Sparkle 2 Review

I don’t remember when or where I first found this game, or even when the idea of cashing in my “hardcore gamer cred” (which is totally a real thing) for lighthearted match-3 marble popping became something I was willing to do, but at some point in the past I stumbled on Sparkle 2 and fell head over heels for it. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a lot of my disdain for the mobile platform melted away as I played through it for the first time. There’s just something about the game’s music, simplicity, and difficulty curve that struck me as being superbly balanced and enjoyable, with the game constantly straddling that line between accessibility and challenge that so many other games seem to struggle with. What makes this so much more surprising is the fact that the first game sucked. It sucked a lot, in fact, and yet its sequel takes almost all of the same elements and builds something genuinely entertaining and worthwhile out of them. Read more →

Lost Horizon Review

Lost Horizon is a game that I agonized over for a long time before even buying, often looking up the game page and being tempted to buy it, but never actually pulling the trigger. For months the title randomly showed up in “recommended for you” emails from Amazon. It even went so far as to later show up in mobile form on an app store just to torment me further. Point-and-click games can go very right when done well, but they can also go terribly wrong and become unenjoyable slogs if the pieces don’t complement each other, and while the premise seemed interesting enough, the game’s relative obscurity struck me as a major red flag. After all, if it were the wonderful adventure it appeared to be, then surely it’d be more popular. Granted, that line of reasoning doesn’t hold up considering the many lesser-known games that I’ve enjoyed more than popular AAA titles, but doubt doesn’t have to be realistic to be effective. There was also the widely panned sequel that had to be factored in (because jumping into a series that resolves unsatisfactorily in later entries is never fun), a game that sold incredibly poorly if the internet’s near-complete absence of information on it is any indication. Eventually my curiosity snowballed, however, and I went into full “screw it” mode and bought the first game for PC on a whim. I often come to regret impulsive purchase decisions like that, but Lost Horizon is one of those rare gems that made me wish I had bought it even earlier. Read more →

Peter Moorhead’s Murder Review

I often like to give little games I’ve never heard of a shot. Occasionally I’ll end up stumbling onto an underappreciated gem, while other times I’m made to wade through the depths of annoying indie pretentiousness to the point where I question why I even bother. Peter Moorhead’s Murder is most definitely the latter, and it’s telling that it’ll take me longer to write this review than it took to finish the game three times. Shortness isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, of course, but when the writing is cringe-inducingly terrible throughout and culminates in a middle finger from the developer, there’s really no excuse for the game to also be unfinished. Read more →

Lara Croft GO Review

Square-Enix was recently experimenting with always-online DRM, so it’s not unfair to say that my opinion of them is at an all-time low. They removed said DRM in a couple cases (though it should also be mentioned that the Android versions of games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 still have it intact) after a backlash, though, so I suppose it’s time to start to slowly forgive them. Very slowly. The very first thing I did after buying Lara Croft GO was make sure that it could be opened and played without an internet connection, which it can, and that’s a good thing because it’s actually a pretty enjoyable little puzzle game in the vein of Hitman GO. Read more →

Framed Review

Framed is standing right on the edge between a good review and a bad review, especially considering just how much it has in common with Monument Valley (which I gave a negative review to). Unique twist on the puzzle genre? Check. Silent protagonist/s and vague plot? Check. Around an hour long or shorter? Check. Minimal actual gameplay? Again, check. Where Monument Valley managed to lack any kind of internal consistency, however, Framed at least stays clear of its own feet and manages to be just barely worth recommending despite its aforementioned short length and vagueness. It’s only recommended on the Android platform, however, because it’s inexplicably more expensive on Apple’s app store, and 5 dollars is just way too much to ask for something so short. Read more →

Puzzle Quest Review

I picked up Puzzle Quest and its sequel quite awhile back, but never got around to trying it until I saw a comedy video about it. That’s when I knew I needed to try it. Unfortunately, it really didn’t live up to my expectations, and I can’t help but wonder if the near-universal praise for it has something to do with the match-3 concept being more interesting back in 2007 than it is now that a million mobile games have exhausted it (many of which do it better than this game, in my opinion). Coming at this game without any nostalgia, I was blown away by just how shallow it was despite all of its complexities, with the vast majority of the game coming down to the same flawed matching system and feeling same-ish no matter what items and special attacks you have. That’s to say nothing of its non-story or the fact that the last third of the game is a giant, seemingly unending fetch quest, either. It’s just not anywhere near as enjoyable as its praise led me to believe. Read more →

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