PS4

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Pier Solar and the Great Architects is a return to the 16-bit glory days of the JRPG genre and was originally released for the Sega Genesis in 2010, over a decade after the last official release for the system. It was conceived as an attempt to emulate the core concepts that made other RPGs of that era so memorable, and it largely succeeds in doing so, both for better and for worse. Pier Solar developer WaterMelon ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to remaster the game in HD for release on modern consoles (along with — of course — the Dreamcast), and it is this “definitive” version of the game that will likely gain exposure to a wider audience as copies of the limited-run Sega Genesis version can be very difficult to find. READ MORE

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Most of the time, it’s the object of a review to evaluate a game on its artistic merits, like what it’s trying to communicate and how it goes about delivering on that vision. With some games, though, like this fourth installment of the Skylanders series, what we’re looking at is undeniably a product: a collection of bullet points loosely tied together and pressed on a disc for consumption by mass-market shoppers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for every game, but it does make the “film criticism” school of reviews largely inappropriate.

So I’m going to follow Trap Team‘s lead and package together some bullet points for you. READ MORE

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Few films have inspired a generation of action-focused science fiction, both in games and other movies, more than James Cameron’s Aliens. While the titles inspired by Aliens are generally excellent, the ones based directly on that property haven’t fared as well. This is where Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation comes in. Based entirely on the original horror film that spawned the franchise, Isolation is a subtler take on its source material and, as a result, manages to make more of an impact.

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Like with any licensed property, games based on Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth as a whole, have been mixed. There are certainly a few stand-outs, but there are just as many (if not more so) poorly made cash-grabs. With such a rich lineage from which to borrow, the potential for an excellent game in this universe seemed untapped. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Monolith’s take on the series, is different, taking a license in exciting directions rarely seen from larger studios.

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When you first encounter Natural Doctrine, it appears to be a hybrid of Valkyria Chronicles and a crazy person’s conspiracy wall. As you play more, the symbology and walls of tied-together information begin to be somewhat more legible, but the metaphor becomes ever stronger: Natural Doctrine searches frantically for answers to how to make a good strategy RPG and overlays a web of complicated systems to try to make that happen, but ultimately it’ll just drive you mad. READ MORE

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Sherlock Holmes, the eccentric detective and one of the most iconic fictional characters, has seen a number of attempts at franchises based on his escapades, but few stand out as worthwhile. Frogwares’ series of titles is the most recent, delivering a more authentic Sherlock Holmes experience. Most of these titles are riddled with problems, and although each game has gotten better than the last, it was typically hard to recommend them. Understand my surprise when the newest game, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, exceeds all expectations. READ MORE

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After stepping away from Halo’s immense shadow, Bungie is back with a brand new franchise that isn’t too dissimilar from the series that made it the studio you know today. Destiny, an online-only first-person shooter (with some light RPG/MMO elements), is attempting to take the lessons learned from Halo and bring them to a genre hybrid that, at first glance, seems epic in scale. What you get out of Destiny will be different depending on what you are looking for, but whatever it is will undoubtedly be bundled with the feeling of lost potential.

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Jackbox Games is no stranger to the party genre: the company’s largest success, You Don’t Know Jack, has persisted for years in various formats, jumping from PC to consoles to Facebook as times changed but still delivering a very specific sort of trivia experience. And it’s just that: lots of people can make trivia games, but it’s the Jackbox style and sense of pace and humor that makes it stand out. With Fibbage, the company’s latest creation, it seeks to apply that knowledge to a similarly well-worn party game idea: trying to fool your friends. READ MORE

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Vertical shooters these days are largely something we see as part of the past, or as super-difficult PC games from Japan. Velocity 2X is neither of those things. The original Velocity was a typical vertical shooter that started as a PlayStation Mini, designed for the PSP, though it eventually received a PS Vita and PSP port called Velocity Ultra. In addition to taking the series to the television, Velocity 2X adds varied level types and increased accessibility. READ MORE

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The long, long line of Musou games thrives on sheer volume of content. Those who aren’t fans of the series will get nothing out of the prospect of doing something they don’t like dozens upon dozens of times, but if you buy into the Warriors formula, you can expect Omega Force to pile your plate high with characters, battles and unlockables. Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, the third enhanced edition of the game, adds an extra layer of cameos and modes to a title that already offered quite a bit. READ MORE