The word Castlevania exists almost separate from the video game industry today – it represents one of those seriously long-lasting series that has been consistently produced for almost thirty years now; yet Microsoft Word still fails to recognise it as an acceptable word, the bastard. As the 35th instalment to the franchise, Lords of Shadow 2’s worth of carrying such a huge name from the past onward through modern gaming is questionable, coming from a first-time-Castelvania-player yet many-time-reviewer. Standalone or part of a huge series, C:LOS2 is a fantastically fun experience, even if it leaves far too much to be desired for in the realms of creative writing and level design.
With games such as The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and Dear Esther finding their way into mainstream gaming, a new genre has begun to emerge. Some argue that perhaps interactive story would be a better label than ‘game’ for these titles, while others file them under the broad adventure game heading. Whatever you wish to call them, they have a new member among their ranks: Orthogonal Games’ The Novelist, a tale about a family living by the coast and the hardships they must overcome to keep their relationship in one piece.
It may surprise you to learn that during the rare moments when I’m not gaming and/or getting deeply emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, I’m a psychology student. Apart from leading to many “hilarious” jokes about me psychoanalysing my friends one day, my interest in psychology means that when I saw that Daedalic’s 2011 title Edna & Harvey: The Breakout was set in an asylum, I was cautiously optimistic. It’s not often that mental illness plays a role in games (explicitly, anyway), and when it does it’s usually used as an offensive way of explaining why a bunch of goons are flailing wildly at your face, so I hoped that this might be a fun change that I could really get behind. When I actually started playing, however, I became a little glad that the optimism had only been cautious.
If you’d have talked to me a month ago, I would’ve passionately defended gaming’s whipping boy Call of Duty. While the series seemed to trip up a bit with Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3, last year’s sequel to the former by Treyarch was a true return to form, both in the incredibly popular multiplayer game mode and the once-popular-now-oft-forgotten single-player campaign. Additionally, a couple of years ago, I would have condemned Treyarch in favour of the all-powerful Infinity Ward, the company behind some of the greatest PC games of all time.
Matt’s note: I tried something that most review sites didn’t do for PES, and that is give the review to someone who’s not much of a football fan. So much so that’s he’s calling it “soccer”. Pleb. I wanted to see how much fun it’d be for a non-football fan and, of course, I played it myself to see how it’d be for a serious fan and long-time football gamer. For that reason, I’m going to write a paragraph or two of my own thoughts as a hardcore football fan with my own score, and then average the scores out for a fair analysis of the game.
Early last year, I heard about an iOS puzzle-platformer with an impossible to pronounce yet attractively mysterious name and my interest was instantly piqued. As you might assume given the title of this post, that game was Nihilumbra and as often happens, it ended up being one of those games that I was always curious about but never got around to playing. Needless to say, when I found out it was being ported to PC and I’d be reviewing it I got interested all over again, and I will confess to walking around telling everyone I know that I was reviewing it, just so that I could say the name in a slightly wistful voice. Trust me, it added to my enjoyment of the whole thing. Not that the game didn’t do a fine job of that by itself.
I need to begin this review with a disclaimer: The Dark Eye is a series with a long, rich history that has amassed great amounts of respect and love across the world and until I played Memoria, I knew absolutely nothing about it. My knowledge is based on the admittedly lacking amount of background research I did in preparation for this game and the snippets given to me in Memoria itself, so I can only review this fantasy adventure from the perspective of a total newcomer to the world of Aventuria. Luckily, Memoria is a game that stands quite well on its own two feet and has something to offer all that choose to take it on, whether you’re a fan or a long-time devotee.
Bionic Dues can be a very fast-paced game, especially compared to previous Arcen Games titles which have always incorporated some central element of strategy, though being slow and steady is likely a more appropriate approach and would deliver less death screens than I’ve been greeted with through my experience on Medium difficulty. Just a heads up. Another option is to restart the game on Casual difficulty – that went well enough for me.
I’ve given Saints Row games unfair dismissal in the past – the first appeared as yet another Grand Theft Auto clone; all I knew of the second was that it involved shooting faeces from a truck; and the in-your-face humour of the third didn’t appeal to me at the time. With these preconceptions in mind at PAX Aus earlier this year, I waited in line for a good half hour to play the latest and most controversial instalment of the series for a mere five minutes. Twice. All I can recall from that brief encounter with Saints Row IV in July was constantly using the Dubstep Gun and Black Hole Launcher, because why do anything else? I was nervous this dumb fun wouldn’t spill over into the full game experience, but soon enough my worries were put to rest. This game is some damn good dumb fun.
When I started the first episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, I truly wasn’t prepared for the intense emotional rollercoaster that I was about to embark upon. My word document of notes began with technical comments and criticisms, but as I made my way through the episodes, it turned into a load of feelings-ridden, caps-lock heavy, mildly-incoherent ramblings – and that just about sums up my feeling on Cognition. It started off as a technically imperfect crime thriller point and click adventure, but as I fell in love with the main character and the storyline, it turned into so much more.