The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone (DLC) Review

I like to put off playing through DLC/expansion stuff until it’s all out, so I’m a bit late to the party on this one. Still, I can only learn and forget how to play this game so many times before it gets irritating, and my first steps in Hearts of Stone were every bit as embarrassing as you’d expect someone jumping into end-game type content having forgotten how to play to be. I died to everything as I fumbled around, desperately trying to remember how to do simple things like use bombs and potions, and the long loading screens (even on an SSD, weirdly) made that even more annoying than it’d be otherwise. It didn’t help any that I imported a save from my first playthrough, which meant that I was missing a bunch of items and pieces of helpful equipment that I only found on subsequent playthroughs. Despite those embarrassing initial troubles, however, I slowly pieced together how everything worked again as I made my way through Hearts of Stone for the first time. Read more →

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Review

I didn’t have access to a computer outside of my laptop for a little over a week (and I refuse to play games on it because it’s my baby and gaming can be pretty harsh on laptops since they’re not great at getting rid of heat), so it seemed like the perfect time to grab my 2DS and jump back into Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. If you haven’t read my review of the previous game, this is something that I initially stopped playing in order to finish Risky’s Revenge—the second game in the series and the beginning of what could affectionately be considered “modern Shantae”—and thus have a better handle on how many of the characters know each other. It’s also helpful since the events of the last game are occasionally mentioned and could be considered spoilers for anyone sensitive to that kind of thing. Read more →

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Review

I had originally intended to play through Okami next, but nostalgia is a hell of a drug and it ended up being littered with various problems that had me yelling at my television screen despite showing up in just about every “best games ever” list I’ve read. The more I tried to play it, the more irritated I would get at its shortcomings, and I found myself playing a few minutes of other games as a palate cleanser of sorts. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, the third game in the Shantae series, is the one that I kept returning to. The more of it I played, however, the more apparent it became that I was missing out on back story and potentially spoiling plot points from the first two games, so I decided to play one of the earlier games instead of continuing. Risky’s Revenge, to be more specific. While the first game for the Game Boy Color would probably make for a better starting point, I wasn’t very impressed when I watched footage of it on Youtube, and the thought of giving Nintendo a cut of an eShop purchase after they so recently butchered my favorite series of all time made me feel ill. Besides, Risky’s Revenge popped up in a bundle after I decided to wait for a sale (patience is a perk of having a backlog in the quadruple-digits), and between Okami irritating me and my interest in these games suddenly coinciding with them showing up in a bundle, it felt like fate. Read more →

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 →

Grow Home Review

I don’t really know what to call Grow Home. A platformer? That may technically be true in the sense that you’re trying to get playable character BUD to the game’s many floating sky islands, something that occasionally requires jumping and floating and falling, but that doesn’t really capture the spirit of what the game is. In fact, the goal isn’t even to get BUD to these places, but to use growable parts of a giant plant to attach it to islands with glowing parts, giving the plant nutrients (or something) so that its base can grow higher. There are also a bunch of crystals that unlock upgrades when you collect enough of them, so there’s a collectathon element on top of that. What does that make the game, though? A platforming collectathon plant-based escort quest? That doesn’t sound quite as entertaining as Grow Home often manages to be. Then again, I was less enamored with the actual growing and climbing and all of that than I was with jumping from high altitudes and falling, watching the pretty lighting and colors that preceded BUD hitting the ground and exploding into several pieces. Maybe the best description for this game is actually just “colorful vertical sandbox.” Read more →

Never Alone Review

I have no idea how much can actually be said of Never Alone because of how simple it is; at its core, it’s a simple platformer with clumsy controls that also happens to be an adaptation of a popular story from the Alaskan Iñupiat people. There are some minor obstacles here and there that could generously be considered puzzles, but the solutions are always so immediately obvious that I’d mostly just consider it a straight-up platformer rather than a puzzle-platformer. The game’s also astoundingly buggy and boring to play when its chase sequences and boss fights aren’t being actively annoying, which leads to hilarious moments where you end up having more fun watching the included mini-documentaries about the Iñupiat than actually playing through the game. I think that says it all, really. Read more →

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