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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.
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.
Review: Battlefield 4 (Single-Player)
Neutral: Battlefield 4's single-player offers a great-looking and fairly decently-playing shooter that seems utterly afraid to actually let you play it. Pretty much everything good I could mention - the gunplay, smoothness of the game, and the great wealth of options presented - is offset by something that I had issues with - entire parts of levels popping in (and out), a fairly unintelligent AI, and some clunky vehicle controls.
Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Multiplayer)
Recommended: A good arena shooter that is a bit thin on content or explanation of its unique mechanics. Well worth the price point, but make sure you get a few friends to play with, as the multiplayer community is small at best and the single-player mode is just bots.
Review: Styx-Master of Shadows
Recommended: Styx Master of Shadows is an interesting little stealth title. While not developed by a AAA studio, the quality behind it is really quite impressive. Part Thief and Dishonored, Styx manages to retain its own sense of identity in the wake of it's story and gameplay mechanics.
Review: Life is Strange (Episode 1)
Recommended: A somewhat cumbersome UI and some graphical issues don't keep Life is Strange from presenting an indeed strange and interesting game. Subtle humour offers a dash of flavour and some absolutely brilliant voice acting helps this adventure game stand out among others.
Smoke Signals or I Will Be Heard
This is a story. Well, kind of a few stories, actually. It's not my usual work, in any usual format, but these are not usual times. This is going to be long, probably uncomfortable, and share some views you might not agree with. Perhaps that is something you do not like. Please don't read on, if that bothers you.
Oh, and when I say long, I mean long. Like you're in for trying to 100% Just Cause 2 long here, in an article. Fair warning.
Click to read Maiyannah Lysander's full editorial.
Recommended: Dying Light takes the previous TechLand zombie games and learns from their mistakes to make a pretty solid game. Some control missteps and QTE nonsense don't do much to diminish an other-wise pretty solid game with a well-developed story, great looking visual style, and a variety of activities and mechanics to keep gameplay fresh. A solid recommendation.
Not Recommended: Almost entirely style over substance, Spacebase DF-9 is pretty but buggy, unfinished, and ultimately, not very fun. It's an admittedly functional base-builder that looks pretty, but that's all I can say for it. The AI is an exercise in frustration with its abject stupidity, the game feels simple and empty, and there is just so little to it, especially for the price. The first game in a long while I've played that I have genuinely hated playing.
Recommended: Easily one of my favourite games of the past year, Rebirth is a remake done right. It offers a solid proc-gen twin-stick shooter that's well-made and brilliantly-produced in that particular aesthetic. If you play a twin-stick shooter with those rogue-like elements, make it Rebirth.
Neutral: Dark has a lot of neat fresh perspectives on some tired old ideas but for a stealth game the quality is nowhere near Batman Arkham Series or Styx. It is functional and for the most part not too frustrating. That sudden difficulty curve in the middle does break flow and nearly had me quitting the game to be honest. It’s a game of peaks and troughs, great when it’s good, and terrible when it’s bad.
Recommended: A somewhat slow and difficulty-prone meta progression doesn't stop Shattered Planet from being a pretty fun game. Much akin to something like FTL, there's as much fun to exploring this strange world as there is to the actual completion, and there's plenty of variety to be had in different playthroughs. Well worth a look for someone looking for a short-run roguelike that's akin to actual rogue games rather than just being a shooter with procgen or the like.
Recommended: More of a niche title given the roguelite elements, but it is a solid arena shooter, with only a few minor flaws. You'll find a lot to like if you've been following the recent trend of shooter "roguelites". A few obscure bugs and some accessibility issues don't keep this from being one of the best examples of this emerging genre to date.
Recommended: While it feels that there could be more to Victory at Sea, if you're complaining that the game is fun and you want more of it, its not a bad complaint. It combines an interesting mission-based overworld with a highly-positional tactical battle view that I found rather compelling. My two big complaints would be that the UI could use some streamlining in places, and that some people may find the simplicity of the guns modelled a bit off-putting, but I found the game a good bit of fun and challenge in equal measure.
Recommended: If you're able to look past its rather glaring interface issues, there's a lot of fun to be had with Quest of Decay. This game showcases simplicity at its finest, with a lot of its mechanics built around pre-existing or simple ideas that have been tweaked or taken in a slightly new direction. If you're a fan of roguelites or dungeon crawling games and are looking for a game to satisfy your fix, you'll be able to find that here. Despite the game's lack of permadeath, difficulty is quite high and gameplay is challenging.