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3.9 stars

Average score of 44 user reviews

A CRPG spiritual sequel that comes tantalizingly close to the original 2

Black Isle Studios's 1999 RPG Planescape: Torment was a singular experiment for the popular Infinity Engine: one that strongly emphasized quality writing, role-playing and deeply philosophical ideas in a strange, almost alienating setting and pushed what was then standard to the genre - in particular, combat and showy cutscenes - to the sidelines. I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that it was a game only intelligent people could enjoy - I'll save that type of debate for the Rick & Morty die...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

Momodora's priestess explorer has a plethora of difficult challenges before her 1

In a curse-ravaged kingdom, bereft of hope, a single savior emerges from the wilderness to provide salvation before all falls to permanent darkness. This is the rough outline of the plot to Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (which really has a title more befitting of a Touhou spin-off), the latest game from small Indie studio Bombservice and the first of theirs to be available on Steam. However, it is also the sort of narrative framework that could easily be applied to the games of another, ...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

Lombax and Robot switch dimensions for this lesser adventure in the long-running series. 1

Ratchet & Clank occupies a strange part of the video game players' minds in this day and age, where each new iteration becomes less and less observed. Despite being as good as it ever was, and that there are a large number of people who harbor a great fondness for the series as one of the PS2's early breakout hits, it seems to have fallen off everyone's radars. An imminent multimedia relaunch of the franchise, which promises a feature-length CGI movie in tandem with a PS4 revamp of the very ...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Full Bore goes the whole hog by cleverly piggybacking on a number of Indie puzzle game antecedents. 2

It's hard to begin to describe Full Bore without discussing the plethora of sources it draws from to create a puzzle game that is, on the whole, actually fairly distinctive. It's partially a SpaceWhipper: that sort of non-linear exploration-heavy 2D platformer where avenues can be investigated in an order of one's choosing and you have a map that tells you what rooms still have points of interest to discover. It has one of those puzzle game conceits where, even though you're initially equipped w...

4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Legend of Grimrock's more confident sequel sets up a wonderful island mystery without screwing up the final act. 0

If there's one thing recent Kickstarter projects and acclaimed Indie games continue to prove is that there's a lot of money in mining nostalgia. This doesn't necessarily suggest that any such project is inherently avaricious: it's more that the larger developers have, for far too long, dictated the fashions and trends of the gaming industry without properly assessing whether many older genres died because people stopped caring about them or simply because someone high up determined that they wou...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

Obsidian Entertainment shakes the pillars of heaven, and produces a game that is no horseshit. 2

If there's one thing that Kickstarter has proven, it's that people are very fond of the games from their past. Many of its greatest video game-related successes have been due to game creators wishing to revisit a glorious era of their past, and asking a long-dormant fanbase to once again rise up and help make a new game in that mold a reality. Double Fine led the way with the beautiful Broken Age, a game unapologetically calling back to developer Tim Schafer's 90s period in which he created many...

14 out of 15 found this review helpful.

Another Level-5 Guild game that, while charming, has a few gameplay issues that needed hammering out. 0

Weapon Shop de Omasse is the last of Level-5's Guild series to see a US/EU release, but the reason for its delay was not necessarily because it was most extensive or complex game. Rather, it's a game that relies heavily on traditional Japanese comedy (and thus had a lot of text to translate), as it was penned by the prominent Japanese comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai of the manzai duo America Zarigani. Level-5 began their Guild series as a means to showcase freelance Japanese video game designer talent,...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

One of the oldest CRPG franchises avails itself of the current throwback craze. 0

The one thing that can be said without a shadow of a doubt about Might and Magic X: Legacy is that it is an old-school CRPG and proud of it. It uses a very specific vintage format of the quad-directional tile-based dungeon crawler with a four-person party, far closer to the Xeen games of its venerable CRPG series (which would be Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen, or M&M IV and M&M V) than the panoramic movement real-time sequels (The Mandate of Heaven (M&M VI) to Might and Magic IX...

4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

A budding star amid the populous fields of puzzle-platformers. 1

Grow Home has a fairly basic objective: Grow the enormous star plant, ride its shoots into floating rocks filled with glowy green mineral sustenance the plant can absorb, and continue to climb the beanstalk to its ultimate destination above the clouds. The QWOP-like controls are both frustrating and endearing, presenting its metallic hero B.U.D. (short for Botanical Utility Droid) as some sort of unsteady but determined little trouper, whose frequent knocks and unfortunate explosions are warmly ...

7 out of 7 found this review helpful.

Not even pirates can reinvigorate the Assassin's Creed franchise. Maybe try ninjas next? 0

I'm in an unusual position here, reviewing a game that was regarded highly at the time but presently sits between two iterations in the long-running and long-in-the-tooth Assassin's Creed franchise that were very poorly received indeed, making Black Flag something of an aberration in retrospect. While I believe to some extent that all games should be reviewed in a vacuum, based entirely on their own merits and their own weaknesses bereft of outside factors, it's often hard to escape the grander ...

7 out of 7 found this review helpful.

Ghost Problems: The Game 1

Murdered: Soul Suspect begins with the protagonist getting hurled out of a third-floor window and shot several times as he lies dying in the street. Perhaps an unusual way to start any game, but then the goal is for your ghostly form to track down your killer and resolve whatever unfinished business is preventing you from passing over and being reunited with your dead wife. Fortunately, being dead means not having to worry about red tape and due process, and the player is free to investigate the...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

An old FPS franchise wakes up in an unrecognizable future, yet manages to adapt adroitly all the same. 0

Wolfenstein: The New Order once again drops its beleaguered action hero Captain B.J. Blazkowicz into the most audacious World War II alternate historical fiction since Inglourious Basterds. It's fair to say that speculative fiction has approached the concept of "what if the Axis forces won World War II?" perhaps more than any other conceit (it even has its own dedicated Wikipedia page), but The New Order has a lot of fun with the idea, adding in the added wrinkle of highly advanced ancient techn...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

The cult Japanese grappling puzzle game becomes available in the West for the first time. It's a hook, line and thinker. 0

Sayonara Umihara Kawase (also known as Yumi's Odd Odyssey) is the latest in the Umihara Kawase series, which began as far back as 1994 as an entirely inexplicable Super Famicom game. Twenty years and several sequels later, very little has changed. Kawase is a young woman with a very unusual problem: she is trapped in a surreal world of oddly-shaped floating platforms, hostile bipedal fish and everyday objects like vending machines, pencils and stop signs jutting out at weird angles in the backgr...

4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

A diabolically challenging heart beating beneath a cute feathery facade. 0

Toki Tori 2 can be a deceptive little game -- one that hides its true colors until the player is already deep into their adventure. What you see is a bright and cheerfully cartoony game starring the eponymous spherical bird Toki off on another journey to save his friends, but the core is still an extremely deliberate and thoughtful puzzle game that can often require the player to think several stages in advance and execute on them with an intimidating level of precision.The nature of the second ...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

A retro platformer that carefully attends to its roots. 3

It's hard to avoid the reality that the recent spate (and don't worry, that's as close as I'm getting to a shovel pun in this review) of "nostalgic" pixel-focused, 8-bit-reminiscent action games has all but rendered the format trite at this point. If that's the case then, at least for the time being, I'm happy to make Shovel Knight the retro genre's swansong. Though from all appearances it aspires to little more than creating a yesteryear classic that never was, it's far better suited to the tas...

9 out of 9 found this review helpful.

A solid example of the genre that hearkens back to the JRPG's Age of Enlightenment. 0

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: First Chapter might have an ostentatiously long name, but is at its core a solid, no-frills throwback to an era when JRPGs ruled the Earth. Originally released in 2004 for the Japanese home computer market, the sixth The Legend of Heroes game follows its forebears closely in an effort to appeal to an extant fanbase, similarly to how each subsequent Dragon Quest takes careful consideration to adhere to its roots to maintain its venerable charm. A spin-off ...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Another smattering of Nintendo classics undergo some mad surgery, resulting in a very similar monster as before. 0

When I bought and completed NES Remix new those few scant months ago, I was left with a lukewarm feeling tinged with happy nostalgia and mild disappointment that said nostalgia wasn't better utilized. Now we have its sequel, NES Remix 2, which despite having a suspiciously brief development cycle since the last game does at least see a few improvements to what is now becoming the standard "Remix formula". NES Remix 2, like its predecessor, takes a selection of Nintendo's first-party NES games an...

8 out of 8 found this review helpful.

In space, no-one can hear you scream, nor can they help you out with inventory puzzles. 0

Level-5's The Starship Damrey is a perfect example of a doing a lot with a little. Part of Level-5's Guild 02 series of smaller 3DS eShop downloadable games from prominent veteran game designers, The Starship Damrey was conceived by writer Takemaru Abiko and designer Kazuya Asano, the duo responsible for many of Chunsoft's series of "sound novels" - 16-bit horror-themed visual novels such as Kamaitachi no Yoru (recently localized as Banshee's Last Cry) that made excellent use of ambient sound. O...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

Though marginally superior to Dead Man's Switch, Dragonfall still feels like squandered potential. 0

Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is the new campaign from the original developers of Shadowrun Returns, Harebrained Schemes. The long-awaited "Berlin campaign" is a full expansion, providing a new 15+ hour campaign and various additions to the game's editor assets, and was released on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store for $15. It requires the original game to play.The campaign itself is a little better put-together than Dead Man's Switch, the campaign that originally came with Shadowrun Returns. Thou...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Tappingo joins an increasingly populated list of worthwhile 3DS eShop purchases. 1

I'm a big fan of Picross. The venerable numerical picture game has long since been a mainstay puzzle sub-genre for Nintendo consoles especially, making its debut (in the West, at least) with Mario's Picross for the original Game Boy. Since then, every subsequent Nintendo portable has been the home for some manner of mathematical paint-by-numbers, and the 3DS has an embarrassment of riches in this regard with the Picross eseries, the Virtual Console version of Mario's Picross and the backwards co...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

Blasts from the past framed with a novel delivery system 0

NES Remix initially seems like a bizarre concept; a WarioWare-inspired history lesson through Nintendo's early console history. When examined closer, however, it becomes apparent that this is a game meant to homage a lot of NES classics through a retro-gaming conceit that has existed previously with the developers' Retro Game Challenge franchise, based on a popular Japanese TV show where a comedian plays through old Famicom games to varying levels of success. NES Remix tests players in a similar...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

Luigi is the star in one of Nintendo's first serious attempts at a DLC add-on 0

The largest fundamental problem that could be leveled against New Super Mario Bros. U is that it is the newest iteration in a series that has decided to eschew the gradually more elaborate creativity of the core Mario series in order to produce something akin to Mario's more passive spin-offs: by choosing to simply take its cues from classic 2D Mario games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World it has become as rigidly cookie-cutter as the various Mario Parties and Mario Karts and Mario ...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Radiant Historia recalls an era of JRPG history and rewrites it for a modern audience 1

It seems the modern venue for JRPGs is increasingly becoming the handheld arena, with studios creating compact adventures that don't necessarily require them to abandon strong narratives or striking artistic styles in order to tell the stories they wish to tell to the regrettably smaller audiences that still wish to hear them. The serendipitous result of this necessary technological scaling-back is that these RPGs have re-entered the 16/32-bit age during which they were at their most prominent a...

5 out of 5 found this review helpful.

This Zelda entry has the same soul, but has lost some of the steam. 0

Zelda games are a tricky bunch to scrutinize as each has an intrinsic high quality simply on the virtue of them being a Zelda game. Nintendo does not skimp on the quality and production values of each title of their secondary flagship series, so it's easy to consider adding the proviso that a specific element is disappointing "for a Zelda game", with the implicit acknowledgement that the game's presentation and core is still stellar but for the occasional misstep.Make no mistake, Legend of Zelda...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

A Table-Top Veteran Re-emerges From the Darkness 1

Shadowrun seems like such a great idea on paper: Taking the evocative dystopian world of William Gibson's Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, with their paranoid hackers and corporate stiffs making their livings in a sprawling futuristic urban landscape seemingly trapped in permanent night, with only the intermittent neon sign, electronic billboard or computer monitor for illumination. Add to this melting pot of intrigue and danger a resurgence of magic in the world - an Ice Age-esque c...

10 out of 10 found this review helpful.

A crossover RPG that manages to be the sum of its many parts. 3

Project X Zone is definitely a curious beast. The concentrated efforts of Banpresto (creators of the Super Robot Wars games, among other often anime-influenced titles) and Monolith Soft (Nintendo RPG developers extraordinaire) to combine three publishing empires' worth of franchises and characters in a Strategy RPG akin to something like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea sounds like quite the elevator pitch when you see it all written out like that. What's perhaps even odder is that this all has ...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

A toothless action RPG facade conceals an immersive and imaginative adventure. 2

There is a certain burgeoning philosophy that I and several others are starting to embrace regarding how much "game" modern video games truly require in order to succeed as entertainment. In slightly less ambiguous terms, how necessary it is in this enlightened modern era of video games to include the type of scenario where the game might momentarily halt its narrative flow to indulge the player with an extended sequence of non-stop action before coming back around to an interchange with a boss ...

5 out of 6 found this review helpful.

Platforming and atmosphere intertwine in this subterranean adventure 0

Swedish Indie game developer Nifflas has been cultivating a small but vocal fanbase for his Knytt series: a collection of freeware platformers designed to emphasize the exploratory aspect of the Metroids and Castlevanias they are influenced by first and foremost. His newest, Knytt Underground, feels like the culmination of everything Nifflas has learned in his years of working on this series; a bold attempt to step out from the freeware scene and finally make a project big enough to monetize. In...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

Lara's new adventure, while gravely steelier than usual, is perhaps her best yet. 1

Lara Croft's been through some shit in her storied career as a beloved video game character. Angel of Darkness, sure, but I also mean figuratively. The newest Tomb Raider game, from studio Crystal Dynamics who have been developing for the series since its last reboot, has chosen to retell her origin story with this in mind: How the archeologist heroine acquired her ruthless survival streak that's been at the core of her character from the offset, along with her sardonic sense of humor and back-f...

6 out of 6 found this review helpful.

A quality ARPG that will hopefully stand tall in your estimation. 0

How far are you willing to go to save the woman you love? Would you fight a series of enormous monsters with nothing but a sword and a chain? Would you stuff monster flesh (not a euphemism) down her gullet to keep her from transforming into a tentacled monstrosity? Would you dust off that Wii for one more Japanese RPG from Operation Rainfall?These are questions posed by Pandora's Tower, an Action RPG from relatively obscure developers Ganbarion - perhaps best known for their One Piece and Jump a...

4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

An ephemeral, ethereal JRPG full of slow-pacing and melancholia. 0

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, beyond having an unwieldy name, is something of a dark horse among tri-Crescendo's library of more straightforward RPGs, like Eternal Sonata or Baten Kaitos. At times it has the slow cadence of survival horror: The foreboding darkness of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo is an eerie environment to stage a game, with protagonist Seto constantly requiring the use of a flashlight and his wits to fend off the many restless spirits that now occupy the various dilapi...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

This preservative of the 16-bit era is a stellar delight. 2

I was concerned I couldn't give this game its due respect in review form, considering how odd an overall package it is and how much of its appeal lies both in- and outside of its nostalgic 16-bit JRPG trappings and absurd sense of humor. I believe I have found an angle that works:Everybody Get Up, It's Time to Slam NowBarkley, Shut Up & Jam: Gaiden (occasionally referred to as Charles Barkley, Shut Up & Jam: Gaiden, using its irascible protagonist's full name) is an RPG Maker-derived fan...

4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Like a red cloth to a bull, I was entranced by Level-5's latest. 0

That Level-5, purveyors of such quality products as Professor Layton and the Dark Cloud series, and legendary Final Fantasy Tactics designer Yasumi Matsuno were teaming up to produce an RPG was, to put it mildly, information that piqued my interest. Crimson Shroud was originally part of a four-game compilation in Japan spearheaded by four very diverse talents in what amounts to a company-funded game jam project, but only three games have been released on the eShop separately overseas. Its siblin...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

As asinine as its faults may be, AC III is still a killer romp. 0

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series began its life with a flawed but promising progenitor; a game with ideas but not enough confidence to venture beyond the small group of repeating missions that led to each of the game's set-piece assassinations. Assassin's Creed II managed to do what all video game sequels aspire to; not only be bigger and better, but use what its developers had learned from the mistakes of their earlier project to perfect the formula. That the same formula has been used for eve...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Darksiders II has no dearth of depth, but suffers from its size. 0

Darksiders left our anti-hero War contemplating his options as his brothers (and sister) caught the last few express meteors to Earth to help in what promised to be an Alamo style stand-off between the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and apparently every other force in the universe. Darksiders 2 doesn't quite pick up there, however, electing to roll back the clock a few years before the first game begins and follow the redemptive arc of War's more emaciated and guilt-ridden sibling Death instead...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

This unordinary stealth game deserves attention. 0

I've never read Moby-Dick. My knowledge of Herman Melville's classical literary text begins and ends with that broad Futurama parody and the fact that Captain Picard likes it, or conveniently did by the time he was having a similar crisis as the book's central character Captain Ahab. Probably doesn't say a whole lot about me, but even with that base level of knowledge it was hard to avoid how prominently that novel is referenced throughout Arkane Studios' Dishonored. Not least of which in the ce...

1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

An endlessly inventive adventure, Emmerich'd up to eleven. 0

When I first started playing Disaster: Day of Crisis, I had no idea what to expect. I'd heard of its troubles in procuring an American release (sadly, four years later, it appears it will never transpire) and had seen the episode of the Two Best Friends YouTube show gently mocking some of its more outrageous elements and unfortunate foibles. Yet I was pleasantly surprised with the type of game it turned out to be. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find out that Disaster: Day of Crisis was ...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Gray Matter rediscovers the magic of adventure gaming's gold era 1

Adventure games are deceptively difficult to create. What first appears as a simple series of environments laden with hotspots and easily scripted "Item A used on Item B creates Path Z" instances would seem to put the genre amongst the easiest for coding neophytes to put together; a truth not unsupported by the fact that there have been plenty of Indie point & clicks over the years, thanks in part to very approachable freeware development tools like Adventure Game Studio. However, the most e...

0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a Passable (if All Too Familiar) Game 0

Spider-Man, as his 60s cartoon theme song is often wont to tell us, is able to do whatever a spider can. However, this particular Spider-Man is also able to do whatever a Batman, a green-haired danger-seeking photojournalist, an electricity-infused hero (not Electro) and various others can as well. The lack of confidence in trying anything too new with the Amazing Spider-Man, Beenox and Activision's latest movie license game based on the current Mark Webb/Andrew Garfield reboot that's either a t...

2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Have a darn good old-fashioned CRPG for next to nothing. 0

Avadon: The Black Fortess is a turn-based strategy computer RPG from Spiderweb Software, the creators of - among other things - the Avernum and Geneforge franchises. Spiderweb's been making their own brand of strategy RPGs in the mould of classics of the genre since the mid-90s, very much staying on the fringes of the PC gaming world and catering only to the hardcore crowd who wanted more of the games they used to play, while BioWare and other major developers moved onto things like "3D" and "ap...

3 out of 3 found this review helpful.