Reviews

2014-08-20-141818

Surprisingly hot on the heels of the release of the first game, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has both the benefit and the challenge of following an experience that is still quite fresh in players’ minds. Considering how much the original Danganronpa turned the visual novel genre on its head, it’s hard not to wonder whether the sequel could live up to its standards.

I’m happy to say that it did that and then some. READ MORE

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The “games as art” debate has been brewing more fervently for the past few years, with recent titles such as Proteus, Dear Esther and Gone Home serving as torchbearers for this movement. However, these titles, in which the gameplay mostly involves walking and exploring, stoke another debate: whether they’re “games” at all. For me, many of those games were incredible experiences that I would place right next to any I’ve had with more traditional art forms. Eidolon attempts to walk in the footsteps of the trailblazing games of this genre, but in doing so has gone too far. For the first time, I feel that I really understand the opinion of the other side. Eidolon is beautiful to look at and occasionally captivating, but the pace of the experience left me feeling uncertain. READ MORE

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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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Emulating another genre within a game has been met with varying levels of success. Probably the most well-known of an MMO-within-a-game structure is the .hack series. That franchise spanned seven games and, for the most part, did its best to emulate the MMO structure inside a “regular” RPG of sorts. Years after .hack made an appearance in both anime and video games, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment rolls around with a similar premise. Is SAO able to raise the bar on this kind of formula? READ MORE

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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Players have been enjoying The Swapper on PCfor the previous year, but console fans are just recently getting their first taste of the game on the PS4, PS3 and Vita. The Swapper is a puzzle-action game hybrid, similar in feel to Braid, but with a much darker and more realistic tone set on an abandoned space station. The game does make a few missteps, but the atmosphere, along with some unique and well-thought-out puzzle mechanics, make this a game that anyone even remotely interested in it should play. READ MORE

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Building a direct JRPG sequel creates a special opportunity. A developer can build on the hours of work of the previous game, both in asset creation and player buy-in, and the characters and locations can be fleshed out and given an ever-more-memorable presence in the minds of the fans and the zeitgeist of the genre. The focus can be on fixing flaws while retaining what went right, and the result can be a game that one-ups its accomplished predecessor.

But as enticing as this opportunity can be, it’s rarely seized in the genre, because it also presents a profound challenge. 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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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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At this point, getting a handheld Disgaea remake is nothing new. The first game was ported to both PSP and DS, and the second made it to PSP. Then Disgaea 3 was released on Vita two years ago, and here we are with the fourth game receiving the same treatment (and uniting the core series on one device). So how does it compare to both its ported peers and the PS3 original? READ MORE