Xbox One

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Strategy games have taken many forms over the years. From running a successful business to conquering territories or taking the fight directly to your opponents in real-time battles, it has everything you would want and then some. Now, you might be asking, “what if I want a strategy game that lets me carefully plan my escape from a highly secure prison?” First, that’s an oddly specific question which somehow only relates to this particular review. Second, The Escapists is the game for you.

While it could be described as a puzzle game as much as a strategy game, The Escapists is all about learning the ins and outs of your temporary confinement and finding a way to successfully break free.

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As I made my way across a shallow river, my foot slipped, I cracked my head against a rock and floated downstream on the current. Upon regaining consciousness, I suddenly found myself beset by bandits. How many, you ask? I won’t know until the dealer reveals the next card, but with my luck, it won’t be good for me. In Hand of Fate, a unique blend of deck-building, action-RPG and choose-your-own-adventure, my luck is rarely good. READ MORE

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In 2008, Turtle Rock Studios evolved the cooperative shooter with the landmark release Left 4 Dead. In the years since that title’s release, there have been other developers pushing the genre forward by iterating on that original blueprint. With Evolve, Turtle Rock Studios sets out to make the next big leap in this game space again by focusing on asymmetrical gameplay. The result is an interesting concept that plays unlike nearly anything else I’ve experienced, and is incredibly exciting and fun when it works on all fronts. Unfortunately, far too often the actual matches fall far short of this occasional glimmer, and a frustratingly slow progression system makes the game feel more sluggish than fun. READ MORE

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Developers rarely attempt to focus on our teenage years in games, but when it does happen, it goes surprisingly well. I’m thinking of Gone Home or even the Persona series, which isn’t entirely about high school students yet the drama of that time in their lives is ever-present. Dontnod, the team behind 2013’s Remember Me, attempts something similar with Life is Strange, an episodic drama focused on an 18-year-old and her time in private school.

The first episode, Chrysalis, introduces us to a diverse cast of characters and a plot that seems to be heading in some interesting directions, complete with a science fiction twist that ties it all together.

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The HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series captures the raw brutality of the world in such vivid detail that there have been many moments that made me physically turn away. When Telltale announced it was going to set a game in this universe, I was highly skeptical that it could replicate this feeling. So far in the first two episodes of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series, I have been very impressed at how well it has captured the necessary violence and inhumanity while blending it seamlessly with the political intrigue so indicative of the series. READ MORE

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Whenever an HD remaster is announced, certain things flow through your head. Will it play exactly as you remember it? Does the story live up to today’s standards? Has the way the developer looked at a game changed over time? Considering the state of affairs with the Resident Evil series, you find yourself asking these questions way too often. Cameras that (kind of) work? Action over tension? Co-op? Gratuitous amounts of ammo and inventory space? Back in 1996, these were probably the furthest things from any Resident Evil fan’s mind, but for better or worse, the series has survived six main numbered games and a number of spin-offs.

With Resident Evil HD Remaster serving as an upgrade to the 2002 remake, was it worth revisiting this entry for a third time? READ MORE

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Despite the overabundance of zombie-related games, Techland made a name for itself with its 2011 release, Dead Island. It was an open-world action game with some light RPG elements, focused entirely on surviving the zombie hordes. Techland’s latest game, Dying Light, is similar in many ways, but focuses more on traversal and the survivalist aspects of Dead Island, making for a more self-serious experience. In some ways it surpasses Dead Island, but its shortcomings aren’t too dissimilar.

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Saints Row: Gat out of Hell is short. There is absolutely no denying that. The implications of its short length, however, are that within 30 minutes of play, you’ll have traded out Gat for Kinzie, learned how to fly, unlocked the ability to summon imps to fight on your side, collected over 50 soul clusters and persuaded Shakespeare to fight on your side against Satan in your quest to save The Boss and keep him from being forcibly wed to Satan’s daughter Jezebel. READ MORE

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Geometry Wars was an arcade game for the modern generation. It got people chasing high scores, it legitimized achievements and it was controller-shakingly hard while being completely fair. Geometry Wars 2 managed to improve on the original by introducing new enemies and tying multipliers to geom collection instead of number of kills, making your second life just as valuable as your first. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions continues a lot of the good from Geometry Wars 2, but it isn’t an arcade game anymore. There are still scores to chase, and there are still smart bombs to clear the screen when you get into trouble, but whatever nugget made Geometry Wars special died a little when the playfields became three-dimensional. READ MORE

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This medium is capable of incredible things, allowing us to not only tell a story, but also give us a chance to interact with and potentially shape it. On the other hand, games can also provide us an interactive means of learning about a specific topic, time in history or, in the case of Never Alone, a culture we rarely see represented. Based on the culture and folktales of Alaska’s Iñupiaq culture, Never Alone attempts to bridge the gap between a gameplay experience and an educational look at a society often forgotten about.

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