Quarter to Three
85 Published Reviews
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.
Rebel Galaxy OutlawPC
For an indie game, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw has quite the playlist of catchy tunes in different genres. It can’t afford anything famous, of course. But it can afford things that are good. And, perhaps more importantly, you can play your own songs from inside the game. Because among the many insights offered in Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, it knows that if there’s one thing better than cruising around in a sweet ride blowing stuff up and flying through their explosions, it’s cruising around in a sweet ride blowing stuff up and flying through their explosions while listening to sweet tunes.
Transport Fever 2PC
The scenery goes by, the tracks rattle, the whistle blows, the truck’s engine purrs, the boat drifts lazily downriver, the plane banks and dips toward the runway. No one is pushing me to get out and build new plantain farms. There is no opponent AI whose company might get in the way of whatever railroad route I build later. There is no multiplayer. It’s just me and a map of stuff that wants to get somewhere else, waiting patiently for me to build it a way.
It’s a little weird that everything was left in my hands, rendered utterly ineffectual by democratic reform. What point did that make? To be fair, I’m the one that got the world there by choosing “ignore climate change” at literally every opportunity. I guess it wasn’t such a lawful good playthrough, after all. Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy. It’s time to roll up my sleeves, get my hands dirty, and throw a few token dollars at climate change long enough to attain an imperial victory.
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.
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 WarfarePC
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.
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 MortaPC
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 OrderSwitch
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 SolitudePC
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.
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
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.
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 CollectionSwitch
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 2PS4
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.
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 RaiderPC
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 EditionSwitch
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 WarPC
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.