War never changes, especially in video games. Countless number of games set you in the heat of battle, gunning down hundreds of enemies with reckless abandon. We never understand the pathos of those stories; we never hear of their struggles; all we ever see are moments plucked from action movies. Valiant Hearts: The Great War tells a touching story of a handful of soldiers in the midst of World War I — it’s just a shame this story needs to be a video game too. [Read more...]
The new Strider reboot from developer Double Helix is probably the best Metroid-style game since Shadow Complex, but that’s not saying much since there haven’t really been any Metroid-style games since Shadow Complex. While Strider may echo the design philosophies of that game style, it struggles to ever achieve any of the highs of a Metroid or Castlevania game. But hey, it’s a nice distraction until Nintendo’s next Metroid game, whenever that may be. [Read more...]
2013 was defined by a number of great games, my favorites oftentimes consisting of ones with a unique vision. But before we get to those…
Considering that Starbreeze Studios’ stock and trade has long been first person shooters of variable quality, (including last year’s thoroughly entertaining Syndicate), Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is different to the point of hilarity. Set in a fantasy land with a distinct storybook-quality, Brothers aspires to be an emotional and heartfelt experience. Considering the developer’s recent narrative forays have been mediocre, to say the least, Brothers should be a failure by all accounts.
Illustrious game designer Ron Gilbert has fascinated audiences with classic adventure games like The Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion. He’s really the father of adventure games, and has been kicking around the idea for The Cave for a while now. However, frustrating design decisions and a myriad of technical bugs mars The Cave’s attempts to elicit old-school adventure game humor and style. [Read more...]
In a feverous haze one Tuesday night, Evan sent me a link to a new Kinect indie title. Within moments of briefly skimming the press release and seeing that it said FMV, Kinect, and Chris Evans, I dropped everything I was doing and rushed to my Xbox. Fearing this was some kind of joke or PR stunt or something, I thought I should download it as soon as possible before it gets pulled for being too crazy or something. Well, it’s plenty crazy and we played through the whole thing so you won’t have to. [Read more...]
There was a time long ago, before Rock Band and Dance Central, even before Guitar Hero, when rookie developer Harmonix came out of the gate swinging with FreQuency; a unique and interesting foray into the largely niche rhythm genre. That was 2001. Now it’s 2012, and Harmonix has released Rock Band Blitz, a downloadable game in the style of their earliest work. Is there a place in today’s video game climate for this return to rhythm’s roots?
Dean Dodrill. That’s a name anyone interested in playing XBLA’s Summer of Arcade closer Dust: An Elysian Tail should know. An artist by trade, he decided he wanted to make a video game, all by himself. So he taught himself how to program. That was nearly three years ago. The road to release has been a long one, for sure, and I can’t imagine how difficult designing a game by yourself must have been. I’m happy to report that from the designer’s perspective, it was worth the effort, and from the consumer’s perspective, it was worth the wait. Dust is fantastic.
When looking at this year’s XBLA Summer of Arcade line-up, it would have been easy to peg Tequila Works’ Deadlight as a promising outlier. It’s minimalist aesthetic reminds vaguely of Limbo, and its deliberate but smooth platforming challenges seem ripped from Out Of This World. In reality, though, this side-scrolling survival horror game is a mess, where involving and excellent aspects blend with bafflingly poor design decisions.