Justin Last

Super Exploding Zoo

Super Exploding Zoo, at first glance is a simple puzzle game with cute graphics. It looks like something you might find on Kongregate: fast, easy to explain and teeming with short enough levels to play four or five while waiting for something else to happen. The first few levels do nothing to dispel that notion. You’ll guide an animal through a simple level, collect some companion animals, blow some stuff up along the way, kill the monsters and win. READ MORE

Massive Chalice

Massive Chalice isn’t perfect. I could spend 30 minutes complaining about poor enemy placements, stupid house mottos and enemies that just aren’t fun to fight. But after finishing a campaign and failing to save the kingdom, what I’m left with is an appreciation for the terrifying enemies, the intricacies of arranging marriages and the strategy that goes into deciding whether I should force one of my fighters into the Sagewright Guild to aid in research instead of leaving him on the roster in case I need his battle expertise in a few years. READ MORE

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Magicka 2 is at its best in cooperative play. It plays better with two than with one, it plays better with three than with two, and it plays better with four than with three. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really shine with any number. It never becomes that game that I want it to be. All through the campaign, my prevailing thought was “I hope that the next enemies are more fun to fight,” and the only difference was that when I had friends in the room or over PSN, those thoughts were said out loud instead of internalized. READ MORE

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Wolfenstein: The New Order was refreshingly nostalgic. Everything looked amazing but acted like a classic shooter. It was up to me to pick up health packs and ammo, and I could carry every gun I found. There was absolutely no gray area: B.J. is the good guy, Nazis are the bad guys and you have to kill every one of them to win. Layered atop that were characters that I cared about and weapons that were all a joy to use. There’s nothing quite like swapping over to a double-barreled shotgun and laying waste to a room of pure, concentrated evil. The Old Blood falls short of its big brother in its characters and story, but the mechanics are sound and I had fun all the way through. READ MORE

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Power Rangers was great. Well, it was great to me when I was a kid. Looking back at it, every episode followed the same general outline: head bad guy orders this week’s adversary around, adversary terrorizes city, rangers fight low-level mooks and adversary at normal size and win, and rangers mash their robots together to fight giant-sized adversary and win. And honestly, at 10, that was enough for me. READ MORE

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Fire is the silly quest of a caveman trying to find fire for his village. He was chosen for this task because it’s his fault the fire is gone. He fell asleep on fire watch duty, the fire went out and the village leadership is mad. In the first level you wind up eating a magic apple, talking to the tree it came from and taking on its quest to find some magic bugs. Find all of the bugs, and the tree will give you fire to take back to the village. READ MORE

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Young children like to make art projects. You can give a kid a box of crayons and a coloring book and they’re good for an entire afternoon. Sometimes, though, you’ve made that child miserable, because they’re not articulate enough to color inside the lines yet and your box of 16 crayons doesn’t have the exact right shade of purple to color that particular character from My Little Pony.

Esteban the Bull is that child. He loves making art projects, but he needs everything to be just right. This need for perfection makes him stressed and prone to act out. You can help Esteban out, though. He’ll listen to you and turn when you tell him. You’re not saving the world; collecting buttons and googly eyes is all Esteban wants, so when you help him, you’re saving his world, and that’s enough. READ MORE

convoy2

Convoy Games originally pitched Convoy as FTL: Faster Than Light crossed with Mad Max, and it wasn’t messing around. You have a difficult mission to complete. You buy upgrades for your vehicles using bolts gained from combat and side quests. Every time I lost, I felt like it was my own fault. So there’s FTL covered; it’s hard but fair, and every time I lose I want to come back for more. On the Mad Max side of things is the game’s aesthetic and core conceit. Your space ship, the Mercury, has crash landed on a dangerous planet. Luckily for you, the MCV (a giant hauler and your core vehicle) and a couple of smaller vehicles are still operational. It’s up to you to navigate the map, collect vital components and escape. READ MORE

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Son of Nor is a phenomenal concept wrapped in a subpar engine and combat system. The setting is interesting, lizardmen are cool enemies, and more games could stand to let me ascend by way of wizardly sand elevator instead of plebeian jumping. READ MORE

helldivers3

Helldivers does not like you. Every time Arrowhead could have chosen to help you out they chose instead to hamper, and Helldivers is better for it. Buried beneath a Starship Troopers (movie, not book) veneer is a challenging and interesting twin-stick shooter. It is the job of the titular Helldivers to spread managed democracy to the bugs, the cyborgs and the illuminant. Super Earth is at war with all three races, and when they are all vanquished the war simply starts over, but if the bugs are defeated when you play for the first time then you’ll be fighting cyborgs and illuminant. READ MORE