Life Is Strange Review

I don’t have a huge amount of experience with these types of episodic games, but Life Is Strange was made by the people who made Remember Me (probably one of my favorite games of 2013), so I knew I had to give it a shot. For months upon months I waited for it to be completed, dodging spoilers like some kind of internet ninja so that I could play through the whole thing in one go once all its episodes were released, and it was totally worth it. That’s not to say that everything turned out to be as incredible as I had heard, of course; when the early episodes released, I heard a lot about how even small things seemed to have consequences, right down to whether you water your plant or not. Now that the entire game is available, it’s apparent that the only actual consequences many of these things have are small dialogue changes that don’t end up mattering. However, unlike The Wolf Among Us, which annoyed me with its lies about reactivity, Life Is Strange does change a bit in the middle of the game depending on whether a certain character is alive or dead. It’s also completely devoid of QTE sections, and includes little touches like the need to occasionally piece together clues or sneak around someone in a stealth section. Even without all of that, though, the writing is more than enough to make this a must-play title. Read more →

Contrast Review

Long setups that never actually result in anything meaningful are a trademark of the artist who creates while having nothing to say; everything is designed so as to suggest a deeper meaning, but nothing ends up delivering on that promise as you’re led deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole until things have become so complicated that any kind of sane-sounding explanation becomes impossible. That’s not to say that the end result is necessarily bad, but it’s most definitely not art despite the artist’s desperate attempts to make it so. This is Contrast in a nutshell, a game that spends several hours engrossing you in a time period filled not only with jazzy music and organized crime, but also two parallel worlds that are largely unaware of one another. While the latter is the more interesting element of the two, only the former lives up to its potential and makes the game worth recommending thanks to the dual worlds and the rules/purpose behind them being self-contradictory or otherwise left shrouded in mystery. Read more →

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Review

I’ve been a huge fan of the Witcher series since I played the first game, so much so that I wound up following the second game’s release back in May 2011 and became an active poster on their forums. I even managed to win a contest they sponsored, which netted me a copy of the official Witcher 2 game guide with a bunch of developer signatures. That being said, I’ve been hugely critical of the games and developers because my enjoyment of the series causes me to expect more out of it than most people, so I made an effort to play through this absurdly long game three times in order to get a feel for the choices and consequences and determine which of the choices aren’t choices at all. In some ways I’m impressed by the game, most notably in the quest design that effortlessly trumps the boring simplicity of other open-world games’ quests. In other ways I’m blown away by the laziness of some of the underlying systems given all of the potential the series had in terms of your actions having consequences. At the end of the day, The Witcher 3 is a lot of fun, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a shadow of what it could have been. Read more →

Terraria kind-of-Review

Terraria isn’t the kind of game that lends itself well to a review because of its more open-ended nature and the complete absence of anything resembling a story or meaningful characters, so I figured that rather than going the usual route and breaking things down one section at a time, I’d tell everyone the story of my experience with Terraria version 1.2.4.1 and highlight the good, the bad, the ugly, the frustrating, and the wonderful as I discovered it. As such, I’m labeling this as a kind-of-review despite the fact that this is technically my 200th site review (and it totally counts despite the unique format). Read more →

Costume Quest 2 Review

Costume Quest 2 is a great example of a sequel that improves on its predecessor in virtually every way. That’s not to say that it’s entirely flaw-free, but the problems from the first game have been largely minimized in such a way that it’s a much more fulfilling experience than the already-worthwhile original. That said, much of the game will be instantly familiar to those who have played the first game: a large part of gameplay still consists of going house to house trick-or-treating for candy to progress, the combat is still jRPG-inspired, and the overall game still has a distinct sense of humor that you won’t find anywhere else. Read more →

The Wolf Among Us Review

If you play through it only once, The Wolf Among Us manages to be a fun, gritty little murder mystery involving fairytale characters who have somehow found their way into New York. If you play through it more than once, though, the whole game starts to come apart at the seams, showing you just how little your actions impact the events that play out over the course of the game. Linear and mostly-linear games aren’t a bad thing, mind you, but when a game has nothing else to offer but QTE sequences and a beginning screen that openly lies about the game’s reactivity, that’s a pretty serious problem that all but ruins the fun of your first playthrough. Read more →

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