Outside of sequels to games I’ve really enjoyed, I typically only get excited for games that sound conceptually interesting. And if nothing else Murdered: Soul Suspect has a good conceptual hook. you’re cast as a ghost detective who has to solve his own murder. Now this sounds like an idea rife with potentially compelling mechanical and narrative possibilities (last I checked, “Ghost Murder Mystery” isn’t a super populated genre). Unfortunately, Murdered: Soul Suspect doesn’t really explore these to any meaningful extent. It’s a largely pleasant time for its eight hour duration, but my main take-away from Murdered: Soul Suspect was disappointment.
Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn’t make a great first impression. In its opening level, which takes place during an assault on Castle Wolfenstein in 1946, The New Order feels sluggish, looks underwhelming, and seems overly linear and generic. It also seems to fall into the tired loop of set-piece, gameplay, set-piece that colors so many modern day shooters. At that point, I wasn’t feeling hopeful for the rest of The New Order, but fortunately this opening was an anomaly; the invasion attempt fails, and the series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz is sent into a 14 year long coma. He awakes to a world where the Nazis have won World War II, and now control much of the planet. It’s at this point that MachineGames reveal their desire to make The New Order heavy on both pulpy thrills and sobering World War II-era realities.
Transistor starts boldly and isn’t afraid to let players figure out mechanics and story for themselves. That sense of mystery and discovery fills every moment of the second game from Supergiant Games, creators of the wonderfully unique Bastion. While it can be slightly intimidating at first, Transistor quickly becomes a very satisfying and unique game that shares many similarities with Bastion, but is never beholden to old ideas.
Sucker Punch Productions. These guys have made two of my favorite series exclusive to Sony, those being Sly Cooper and InFamous. It seemed originally as though Sucker Punch was going to be doing one series per console generation, but as evidenced by this review, that didn’t happen. InFamous: Second Son is the not-too-direct sequel to InFamous 2, and while it takes advantage of being on the next generation Sony console, it lacks improvements in areas the previous installments had trouble with.
Looking Glass’ original Thief games helped to define a generation of stealth titles. After an extended absence, Garrett returns in a new iteration from Eidos Montreal. Thief’s primary gameplay motives should be pretty clear from the title alone, but it suffers from a severe lack of focus. Instead of centering on the tools of Garrett’s trade, Thief tries too hard to be something it’s not, which ultimately breaks the one thing it does well.
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.