Andrew Passafiume

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Stealth games have gone through somewhat of a renaissance as of late, augmenting traditionally rigid mechanics you associate with the genre for something more forgiving. This is a way to introduce the genre to new players without alienating the veterans, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. CounterSpy continues this new traditional in style, with randomly generated side-scrolling levels and a focus on maintaining the balance between pure stealth and action. READ MORE

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As I mention in my review of the new indie title Hohokum, I prefer games with structure versus those that tend to let you roam free, learning as you go. Hohokum’s aimless approach was both its greatest strength and weakness, yet it made me realize I appreciate similar titles and their approach to that design. It’s not the best example of this approach to game design, but it had me thinking about those design philosophies and how important they are to gaming as a whole.

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Hohokum: I think I liked it?

August 21, 2014

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I’ve been sitting here, staring at a blank page for almost an hour. How do you write about a game like Hohokum? I recall my adventures with the game’s lead “character,” taking me through vast worlds full of bizarre characters and creatures that are all unique, yet somehow feel singular. It’s a game with no real premise or clear objectives, yet I found myself (sometimes) engaged with its colorful landscapes. Let’s explore Hohokum and see if we can dissect it, shall we?

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I’ve never been to Japan before, but I imagine it’s not unlike playing the new title from Acquire and XSEED, Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed. Sure, the game features way more blood-sucking demons than you might find in the real Akihabara, but otherwise it has to be close, right? Akiba’s Trip is exactly as bizarre as I expected, but it’s also surprisingly charming despite its rough edges.

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Spoilers for Transistor ahead! Don’t read on if you haven’t finished the game and want to keep those last moments a complete surprise.

Let’s talk about Transistor. It’s a game I love, but not entirely for the reasons I expected to. At first, I found myself put off by its combat and story that seemed to constantly keep you far enough away to learn anything. Slowly but surely the pieces began to fall into place, revealing a late game section that began to change things dramatically. But this isn’t about those moments. This is about two characters and most importantly how Supergiant managed to turn an unorthodox relationship into the game’s greatest strength.

As with Bastion before it, there are plenty of worthwhile moments prior to its ultimate conclusion, but its conclusion is, ultimately, what matters most. READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. In this final installment, Andrew Passafiume and Jeff deSolla discuss the evolution of the RPG legend, Dragon Quest.

We’ve covered many iconic franchises in From Pixels to Polygons, but few share the same legacy as Dragon Quest. Originally introduced to the West as Dragon Warrior, the DQ series helped craft Japanese-style RPGs, becoming the poster child for the genre long before Final Fantasy took the spotlight. Its evolution over time is steady, but significant, as it consistently remains aligned with its roots while still providing small, meaningful steps towards the future.

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It’s a column shake-up! Andrew Passafiume steps away from New Game+ for a week to explore his emotions in Serotonin.

I’m a sucker for good mystery novels, especially pulpy noir stories. I grew up reading Joan Lowery Nixon and eventually graduated to the big leagues: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and many others. This is why I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Murdered: Soul Suspect. I wasn’t optimistic about it, but it gave me the vibe of a cult classic in the making.

Playing through it made me realize why mysteries in games are even more satisfying than novels or films. Those stories are about the mystery, sure, but you are only a mere witness. Games, such as Murdered, make the act of solving these mysteries compelling in and of themselves. Sure, you want to know what’s really going on, but being tasked with figuring it out on your own is what makes the mystery truly shine.

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Andrew Passafiume and Lucas White look at Ninja Gaiden, the classic Tecmo action series.

Few series have made as painless a transition from 2D to 3D as Ninja Gaiden. It began its life as a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly addictive) 2D series before becoming a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly complex) 3D series. Boiling down Ninja Gaiden’s formula like that doesn’t do the series justice, however, as there is a multitude of small, yet meaningful changes made along the way.

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When attempting to recreate historical events in video game form, few actually succeed, often relying on a base understanding of history in order to provide a well-rounded experience appealing to a broader audience. These games seemingly sacrifice accuracy for entertainment and potentially lose something in the process. Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts is a title that surprised me for a multitude of reasons, but its focus on utilizing historical facts in an otherwise-fictional representation of World War I is what stood out to me the most, creating an experience that felt authentic despite its cartoonish exterior.

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Ubisoft’s recent push towards releasing smaller, downloadable titles alongside its big hits has been a positive step in the right direction. It began this trend with Child of Light and is continuing it with Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Utilizing a striking art style, provided by the publisher’s UbiArt framework, Valiant Hearts covers a time in history rarely presented in the medium and, thankfully, does so with a level of sophistication you don’t often see in games about war.

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