Expectations: “They Always Run”

Past Stylish, parry-based combat against hordes of surrounding foes, set against very pretty backgrounds that bring Dead Cells to mind. What’s not to like? Present They Always Run leans hard into the bounty hunter premise, which is delightful. You don’t always have to fight, but you can pick up extra money by targeting specific enemies,Continue reading “Expectations: “They Always Run””

Expectations: “Tandem: A Tale of Shadows”

Past I’m a fan of puzzle games that play with perception, so the initial pitch for Tandem: A Tale of Shadows caught my attention: you, an Alice-in-Wonderland-looking child named Emma, explore an illusionist’s manor, accompanied by an animated teddy bear named Fenton. There’s a lush, colored top-down view of Emma wandering through the lantern-lit halls,Continue reading “Expectations: “Tandem: A Tale of Shadows””

Expectations: “Chinatown Detective Agency”

I don’t want to judge a game by its demo, so don’t mistake this as a full preview of Chinatown Detective Agency. Instead, this’ll be an opportunity to talk about the past (what caught my eye), the present (what the demo does), and the future (what I’d like to see). Past The cybernoir, pixelated glowContinue reading “Expectations: “Chinatown Detective Agency””

First Draft: “Don’t Forget Me”

You know how television shows sometimes come up with bottle episodes, relegating all of the action to a single, restrictive location with a limited number of characters so that they can save money for other, more expansive (and expensive) episodes? That’s what Don’t Forget Me feels like. As the amnesiac Fran, players are thrust intoContinue reading “First Draft: “Don’t Forget Me””

One Life: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Think what you will of me, but I never play as the bad guy. This isn’t because I want to get the “canon” ending or because I don’t want to miss out on anything that comes from killing quest-giving NPCs but rather because I take no pleasure in being malicious, even to code. I believeContinue reading “One Life: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War”

No Refunds: “Blue Fire”

This 3D platformer frustrates at every opportunity, and while it looks like it may eventually be at least enjoyable, albeit derivative, these first two-odd hours are a major turnoff. One of the first things players see as they work their way through the grey hallways of Penumbra’s Abandoned Keep in Blue Fire is a discardedContinue reading “No Refunds: “Blue Fire””

Missed Opportunities: The Aggressively Average “Ys IX: Monstrum Nox”

In a world of uncertainty, there is something perhaps comforting about the formulaic, which may explain why we get franchise series–even outside of sports games–that continue to produce fresh but all-too familiar entries. Much in the vein of those games that reskin enemy types–and there’s a lot of that in Ys–there’s the sense with theseContinue reading “Missed Opportunities: The Aggressively Average “Ys IX: Monstrum Nox””

No Refunds: “Tadpole Treble Encore”

Looking for a short, novel burst of gameplay? I’ll say that Tadpole Treble Encore “roes” to the occasion, with enjoyable compositions that prove the developer definitely doesn’t have a (sardine) tin ear. The one thing missing from many rhythm games is an original soundtrack: even games like Theatrhyhthm Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts: Melody ofContinue reading “No Refunds: “Tadpole Treble Encore””

Missed Opportunities: What FF16 Must Learn From FFXV

Final Fantasy XV is a game of extreme imbalance, the result of a tortuous ten-year development cycle. It is is a game filled with sparks of brilliance, but also the disappointing glare of what could have been. It is a game set apart by its brethren by its road-trip theme and fifth party member, yourContinue reading “Missed Opportunities: What FF16 Must Learn From FFXV”

Review: “Astro’s Playroom”

Astro’s Playroom is a game filled with so many Easter eggs that the few moments where players actually do anything mechanically interesting are themselves actually the Easter eggs. Or maybe it’s an exceedingly literary tech demo, one that gets so lost in its own details–the microscopic detail of the X/O walls in the CPU PlazaContinue reading “Review: “Astro’s Playroom””