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3.5 stars

Average score of 32 user reviews

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review: Sixth Sense 0

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a murder mystery after my own heart. Although you could place it in the supernatural exploration camp alongside Outlast, Amnesia, or other ominous walking simulators, the terror proves to be nonexistent instead of expected. And as an exodus from the over-the-top shooters (Bulletstorm, Gears of War: Judgment) that they helped create, the team at The Astronauts (former People Can Fly employees) evaluates your mind, not your trigger finger.Players control Paul Prosp...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Neverending Nightmares Review: Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming 0

The best ghost stories leave something to the imagination: the monster’s origins, a victim’s fate, whether or not the haunting cycle begins anew, the like. Neverending Nightmares ‒ a product of Matt Gilgenbach's OCD and depression ‒ obeys those maxims, crafting several separate endings but letting players fill in the preceding holes with their own metaphors. The narrative conforms to the psychological side of horror, rarely resorting to startle tactics to shake genre fans, yet I ling...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Forza Horizon 2 Review: Gaining Traction 0

Forza Horizon cured Turn 10’s franchise of a disease that similarly successful series periodically succumb to: sequel fatigue. Upon handing the Forza Motorsport name to a team of Criterion, Bizarre Creations, and Codemasters veterans, the right marriage of off-road and open-world exploration belted players to their seats for one hell of a ride, into the antsy hours of the morning.And with a shocking false start from Forza Motorsport 5, Forza Horizon 2’s opulent landscapes and rally-e...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Cannon Brawl Review: Bombs, Bang, Boom 0

At first sight, Cannon Brawl’s vivid semblance to Worms mars the budding brand. While both franchises emphasize terrain deformation on a cheeky scale, watching Worms newcomers bristle with rage – just trying to wrap their heads around the archaic controls – forms a stagnant reminder that the series has scorned change for 19 years and counting. When undermining execution, obtuse button configurations are not indicative of a game’s charm, like a boxer would never say taking...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Sixty Second Shooter Prime Review: A Dual-Joystick Dud 0

Sixty Second Shooter Prime wishes it was Geometry Wars, and perhaps in a perfect world this Vita-to-Xbox One follow-up would suffice as a substitute for the twin-stick mania that Geometry Wars propagated on the Xbox 360. Sparing one minute for genre fans to enact retribution on the game's online leaderboards, Shooter Prime makes sense on a handheld platform, in short feverish spurts rather than bladder-testing marathons. But the time-per-dollar-spent ratio is not the worrying part. The Asteroids...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Metro: Last Light Redux Review: Embrace The Darkness 0

Metro: Last Light earned top honors as the atmospheric champion to beat last year. While BioShock Infinite set gamers loose in Columbia's lavish halls, Artyom returned to the post-fallout landscapes of a radioactive Russia, instilling fresh fears in anxious victims. Last Light's polished stealth tactics, state-of-the-art textures, and fewer bugs fulfilled the promise of a functional experience coveted by the original Metro 2033.Metro: Last Light Redux retreads identical ground, except 4A Games n...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Metro 2033 Redux Review: See The Light 0

Did I accidentally fall through a portal from 2013? Because in their refurbished glory, Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and Diablo III have topped sales charts once again. These masterpieces became the talk of the town during their respective launch months, two years running. They were prom queens: loved by fans and envied by their rivals. With the onset of new console hardware, then, why wouldn’t developers gamble on the visual perks (and profits) of the PS4 and Xbox One?It’s just, som...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Sacred 3 Review: Bare Essentials 0

Sacred 3 is a slap in the face to longtime Sacred fans. Not that I count myself among them, but remember the discontent that outspoken Diablo veterans felt in the relapse from Diablo II’s complex character leveling systems to the role-playing nuts and bolts of the third. Although Sacred 3 ‒ another action RPG ‒ streamlines anything too daunting for beginners (by depriving players of an open world, multiple campaigns, and quest lines), somebody forgot to tell Keen Games when to quit. There ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Sniper Elite III Review: Head Wound 0

Admitting that I like Sniper Elite III’s X-ray bullet cams is not something I would confess face-to-face to a total stranger. In the wrong circles, applauding developer Rebellion’s penchant for anatomical mutilation might send you to the top of an agency watchlist, but when a stealth series – now on its third iteration, not counting spin-offs – strives to keep up with modern innovations, fans need to sift through the bad to find the sporadic good. Although Sniper Elite II...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War Review: The Follies of Men 0

To the minds at Ubisoft Montpellier, my heartstrings were just another tool to leverage their storytelling. Valiant Hearts: The Great War tests the loyalties of four main characters amid the first World War, selling the sadness and tragedy of human conflict in a more potent dose than history fans might expect. With cel-shaded visuals for good measure, Valiant Hearts remains a powerful advocate of the “games as art” argument throughout, though I wish the “game” part was sl...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Year Walk Review: The Road Less Traveled 0

Year Walk’s fondness for folklore was not lost on me. Although said folklore stems from Swedish superstitions, I still recognized goat-headed Grims and water-loving Brook Horses. If those creatures sound foreign, you will not find them in fairy tales. Year Walk dips its mitts into the horror genre, delivering a narrative as perplexing as the puzzles players encounter.The game’s name is somewhat enigmatic, too. A year walk is akin to a vision quest that, if successful, grants people f...

1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

The Yawhg Review: Unnatural Disaster 0

A choose-your-own adventure defined by morbid writing is not the game type I would typically turn to for an amusing co-op experience, yet The Yawhg succeeds as an unlikely party favorite in spite of impending tragedy. The Yawhg, the game’s unnatural disaster, is coming, and the only certainties include death, destruction, and famine. Oh, you only have six weeks (six turns) to prepare, too, by completing menial chores like meditating, brewing potions, chopping wood, and bartending.Those tas...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Banner Saga Review: You Are A Viking 0

XCOM meets Norse mythology in The Banner Saga, 2014’s first great RPG. While safety and morale propel interactions between the main characters and shady NPCs, players command axemen and archers on the battlefield, and assign items and skill points back at snow-frosted camps. Sudden irreversible permadeath, which claims heroes at a moment’s notice, ties the unsettling ambiance together, though I would modify my analogy slightly: The Banner Saga also embraces The Oregon Trail's cross-c...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z Review: Spirits Bombed 0

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z butchers the DBZ license. Studios have sought to replicate the spiky-haired heroics of Goku and pals for years, though none have come close, including developer Artdink. Even if the backwards menus, a broken camera, and feeble-minded AI could be excused, the basic controls and defective multiplayer cannot. Battle of Z introduces pathetic four-on-four battles while dumbing down combat to an insulting extent.Half of the controller’s face buttons handle your ascent ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Threes Review: Mathematical Matchmaker 0

A riff on the bland match-three formula, Threes understands simplicity, where describing the game’s mechanics is no more complex than pronouncing a single syllable name. Instead of pairing miscellaneous objects, players literally match 3s, 6s, 12s, and so on, sliding numbers around the screen until they run out of moves. Threes abides by the phrase “pick up and play,” though the urge to surpass previous high scores frequently fought with my iPad’s low battery warning.If y...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Killer Instinct Review: Werewolves, Ninjas, And Ice Monsters, Oh My 0

For the cost of absolutely nothing, fans could not demand more from Killer Instinct. As a free download, players receive a full-fledged survival mode, the genre’s finest tutorials, multiplayer access, and Jago, the well-rounded, all-purpose fighter (just call him Ryu). Minus seven additional characters (two coming soon), which runs you twenty bucks, developer Double Helix locks none of the game’s features behind a paywall – they lay out Killer Instinct’s merits and shortcomings for every Xbox On...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Ryse: Son of Rome Review: All Guts, No Glory 0

Ryse: Son of Rome is proof that you can judge a title by its E3 showing. Although I marveled at the game’s conversion from a surefire Kinect failure to a third-person action title, others around me were less than impressed. Copious executions aside, Ryse failed to wow the crowds with its quick-time events and Saving Private Ryan parody. Months later, my indifference now matches theirs. Son of Rome is the poster boy of the Xbox One's computing power, but the antiquated gameplay, albeit brutal, sk...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Forza Motorsport 5 Review: Burnout 0

From an outsider’s perspective, Forza Motorsport 5 appears unstoppable as ever. Turn 10 brings each Honda, Ford, and Lamborghini to life in stunning clarity. The sun’s rays reflect off headlights, quarter panels, and wheels while you chase opponents around circuits spanning Monterey County, California; Le Mans, France; and Bathurst, Australia. Pop the hood, though, and anyone can see Forza Motorsport 5 requires fine-tuning. Featuring less cars, fewer tracks, a stunted career, and multiplayer tha...

4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Review: Ephemeral Appeal 0

Well, it finally happened. After eight years of annualized releases, the Call of Duty franchise under Infinity Ward’s guidance has reached a point of entropy – a point of stagnation where its marginal improvements no longer set the series apart from shooters that rode Modern Warfare’s coattails. In fact, Call of Duty: Ghosts proves that, by removing a branching narrative and confounding the Pick 10 multiplayer system of Black Ops II, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.Think he's regretting th...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Chaos on Deponia Review: A Tension-Building Crest 0

If the Deponia trilogy is a roller coaster, then Chaos on Deponia is the crest of the first incline, not the crucial downhill drop it should have been. A thrill ride nevertheless, however, Chaos on Deponia’s importance cannot be understated. This midpoint builds the tension for the series’ climactic end, with more wacky characters and puzzles that quiz players in ridiculous ways, even if it advances the story very little.Despite early assertions from Rufus that he has shed his egocentric attitud...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2 Review: A Devil Worshiper's Wet Dream 0

Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2 breeds the kind of co-op I look for in apocalypse scenarios. No, I don’t mean the competitive co-op that Left 4 Dead promotes. Left 4 Dead is a riot with friends, but when matched with random players, one survivor always races ahead, aggros undead hordes, gets flattened by a Tank, and rage quits. I mean the cooperative co-op fostered by Resident Evil 5, which teaches teams they can only be as strong as their weakest member ‒ excluding Resident Evil 5’s AI, which ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Review: A Disappointing Handful 0

Until Batman’s overnight stay in Arkham Asylum, the good-to-bad ratio of his video game appearances was worse than my kill-death ratio in most multiplayer shooters. But Rocksteady convinced console owners that an exceptional – not just decent – Batman game could exist free of imaginations. Handheld gamers need that same assurance, though they must find it elsewhere. Armature Studio crams the Caped Crusader onto Vita and 3DS touch screens, with none of the finesse. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgat...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Deponia Review: Leaving Home 0

As any hopeless romantic will profess, matters of the heart can be quite convoluted – primarily when the man is a narcissistic, lower-class lout, and the woman an idyllic model of beauty that needs to be rescued … from the man, mostly. Such are the roles prescribed to the main characters, Rufus and Goal, of Daedalic Entertainment’s recent point-and-click adventure trilogy. Their paths cross after another of Rufus’ botched attempts to escape his home planet, but Deponia’s bizarre puzzles bury its...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Stanley Parable Review: A Player-Driven Mindfuck 0

The Stanley Parable subverts the notion of choice in video game narratives. For all the freedom developers allow, the player must obey certain principles, operate according to a game’s finite procedures. When making decisions, you simply select from a list of preferable predetermined outcomes – the crux of The Stanley Parable and its comedic focus. For every action there is an unequal, hilarious reaction, with running commentary provided by an omniscient British narrator.The narrator (voiced by...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Killzone: Mercenary Review: Guns For Uninspired 0

Killzone: Mercenary is the first of what Sony hopes will be many successful realizations for their darling little handheld: delivering all the bells and whistles of their console exclusives to the palms of your hands. While other games attempted identical feats (Resistance: Burning Skies, Black Ops Declassified), Killzone: Mercenary is the proof of concept. The touch controls and cramping in my wrists repeatedly reminded me I was playing on a Vita, not a controller. But the crisp industrial envi...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Review: Non-Fattening Horror 0

Reviewing Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs back to back shaved years off my life expectancy, but I would gladly give up my days as a senior citizen to relive both stories for the first time. Outlast is an adrenaline rush of urgency, whereas A Machine for Pigs lets fans live in its world, and breathe in its sights and sounds – hardly surprising since Frictional Games handed development to The Chinese Room, the team behind Dear Esther. The Dark Descent’s sequel advertises fewer scares along...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Outlast Review: A Cannibal's Buffet 0

Outlast startled me no less than sixteen times during its four-hour length. Broken down, that equates to four scares per hour, or a fright every fifteen minutes. Though that number seems low compared to the constant harassment of horror entities like the Slender Man, Outlast is more meticulous with its pacing and AAA game ambitions. Developer Red Barrels maintains the minimal interface and relative helplessness of the player character central to other found footage releases, while empowering inv...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Lost Planet 3 Review: Left Out in the Cold 2

Lost Planet 3 is lifeless – a shooter without a soul – though not for a lack of trying. Spark Unlimited is a studio of what-ifs. What if Winston Churchill’s premature death meant The Third Reich conquered Great Britain and invaded North America during World War II? What if Pandora’s Box was a real mystical artifact, and an art thief’s curiosity loosed griffins, werewolves, and minotaurs upon Earth’s cities? Now, what if Spark was given a chance to undo the bad...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Killer is Dead Review: Killer is Dull 1

Grasshopper Manufacture's CEO, Goichi Suda, has made a name for himself with surreal settings and offbeat protagonists. Travis Touchdown joined a league of assassins after winning a beam katana through an online auction (No More Heroes); Garcia Hotspur braved the extents of Hell to rescue his girlfriend alongside a shapeshifting handgun (Shadows of the Damned); and star cheerleader Juliet disemboweled trans-dimensional zombies with help from her boyfriend’s severed head (Lollipop Chainsaw). The ...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Payday 2 Review: Making Bank 0

Murphy's Law eloquently teaches, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." And with the don of a mask, the flick of a safety, the sound of a shot, no game demonstrates that sad truth better than Payday: The Heist’s sequel. Too often a pedestrian compromised my team’s jewelry store stickup by phoning in the disturbance, or an unnoticed security camera captured our bank break-in for the entire evening news. An unconscious bodyguard’s pager also ended several home invasions early, just like mixi...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Saints Row IV Review 1

Saints Row IV is the best unintentional Marvel/DC superhero game in the industry’s long and storied history. Freeze enemies solid, leap over skyscrapers, soar on the wings of American freedom, throw objects with the power of your mind, or, you know, harass innocent civilians. In Saints Row IV, your dreams – your power fantasies – they become reality. The virtual world of Steelport is yours to conquer, even doing the Crackdown and Prototype names more justice than their respecti...

2 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Gone Home Review 0

Environmental storytelling at its finest, Gone Home is less fascinated with the “how” than the “why,” “when,” and “where,” as well as remarkably fresh not for what it includes, but for what it excises. Guns? Absent. Regenerating health? Nope. Boogeymen waiting for the next jump scare? Well, the atmosphere is unsettling, just not fatal. For a narrative that totally disarms its main character, then, you would never guess that Gone Home’s scariest feature is how deeply moved you may be.After a year...

1 out of 2 found this review helpful.