that the jokes about social/class inequalities are reflected in the gameplay. Read more →

Ayo: A Rain Tale Review

The best way to describe my experience with Ayo is a bell curve of enjoyment, where the middle part was incredibly enjoyable and full of character, but the beginning (where you’re going “huh, I wonder if this is going to get more interesting before the end”) and end (where you’re going “please let this be over with soon”) ranged from underwhelming to painful. A slow beginning is completely understandable since games rarely put their best foot forward, having to first establish and set up things for later, but the problems with the end come down to the game introducing more and more gameplay twists to spice things up, and only about half of the things added in around this point actually pan out. It feels like Ayo was so concerned with establishing itself as a game and gradually ramping up the difficulty that it forgot to ensure that all of the things it does to those ends are fun and fair. Read more →

Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back Review

The original Bubsy is a mess, but it’s a lovable mess filled with sunglass-wearing giraffes, roller coasters, and egg-throwing enemies who have a yarn ball fetish. It takes a lot of practice to get used to its strange sense of momentum and instant deaths, but despite it being fashionable to see in Bubsy something truly irredeemable, the first game can actually be a lot of fun. I don’t remember a great deal about the second game, but something that’s stuck with me from the few times I rented it as a kid is how the items are really creative, with the black hole that allows you to escape the level really capturing my imagination back then. Point being, whatever your preexisting thoughts are about Bubsy, those first two games at least brought something to the table. Then there’s Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, a game that breathes fresh life into the series in the same sense that characters being ripped to shreds in a zombie movie before returning as members of the undead technically have fresh life breathed into them. This is an abomination, and that’s coming from someone who could be considered a bit of a Bubsy apologist. Read more →

Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review

The thing about Battle Chasers: Nightwar that initially caught my eye was its turn-based jRPG combat. I’ve played a lot of games over the years, but the gaming period I’m most nostalgic about is the 16-bit era of jRPGs, back when Squaresoft ruled the roost and a million recognizable series were only just getting off the ground. The thing about those games that made them so good is that the basic traits inherent to the genre had already been established, so developers were either spending their time polishing things to a mirror sheen or challenging gamer expectations with their own divergent approaches. The reason I bring this up is that the same thing seems to happen every so often with modern developers, leading to surprising, quality games that are instantly familiar and yet totally unique. That’s Battle Chasers: Nightwar in a nutshell. Read more →

Maize Review

Maize is a weird little game that blends a bunch of genres together while defying their individual norms. It’s an adventure game, but it either hints at or blatantly tells you what items will later be used for. It’s a walking simulator, but you actually do stuff other than walking (including a bizarre dancing minigame at one point). It’s a comedy game, but there’s also an underlying sense of mystery in the early parts of the game. It’s character-driven, but you never actually meet several of the more important characters beyond reading their passive-aggressive post-it exchanges littered throughout levels. Really, it’s all of these things and none of them, and yet explaining exactly what makes Maize such an entertaining game would require getting into details about specific scenes so as to potentially spoil/ruin them for those sensitive to that sort of thing. Maize is one of those consistently surprising types of games, and while I originally missed its PC release, I’m glad the console release finally brought it to my attention. Read more →

Shantae: Pirate Queen’s Quest (DLC) Review

Half-Genie Hero’s DLC is one of those things that I was really looking forward to, but that I came into with reservations. The reasons for this mostly hinged on the gameplay that I’d seen before release involving pirate queen Risky, the DLC’s playable character, fighting off waves of her own Tinkerbats in the game’s first level despite that not making a great deal of sense. On the surface, it appeared to be a lazy way of not having to change things up too much from the base game, but I decided to give the DLC a chance anyway, and it managed to flit back and forth between validating and debunking my initial gut feeling. Pirate Queen’s Quest has redeeming elements, such as a great final boss fight and some Risky hijinks that subtly manage to pull her back a bit from the uncomfortably senseless malice she showed in the base game (which felt wrong after the events of Pirate’s Curse), and the upgrade mechanics really allow you to break the game in an entertaining way, but the chest placement and overall lack of an interesting plot or story resolution hold it back in a big way. If you’re already crazy about the series, this is an obvious “buy” regardless. If you’re not, it’s probably best to wait for a sale. Read more →

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