Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 23, 2022.
Not Recommended: 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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 11, 2022.
Neutral: 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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 24, 2021.
Recommended: 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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 9, 2021.
Not Recommended: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on May 5, 2020.
Recommended: There is a lot to like about the Remake of Final Fantasy VII, and some true moments of brilliance within the boss fights. Some great lines were removed, and some cringe inducing ones as well. The writing is a mixed bag. When it's really good, it's really good, but when it's bad... The combat is a blast and puts a new spin on an old system, adding a surprising amount of depth to the game. I don't think I'm a fan of most of the story changes they're making this time round, and it doesn't feel like much of a remake, so much as a complete reboot of the events of the franchise. Is it bad? By no means, but I can't guarantee that stalwart fans of the original are going to enjoy this one. If you can get past that though ... its pretty good.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on May 3, 2020.
Recommended: Bloodstained lives up to its claims. While feeding off the lifeblood of previous titles from the same developers, it manages to almost stand on its own. The story is a little generic, with some obvious twists and turns. The art direction is sensational, and some of the bosses look so much better in 3D than they did in the 8 bit prequel game. The music while not memorable is still enjoyable and fits every section of the castle. Worth a look.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 2, 2020.
Not Recommended: Sundered is the most disappointing game I've played to date. I've played games and had worse experiences, and I've played games which have had more glaring design flaws, but none quite so disappointing. Sundered is a beautifully-wrought disaster of a game which marries an absolutely gorgeous art and animation with detailed sound design and atmospheric music ... with some of the most slipshod and lazy-feeling design I've experienced in a long time. Where there was the promise of a metroidvania is more a bullet-hell button-mashing brawler, devoid of any feeling of taking skill or granting any accomplishment. Aggravating maps full of procedurally-generated tunnels that don't last long before they get repetitive, and bosses that feel more akin to battles of attrition than tests of skill. Not really worth it except on a deep sale, if you're willing to put up with an experience that's fairly uninspired and rough in every aspect outside art direction.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Feb 16, 2020.
Recommended: Hnefatafl is the ancient strategy game developed in Scandanavia, and popular across Europe until it was replaced by Chess as the more fashionable game to play. I got my set at GenCon from an artist known for his hand-carved Viking horns, and it's a beautiful and fun addition to our game library. It's easy to learn, and challenging to master. If you're someone who likes classic and old games like Chess, Backgammon, or Othello this game will be right up your alley. You can pick up a copy at almost any store that sells quality board games, or check out Where the Gods Live to see the artistic pieces done by Brian Marshall.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 2, 2020.
Neutral: Darkest Dungeon spins a tale of insanity and despair that looks and sounds brilliant, but is something of a veneer western town, with quite plain mechanics underneath. Worth a play if you can stand a decent amount of artificial difficulty. It isn't going to sell you on it, if you aren't.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 31, 2019.
Neutral: The Long Dark's recent updates have added some more to the game, but it's a game experience that increasingly is being shown as somewhat shallow. A somewhat zen and immersive survival experience falls prey to a pressure to make it more challenging, and the game does so by giving you challenges you have little chance to survive. The story is plodding, staid, and kind of bog-standard stereotypical mysticism which handles its themes extremely heavy-handedly. There's still plenty of fun to be had here in the survival mode, but its been dulled since initial release.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 2, 2019.
Neutral: The Necromancer finds their way back into Diablo with ROTN, but their implementation is confused and overshadowed by a steep increase in artificial difficulty. Worth it for a fan, likely not for a newcomer.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Dec 26, 2018.
Recommended: Baldur's Gate is a great game, even today. Getting the original or the extended edition shouldn't really be a factor either. The NPCs that were added don't have a serious impact on the game, and the mechanical changes won't be noticeable to anyone outside a hard-core D&D player. You're going to get hours of gameplay and story, for pretty cheap at this point. You can even find it as part of a package with the other games in the franchise. It's a small price to pay for hours of fun for new players, and some fond memories for those of us who played it back in the day.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 22, 2018.
Not Recommended: BattleTech is a game that offers a functional combat system that strains and ultimately breaks under an underwhelming roleplaying experience lacking player choice, a dreking fuckdump of clumsy exposition, and a swarm of technical bugs. Being a BattleTech fan since its heyday under FASA Corporation I desperately wanted to like this game, but ultimately found myself alt-tabbing out during enemy turns to rearrange desktop icons I was just so bored. BattleTech feels like an over-wrought, under-edited, and under-performing mess of a game to which its saving grace is that its combat system is fairly functional. That is to say, it feels like a bad game with a redeeming quality, rather than a good game that got brought down by flaws. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I wasn't having fun, and more importantly, I don't think fans of Mech combat games except series fanatics are going to find much of value here. For BattleTech fans, this is something to pick up on a deep discount; for anyone else, it's a pass.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 5, 2017.
Neutral: EA's Battlefront is a beautiful game that plays well but ends up repetitive due to a lack of content. While the core gameplay is enjoyable enough in small sessions that I did and still do find myself returning to it, the limited amount of game modes with player population makes the content ceiling artificially low when it already was quite low to begin with. Since it enjoys a solid core of good shooting and frankly jaw-dropping visuals that are very authentic to the movie, Battlefront is a game that suffers terribly from the lack of being able to fill in the less popular game modes with bots. The levelling system also makes early play considerably more frustrating than it has to be. If you aren't bothered by only having a few game modes to play and want a Star Wars shooter fix, however, you're going to be hard pressed to find better, other than its original predecessor, or reaching even further into the past to the Jedi Knight series.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Jun 26, 2017.
Recommended: I loved this game without a doubt. It has some of the best art design I've seen and mixes it with a fantastic story to give you a nightmare right out of your childhood. Sound and level design take a close second to the art and story. Multiple levels, and glimpses into the horrors of the Maw give you the feel that there are terrible things ahead. My only real complaint is the game is too short. Almost too short for the money. If it were not so good I'd have a hard time recommending it because of that.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 29, 2017.
Recommended: Whether you enjoy Andromeda is very much going to be determined whether you can see past the flaws of something pushed out too early, but if you can, there's an enjoyable if short sandbox RPG game here. Combat has a few trade-offs in the design but is mostly greatly improved by the addition of mobility, the story arc is nothing revolutionary but quite functional, the voice acting is mostly good bordering on great, and overall, I enjoyed my time enough with the game to want to go back to it. However, the rough edges on this game are very, very obvious: some animations are janky, and there are some textures that look like they got made with five minutes in MS Paint. The white space that exists for the lack of other content is obvious, and some of the character writing has the 'writing by committee' feel to it. If you can tolerate that though, this is a good story and good mechanics at work here. It's probably well worth it on a sale.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Mar 13, 2017.
Recommended: Guild Wars 2 is a massive game with an incredible amount of things to do. The graphics are gorgeous, and much of the score creates an epic quality to adventuring in the world. Tyria has a vast lore, and the writers incorporated it well into the game. It's fun to play in long stints, but also in short bits when time is limited. It's easily a game you could put down for awhile, and come back to without feeling like you have to keep up.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Jan 30, 2017.
Not Recommended: Ladykiller's story is long bouts of tedium broken up by decent, sometimes very good, encounters. The ending doesn't pay off the time spent slogging through the screens, and the illusion of choice doesn't hold up. While the set pieces have fantastic art design and execution, the character art is mediocre. The music is best replaced with something else in your headset. Finally, if all of that wasn't enough to deter you, the price is the kicker, Ladykiller is going for $29.99 for the short story. Characters are often lazy stereotypes, and the final plot reveal is ridiculous.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 19, 2017.
Recommended: While there is obviously more the developers intend to add, The Long Dark as is now, is already a compelling survival experience. There's a few rough edges - but not many, and the experience itself offered an absorbing and somewhat surreal survival experience in that frigid north. If you're looking for a building-oriented game, you should look elsewhere, but if survival is what you want out of these games, none does it better than The Long Dark does right now, in my opinion. While there's some areas for improvement, including most notably better allowing players to better improvise, they don't ultimately detract enough from the experience that I was ever taken out of it. This is a game of exploration and survival, and boils it down to its basest essence, and given an interesting world to explore, and strong survival mechanics, it comes easily-recommended.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Nov 21, 2016.
Recommended: I went back and forth with the final verdict on this one. Honestly, Spellcasting is the most infuriating game I can remember playing. It's really not my cup of tea and it's definitely something I wouldn't play again. However, part of the point of our reviews is to consider the target audience. If you enjoy mobile-style puzzle games and games of memory I think you'll like this. I think you'll enjoy the art, the challenge, and the design of it. I think this would be fun for kids and adults that like these types of games, and absolutely should be played on a device with a touchscreen and stylus in my opinion. It's priced well for this type of game so the short play-time isn't out of line. If you like these kinds of games, give this one a try, I think you'll enjoy it.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 24, 2016.
Neutral: There's a lot to love in Blood & Gold: Caribbean, but there's a mite too many rough edges to be able to recommend it. Interesting new systems that are perhaps a bit too deep and not really well tutorialized could use some attention, and the production values are uneven and questionable, but at the heart of Caribbean, the roleplaying aspects and the sea combat, are done well. With some TLC this could be a great pirate sim. The strong sea combat mechanics coupled with the roleplaying aspect will likely carry it for many people with a strong interest in the niche of pirate sims, but otherwise, the many rough edges will probably put off less enthusiastic fans. With some TLC, this could be the pirate sim game, but as is, I'd only really be able to recommend it to someone really into the pirate theme or a huge Mount & Blade fan who wants more but in a different scene.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Oct 19, 2016.
Recommended: The Division is a hybrid title that suffers from some flaws for the fusion but is still enjoyable. I was back and forth between recommended and neutral, but I have to give it a nod just by a hair. I'd be lying if I didn't say I had fun playing the game. I believe I got value out of my purchase, and despite the issues I enjoyed my time playing it. I almost pegged it as neutral for the repetitiveness and lackluster story, but then I remembered I had fun even when I didn't think there was going to be a story, and I got over the redundancy by just not participating in every single mission or intel collection. I also defeated the feeling of it being a grind by not playing it for several hours at a time, and spacing it out over several weeks. The graphics and sound put this game at the top of the heap for production quality, and that's a big factor for me because immersion is key when I'm picking games. Story matters too, so bear in mind that this recommendation is barely on the plus side. If you are a die hard MMO or FPS fan exclusively you probably won't like The Division because it borrows elements from both genres, but doesn't deliver on the key features of either. If, however, you like both genres you might like The Division.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 14, 2016.
Neutral: Sunless Sea finds itself caught between exploration and exposition without knowing which it wants to side with, and ends up somewheres in the middle - and in mediocrity. The writing is definitely the appeal, but the game makes progressing through things so arduous and slow that by the time you've gotten to the next point I was bored stiff. Pacing, ultimately, is what undoes Sunless Sea for me, as well as a lack of any real threat in most of the enemies. The different scenarios and arcs you can discover are fairly interesting by the by, ranging from average to excellent in writing, but there are not many of them and they're not good enough peaks to make up for the chasms that are the valleys. The writing is what will make or break Sunless Sea for most, so if it appeals, go for it, if not, take a pass.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 27, 2016.
Recommended: This is a game made true to the spirit of the series from which it derives its name - a delight stymied by the heavy RNG factor. Where looser interpretations might have dampened the random nature of the dice game that Elder Sign inherits from, this adaptation is warts and all, and as such some games are just going to go much better than others and it's as much down to fate and a roll of those proverbial dice as it is up to any player skill. Looking beyond the obvious failings of the dice game mechanics, however, you will find a moody, atmospheric game with a brilliant attention to thematic details. If there's any game that the feeling of a loss of control created by that random nature is at home in, its a Lovecraftian horror game, and as such, if you can see past that heavy RNG, you'll probably much enjoy this game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 1, 2016.
Neutral: There's flashes of genuine brilliance and good writing in Knights of the Fallen Empire, that never really seem to get properly capitalized on and ended up cut short. When one combines this with an over-reliance on gimmicks, an oppressive feeling of linearity, and a series of grand "choices" that end up being meaningless to the grand scheme of the expansion, KotFE fails to deliver on a promise of a single-player-centric expansion of meaningful choices and interactions. While several of the companions are interesting, many others are simply annoying, and none of them really get a proper character arc. The single-player focus is ultimately what moved it from a weak recommendation to neutral to me, because I wasn't even offered the solace of being able to play through most of this with my wife. Ultimately KotFE promises many things and half-delivers on all of them, leaving a blanketly mediocre experience all-around. It's worth playing if you already have a subscription, but I wouldn't get one just to play it.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Sep 1, 2016.
Recommended: Iron & Ale is a fun game that's simple to play and easy to learn. Players won't find a lot of complicated rules that are hard to remember while also drinking, and it can be adapted for your group's personal preferences when it comes to libations. We even had a DD playing the game, and drinking his energy drinks, and still had a blast. There was some repetition but those cards can be removed if desired. Overall it's a lot of fun to play, and a good bang for your buck.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 25, 2016.
Neutral: There's an interesting enough core series of mechanics to Rogue State, but once the humour stops carrying the game so much, the negatives bog it down significantly. In particular, the animation delays of going to various screens makes the game pace slow and stodgy, and turns completing the thing start to finish a chore. There's some fun to be had here, but I could only recommend it on a sale given formulaic mechanics and a narrative that loses its luster fairly quickly, as well as some fairly crippling bugs and lack of replay value.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 18, 2016.
Neutral: RimWorld is one of those games I dread writing a review for, because I really want to like it a lot more than I ultimately did. There is a compelling and intricately-detailed colony builder in the vein of a science fiction adaptation of DwarfFortress just struggling to break out of its limitations here, but it feels like it doesn't quite do that, at least not yet. A lack of proper tutorializing and random events that can severely handicap and even even abruptly a scenario that's going well otherwise, without any easy option to restart such as DwarfFortress' embarkment mechanic, lead to many a rage-quit. While it's true to say that the appeal in the difficult city-builders such as DwarfFortress, Banished, and so forth, is in being able to scrape by when things go wrong, there's a feeling that I could not escape that even doing things 100% correct, there's going to be times the game just pushes my shit in, and without an easy way to get back into the action, that unfortunately means I could only recommend it in its current state to those fans of this "hardcore" builder genre that have an especially high tolerance for "Fun" as it so sarcastically gets called in said circles. With some more time in the over to even out its idiosyncrasies and smooth the rough edges, this could easily be one of my favourite builders, but as stands right now, it's just not there.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 7, 2016.
Neutral: There's a lot of fun to be had in Warlords of Draenor, but particularly once the main story arc has been exhausted, the many fun and interesting bits of lore fall away to the constant nuisances that are the expansion and following patches' design decisions. Classes have seen a major overhaul that gutted several of them, to even get a flying mount to work in Draenor involves grinding yourself silly, and the top tier content such as dungeons and raids have very sparse drops and thus poor returns for the amount of work one puts into them. It's worth getting if you are at all into the venerable MMO, but it is not something that's going to sell anyone who has been skeptical of it and avoided it until now. It is, essentially, an expansion with interesting story to tell and a beautiful world, let down considerably by mechanical changes and new mechanics that either are not really capitalized on well, later neutered (like the garrison), or detrimental to the game.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Jul 21, 2016.
Recommended: This game is great fun for groups, and while not as fun for a smaller table of 2-3 players it's still very playable. It's affordable, and you get a lot of variety without spending too much money for expansions. It's fun for families looking for something for game night, but also good for parties and groups of gamers looking for something quick. Being very portable makes this game perfect for trips, conventions, a desk drawer at work, or stuck on a school bus trip. All you really need is a flat place to set the deck and whatever rule cards are in play, so playing on a book in someone's lap while trucking down the road is very doable. Games can be quick, but rarely last longer than 45 minutes, so a group can easily work a hand in between larger games, or while waiting for an event at a convention for example. If you like fun games that aren't too serious, have simple rules, and a good bit of humor I think you'll enjoy Fluxx.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Jun 28, 2016.
Neutral: Mighty No. 9 isn't the greatest game ever, and if it had been rebranded as a Megaman game, likely would have been one of the more lackluster ones. It is however fun, and is surprisingly high quality given all the development issues it ran into. It might not be saying much, but Mighty No. 9 is far better than Megaman X7. Give Beck a chance.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on May 16, 2016.
Recommended: It's clear that Takahashi planned some great things for this series back then, that never came to fruition. Nevertheless, Xenogears is an epic sci-fi saga that will delight any fans of stories that are just a little bit more intelligent than those posed by games these days. Despite its age, the game holds up surprisingly well, and will be a welcome addition for anyone who isn't easily offended by alternate religious beliefs.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on May 9, 2016.
Recommended: This is a great boxed set for anyone who wants to get into Pathfinder, or tabletop RPGs in general. It's one of the first I've come across that doesn't need at least one experienced player or GM to run it. The price is good for the amount of content and except for the playmat the quality of everything is fantastic. The art is just what we've come to expect from Paizo and the layout is easy to follow. I'm glad I picked it up, despite my experience with the game, and it would even make a great gift for young gamers just starting to take an interest.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Apr 30, 2016.
Recommended: Dark Souls 3 doesn't really bring much of anything new to the playing field. Many areas feel too familiar, while some have heavily re-used assets and gameplay elements from previous games. it leaves the entire exercise feeling a bit egregious, relying a bit too much on nostalgia and leaving the game feeling slightly empty, without an identity to call it's own. It's just more "Souls". It's not a bad thing, but at this point it feels a bit old-hat. Despite the fact that you can pretty much see everything the game has to offer in one play-through, it's still an entertaining romp.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Mar 24, 2016.
Neutral: Superhot for me really falls into another criticism on value. It's $25 for about 2 hours, maybe an hour and a half of game play, with an expanded end game that's just the same levels over and over. The story is interesting, but nothing spectacular, the graphics are boring, but the game is fun despite all of that. If it were cheaper I'd definitely recommend it but overall what the game delivers isn't worth the price point. Its only real claim to fame is a single game mechanic, which makes this game feel more like a demo, or concept video for that one idea rather than a full-blown game. I would love to see this idea expanded on, turned into a bigger interactive story experience, but as is, it's just not there. If you see it on sale, or part of a bundle, definitely give it a shot, I just can't say that as it stands right now.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Mar 16, 2016.
Recommended: Undertale may at first seem like a harmless little homage to the era of games like Earthbound, or the original Megami Tensei series, but deep down at its core, it is none of those things. It's honestly unlike any game I've played previously and I invite everybody to give it a try. Highly recommended. It won't change your life, but it's great value for money.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Feb 21, 2016.
Neutral: Firewatch really isn't a bad story. Despite the issues I've noted with writing and design it has moments of interesting dialogue and plot with great art design, and I was entertained for most of it. The voice acting is some of the best I've come across. I liked the detail put into the little things in the world, and the stylized nature of the art and imagery. All that said, I'm not really into the visual novel genre, it's just not my cup of tea. I wouldn't say it's bad enough to get a 'not recommended'. I can't recommend it, however, due to the price point. $20 for 2.5 to 3 hours of story just isn't a value to me for something like this. I'd recommend it, for people who enjoy visual novels, if it were cheaper, but I have to land it squarely in the neutral rating because of the price, and the ending especially.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 6, 2016.
XCOM 2 isn't a bad game by design, but it is defined by what it doesn't fix from the original, and what functional mechanics it removes, and optimization issues sink it. It's almost as if they made a point of removing what worked from the game, especially in the strategy element, which is extremely dumbed-down in terms of agency to the point of almost being vestigal at this point. Between bugs, over-reliance on the action cam, and the fact that the RNG is quite unfriendly and still lies to you about hit chances, this is a game that rapidly began to feel like it was wasting my time. While newcomers to the series will likely find it worth their money and fans may still enjoy it, there is literally no reason I would ever recommend this over the original XCOM reboot - it's an almost objectively worse game in every meaningful way. As stands, it's so poorly-optimized even after patch after patch, and the issues I and others have had with it so ridiculously bad, that I just cannot recommend it to anyone in its present state.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 19, 2016.
Recommended: Battlefield: Hardline's single-player mode isn't going to set the world on fire and one shouldn't think too hard on the plot, but beyond that, it's a fun romp. The weakness really is in the plot itself, which never really coalesces into something that feels like it has an impact, punctuated quite thematically by an ending that really gives closure without really having a point. Nonetheless, with the stealth mechanic focus, the gameplay has evolved significantly, with better AI, gadgets that feel like more than gimmicks, and some noticeable improvements to weapon handling. Although it's sad to say that the improvements to weapon handling were offset by enemies that even at the Cadet difficulty feel bullet-spongey. All the same, it's a fun action romp if one takes it for the B-movie grade stupid plot that it's trying to be. So in short: Do you like all those over-the-top "gritty" buddy cop movies Hollywood can't get enough of, and wanted it in game form? Hardline's probably going to be fun for you, least in single-player. Wanted the military guns and stuff that usually come with Battlefield though? Well then, you're likely to have a bad time.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Jan 4, 2016.
Recommended: Exploding Kittens is fun, irreverent, and with the NSFW expansion downright dirty. It's a great party game for friends, but with the base game can also be fun for families. It's extremely easy to learn, and gameplay is quick. Strategy becomes a factor as you learn to play, and how best to position the exploding kittens in the deck and use cards to force others to draw. I would play this game again without a doubt. If you're into card games, party games, or just want something different to play this game might just be for you.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 7, 2015.
Neutral: Fallout 4 is a decent game, but it's neither a good role-playing game nor a good Fallout game. While the new additions - weapon modifications, animated dialogue, and settlement building - are neat, they fail to distract from the fact that much of the core content that distinguished past games: interesting story-writing, dark humour, deep role-playing and the skills system, have all been excised from Fallout 4. It feels like what you would get if you asked a game-making robot machine to make a Fallout game, mechanically there if bland and cut back, but lacking its soul. Perhaps it will become better with DLC, but as is, it's strictly mediocre, what I would call a "popcorn game" not unenjoyable and good to waste time in, but almost immediately forgettable once you stop playing.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 24, 2015.
Recommended: Sharpened by the addition of the new content for Steam, the Consuming Shadow is a pretty complete and fun game. Its previous edition was fun but a little repetitive, and the inclusion of the new monsters and challenge modes more than sufficiently adds variety to this horror rogue-like. If you are a fan of rogue-likes, the Consuming Shadow is definitely one to check out, because there's nothing out there quite like this weird and compelling mash-up of FTL travel with events, side-scrolling platforming, horror themes, and adventure-game puzzle-solving. The art is still the weak point, as are some technical bugs, but beyond that is a quite interesting game that easily grabs me for hours at a time.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 23, 2015.
Neutral: While it's no secret that Hatred has been dancing around the may-pole of controversy, it's a decently-wrought if repetitive twin-stick shooter. So why am I neutral on it rather than recommending it, you ask? Two reasons - first of all, it doesn't last long at all before it sinks into repetition, and secondly, it runs like complete tripe on a bike on some systems. It's well-presented and entirely-overwrought in it's "story", but there's enough competence to the twin-stick shooting that I'd say if you're a shooter fanatic you will probably find it worth a decent sale price, assuming it'll work on your machine.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 22, 2015.
Recommended: The appeal of this game is right there in the premise, and while I don't think that it's going to win over anyone that is sceptical of it upon hearing about it, Hatfall is nonetheless a great amount of fun for those that find the humour in it. It lives and dies by that humour, really, but if you are a fan of critic and creator Yahtzee Crowshaw's humour, then I suspect you'll find this game more than worth the price of admission.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 6, 2015.
Recommended: While more expensive than its original ancestor, King of Dragon Pass' Steam edition includes great improvements to both the engine and the game itself. It works and looks much better on modern machines at a reasonable resolution, and there are a variety of new events, artefacts to gather, and more, that make the game more than worth the price of admission. On its own, KODP a great game well-conceived that is a stand-out for its unique combination of mechanics and compelling story-telling based on player choice.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 3, 2015.
Recommended: A very short but quite competently-implemented platform side-scrolling shooter, Bleed's not going to set the world on fire, but it's a fun romp. Controls seem tight and do actually require some skill, which is something lost from a lot of platformers of late, and the boss designs are interesting. Some decent pixel-art visuals and interesting chiptunes polish off a game that's probably worth the five dollars, and definitely worth it on a sale.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Oct 21, 2015.
Recommended: Death Unchained is a fun module with a great story for the players, and at the end of the day that's the important part. It presents a challenge to almost any party level, including higher levels than it's designed for, due to the level drain dangers. There are some issues on the DM side, but a creative DM can make adjustments on the fly, or ahead of time, to keep players having fun. The mystery is good enough to keep players guessing, and everything fits well into the Ravenloft theme, which can be great fun, or great fear for players and PCs. The story is interesting to run as a DM but there are parts where I had to get creative to keep players on track without making things feel linear. There needed to be a little more incentive to follow the plot in some areas. If you can pick this up with the rest of the Requiem: The Grim Harvest material for a good price I'd say grab it up.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 19, 2015.
Recommended: Assuredly the apex of the Shadowrun reboot series, Dragonfall's memorable story and characters more than make up for rough mechanics. Many of the same rough mechanics and bugs remain in Shadowrun - Dragonfall as were in Returns, but none of those that remain were bad enough to detract from the story that Dragonfall weaves. Most importantly, unlike returns, or it's following entry Hong Kong, this is a game where the campaign feels like a cohesive story rather than a bunch of random missions tied together with bits of old string. Add some compelling character writing on top of it, and this is a story that bears playing - and replaying.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 15, 2015.
Not Recommended: Take away the strange story connotations of Aerannis, and you are left with an instant-fail-state pure-line-of-sight stealth gameplay more frustrating than fun. With them this game is just a weird display of aimless extravagance, and while I don't truly like to throw the word around in regards to games, this is one that comes off quite pretentious. Aerannis is a game that thinks itself quite a degrees more innovative than its very simplistic stealth mechanics, but never achieves anything higher either by mechanics or by story. With a short and tonally-inconsistent story, floaty controls, and mechanics shallower than a tea tray, I couldn't in good faith recommend Aerannis.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 13, 2015.
Neutral: The many gameplay improvements do little to distract from the numerous bugs and stodgy story with little opportunity for role-playing in Shadowrun: Hong Kong. It is a game that feels woefully unpolished for what it is, with long writing sections full of typos, persistent interface bugs and design flaws, and character writing that feels like it only got half done prior to release. There's some moments of writing that shine as strong as Dragonfall, but this very much feels "phoned-in" in comparison, and the interesting character moments are vastly outnumbered by the dull, as the game absolutely loves burying you in over-long and poorly-written exposition - most of which is linear as all hell with no chance to create your own character or approach the missions in more than one way. There's fun to be had here, perhaps, if the linearity doesn't bother you, but this is a game where you are the secondary character to everything else, so don't expect the gratification of being the central character. One for the sale pile, unless you are a big fan of the franchise, and even then I'd have difficulty recommending it even on it's modest full price.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 9, 2015.
Recommended: It isn't the deepest game out there, but for a casual sim game, Game Corp DX is a great time-waster for a couple quid. It's solid, stable, has paid more attention to the technical details than most games have, and in general shows all the signs of a game that the developers have spent some care and attention on. Biggest complaint here is that I didn't find it very challenging, but that's somewhat to be expected for its style of casual games, and that the art design is utilitarian at best, somewhat resembling the kind of game you'd get on flash. None of that detracts from a solid game design however, and it's a fun little game all the same.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 8, 2015.
Recommended: While it stumbles out the gate with a few bugs, Introversion's Prison Architect is a solid and brilliantly-well designed management simulator. A polished game design with a newly-added story campaign mode round out the game we're familiar with from Steam Early access, and the only real complaints here are a few mechanics it doesn't explain well and few minor bugs. Nonetheless, if the management simulator genre is of interest you than this is definitely one you should consider picking up.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 4, 2015.
Recommended: Thea is at its core a compelling mix of 4X strategy and rogue-like RPG that suffers somewhat for proc-gen but is still quite fun. It's hard to understate how the proc-gen does make some runs rather frustrating, but the way the game involves you in the story of the villagers you are trying to see survive from adulthood to whatever end awaits inevitably weaves quite an interesting tale. While there's no doubt more that will be added over the course of its stay in the Early Access program, there's a lot to love already in Thea - The Awakening. Worth a look for fans of something like Heroes of Might & Magic or King of Dragon Pass, certainly, even as is now.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 24, 2015.
Recommended: Mad Max is, at its heart, a Mad Max game - a sprawling desert wasteland of a game full of vehicular combat. While it gets repetitive in some of the motions and the boss characters feel phoned in, the rest of the game is quite well done - the scenery feels quite interesting while still being thematic, the theming itself is brilliantly done, the engine is a technical marvel and runs well even on below-spec machines, and the hand-to-hand combat is quite tight. With plenty of options to trick out your car and buff up the titular Max, and a large sandbox to romp in, it's easy to lose yourself in the world of Mad Max. The biggest complaints I have here are with the mild repetition and some bugginess, really, and they're fairly minor ones, to my mind. That said, if you have a lower tolerance for repetition, I might wait for a sale. It's definitely worth the 24$ I paid for it, but I can see the case for 50$ being a bit harsher.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 16, 2015.
Recommended: A compelling mix of management sim, turn-based strategy of sorts, and narrative adventure, King of Dragon Pass is the kind of game to try even just out of interest for its sheer uniqueness. A very rich theme and lore elevates this well-done management games into one of my favourite games of yesteryear, and given it's now on GOG, it's well worth a look. The only real negatives I have to say about the game is the complexity does make the game have a bit of a process to learn, and getting it to run on modern hardware can be a chore. Brave those issues though, and you'll find a beautiful world rendered with artistic hand-painted imagery that creates a saga of your clan of your own. That player choice is key here, and it's one of only a few narrative based-games to real nail the aspect of player agency - this is the story of your clan, and it's quite a captivating one.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Sep 15, 2015.
Recommended: Overall, the story, the game itself, and the art of Final Fantasy I are great for their time. Of course it doesn't hold up to a lot of modern RPGs, but there are a few that it still puts to shame, even some recent ones. I would say pick it up and play it if you haven't, and even if you have, give it a run through again, you might be surprised after years of RPGs that have followed since its release. I had a lot of fun playing it, probably more fun than I expected when jumping into an old game. I was afraid all the nostalgia would wash away as my adult eyes took in what my mind recalled as one of my favorite childhood games. I can say with certainty, it is still one of the best RPGs I've ever played, and holds a special place in my gaming history, even now.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Sep 9, 2015.
Recommended: Solarquest is a great game for family and kids, and generally any gamer that likes classic board games. It's distinctly different than games like Monopoly, but similar enough that the concepts will come quickly to anyone who has played other real estate trading games. There is enough variation and strategy to keep things interesting, and give the game a decent replay value. You can still find copies of it on eBay for as little as $30.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Sep 6, 2015.
Recommended: While Magbot may be even better when it’s finished, it already has the makings of a fun, retro-style game. Fans of classic platformers will enjoy the mechanics, and the story, and people who enjoy puzzles should also find it interesting. Problem solving is required in small amounts, which gives the game a little more meat than just jumping from screen to screen to progress to the next level. I think the price point is a little high, for what’s there, but if it doesn’t go up much more as content is added it should be a good value overall. With the different game options available, it should have a fairly decent replay factor as well.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 29, 2015.
Not Recommended: I really hate to come down on ARK: Survival Evolved, but there's too much wrong here to recommend in its current state. I will say however, that the core game mechanics - especially the taming and riding aspects with the dinosaurs, offer a lot of promise if they manage to even out the technical and design problems. As is presently, the frame-rate chugs, there's wide-spread performance problems, and the combat feels weight-less. There's some fun to be had as a purely sandbox affair, but that's about it in it's present form. I wouldn't say it's enough to make up for the technical issues.
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Aug 26, 2015.
Recommended: An eclectic mix of tower defense and Sims, Afterlife Empire is a fun game with a bit of a mobile feel. It has a colourful style with an appeal for a broad group of ages, marred only by a few bugs, including one that makes the tutorial unplayable. If you like a more casual game, you will probably enjoy Afterlife Empire.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 21, 2015.
Recommended: Xenobloom is a very niche game; a fun one, but a niche game. Would that it explained the basics to getting started, easily it's biggest hurdle, I could recommend it without qualification; as is, I can see see some people getting frustrated with the lack of much explanation and giving it a pass as a result. That said, the retro pixel art is competently done, the music is very moody, and the game itself is a fun little toy. Basically - if the concept of managing your own little ecosystem SimEarth style appeals to you, you'll probably have a good bit of fun with Xenobloom. If not, it's not going to steal you over to the concept. Still a good game that does what it sets out to do very well.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 17, 2015.
Recommended: FTL is a game that is intentionally punishing in the end fight, but irrespective of that, the journey to said end fight is often quite fun. There is perhaps an over-reliance on procedural generation that can make the game overly inconsistent in difficulty, but to many, that's the appeal. At it's heart, FTL is a simple space tactical game that uses it's rogue-like elements with decent proficiency to create that often-sought "just one more game" replayability. It's not going to sell someone new to rogue-likes, I don't think, but it is well worth a look for fans of the genre.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 3, 2015.
Recommended: The graphics will leave it somewhat of an acquired taste, but if you look past them the Consuming Shadow is quite an absorbing game with a lot to offer. The combination of adventure game investigation aspects with the rogue-like procedural generation gels fairly well mechanically, and the Lovecraftian horror theme is pretty much as nailed as it's going to get with the level of graphics. Indeed, the graphics are the sore spot, which are fairly basic (though generally well-animated.) Very likely a niche title, but if you like horror adventure games and don't find yourself put off by the graphics, then you'll probably enjoy The Consuming Shadow; I know I did.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 1, 2015.
Recommended: Viking Conquest's Reforged Edition is about as expansive as I think you can get in Mount & Blade: Warband, between the day labour jobs, new items, religious system, and other additions. It's complete, and pretty solid. The biggest complaints come with its claims to historical accuracy which, while it's more historically-accurate than many games, it has many flaws, and in the relatively small variety of armour and weapons, which is diminished compared to Mount & Blade: Warband (though has been increased since the expansion's debut). All in all, not perfect, but a very solid expansion and likely worth the money, especially for enthusiasts of Mount & Blade.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 20, 2015.
Neutral: Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China is a fairly competent but simple platformer with good art design let down by some real visual fidelity issues. The clunkiness of the controls for many of the special assassin tools makes it difficult to recommend without qualification, but if you like a two-dimensional platformer with a focus on stealth you'll probably garner some enjoyment from ACC: China. It fits into the larger Assassin's Creed canon well, the story is moderately interesting if nothing new for the series, and the gameplay beyond those control issues are solid. It's not the sandbox Assassin's Creed games you're used to, but if you don't mind a competent platformer you may enjoy ACC: China.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 20, 2015.
Recommended: That D4 suffers from some porting issues and a strange tone certainly doesn't diminish this story-based adventure game's appeal. Indeed that strange tone is half of the appeal, since it varies quite a bit from what has become regular in the industry. The port has resolution issues and a few bugs and that style may not appeal to everyone, but if a strange little adventure game sounds up your alley, then it's worth checking D4 out, on a sale if not for full price.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 12, 2015.
Not Recommended: Setting aside the issue of the day-1 story-relevant DLC and the terrible ending and plot in general, Mass Effect 3 is an insipid but inoffensive third-person cover shooter. It has some notable glitchy-ness and bugginess, but otherwise is functional. Considering those two things, however, one cannot recommend this one on any but the deepest of sales, or whom will just enjoy the multi-player, especially since getting all the DLC for the full experience is a significant amount of additional spending.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 10, 2015.
A needed technical and graphical overhaul is present here, but the mechanical changes to Homeworld the remaster needs are neither neccessary nor to the game's benefit. Formations are pretty much pointless now, the AI requires much more micro (frustratingly so), and in general the control over the fleet feels much more clumsy than it did previously. Fans of the original Homeworld will be let down by the campaign in this regard since fighters are nearly pointless now and that makes one of the earlier missions a big brick wall of difficulty. Underneath all those problems, it's a shinier and better looking Homeworld, but it's traded the game design substance for the flair and style, and suffered for it. Worth picking up for the originals if you didn't own them, but in light of the design flaws introduced by the Remaster, I couldn't recommend it for those at the current price (32.99$ CAD)
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Jul 10, 2015.
Recommended: Nier rewards those who aren't just willing to take everything at face value. It requires investment in the world, the people and the lore. Subsequent play-throughs are required to get the whole story and those going for the true ending should keep a spare endgame save on a completely separate flash drive before attempting the final ending. You'll thank me later.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 7, 2015.
Recommended: Assassin's Creed: Rogue suffers from a few of the classic Creed bugbears, but beyond those it's a very solid offering that recovers quite well from the failure that was Unity. A fairly iterative title, Rogue seems to take a selection of the mechanics from previous games that worked, discards those that didn't, and tightens things into a cohesive whole that was engaging and pretty fun. If there's anything weak to Rogue it's the actual land combat, as melee combat in AC has always been a weaker point, but the ship combat is great, the optional collectables are kept a part of main game flow, and there was nothing that really felt too extraneous in the design, which had become a fair problem in recent AC games. If you're a fan of the series, I'd say this is assuredly worth a look.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 2, 2015.
Neutral: The interesting story presented by The Last Dogma is somewhat let down by the technical problems of the way in which you experience it. The engine seems to have technical issues, the animations where present are kind of bad at best, and the world while functional is mostly sparse. The surrealist story, however, was interesting enough to carry me through the experience. One for the sale list if the idea of an odd but interesting surreal story is to your tastes.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 30, 2015.
Recommended: A fairly-polished game already, Besiege's main lacking is content of the missions variety, but it's perfectly functional as is. A builder with a focus on destruction mechanics and some silly fun, the creative aspect of this game will no doubt captivate those whom are willing to look past the Early Access label. This is the kind of Early Access done right we saw in Kerbal - perfectly fine as is, and it only looks to get better in the future. Highly recommended.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Jun 30, 2015.
Recommended: The occasional gameplay issue doesn't mire what is ultimately a well-pieced-together story in Daylight, with slightly predictable outcomes that are still enjoyable to see. The game is short and creepy and will satisfy someone not willing to put in the time for a similar longer title, like say Alien: Isolation.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 29, 2015.
Not Recommended: Presented as a film, Her Story might have made an interesting story presented though an unusual framing device, but as a game, it's a story let down by the means by which you are left to experience it. Coupled with over-acting from the actress of the titularly-implied character, stilted and unnatural exposition, a very bizarre and frankly inappropriate plot turn, and a lot of chaff in an already short game, I simply cannot recommend Her Story. There's some value to be found in exploring it the one time and discussing it, but this is a game you can easily replicate watching it on YouTube; very little from the experience is lost.>
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 25, 2015.
Not Recommended: WWE 2K15 is a game that wasn't so much ported to PC as it was lobbed in the general vicinity of PC code with the hope it'd work itself out maybe. A half-finished series of features (if they can be called that) which subtracts huge portions of the customisation the series is known for only to add the shittest netcode and an absolutely unforgivably bad control set, among many other bugs ("features" no doubt), WWE 2K15 is a game I could recommend to absolutely no one, even my most loathed enemy. Avoid, if at all possible.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 23, 2015.
Recommended: While there's a few rough edges in the design, I can safely say Cities: Skylines is probably my favourite modern city-builder since SimCity 4, and that's been a long while indeed. It looks great, runs well, and does a great job in offering a variety of transit and building options. The lacking aspects beyond some more services (such as libraries or museums from SC2K for example), are mostly in the fine details, as creating transit lines can get quite finicky, and having to manually demolish abandoned building becomes a chore with a large city. Nonetheless a new paragon in it's genre; Skylines is the new benchmark, the one to beat when it comes to city-building.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 14, 2015.
A strangely-compelling game, Papers Please tells an intriguing story of a backwater communist nation through the medium of passports and dialogue. A little rough in the graphics, albeit intentionally so, and a bit of a niche game given the subject matter, but there really is no game like this one and on that token alone, it is assuredly worth giving a look. Just watch out for a bit of a difficulty wall to press past, towards the end of the game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 9, 2015.
Recommended: The beginning curve is even harsher than Mount & Blade: Warband, but patched to fit the bugs, Viking Conquest is a solid expansion pack with a good focus on accuracy and a ton of new content. The seafaring combat is a great new vector, the graphical update's basically as good as Mount & Blade is going to get, and the game has a facelift in the interface that makes it on the whole much more accessible. It's only really marred by a lack of variety in the armour and some curious other lapses in the historical accuracy, as well as in fairly lengthening the time it takes to get a new character started.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 30, 2015.
Neutral: There's a lot of fun to be had in Grand Theft Auto V Online, but it's fun that gets greatly diminished by the fuss of getting there. This is a game whose loading times are desperately in need of an in-flight movie, and the matchmaking is very poor, so you can often be put in situations where you wait minutes to get into the game just to get kicked out again because you lost connection. The heists - its much touted feature - are a disappointing wash that gets completely crippled by that matchmaking, but the other modes, and much of the overworld stuff, is fun, if utterly unstructured. Your tolerance for the loading times and the matchmaking will largely determine how much fun you have with GTA V Online.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 30, 2015.
Neutral: This first instalment in the Witcher series is something of a flawed gem: a good story well-told that suffers at the hands of it's needless complexity and poor combat system. It seems to mistake complexity for quality in many aspects, creating an overly complicated series of mechanics that ultimately end up resembling a Rube Goldberg machine. Nonetheless, an above-average plot and some decent character writing help buoy the Witcher to be a worthwhile CRPG if you can stomach the complexity and insubstantial combat.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 29, 2015.
Recommended: Kung Fury is the arcade brawler boiled to its base essentials, a cheap and short bit of fun - but fun is indeed the operative there. Comparisons have been made to One Finger Death Punch, perhaps since it's the point of reference for this generation, but this is something most evocative of the dual button brawlers in arcade cabinets of old. It's quick, stylish, and it knows exactly what it wants to be, and owns the hell out of it.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 26, 2015.
Recommended: While Courier of the Crypts could stand to teach you its core mechanics a little better, what is there is a nicely-wrought, very charming retro RPG with a very new spin on mechanics. It's not the deepest RPG you'll ever play, but what is there is well-polished and well-executed. It could easily stand on its own right now, even with its flaws, and given the nature of Early Access, that's high praise. Worth a look, if you like a retro game with a twist.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 23, 2015.
Recommended: Game of Thrones: The Role-Playing game is hardly going to set the world on fire, but it's a good if rough-around-the-edges game with a quite excellent story to tell. If you can get past uneven production values and shallow mechanics, there's quite an interesting tale to be woven here, and the cinematography of shots and angles in the scenes is a standout. Some interesting combat mechanics and an atmospheric soundtrack help elevate it from merely mediocre in my opinion, but if you wanted to self-insert you own characters into the universe of Game of Thrones as I did, this one will disappoint. If that and some rough edges don't turn you off, I'd say it's definitely worth a look.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 21, 2015.
Not Recommended: A game buggy from the onset that never got fixed, anything of virtue in Planetary Annihilation is borrowed from its predecessor. Technically deficient, the game frequently crashed to desktop during play, occasionally the UI crashed and necessitated quitting the game via the Task Manager. The visual design is very cheap mobile game seeming, and the game balance is non-existent, with air and space power utterly dominating. Furthermore, the AI presents very little challenge, consistently getting caught going in circles, sitting right under orbital lasers and dying, and not really presenting any tactics beyond "send all my units at this guy". A definite pass unless it's on an aggressive sale, a game of many broken promises and none delivered ones.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on May 14, 2015.
Recommended: Pillars of Eternity pays homage to the CRPGs of old. It's brutal, immersive, rewarding and quite beautiful. Obsidian have developed another winner. The party members are the big fumble, with uninteresting stories and uneven voice acting, but beyond that it offer a large world and a solid story. Highly recommended.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 10, 2015.
Recommended: Frustrated by ploddy games overly-reliant on poorly-paced stories? Hotline Miami is your high-octane, blood-soaked cure. Fast and punchy action combines with just enough of a thought-provoking narrative to give an antithetical take on your traditional action thriller. It's not for kids, and a little repetitive, but if the pixel art style isn't a turn-off for you, you'd be remiss not to check this game out.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on May 3, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 1, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 27, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 26, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 25, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 23, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 23, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 21, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 19, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 18, 2015.
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.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Apr 15, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 15, 2015.
Neutral: Medal of Honor: Warfighter is very solid multi-player game for the money and genre, but with the lack of community I cannot in good faith recommend it. If you and a few buddies pick it up, you'll probably have some fun - the maps are fairly well-designed, the meta is deep enough to compel without requiring a huge amount of effort to get the most from it, and the shooting mechanics and engine are bang-on, with the one big mark against it being very generic and uninspired game modes. It's a pity the community is pretty much non-existent.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 13, 2015.
Recommended: Medal of Honor: Warfighter isn't the kind of game that's going to blow anyone away, but it's a solid military shooter at a great price that is well produced. It has its problems: mostly in a somewhat disjointed switching of game modes and a few interface issues, but beyond that, what it offers is pretty good all-around, if a bit dated even for the time in terms of graphics. At the 5 or 10 dollars it currently goes for though, definitely worth it if it's a genre you're into.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 12, 2015.
Recommended: Luminosity is a solid, simple arcade game whose Steam edition sees the addition of a ton of polish and a brilliant soundtrack. While previously I criticised that the game was great but didn't have enough to offer for the price point, it's the complete package now, with the addition of a retouch to the art, a variety of new ships and enemies adding additional play mechanics, and an as I said quite brilliant soundtrack. Well worth the money now for fans of classic arcade games, and it's an easy new favourite of mine in the genre.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 9, 2015.
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"
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 8, 2015.
Recommended: While I wouldn't say it's going to be a classic, Titanfall is nonetheless a solid, well-balanced, and fast-paced FPS, marred only by a mediocre engine and weak meta. There's a variety of problems to choose from with that engine - be it the large install size from uncompressed audio, the many "exposed wires" in configuration files that no doubt exposes the game to cheating, or the kind of patchy-at-best texture quality and general video fidelity even on highest settings, and the weak meta progression can make longetivity questionable. I might not have bought it at the full 45 quid they asked here at release, but 20 quid seems very reasonable indeed. Worth taking a try with Origin Game Time if you're interested.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 7, 2015.
Neutral: There's a lot of charm and personality to like in the Tex Murphy series, and Tesla Effect is no exception, but it also holds onto the old foibles of FMV games. The story-writing is the same mix of comedy and hard-boiled detective serial you've might remember and love, but beyond that, the puzzles are fairly simple adventure game logic, and while the game actually looks rather good in the FMV sequences, the 3D semi-sandbox you interact with otherwise looks a decade out of date and juxtaposes poorly with the FMV. Nonetheless a good game for fans, and that's who it was made for.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 2, 2015.
Recommended: A faithful adaptation of the South Park series, Stick of Truth is crude, lewd, and obnoxious, and good fun for fans along the way. It offers a fairly vast rendition of the titular town to explore, although the mechanics are a bit shallow, if very functional with some interesting twists. The humour is pulled off in grand South Park tradition, so it's more one for fans of the series than anything else - this game more than anything else is a love letter to those fans, and if the humour of the television series puts you off, it likewise probably will in the game as well. If you are one of those fans, however, it is most certainly worth a look!
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 31, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 24, 2015.
Recommended: 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 its 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.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Mar 23, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 19, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 17, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 16, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Mar 12, 2015.
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.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Mar 1, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 28, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 27, 2015.
Neutral: There is certainly enough to love in the story and roleplaying of Blackguards, but the combats are pretty painful. Drawn out mercilessly in some cases and filled with the occasional newbie trap, the tactical combat system is slow, clunky, and makes the game feel like much more of a grind than it needs to. Nonetheless, a high-production game that is worth picking up on a sale if the slow pace and high micro on the combat isn't something that turns you off (or indeed, appeals to you).
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Feb 26, 2015.
Recommended: The story is daunting at first, but Bayonetta offers a brilliant and varied spectacle fighter. The depth of combat options and great flourishes in art design have a lot to offer, as does how the protagonist absolutely exudes character. It can be a bit difficult, relies on some pretty bullshit QTEs in part, and has some rough edges, but it is nonetheless a quite fun game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 25, 2015.
Neutral: While the sandbox building is fun and quite functional, I don't think there's quite enough here in Medieval Engineers to recommend it yet. That's not to say it is bad, but it's not quite developed to a point where you can really enjoy it yet, due to a lack of features in the survival mode, some clunkiness in controls, and the like. Definitely a promising title to keep an eye on, however.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 22, 2015.
Recommended: A short and singular, but gorgeous and well-realised, experience The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a new benchmark in adventure games. The quite technically-solid engine offers some damn-near-photo-realistic visuals that give a great setting for some unfortunately rather simple puzzles, but it's all the connective tissue in a story that is quite well-told and keeps the player on their toes with plenty of twists and turns. It's an exploration through a presented world that I found quite compelling all the way through.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 20, 2015.
Neutral: Fancy Skulls is a very functional arena shooter "roguelite", but there wasn't anything that I really enjoyed. It seemed really unsubstantial, something that I can't say I didn't very mildly enjoy while I played but immediately forgot about after playing. The art style is the one notable thing, everything else treads on ground so well-trodden its not so much that as basically purged with fire and salt right now, and while the art style may be of interest to some, it didn't hold mine.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 19, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 18, 2015.
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.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Feb 14, 2015.
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 its story and gameplay mechanics.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 10, 2015.
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.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Feb 2, 2015.
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.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 2, 2015.
Neutral: There's an interesting take on a board-game style space strategy game to be had here, but in Starion Tactics, it is left feeling somewhat empty and has some technical issues. The price is frankly a bit high for such a title, however it might be worth picking up on a sale. There's a decent if simplistic game here, just nowheres enough for twenty-two dollars in my admittedly-subjective opinion. There's some fun to be had here in multi-player though.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 30, 2015.
Not Recommended: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is at best, more of the same, and at its worst an absolute mess of poor characterisation and terrible voice acting. There isn't much positive to say here: the core gameplay is mostly the same, but the sandbox is smaller, less interesting, and full of bullet-spongey enemies and bosses whose health now resets and as such waste your time. Grab it on a very good sale if you're a fan for completion's sake perhaps, but otherwise, a solid pass.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 26, 2015.
Recommended: The gameplay mechanics aren't anything to write home about, but the way the game uses tried-and-tested tools to tell your own gripping survival story is quite unique to This War of Mine. It takes those well-proven and simplistic tools and elevates them with what it accomplishes with them. It's probably not going to be your jive if you're more mechanics-focussed in your gaming preferences, but if you can enjoy a compelling survival story, This War of Mine delivers. In spades.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Jan 17, 2015.
Recommended: Shadows of the Damned is a game that may turn people off of it, with its incredibly violent, incredibly loud, and incredibly unorthodox style, there are some people who won't be a fan. There's plenty of innuendo that isn't subtle in the slightest, while the dialogue is rude, crude and at times slightly grating in its masterfully incompetent execution. There is a fair bit of nudity and insane amounts of gore as you watch Paula die consistently. While it is a stylistic choice, rude and obnoxious is still rude and obnoxious. The gameplay is for the most part, pretty damn solid, with minor issues regarding aiming cropping up here and there. While not everyone is going to enjoy this title, I certainly had a tonne of fun with it.
Written by Tabitha Dickerson and published on Jan 8, 2015.
Recommended: Alien: Isolation isn't a game for everyone. There is a lot of trial and error, especially due to the classic style "save points" and the game can be frustrating to those without patience. That being said it can also be incredibly rewarding at times and is a must-have for any fan of the Alien film—as well as boasting enough to keep any general Aliens fans enthralled in its masterful execution.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 23, 2014.
Not Recommended: There's a good game in Dragon Age II desperately trying to get out, but it feels far too buggy and disjointed to recommend. Some good character writing is what will no doubt salvage the game for some, but the actual combat is fairly uninviting, and the overarching story never seems to amount to much. On a good enough sale, pick it up if you want to be a Dragon Age completionist, but honestly, you wouldn't be missing a whole lot if you skipped it.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 23, 2014.
Neutral: Lichdom: Battlemage's spell crafting system is an interesting mechanic, but there isn't enough of it there to carry the game through its length, and it feels like it overstays its welcome. Especially given the AAA price point, its a fairly insubstantial game for what it asks. That's not to say it isn't a solid shooter with some impactful spells, and the crafting element is strong if repetitive, but the linear levels, thread-bare story, and uninteresting protagonist combined to leave one feeling underwhelmed by the experience. Worth it on an aggressive sale if you are tolerant of linearity, since the shooting is pretty good, but otherwise, probably a pass.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 23, 2014.
Recommended: A runner game isn't going to set the world on fire, but the interesting theme and tight design make Boson X well worth playing. It marries a variety of interesting obstacles with some quite interesting voxel art design in the levels and characters to create a strongly-themed and quite technically-proficient runner game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 15, 2014.
Neutral: A strong story campaign and an interesting series of new mechanics unfortunately can't save the absolutely bug-ridden mess that this game is in its current state. Crashes to desktop are frequent and there are many bugs and design flaws, from enemy armies not spawning to a “ferry” being a horse, this game has a lot of promise stymied by an absolute lack of any quality assurance and bug testing.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 12, 2014.
Recommended: I would go so far as to say this would be the reason I'd tell you to buy Origins. It fixes a lot of the combat problems, adds some much more interesting story, and has some absolutely brilliant character writing. Nowadays it comes bundled with the “Complete Edition” of Dragon Age, and it's definitely worth the few dollars more picking up that version to get Awakening.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 29, 2014.
Neutral: This is kind of the archetypal neutral review - to some people, DA:O is going to be much too generic for some, but while it is indeed fairly generic, its decently well-made. It's a well-made product that falls short of it's potential and has a couple particularly egregious design flaws and several bugs which exist to this day. One for the sale bin definitely, and worth full purchase if you enjoy the genre.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 19, 2014.
Recommended: Mount & Blade: Warband is a game evocative of the old classic Darklands, that suffers from quite a few rough edges but is a compelling and captivating medieval combat and life simulator. It has a compelling brand of open-world RPG, character story development, sandbox simulation, and strategy aspect that is unlike anything in the market since that classic Darklands, and nothing else since has really come close. If the idea of play a captain - or king or queen! - of your own medieval empire appeals to you, or even just living amongst it, you owe it to yourself to give Mount & Blade: Warband a look.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 15, 2014.
Recommended: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare attempts a fusion of the run-and-gun movement of old titles such as Unreal Tournament and the more modern, twitch-shooter that has been the Call of Duty series for some time. It's a refreshing new thing in and of itself, marred by some significant problems with matchmaking and a few carried-over flaws with the design of the latter. Nonetheless, I found myself enjoying this game despite the usual abrasiveness of COD's core community, and that speaks volumes, as far as I am concerned.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 26, 2014.
Neutral: A game that is literally style over substance, Shadowrun Returns absolutely oozes theme and setting, but to this day - well after release and promised patches - has a variety of flaws in a janky, unfinished, and buggy engine that seems to use questionable dice. There's fun to be had here most certainly, but for me, there was frustration in approximately equal measure. Worth picking up if you are a fan of Shadowrun and/or attracted to it's premise or themes, but if you're looking for a game to prove to you what western RPGs were in their heyday, this is not it.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 15, 2014.
Recommended: This is a simple game at first glance, but that appearance belies a devilish complexity, with a variety of gameplay mechanics all worked together in a very coherent and competent way. The price point might be considered a bit high for what it is, but it's worth a look, I think, perhaps on a sale, and perhaps even full price if you enjoy these sort of C64/ZX Spectrum old games.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 10, 2014.
Recommended: This is the kind of game that you know if you will not like it straight up in the title, but if that title doesn't turn you off and you're still wondering: yeah, for a quid this is well worth picking up and playing. It's a simple, funny little game you can burn a lunch break on while enjoying a bit of a parody of both the titular "SJWs" and the trolls of the internet. It's amusing, actually quite intelligent at parts, and worth that one quid. If you wanted to ragequit this review just seeing the title though, yeah, this isn't a game for you.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 31, 2014.
Recommended: If it weren't for the mess of controls and general jankiness of the PC port, this would be amongst my favourite PC games of all time. Regardless, Saints Row 2 offers an absolutely phenonemal open world with a bevy of entertaining things to do in it and an interesting storyline as well. Saints Row 2 knows exactly what it wants to be: fun. And that's exactly what it is.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 29, 2014.
Recommended: This is as much a classic it comes; one of the finest examples in one of the most venerable series in gaming, and one that deserves the title. A good graphical style that stands up to this day, coupled with a wonderful interface (albeit with a bump in the mess that is inventory management), a complex story, and an intricately-detailed world simulation, this is The RPG, as far as I am concerned, and if you enjoy RPGs, you need to play this, if you haven't already.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 27, 2014.
Recommended: This is definitely an example of a game where the art direction and that design will just brush some people the wrong way, being very "twee" in that strange sort of Japanese way, but if that doesn't bother you, what you'll find is a fairly well-designed and moderately-deep tower defense. game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 27, 2014.
Not Recommended: Thief's newest iteration is a game that had to deal with lingering in the shadows of it's predecessor. It's functional, technically-competent, and that's about all the nice things I can say about it. The characters have been turned into overwrought, "gritty" stereotypes, the setting has been turned into a not-Dishonored-honest steampunk magical setting, but most damning of all, and perhaps the only thing that is important: the core game mechanics just don't work cohesively. Get it on a sale maybe, but don't expect it to live up to the name it's using to market itself.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 13, 2014.
Recommended: I suppose it's not unexpected to be recommending this game, but I would say it's best to wait until you can grab it on a sale. I would call Diablo III a popcorn game: it's something light and mindless I can play when I can't be bothered to play something deeper. There's beauty in the simplicity that Diablo III offers and depth to be found in min/maxing the items, but at the end of the day, you're still just clicking things to death. It's a beautiful-looking and beautiful-playing clicking things to death however, so definitely worth picking up on said sale.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 10, 2014.
Recommended: This is definitely one to add to the 'get it on a sale list' - Halfway is a solid game with well-designed mechanics and a moderately compelling story that, perhaps lampshaded in its title, seems to run out of new ideas halfway through. It is however most assuredly worth a look if you like a more tactical sort of RPG.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 6, 2014.
Neutral: While the new features added to the engine with Enemy Within are good improvements, and the ability to tone down (albeit not remove entirely) the absolutely maddening tutorial messages, the actual things added to gameplay result in a power creep that makes the game much less difficult, and the difficulty was a lot of the charm of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the original UFO: Enemy Unknown. That aside, there's an appreciable amount of good new content here on display worthwhile if you can get past the balance issues the power creep presents. There's a lot of fun to be had here, but veterans will likely be frustrated by that lack of balance.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 30, 2014.
Recommended: This is everything fun about PAYDAY: The Heist amped up to eleven. While the initial release was troubled by some questionable design decisions and bugs, PAYDAY 2 has been updated since to resolve most of these issues and is easily the most enjoyable cooperative shooter I have played. PAYDAY 2 comes with the strongest of recommendations if you like cooperative games, but you might want to give a little more careful consideration if playing solo given the lack of balancing of missions towards single-player.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 27, 2014.
Recommended: There's some bugginess that will need ironed out and some of the prisoner bios are really quite silly in Prison Architect, but beyond those relatively petty gripes it's a wonderful management sim in the same league as Theme Hospital. Unquestionably recommended.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 26, 2014.
Recommended: While the price might be a little steep for a game that doesn't revolutionise the formula, since it's appreciably higher than most other games in the genre, one can' deny that it is a well-designed and good-looking entry into the genre that adds its unique spin on things. Definitely one to pick up on a sale, at least, however.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 21, 2014.
Recommended: Xenonauts is a faithful spiritual successor to the original X-Com: UFO Defense game that adds some strong additional mechanics that add to the game, but misses out on some of the quality-of-life things from that predecessor and has a some jankiness in places, particularly the UI. Nonetheless, something I can easily recommend, both taken as a spiritual successor, and more importantly, as a game on its own merits.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 18, 2014.
Recommended: While it suffers from the clunkiness of the JRPG interfaces and mechanics that it uses, Paper Sorcerer is a visually stunning RPG with a compelling narrative and interesting characters. If you like roleplaying games or even just a story well-told, then I can easily recommend this game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 17, 2014.
Recommended: While the art aesthetic that Eldritch uses is tired at best, underneath that aesthetic is a well-designed roguelike first-person shooter. With the resource management you have to do, enemy variety, and interesting lore, there's a lot to like in Eldritch. If the price point is steep to you, then wait for a sale and pick it up - if you like roguelikes you probably won't regret it.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 17, 2014.
Recommended: A brilliantly-designed retro-style shooter with a lot of personality, great level design, and brilliant sword-fighting combat. There's a few flaws here and there, but nothing that detracts from the fun that is to be had with the title.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 16, 2014.
Recommended: It is a fun game which you can easily spend a lot of time on, but to speak frankly 10$ seems like a steep price for as simplistic a game as Nightmare Cooperative is. Nonetheless, if you like more casual rogue-like games, Nightmare Cooperative has a lot to offer.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 15, 2014.
Recommended: While Deadstone isn't reinventing the wheel and it definitely has some rough edges, it is nonetheless a fairly well-presented twin-stick shooter with the kind of narrative unusual for the genre that makes it quite compelling, at least for a bit. Certainly worth a look, at the least, if you're interested in the genre.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 10, 2014.
Recommended: Puzzle platformers and horror games are both genres that come a dime a dozen these days, but if you can set aside your prejudices and accept some of the rough edges that come with indie games in the genre, Whispering Willows is an easy sleeper hit. It doesn't break the mold, but what it does do, and do very well, is draw you along a compelling story.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 7, 2014.
Recommended: A fairly complex tower-defense once things start to decently unlock which is difficult but not overwhelming and with Puppy Games' brilliant retro aesthetic. Definitely worth a play if you are a TD fan.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 5, 2014.
Recommended: A solid stealth- and skill-based shooter with excellently-implemented mechanics along with a good-looking engine, Sniper Elite 3 is definitely worth a look if you prefer a thinking-man's shooter rather than the action fantasy of the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield. It gels together really well, into a game I enjoyed playing tremendously and will probably continue to play for some time.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 4, 2014.
Recommended: It is certainly not the easiest game, but the complexity of Banished's various systems coupled with the absolute elegance and efficient design of its interface combine to create one of the best city-building games of recent memory.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 1, 2014.
Recommended: While a lot of the game hangs on its theme and styling, when it's implemented so brilliantly, it's hard to fault the game. Coupled with a pleasant modernisation of old-school shooter mechanics and great level design, this game is more than worthwhile. It's a fun shooter with a decent narrative and an almost insane amount of attention to the fine details.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 1, 2014.
Recommended: Out of the three Viscera Cleanup Detail games, VCD: Shadow Warrior might seem the smallest, but it is also the most polished. If the premise of Viscera Cleanup Detail appeals to you, then this is a great place to start.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 27, 2014.
Recommended: It's definitely a niche title, as are all of the games in this series, but if the premise appeals to you, then the cleanup in Viscera Cleanup Detail is a unique sort of game that is actually rather enjoyable.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 26, 2014.
Recommended: A lot of games go for that 'retro platformer' feel out of an ease of development and miss the mark when it comes to the charm and feeling of those games. Shovel Knight is not one of those games. It's a compelling and wonderful little retro platformer with an amazing attention to the little fine details.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 24, 2014.
Recommended: A great platformer with responsive controls and a characteristic charm, Battleblock Theater is well worth picking up for that art style and humour even if you're not necessarily "into" platformers.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 24, 2014.
Neutral: Bound by Flame is a game that aspires for AAA CRPG greatness in the vein of Skyrim or Dragon Age: Origins, and falls short of the mark. It's fun for a single play, without much replay value, so at 40$, it's one to get on a sale.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 16, 2014.
Recommended: This is most certainly the new sandbox many were waiting for in a State of Decay expansion without a doubt, though it suffers from a lack of variety in gameplay and an aggressively-small actual play area.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 5, 2014.
Neutral: There are a few tweaks and additions to the State of Decay game to give some value here, but with no additions to the story and no sweeping gameplay additions that add a lot of play time, this is the kind of DLC that is for enthusiasts of the original game looking to get a little more value out of the game. It's not bad and there a few nice tweaks, but people looking for more are best buying the equally-priced Lifeline instead which is better in every way.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 1, 2014.
Recommended: A solid action-RPG with survival elements which is diminished by some bugs and some jankiness in the game design. Despite the flaws, State of Decay gives a compelling zombie experience. This would easily be one of the best zombie survival games out there if only it had a co-op mode.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 30, 2014.
Not Recommended: There's some fun to be had in How to Survive and the titular guide has a lot of character in its appearances in the game, but if you were looking for the zombie survival type of game that the title promises, then you are going to be disappointed, and the game has a lot of jankiness that comes with a poor console port and some equally-poor design decisions. There's just not enough to this game and too much frustration at points to recommend.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 29, 2014.
Recommended: If you ever wondered what a early 90s FPS shooter would have looked with rogue-light elements and Atari 2600 sound effects, look no further than Heavy Bullets. It is a simple but highly-effective FPS given additional depth with those elements and several large doses of retro styling.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 22, 2014.
Recommended: Not just content to rely on a vivid aesthetic or the same powerful narration of its predecessor Bastion, Transistor takes SuperGiant's style and art into a much deeper and thoroughly-enjoyable game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 26, 2014.
Recommended: Puppy Games does one thing, and it does one thing very well: retro arcade games. If you're looking for a very highly-polished arcade game experience that both feels retro and benefits from modern conventions and fidelity, Ultratron won't leave you disappointed.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 25, 2014.
Recommended: There really isn't any reason not to play this. This is one of the finest examples of the puzzle-platformer genre out there, if not the best, and it earns that status very honestly: high production values, an absolutely stellar narration, and a great puzzle-platform experience.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 24, 2014.
Recommended: Definitely a different spin to 4X strategy, this game will be a hit or miss based on whether you find that spin interesting or not, but it's worth trying to find out. It's a game where a lot of care has been taken with it's development and mechanics, and it shows.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 21, 2014.
Recommended: An exceedingly well-executed and designed space 4X strategy game that stumbles a bit with a lack of personality that typically characterises its predecessors such as Star Control 2 or even newer competitors such as Stardrive. It's much more Master of Orion-esque in that, but if you liked that kind of game, then you will certainly enjoy Endless Space.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 20, 2014.
Neutral: A tight game with a fun core mechanic and some variations that nonetheless gets old quick and suffers from some low production values. It'll make some gamers very happy, especially played with a replica classic NES or SNES controller for an arcade feel, but it will leave a lot more feeling it is lacking.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 20, 2014.
Neutral: If you wanted a sort of Space Pirates and Zombies or Star Control 2 experience abbreviated into a quick gaming session, then that's pretty much exactly what Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space is. I suspect a lot of players will feel like they just got started getting interested in exploring the game world when the session is called to an end however, and the game length does nothing to hide a certain lack of content.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 9, 2014.
Neutral: Luminosity is a fun little game for short segments, but there's just not enough here to recommend at it's current price point of 3 euro. Grab it on a sale and a bundle and have yourself a couple hours of fun. It's a good game well-designed and well-executed, but there isn't much to it.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 22, 2014.
Recommended: Not quite the kind of heights of the classical Heroes of Might and Magic, but Fallen Enchantress delivers a balanced 4x turn-based strategy game that nonetheless suffers from a handful of minor flaws that keep it from being a great. Still worth picking up.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 13, 2014.
Recommended: Risk of Rain has a progression curve and randomness that turns the initial grind into pointless time-wasting, but once you start to unlock items this game comes into its own. Worthwhile for fans of the roguelike genre."
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 9, 2014.
Recommended: In a recent surge of roguelike games, Sword of the Stars: The Pit is by a respectable margin my favourite. A deep game which skillfully treads a line between usability and difficulty very well with fairly high production values for the genre.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 8, 2014.
Recommended: Long Live the Queen is a life-sim game that offers a good story with many branching paths and the ability to recover from all but the most egregious error states. Only some fairly low-resolution graphics keep this game from rising more prominently in its genre.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 23, 2013.
Recommended: A return to form for the classic X-Com series after many aborted revivals that remakes the classic dual mode strategy/tactics game element very well. A masterful combination of it's dual mode play between its base management and tactical combat that strays a bit from its namesake, but is nonetheless a strong game.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 4, 2012.
Not Recommended: Champions Online: On Alert is a masterclass in how not to change a MMO in an expansion. None of the changes in this Expansion/Update offer anything meaningful to the game, and many of them are quite destructive to it. The game in its current state isn't worth playing.
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 29, 2011.
Recommended: After the misstep of Oblivion, Skyrim is a gorgeous and well-executed return to form for the Elder Scrolls series. While the world's a bit smaller, it benefits from strong artistic direction and a brilliant aesthetic, coupled with a good PC port and powerful modding tools. A definite one to get for fans of the series.