2311 Published Reviews
Minecraft DungeonsXbox One
Minecraft Dungeons has a solid core, and I’d love to see where it goes from here. Hopefully, Mojang recognizes the fact that games with grinding don’t have to be as much of a grind. It would be great to have some kind of way to experience levels in a remixed format, similar to how Diablo III has rifts or Torchlight and Path of Exile offer more randomized maps to encourage replays. But Minecraft Dungeons’ current approach is simply replaying the same stuff over again, and just isn’t enough.
Maneater is an enjoyable hunt that satisfies in its shark mayhem and story of revenge. The action is a bit repetitive and chaotic, but the goofiness of the violence ends up winning out. This is the first shark game I’ve truly enjoyed. It has cult classic written all over it.
I enjoyed my time with Pong Quest, but with unbalanced abilities, generic dungeon crawling, and repetitive battles, the experience struggled to hold my attention. Pong Quest delivers a fun and unique take on the well-known classic, but the novelty wears thin even before the brief campaign comes to a close.
Super Mega Baseball 3PS4
Super Mega Baseball 3 could use some tweaks to its gameplay, such as the automatic triggering of small defensive animations to prevent your player from getting turned around on a routine fly ball or missing an easy tag, for example. But on the whole, it provides solid gameplay in a fun, stylish wrapper.
Deliver Us the MoonPS4
Deliver Us the Moon is an excellently made game that succeeds in story and atmosphere. The lunar settlement is a fascinating place to explore, and even though it’s just filled with holographic ghosts, you get a sense of how it was once thriving and what exactly went wrong. The experience starts out strong and ends strong; some of the middle ground is a bit repetitive, but the narrative is engaging throughout and makes the journey worth taking.
Moving Out has a charming sense of humor and the developers clearly went out of their way to make the game as accessible as possible. You can adjust difficulty in an impressively granular way, checking individual boxes to tweak the time you have to complete goals, make objects lighter, remove some obstacles, and more. That does make it easier to zoom past some of the trickier levels, but it doesn’t ultimately change the fact that moving furniture in the game is as fun as the real deal.
Sakura Wars is a hard experience to put in words, but that experience doesn’t come around often. It is a captivating ride, striking a great balance between its funny and heartwarming moments. Just like the struggling theater group, the performance doesn’t always come together exactly as planned, but it has so much heart and charisma to leave the audience wanting an encore.
Having additional sets of fists to distract bosses and break up crowds can be a life-saver in the main campaign. But the additional modes, like competitive battles between players and boss rush, are more diversions than destinations. Streets of Rage 4’s simple approach to combat and content is enjoyable in short bursts, but it doesn’t have the hooks to keep you coming back. This beat ‘em up feels like an homage to the ‘90s, but it’s also stuck in that era.
Racing is a constant challenge. Each corner, opponent, and straightaway is a chance to gain or lose positioning at a bevy of different points on the track. I’m used to that cadence, so to introduce new wrinkles that evolve and deepen the experience on and off the track is exciting. It feels like a new take on speed.
At the heart of any engaging tactics games is the sense of emergent moments, where careful skill usage and planning leads to clutch wins. Taking control of a squad of COG soldiers in this adventure, I repeatedly encountered those moments, along with the thrill of a narrow victory. This is a solid new front in the Gears theater of war, and one worthy of additional opportunities to grow.
Predator: Hunting GroundsPS4
Hunting Grounds treats the character and setting with reverence, which, as a fan of the movies, is easy to appreciate. If you’re looking for an authentic predator experience, this is about as good as it’s gotten. And fittingly, it’s perhaps best enjoyed the way the predators have interacted with humanity: drop in, enjoy the hunt, and get out while you can.
XCOM: Chimera SquadPC
The XCOM series is well-known for its intricate turn-based action. Chimera Squad augments those systems with a few clever ideas, but some of the new systems don't play well with XCOM's existing foundation. The interwoven turn order and removal of permadeath are fun experiments, but they ultimately weaken XCOM's delicately balanced action. Chimera Squad is a neat standalone project, but it doesn’t stand as tall as the rest of the series.
Trials of ManaPS4
It may look more modern, but Trials of Mana is a faithful remake outside of its combat tweaks – and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. But as a fan of the original, parts of this game are still charming. I adored the combat and boss fights (when my A.I. cooperated), and even with some of its repetitive nature and horrible voice acting, I didn’t want to put the game down. It’s a decent remake but not the fantastic one it could have been. This series has so much potential, I’d just love to see it fully realized.
A Fold ApartPC
A Fold Apart is a different puzzle game, and that’s a good thing. The concept is novel, and I like a story with some emotional pull, but it never moves beyond that. I can’t think of a puzzle that stood out over the others or even a moment in the story that was particularly poignant. It all comes together in a presentable package. Its creative folding-paper mechanic makes it worth opening, even if what’s inside won’t overly excite you.
Final Fantasy VII RemakePS4
This remake of a legendary RPG finds an impressive equilibrium between its past and its present, crafting a distinctive world and exciting combat system that feel modern.
Treachery in Beatdown CitySwitch
Treachery in Beatdown City didn’t work for me, but it’s a far more creative and ambitious project than many of its contemporaries. Its subject matter is timely, and I enjoyed the attempt to reinterpret some of city life’s biggest problems through the lens of old-school games like Double Dragon. The idea of RPG-style menu-selected moves in a beat-em-up is very clever, even if the implementation here didn’t hit the mark. As it is, even with a lot of creativity on display, it’s just not a city I recommend visiting.
In Other WatersPC
In Other Waters’ gameplay and story aren’t enough to fuel the exploration it demands, but its world building is commendable. Unfortunately, this makes it suited more towards amateur biologists and cartographers than those looking for a gripping adventure.
Bleeding EdgeXbox One
Bleeding Edge has plenty of potential and I had fun with it in my first couple of hours, yet lost interest in it quickly, as the battles alone weren’t enough of an allure to keep going. Like most living competitive games, there’s a chance Ninja Theory could greatly enhance the experience over time. For the time being, however, it’s entertaining for a bit and then it fades fast.
Yes, Your GracePC
I admire that the choices aren’t black-and-white, and I have fond memories of the king and his daughters, especially of the youngest and her quest for the perfect pet. But Yes, Your Grace requires too much hindsight and replaying through content to see better outcomes, which is more repetitive than eye-opening.
RESIDENT EVIL 3Xbox One
With this remake, Capcom has greatly improved one of my least-loved entries in the series. Resident Evil 3’s greater focus on action affords you fewer opportunities to stop and think, but Jill's adventure is an incredible thrill ride. From the first moment that Nemesis burst through the wall and reached out with one of his tendrils, I felt my heart begin to race. I don’t think it slowed down again until the credits rolled.
Persona 5 RoyalPS4
With so many additions and improvements, Persona 5 Royal is an improved version of what was already one of the best RPGs of the last decade. Whether you’ve been itching to enjoy the Phantom Thieves’ journey again or looking to experience it for the first time, Royal wears its crown well.
The Room VR: A Dark MatterPC
Thankfully, it is a perfect fit for VR, and the series’ barebone narrative makes this is a great chance for newcomers to jump onboard. The puzzle-box gameplay is great for VR, and Fireproof’s moody environments should delight fans of atmospheric horror. In some ways, A Dark Matter is the culmination of everything Fireproof has done on mobile, but I also hope that it is a new beginning for the series in VR.
Roundguard is charming and engaging, both in extended sit-down plays and in shorter intermittent play sessions. Silly characters and nemeses draw heavily on established fantasy tropes, and strike the right tone for the light nature of play. Peggle veterans who have longed for a sequel should definitely play this clear homage. But even newcomers to this style of bouncy-ball fun will find a lot to smile about in this friendly dungeon descent.
Half Life: Alyx is a must-play game worthy of the series' legacy. Despite some puzzles and encounters that feel like filler, the overall experience is strong. The stunning setpieces, beautiful world, and smart writing stand out no matter the medium, and mark a return to form for Valve. If you were waiting for a killer app before you made the investment into virtual reality, this is it.
MLB The Show 20PS4
MLB The Show 20 mainly nails its core gameplay, and its many modes deliver compelling experiences. It’s not the best the series could be, but it makes you hold your breath in that moment before a crucial pitch or swing of the bat – a moment I love living in.