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Review: The Charnel House Triology
Recommended: The Charnel House Trilogy is a small title. Make no mistake, you'll finish it in roughly two hours, but the experience is well worth it. I went into this game with negative concerns and every single one of them was assuaged. I'd happily add this to my list of favourite horror titles along with classics like Scratches and Clock Tower. Games like this always amaze me how uneasy they make me feel when it's just pixels that aren't realistic looking. I'm fairly jaded when it comes to horror so making me feel uneasy within an atmospheric environment is no small task, and from an indie title like this it's nice to see the quality of old games is still being kept alive. Highly recommended.
Review: Chroma Squad
Recommended: While the soundtrack and art design can subjectively leave something to be desired, the "tactical RPG" at the core is fun, and Chroma Squad is a love-letter to the sentai shows of yore. It's rough around the edges in production values and some of the humour falls flat, but the actual core game is an enjoyable romp through sentai sensibilities and a solid tactical RPG to boot.
Review: The Sims 4
Neutral: The engine and interface presented in The Sims 4 are much cleaner and seem to work quite a bit better, but the feeling of emptiness is hard to overcome. There's so much that feels missing from The Sims 4, and the few things that were added only serve to highlight and draw attention to those deficiencies. The customisation system from Sims 3 is out and Sims 4's is much more restrictive, chiefly, but much is missing. Worth it on a sale, or in the inevitable DLC collection of "here's all the stuff we cut out for DLC"
Review: Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Recommended: The Elder Scrolls Online feels like a return to familiar Tamriel, like returning to the old family home, with only a few bumps along the way. It does a very excellent job of feeling like a multi-player Elder Scrolls installment, and the art direction is top-notch as people have come to expect. A solid adaptation of mechanics also follows, with the difficulty of some bosses and many of the puzzles being simple rote repetition being the stumbling blocks. Nonetheless definitely worth a look, especially now that it no longer requires a subscription.
Review: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Recommended: Dragon Age: Inquisition is a good game, decently-made that could have been a classic if only it had a proper editor. Brilliant moments that marry exposition and gameplay in thrilling encounters are separated by hours upon hours of grindy tedium, in a case of a sandbox too large with too little to do in it. Nonetheless what is there is solid, if relentlessly padded: the mechanics mostly sound, the engine technically proficient; the one big strike against the game becomes late-game balance, as certain specialisations can break said balance across their knees with a resounding crack. Nonetheless, well worth a look if you enjoy the Dragon Age franchise or open world RPGs in general.
Dragon Ball XENOVERSE
Dragon Ball XENOVERSE is a fair bit more rough around the edges than you'd expect for the price, but it's nonetheless a solid fighting game. While it has it's problems, in particular with the user interface and the multi-player matchmaking, the core combat mechanics in the fighting are tight, and that is the one thing a fighting game has to do. There's a good bit above and beyond the normal fighting game formula to give them game a larger structure, and it avoids falling into the usual fighting game trap of feeling like one part of a much larger game. A solid recommendation, though given the price, I could entirely understand waiting for a sale.
Review: Alien Isolation
Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Single-Player)
Recommended: While it is over-reliant on quick-time events, the campaign of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a standout in its series. Maintaining a decent pace with contrasting high action and falling action, varied gameplay segments, and a great set of shooting mechanics, Advanced Warfare's only gaffes are in not making the progression clear in some segments and the aforementioned reliance on QTEs.
Neutral: Mass Effect 2 is a tricky one to really recommend - it's a good game, but it wasn't the game that the first was. If you don't mind it being a purely story-based shooter without the RPG elements to any great degree, pick it up. The shooting is decent, the game looks good outside of some strange bugs, and it's pretty decent. if you expected an RPG though - the actual role-playing continues to be ham-stringed by a binary moral choice system, and the progression system at play here seems very token at best. As many fans as liked this game will likely be frustrated by the changes, and the new mechanics such as the planet scanning won't do anything to change that. This is basically a story-based cover shooter. Treat it as it is and you can have some great fun, but I can entirely understand those that wanted an RPG.
Recommended: Kerbal Space Program has been held up often as "Early Access done right" and with a fun and engaging simulator equal parts creative and scientific, it's a reputation well-earned. KSP is much more complete than many full releases and only improves with each iteration. Some very basic graphics are nonetheless presented stylishly and the simulation aspects are strong without being overwhelming. If the premise at all interests you, it's well worth looking into.
Recommended: Blood Dragon is an unabashed and unashamed love-letter to the 80s vision of futuristic action movies, complete with kitsch, and it's a blast to play as a result. It adds the one ingredient one could argue the staid Far Cry series has been missing to the formula: an unflinching dedication to being fun - and how that transforms the game is notable. What was once before a plodding but alright sandbox games has become easily one of my favourite action games in my library. It's a shame it's as short as it is, and saddled with uPlay, because otherwise I could recommend this game without qualification.
Recommended: While the GTA series has struggled with its identity, Saints Row 3 knows exactly what it wants to be, and what that is, is pure, unadulterated, wacky fun. It presents a sandbox world you can easily find tons of fun things to do in and an interesting if absolutely off-the-wall story arc. If there's any problems to be had here it's mostly in that while a vastly superior PC port to 2, its still rough around the edges, and flying, as in GTA, may as well be pointless. Nonetheless one of the most solid recommendations I could give. A great game and a lot of fun to be had.
Neutral: There's just a little too much wrong with Oblivion to recommend it without reservation, but it's not bad and no doubt of interest to fans. While the same open world as Morrowind (or later installment Skyrim) is present, it's a fairly less well-wrought story-line campaign with a really weird art direction where everyone looks like their face was stoved in with a shovel. It also dumbs down the skills mechanics at play compared to Morrowind, and it's addition of a mini-game for the "Speech" skill is entirely superfluous and mostly annoying. Nonetheless, there's enough of the Elder Scrolls charm here to give it a look if you're one of the three fans who hasn't already. The values definitely in the expansions - in particular Shivering Isles, so be sure to get the GOTY version.
Recommended: Mass Effect banks on potential more than actual execution, but it presents an interesting world and lore that at least merits a play-through. Beyond that, it's a strong traditional RPG with functional cover shooting that is dampened by some fairly unhelpful party AI and a frustratingly bouncing vehicle that unfortunately isn't optional. Nonetheless, a fairly strong recommendation for fans of the genre.
Neutral: There's some really solid game design in ReignMaker's mix of city building, tower defense, and match-3, but it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. The production values are lacking and the gameplay is definitely a much more casual game than many may want. For what it is though, it's very competently built, and worth the look if the genre-bender or just the genres in general appeal to you.
Neutral: Never Alone is a something of a missed opportunity more than anything, with simple mechanics and uninspired design. The game requires a lot of trial and error, with frustrating pointless death and truth be told there are far better games out there in this vein. Unless it's on sale or you find the culture fascinating, your money would be better spent on Abe's Odyssey New 'N' Tasty.