Highland Arrow

Review: Strafe - Strafe is a game that feels very much like it valued style over substance and did not possess the creative editorial discipline to edit back bloated weapon and level designs. Stripped of this bloat, what you are left with is some decent procedural generation that fails to hold up a game which strains under its own artistic hubris and a great many technical shortcomings at the same time.  Perhaps worth it for genre diehards on a cheap enough sale, but, otherwise this one is a pass.
Early Access Review: Starsector - Starsector is deep and expansive sandbox which offers both a variety of things to do, and a great amount of customisation in how you do it. Moreover, it offers enough engaging depth and story beats to those whom want them that it doesn't want for a feeling of direction, which is a classic problem endemic of such sandbox games. Whether you want the woosh-bang-kapow funtimes of vaporizing enemies in space, a Masters of Orion-ish colonization sim, or just playing space trucker, it's all here - if you can plod past a poorly-constructed tutorial.
Review: NEO Scavenger - Much like the Glow, the ideas and dreams that NEO Scavenger might engender aren't going to be granted by the reality of the situation.  It's a game that struggles against technical and design limitations, but, if you can find it on a sale and have a tolerance for clunky UIs, then underneath that façade there is a game with interesting writing and compelling enough survival mechanics that I can definitely see it being worth your while if you picked it up on a sale.  Just don't expect it to set the world on fire.
Review: Elderborn - Elderborn is a visceral and fast-paced first-person melee game that takes place in a beautiful expansive world and utilizes a wide variety of weapons.  It falters a little: we have perhaps too many weapons, the enemy variety can run a little thin when you realize that many of the enemy sets share a very common set of archetypes, and the controls are obviously designed towards a controller.  This is, all the same, a very solid recommendation for the price bracket it occupies at time of writing, and I'd happily go back to play some more of it after the review, which is always a bit of a tell indeed.
Review: Saints Row: the Third - Remastered - Saints Row: the Third - Remastered is a tortured rehash of the original game to milk additional money out of fans.  Neither new players nor fans are likely to be excited by the myriad of technical issues with regards to AI and video optimization in particular, nor are the existing fans likely to enjoy how the changes of the remastered edition have fundamentally damaged several previously-fun mini-games.
Review: Ion Fury - Ion Fury is a throwback to the Build engine trinity of old that starts strong and ends weak, and seems to have run out of ideas about halfway through.

Review: Dusk

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 17, 2021.

Recommended:  Dusk is a throwback to the Quake era of first-person shooters that nonetheless tries original and creative things, especially in level design, that would not have been possible in the period. Some pacing and technical issues aside, this is a solid offering that is well worth the time and money to someone who can get past the decidedly retro aesthetic.

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Early Access Review: Valheim

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 25, 2021.

Neutral:  Valheim is a game that feels like it's at the threshold of being something truly good - but its lingering in said, held back by rough tutorializing and the general need for an additional pass over most everything in some form or another. This is one I would either get on a sale now, if you're not wanting to wait, or to put on the wishlist for if and when it releases, provided the even out all the wrinkles in the design and production.

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Review: Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story

Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Feb 22, 2021.

Recommended:  I would recommend this game if you enjoy point and click puzzle games or horror games. If you are looking for cyberpunk not so much, since it's just the setting more than anything to do with gameplay or story elements. The plot and environment are the best part of the game, but the puzzles are still good. It was challenging in places, but not too much. The art style is perfect for the setting, and theme of the game. Overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I set out to see if it was worth all the discussion it was getting online due to the character design choices. The issues with the character design are a bit exaggerated, and the game turned out to be well worth playing.

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Review: Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 7, 2021.

Neutral:  Sir, You Are Being Hunted ends up being something of a "popcorn game" - there isn't a great deal of depth here, but what is there is solid enough, if a bit crimped by how severedly a late-game player can threaten the things that they themselves are supposed to be threatened by. Good for a casual little romp with good production values and impeccable narration - just don't expect the Moon.

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Review: Hedon

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 24, 2020.

Recommended:  Hedon is an ambitious exploration-based first-person-shooter with an emphasis on world-building in the same vein as Ultima Underworld, but without the janky-arse controls. Good art direction, albeit with a few stumbling blocks, creative lore, and interesting world design combine to make a game that compelled me to see it through to completion, despite some rough edges in some of the sprites, a dreadful exposition dump in the middle, and lack of encounter variety. It's a flawed but good game, that I hope gets better in future episodes, but nonetheless is definitely worth a look now.

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Nostalgia Train Review: Final Fantasy 2

Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on May 12, 2020.

Recommended:  Final Fantasy II is a faithful continuation of the beloved series. While it still has elements that I do not enjoy, like the random encounter mechanic that always seems to pop off when you are in a hurry, the game is still fun. These early FF games remain my most cherished gaming experiences as a young gamer, and still hold up today against the backdrop of countless other RPGs on the market. This game is fun, has beautiful 8-bit art and music in its original form and the PSP remaster I played was done very well. It's one of the more difficult ones to get outside of an emulator, but worth it.

Read more: Nostalgia Train Review: Final Fantasy 2

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