76 Published Reviews

Din's Legacy

PC
12.00
Tom ChickNov 06, 2019
But what are you going to do, go way back to Din’s Curse, the second game? No need, as this is state-of-the-art for action RPGs in Soldak’s fantasy worlds. If you want the town management and survival challenge of Zombasite, there’s always Zombasite. Din’s Legacy, on the other hand, finds that familiar groove carved out by Soldak’s reliable, effective, and still proprietary formula. The latest lonely member of the Depths of Peril revolution unspools with the same easy pull of any good action RPG.

Borderlands 3

PC
4.00
Tom ChickNov 01, 2019
Gearbox is at their best when they’re engineering the act of shooting something.  If their game would just shut up and let the gleeful gunplay speak for itself, Borderlands would go a lot further.  Instead, the gunplay is clogged up with meaningless loot, smugly unfunny jokes, and lots of using the same ol’ gun while waiting for the parsimonious skill point drip to finally drop.  Where’s the glee in all that?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

PC
8.00
Nick DiamonOct 30, 2019
In the campaign, white phosphorus is a horrific set-piece accompanied by screams and whimpers. That’s some heavy shit. In multiplayer, white phosphorus is a reward for competent play that brings high-fives and fierce guitar licks. That’s some badass shit, Bro! You can have this cake and you can eat it, Modern Warfare assures us. In past installments, this dissonance would be funny, but here, it’s another reminder that these are really two separate games, and never shall the twain meet.

Control

PS4
10.0
Tom ChickSep 16, 2019
I don’t want to use the word masterpiece lightly, but what else do you call the combination of gleefully chaotic gameplay with earnest storytelling in a setting as refreshingly unique as Bioshock? What else do you call a combat system that goes so far beyond the simple act of shooting a gun without drilling down into a set of intricate menus and complicated controls? What else do you call the crowning achievement of a studio with a unique voice, an uneven track record, and 25 years of experience? If there’s a better word to describe what Remedy has achieved with Control, I can’t think of it.

Children of Morta

PC
8.00
Tom ChickSep 10, 2019
A deft combination of the heft of immediate gratification and the lure of long-term progression, with a confident narrative wrapper.

MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black Order

Switch
16.00
Tom ChickJul 29, 2019
Which is exactly what I want.  These are the colorful bursts of superhero nonsense I’ve missed since 2017, splashy and unserious, as intricate as I want it to be, stretching out for as long a grind as I care to ride, brimming with the loot and customization I want in an action RPG, and enough content to make me forget I’ll never again play my leveled up Squirrel Girl.  Oh, Marvel/Disney/Nintendo.

Sea of Solitude

PC
4.00
Tom ChickJul 13, 2019
I don’t mean to make light of someone who’s obviously — maybe too obviously — writing about things that make her sad. I get it. But being sad doesn’t make your poetry worth reading. I’m sorry, I know that’s a dick thing to say, but I’m not your therapist. I’m not even your friend. I don’t know you. I’m sorry your little brother was bullied, I’m sorry your dad was busy with his job, and I’m sorry your boyfriend isn’t giving you the attention you feel you deserve.

Anthem

PC
8.00
Nick DiamonFeb 25, 2019
When everything matches up – no crashing, minimal loads, a good group, and a decent mission – Anthem shows so much promise. You’re space Iron Man, zipping around the treetops, dropping elemental bombs and sniping aliens while hovering like a battlefield god. This is the real sadness at the heart of it all. There’s a game here that could grow into something quite good, but a promise is just

Worbital

PC
8.00
Tom ChickFeb 07, 2019
How else can I react when he fumbles a missile launch and wastes an expensive nuclear warhead on a passing moon? Or when he flies his Asteroids-style manually controlled attack ship into the asteroid belt at the edge of the map because he came at me too fast? How else can I react as a cloud of debris from that moon rains down on his already damaged rail guns? Worbital isn’t just a smart strategy game. It’s a stellar comedy.

Terraforming Mars

PC
4.00
Tom ChickDec 13, 2018
The AI is questionable. There are also some anomalies in terms of how certain cards interact with the game, but the scoring hurries along so quickly that you might not even notice. And in the end, you can’t even look at the Mars you’ve terraformed because you’re staring at a few not very helpful numbers indicating everyone’s score. That’s this boardgame port in a nutshell: an incomplete effort stripped of personality and then a door slammed shut before you can admire your work.

Diablo III: Eternal Collection

Switch
10.0
Tom ChickNov 29, 2018
It’s absolutely insane. Utter havoc. It’s what makes Diablo 3 the preeminent action RPG, even if there are newer and arguably better designs out there. I still grin, shake my head, and marvel at Blizzard’s ability to fuse charm, character, and technical prowess. They are the masters of swirling cartoonish videogame power fantasies, they belong on the Switch, and they’re here at last.

Red Dead Redemption 2

PS4
10.0
Tom ChickOct 25, 2018
Far Cry 5’s glorious bursts of pastoral chaos, Spider-Man’s thrilling combat and even more thrilling web-slinging traversal, and then Odyssey’s astonishing beauty and carefully latticeworked gameplay systems. I loved each one more than the last. But in the end, these delightful and skillfully engineered distractions are just videogames. Red Dead Redemption 2 is uninterested in that caveat.

Strange Brigade

PC
6.00
Tom ChickOct 14, 2018
It’s a no-nonsense you’re-here-for-the-gunplay shooting spree, without any obligation to grind or level up. Strange Brigade seems to know you were already playing Destiny, Black Ops 4, and The Division, and it has no desire to compete with those treadmills. It instead just wants to be the most exciting ride it can be.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

PC
4.00
Tom ChickOct 09, 2018
She was a young woman in the wrong place at the wrong time. It fell to her to save her friends, which is a far more noble feat in a videogame than saving the world again. Tomb Raider was personal because it was personal. But now it’s come full circle to yet another vapid videogame character muddling through bad writing, rote familiar gameplay, and fewer features than the last time. Wake me when the next reboot is here.

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition

Switch
8.00
Tom ChickAug 31, 2018
My main complaint about Victor Vran was the lack of any sort of disincentive for getting killed. Without any death penalty, the risk/reward balance that’s so important in action RPGs is all but missing the risk. Hardcore mode will decisively take care of that for you. Good luck with that. Bring the Van Morrison with your shotgun and you should be fine.

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War

PC
8.00
Tom ChickAug 24, 2018
So many strategy games leave you hanging, wondering why the developers did or didn’t do something. So many strategy games have taken a cue from Firaxis’ latest Civilizations in that they just provide busywork and diversion. Make ten different decisions in a turn just so you can feel a sense of accomplishment. Too many strategy games mistake detail for design, activity for gameplay. Gladius knows better.

The Crew 2

PC
2.00
Tom ChickJul 06, 2018
As I played The Crew 2, desperate for something to latch on to, some element of the caRPG to care about somewhat, no matter how little, I idly considered checking out one of the latest Forza Horizons. It’s quite the game that makes me consider moseying onto the Microsoft Store. I didn’t, of course. I just reinstalled The Crew and marvelled all over again what a great caRPG Ubisoft has made.

Wreckfest

PC
10.0
Tom ChickJun 22, 2018
It’s not interested in car culture or faux social media or sexy street racing. It hasn’t seen any of the Fast and Furious movies. It loves tough cars, not sleek cars. It knows dents add character. You don’t need to drive these beasts around in the desert to make them look like they’ve been scavenging the wasteland. They come that way.

Cultist Simulator

PC
8.00
Tom ChickJun 04, 2018
The title is a bit unfortunate. It might even be a spoiler. It feels like a working title someone forgot to replace. You could take pretty much any sequence of three or four words from within the game and come up with a better title. But I suppose it has to sell. At least it’s not called Cultist Tycoon. If I were Kennedy’s publisher, I’d hector him into calling it Cultist Tycoon.

One Deck Dungeon

PC
4.00
Tom ChickMay 29, 2018
I particularly appreciate how it includes it on the screen with just as much prominence as my character’s other abilities; in the tabletop version, this stuff only exists on a separate notepad that’s easy to overlook. But unlike Sentinels of the Multiverse, I’d still rather play this on the tabletop. Handelabra seems so preoccupied with whether or not they could make a One Deck Dungeon videogame (they can!), but they didn’t stop to think if they should.

State of Decay 2

PC
10.0
Tom ChickMay 24, 2018
If you want the fullest and most thorough expression of zombie mythology in a movie, you watch Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. If you want the fullest and most thorough expression of zombie mythology in a game, you play Undead Labs’ State of Decay 2.

Metal Gear Survive

PC
6.00
Tom ChickApr 25, 2018
Everything except the candy corn zombie heads I could swallow as zombie comfort food. But because it’s trying so hard to be a Metal Gear game, and falling so short, Metal Gear Survive is the wrong kind of off-kilter. Sometimes a Kojima game without Kojima just isn’t a Kojima game. Sometimes it’s just a snack to tide me over. 23 days to go.

Far Cry 5

PC
10.0
Tom ChickApr 15, 2018
It speaks volumes that these are the problems Far Cry 5 has. A handful of minor and sometimes specious complaints idling in the back of my head, mostly ignored because Adeline just said something funny and a truck is blowing up and someone brought a rocket launcher and there’s a fire burning in the trees behind me while Peaches mauls some guy dressed like a biker who can’t believe he’s being eaten by a giant cat and he just said so.

Space Tyrant

PC
8.00
Tom ChickMar 22, 2018
This is a game with the same stuff as its far more detailed and complicated cousins, but it knows how to move. It knows how to make things happen at different interrelated levels, without sprawl, with a laser beam focus on doing the stuff you came to do when you decided to play a grand strategy game. If I had to pick one thing Space Tyrant does best, it would be pacing. Because this is how a game has to move in order to cook a Marie Callender chicken pot pie in 20 minutes.

Deep Sixed

PC
8.00
Tom ChickFeb 20, 2018
It’s an absurdist take on Apollo 13, in a broke ass Millennium Falcon, cruising into a nebula with a beater version of the Discovery. When the puzzle elements fall away and you’ve established a rapport with the hardware, and perhaps even an affection for its idiosyncrasies, you’re sitting in Dan O’Bannon’s chair. Now you’re Pinback. Now that galloping finger jab — right-left-right-left — actually does something.

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