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When examining many recent indie releases, it can be easy to pinpoint their influences, especially since so many proudly focus on them. The same is true of Strike Suit Zero, the first title from Born Ready Games. Following in the footsteps of classics such as the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series, Strike Suit Zero is the studio’s attempt to revitalize (and redefine) the space combat genre. It’s a refreshing take on a well-worn formula, although it tends to ignore variety in favor of its particular brand of combat.

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Blizzard has always been able to create great expansion packs, going all the way back to the days when added content for a game was released on discs in stores. Reaper of Souls is no different. Blizzard has done a lot to turn around the flaws of the original, bringing back a lot of the gameplay that made Diablo II and its expansion so well-loved. READ MORE

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Ever since the humble beginnings of the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, we’ve seen releases of large swaths of arcade-style games. These titles, from Geometry Wars to Super Stardust, have populated these services from day one. Vlambeer, the creative team behind Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing, is back with Luftrausers, a 2D action game that feels like it’s a lost gem from a bygone era. It continues the unstoppable trend of arcade-style downloadable games in style.

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The Secret of Monkey Island‘s insult sword fighting. The Walking Dead‘s zombie apocalypse. Myst‘s linking books. All are simple concepts at the center of great adventure games. 1954: Alcatraz adds “escape from Alcatraz” to that list. It manages to draw the player in, not only because a prison escape is impressive, but because escaping from Alcatraz is especially daunting. It’s not all cinderblock walls, corrections officers and time in solitary confinement, though. While Joe is working to break out, his wife Christine is doing her part around San Francisco to unravel the mystery of Joe’s armored truck heist and aid his escape in any way possible. READ MORE

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The original Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was a reinvention of the Castlevania formula and story, focusing on the very first Belmont, Gabriel, and his quest to resurrect his wife. It was a surprisingly fantastic game, managing to evolve the Castlevania series in a compelling way while also telling a worthwhile story. Lords of Shadow 2 sets out to complete Gabriel’s story and expand the original game’s formula, and does so with impressive results.

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South Park: The Stick of Truth is meant as an earnest effort by South Park Digital Studios and Obsidian Entertainment to make a game that truly embraces the license of the show. This has certainly been a problem in the past, as the South Park name has been slapped on all manner of horrible things since the series began its run. In this aspect, Stick of Truth is a resounding success: it doesn’t just feel like it’s faithful to the South Park name, it feels like an interactive, especially-long episode of South Park.

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The long-dormant Thief franchise is considered by many to be a pioneer of the stealth genre. Eidos Montreal, the team behind the successful revival of the Deus Ex series, is back with their take on this classic. This new game, simply titled Thief, brings the genre back to its roots by attempting to focus on what made the original games so compelling, while also making it more approachable for newcomers.

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Card City Nights is exactly what I never knew I wanted: Pokemon crossed with Triple Triad from Final Fantasy VIII, wrapped up in a cute, hand-drawn visual style. You start out as the new kid in town, taking part in card battles until you get the eight legendary cards and challenge the Card King for a huge cash prize. READ MORE

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Capcom’s Strider series began its life as an arcade action-platformer before slowly making its way to home consoles. Soon enough, however, Strider simply disappeared, relegating its lead character, Hiryu, to guest appearances in crossover titles such as the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Rumors of the return of this iconic franchise circled for years before a new game, developed by Double Helix, was announced. While this new Strider may not be a perfect recreation of the earlier titles, it differentiates itself by adding a new twist to a well-worn formula.

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Successful comedy in games isn’t as rare as some make it out to be, but consistently-funny titles we almost never see. Jazzpunk, the new adventure from Necrophone Games, is a combination of the best Leslie Nielsen comedies and spoof films from a particular era jam-packed into one tiny game. Its brand of humor may not appeal to everyone, but it’s undeniably clever, charming and consistent in its approach to comedy, even when it seems nonsensical at times.

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