Justin Last

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Borderlands doesn’t step tenderly around anything, and the developers’ devotion to a joke or a theme is to be applauded. Dogged determination doesn’t always work out, though. Not every moon is our moon, and recreating the sense of slowness seen in footage from ours does not translate well to Pandora’s moon, Elpis. Some other additions and changes are good, however. I don’t ever want to play another Borderlands game in which my only option is to sell trash guns back to Marcus. Throwing them into the Grinder — and admittedly often receiving more valuable trash guns — is too enticing to empty my backpack every time I pass a vending machine. READ MORE

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Crafting spells is fun, and it is solely that on which Magicmaker hinges. Between the wand, the mana spell and the cloak, each mage has three opportunities to combine magical elements. Some elements cause enemies to catch fire, others cause your spell to ricochet from one target to the next and still others can make your spells pass through walls or split into multiple projectiles. With over 2,000,000 combinations available, you won’t be hurting for customization. READ MORE

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The best games are simple to understand and quick to start. Within five minutes of downloading Cannon Brawl you’ll understand the basic concepts of building mines to bolster your economy, deploying territory balloons to expand your territory and dropping cannons to ensure military superiority over your opponent. New concepts are introduced throughout the campaign, but the core concept is immediately available and understandable. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing solo or with others: those three base units are going to be integral to victory. READ MORE

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I never knew that I needed roguelikes and puzzle games to team up, but Road Not Taken is great enough to prove how wrong I was. It rewards careful gameplay, features procedurally generated puzzles and lifts the crafting mechanics from match-three games like developer Spry Fox’s previous release, Triple Town. READ MORE

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We all have one (or more): a game that we know isn’t very good, but we love it anyway. Maybe it evokes memories of a happy summer with friends, maybe there’s one shining jewel that overshadows the surrounding desert, or maybe all of the bad comes together in an amazing, swirling maelstrom and manages to make something better than the sum of all its substandard parts. These are a few of our games that aren’t great, but we love them all the same.

Justin Last: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Why it’s not great: The story is all over the place, characters are only fleshed out immediately before a “powerful” moment and numerous things are left unexplained. Why is there not a push to get more people chunky power bracelets like Carter’s? How does everybody know to call the aliens by the species name upon first contact? Where do all of those turrets come from, and why is my engineer only smart enough to make them after I’ve unlocked the skill to yell “build a laser turret over there!” at him? READ MORE

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I want to like Abyss Odyssey. It’s chock-full of concepts that appeal to me, and if you asked me to review the design document instead of the finished product, it’d get top marks. In historical Chile, a warlock has descended into the abyss and taken a nap. That’s fine, as warlocks are weird guys, and they can sleep where they want. The unfortunate thing is that the warlock has a vivid imagination, and the abyss is causing his nightmares to come to life and terrorize the people on the surface. Your job: get to the bottom of the abyss, kill the warlock and save the people of Chile from being gored and eaten by horrible monsters.  READ MORE

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I’m torn.

On one hand, Munin is a well-assembled puzzle game. On the other, it’s almost completely devoid of plot and wastes the Norse setting completely. You play as the titular Munin, one of Odin’s two messenger ravens. The other raven, Hunin, is mentioned once in a screen of text and then never seen again. Loki has transformed Munin into a mortal man, and Munin must scour the world for his feathers. After collecting all of them, Munin can return to Odin who will, presumably, slap Loki on the hand and make him promise to be a good boy from now on. READ MORE

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Battle Princess of Arcadias is not the type of game that Nippon Ichi is typically known for. When I hear the company’s name I think of the turn-based combat of the Disgaea series, but everything in Battle Princess takes place in real time. There is one key similarity, though: female characters are considerably more than just eye candy. READ MORE

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11 bit studios has been steadily releasing tower offense games under the Anomaly banner since 2011. Commanding a line of creeps, determining the best line layout and changing the route to victory on the fly separated Anomaly: Warzone Earth and Anomaly 2 from more standard tower-defense fare. Anomaly Defenders takes the tower offense concept and turns it around again: now you’re controlling the aliens, protecting your launch pads from humans and spending your time on the receiving end of panzer tank fire. READ MORE

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Dark Scavenger feels like a Dungeons & Dragons campaign written by a middle-schooler, and I don’t mean that as an insult. Regardless of my advanced age, there’s something wonderful about finding a toaster on an alien planet, running it back to your ship and then deciding if you want a living skeleton to fashion a weapon from it, a creepy would-be car alien car salesman to create a hopefully-useful item or a Giger-inspired mouthless alien to recruit an ally for use in the upcoming battles. READ MORE