Iconoclasts Review

There are games that become better the more you play them, gradually snowballing into brilliance from an underwhelming start point. Iconoclasts isn’t one of those games. No, this is one of those games so consistently and predictably prone to egregious missteps that the cathartic act of pointing out its flaws is more entertaining than actually playing it, and there’s sadly a lot to talk about in that regard. I’m not merely talking about the various bugs and glitches this game is prone to, either, but basic mechanics designed in inexplicably unfriendly ways and then never fully explained to you. Iconoclasts has no time to provide you with basic details about how to actually do things! It does, however, have time to regale you with the story of numerous writer self-inserts with a martyr complex and a passion for bursting into dramatic soliloquies despite main character Robin being a silent protagonist (and Mary Sue for the game’s cast of lowly martyrs to bend over backwards trying to appease) who has done nothing to invite them. A book could be written about the numerous meandering, intermittently functional conversations that at first seem to exist solely to create needless drama, but quickly pivot to take on a confessional tone. It’s ironic for a game that pushes oppressive-religion themes so vigorously to eventually devolve into what appears to be a self-pitying writer vicariously self-flagellating using their stand-ins, denying anyone real closure or redemption because everyone is written to be deserving of punishment. At the end of the day, though, it just makes me tired. This game is draining in all the wrong ways. Read more →

Call of Juarez Gunslinger Review

Something like a week and a half ago, I picked up GameMaker Studio in a bundle. I only bring this up because I also started playing Call of Juarez Gunslinger around the same time. Take a guess which one had most of my attention this past week? There’s a very real reason this 5-ish hour game has taken me over a week to finish, and it has a lot to do with how thoroughly unengaging it is. Let’s run through just a few of the seemingly endless reasons behind that, shall we? Its writing is amateurish and the big twist is blindingly obvious less than halfway through the game, for one. Its gameplay is also awkward and full of invisible walls, with enemies running around unpredictably, seemingly free from the tyranny of physics much like enemies in the original Red Faction (but this game came out 12 years later and has no excuses). Then there are the insta-deaths. Fell into ankle-high water? Death! Bumped a wall while walking along the outside of a train? Death as the physics bounce you off the train! That’s not even mentioning the constant QTEs, or the fact that the game is so coated in high-contrast textures and a sharpening filter that can’t be turned off that actually seeing enemies—the most basic element of a shooter and one I’d never seen someone screw up before this point—is such a hassle that it becomes half the battle. Or how about the end-game section where you’re surrounded by enemies who randomly spawn in around you and shoot you in the back? Yeah. I’ve played a lot of games, and this is among the worst of them. Read more →

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