In Ridley Scott’s Alien, about half of the movie is spent going through the mundane lives of the Nostromo crew. You don’t see the titular alien, but you know it’s coming — the movie is called Alien, after all. The tension builds and builds, giving you glimpses and teases of what is to come, but always holding back for the big reveal later on. In James Cameron’s Aliens, the same rules apply. But this time the xenomorphs are on full alert and barrage the marines every chance they get. Alien: Isolation, from Creative Assembly, captures that same sense of dread and tension building from Alien and the relentless assault of Aliens. It is a terrific horror game that starts off too slowly before becoming one of the most terrifying video games I have ever played.
When I first saw the trailer for Hyrule Warriors in a Nintendo Direct, I had no idea what to make of it. It was The Legend of Zelda, my favorite series, mixed with Dynasty Warriors of all things. Not that I have a problem with Dynasty Warriors – the combination just seemed so… random. But I figured, hey, it might be a fun, fanservice-filled waste of time to whet fans’ appetites for the actual Wii U Zelda game. Thankfully, I was a little off on that assumption. It wasn’t just some cash-grabbing combination of two unrelated franchises, but a labor of love that expertly blends the two styles into one fantastic experience
Ashgam the Ruinous raised his sword above his head as I laid on my knees before him. He wore a large steel helmet with four horns protruding out the sides. We fought for only a few moments before he took me down — I was filled with rage. Ashgam froze for a moment and lowered his sword before looming over my head and saying, “Too easy,” before sauntering away as his minions finished me off. Next time I would have my revenge.
The first thing you see upon starting The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a quote: “This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand.” It’s a bold, self-confident statement, and it’s emblematic of the game itself; there’s a refreshing degree of trust given to the player in Ethan Carter, especially compared to many other adventure games of the modern age. The decision also manages to avoid unnecessary frustration due to Ethan Carter‘s relatively limited interactivity. It also serves as a bit of a snobbish remark, one of the few indications The Astronauts give that links them to their past work at People Can Fly (a studio known for it’s gonzo, high-intensity shooters Painkiller and Bulletstorm). The quote is an almost comical juxtaposition of “hardcore-gamer” sensibilities, for a game that shares a lot in common with so-called walking simulators, but Ethan Carter proves itself with its extremely effective use of world-building.
At the heart of Turtle Sandbox’s Cannon Brawl is, well, a ton of heart. This 2D action-strategy hybrid employs just as much charm as it does deep, strategic, fast-paced gameplay. Cannon Brawl mashes together concepts from Worms and StarCraft and manages to create something entirely unique on its own.
Swery created something of a flawed masterpiece with Deadly Premonition. Despite being difficult to control, Deadly Premonition excelled in its weird and goofy storytelling with plenty of homage to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Swery’s newest project, D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, attempts to reach those same bonkers highs of Deadly Premonition while under the guise of a Kinect game. He pretty much succeeded.
All of the pieces are there to make Destiny a great game. The world is gorgeous, with some of the best art and design in a game to date. The combat is fun and fluid with weighty weapons and clever abilities. The music is beautiful and the sound design screams perfection. Yet Bungie doesn’t do enough to tie together all of Destiny’s fragments, leaving behind a hollow husk of what might have been.
“There are plenty of targets worthy of a bullet; men who need to die. Time for find more work.”
The final lines of Rebellion’s newest release resemble an apt view of the game as a whole. It is a power fantasy of the highest order; a hyper violent, marginally fun trek through orange and brown landscapes of Africa, looking for Nazis to kill. There are plenty of targets for you to shoot; plenty of men who die by your hand. But, Sniper Elite 3 is a one-note gimmick that will leave you longing for different work.
Children are generally thought to be happy and carefree; they see the world through imagination and wonder. Krillbite Studios takes a different approach. With a compelling narrative and dark atmosphere, Among the Sleep reveals the hidden horrors of a developing mind warped by abuse and divorce. Yet the game relies too heavily on overused mechanics and doesn’t produce enough consistent tension, dulling the impact of its larger themes.