Quarter to Three
104 Published Reviews
Necromunda: Hired GunPC
Not to say all the friction in Hired Gun is commendable. A lot of this game’s friction could have been smoothed out. On the jank/polish spectrum, Hired Gun is about as far as you can get on the jank side without veering into unplayable.
Biomutant is what happens when someone makes an Ubisoft game, but without Ubisoft’s resources, experience, talent, or even willingness to take risks. With the exception of the art design, everything about Biomutant feels safe and familiar, but without the confidence or polish needed to make it effective. Safe, familiar, and hopelessly lost in the detritus-littered wasteland between design document and actual game.
Resident Evil VillagePC
I know it sounds like I’m being hard on Resident Evil, and I am. It’s a AAA series and in addition to AAA production values, it deserves AAA game design and even innovation. Or at least a confident balance between progression-based shooter and contrived adventure game puzzles. If I want to go back and play the same old awkward Resident Evils, I can. They’re still out there.
Project CARS 3PC
It will get you invested. It will make you care. Because when winning isn’t everything and mere speed isn’t the ultimate goal, when you progress by racing well instead of just fast, all that’s left is the joy of learning. That is what Project Cars 3 is ultimately about, what it’s built to deliver, what it’s carefully tuned to create: the joy of getting better at something.
Immortals: Fenyx RisingPC
The story has found new ways to observe familiar stories, even though you’ve spent 100 hours playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and then another 50 playing Hades. A few thousand years later, and it turns out Greek mythology still isn’t played out. And thanks to Ubisoft, neither are open worlds.
Like progress itself, as sure as torque creates traction, trucks are inevitable. Snowrunner is what happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force. As long as the irresistible force has a winch, the immovable object will lose.
Apocrypha, Netrunner, and Arkham Horror come to mind. But they’re all physical tabletop games, and none of them is the usual head-to-head card battle. Yet Mythgard, an online free-to-play game squarely in the tradition of the 1958 Richard Garfield classic that started it all, has found a place alongside them.
art of rallyPC
It’s the perfect illustration of how Art of Rally might be quaint, but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious. It might not have all the detail a gearhead expects, but that doesn’t mean it’s superficial. The cars might look like toys, but the driving model is no joke.
When you’ve got this kind of flexibility and variety constantly at your fingertips, when this sort of intricate interactivity is always available to distract you from potential frustration, a Dark Souls game isn’t quite so soul crushing anymore.
It’s got what it needs: a keen appreciation for how to smooth the tedium out of stealth games, adroitly presented by its rakish cast on a picante Western stage.
Creeper World 4PC
Creeper Worlds are basically puzzle games. But with the new sense of scale that comes with 3D, with new visuals to show off the ocean as sullen pools and looming waves, it’s enough to make it feel like a new world and, therefore, a new game.
The safe and familiar failings of the medium that can’t be pinned to CD Projekt specifically, but are nevertheless embraced with something that feels like enthusiasm. So I sigh and carry on to the ending of my choice, looking in vain for the actual cyberpunk in a sprawl of contrived and bland sci-fi.
Dirt 5 can afford to be vain, because it’s the kind of game you play because you think the levels are pretty. And you’re not wrong. They’re very pretty. But it’s not the game you play if you want to play a racing game. It’s barely the kind of game you play if you want to play a driving game. It’s the kind of game you play if you just want to move through pretty levels, which is something lots of videogames do these days. So Dirt 5 at least has that going for it.
Assassin's Creed ValhallaPC
Ubisoft’s artists are to open world games what Richard II is to words, and their talent shines throughout Valhalla’s England: this sceptered isle, this earth of majesty, this other Eden, demi-paradise, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea, this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. So what if it’s not as good as Odyssey? I’ll take it!
The best possible thing that could happen from this review is that someone in a position similar to mine reads it, buys the game, and experiences the same discovery and joy. Even if they don’t, though, Supergiant succeeded with me, and I’m tickled that it happened.
There’s nothing left to eat. The roiling protoplasm is restless and impatient. It’s tempted to grow a foot just so it can tap it peevishly, but that would be too cheeky. It’s beneath a shoggoth’s dignity. So it waits while you lead it around and try to figure out how to open that door. Such an amazing monster, trapped in such a middling game.
Numbers, all the way down, lined up in rows and columns with all the expected interactions, in a game that lets you do a lot of little things that don’t matter much in the hopes that eventually something’s going to happen that might matter a little. All the while, make sure you keep Ramiro Vazquez’ secrecy topped off.
Zombie Army 4: Dead WarPC
After all these years, Doom is trying to come to terms with its own seriousness and still isn’t sure how to do it. It’s still trying to find its place in the world of modern shooters. But with Zombie Army 4, Rebellion shows them how it’s done. This is how you build a shooter, and furthermore, this is how you express the inherent silliness of it all. Underneath the dim grey and the grim gore, there’s an indelible sense of playfulness to Zombie Army 4.
There were no upset wins or swings. You did a looping run from the railgun spawn and the keg of health and you didn’t dare deviate because it could all be over with one high-ping hit. Anyway, I’m old. Valorant has made me realize that I don’t recognize the landscape I grew up with. I’ll let the younger generation deal with Valorant’s sequel.
It can be tedious and exhausting. Its faux angst and exuberance and hellstory can be grating. It’s probably a level or two too long. But in the end, there’s something so lovable about Doom Eternal, so endearingly goofy about the gory glory kills, so affectionate in the way a monster looks at me cross-eyed as I shove a blade up through its chin and out of the top of its skull.
Did you spend your time watching another animation of a dying demon or adding another point of dexterity? Did you spend your time taking delight from these chuntering hunters, unionised rats, and doomed skyfarers? As Failbetter has been teaching us for as long as they’ve been making games, there are no wrong answers; there are only our decisions.
One Finger Death Punch 2PC
I don’t mean to make it sound complicated. One Finger Death Punch 2 is never complicated. It’s just that you can’t help but learn its visual cues in the course of messing around and watching cool stuff happen. The cues and colors insinuate themselves into your eye-hand coordination as surely as you know to start writing on the left of a page, to drive on the right side of the road, and to push the mouse up to look down.
It’s remarkable to see how Blue Manchu knows the different games Void Bastards could have been, and here I am, unlocking them, playing them, grooving on these creative remixes. It’s one thing for a game to be open-ended, and Void Bastards is certainly that. But it’s something else entirely for a game to be this limber. I never realized all the kinds of chaos viruses I could be.
Age of Wonders: PlanetfallPC
Run your index finger across the paper, along the row and then down the column, find a number that supposedly suggests the high-concept sci-fi in one of those dull classics you felt obligated to read and even more obligated to pretend to like. But Planetfall is a shelf of old sci-fi dime store novels in the back of a tiny bookstore inexplicably still in business. Pick the lurid title that calls out to you best. Pull it out and delight at the splash of imaginative cover art. This is your story for today.
All the numbers are there. They just need to be implemented in such a way to inform decisions. But until that happens, stealth in Phoenix Point is a dangling and poorly connected gameplay system, sputtering like a loose wire that needs tightening. Hopefully, they’ll get to it soon, because I sure would like to start playing again.