Unravel

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From a tumbling ball of cotton yarn a hero is birthed. Yarny is the aptly and unimaginatively named embodiment of Unravel’s central themes; bravery, persistence, and a desire to connect. While these aren’t very directly communicated through the game, they do lend some weight and meaning to this puzzler, in case that’s what you’re after. Traverse beautiful landscapes, listen to stunning music and piece together a story of memories and the passing of time. And lots of drowning.

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Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders

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Designing any interactive media that pits the player as an ingenious and brilliant detective while retaining a sense of free will would be, I’d expect, rather difficult. To suggest the player should commandeer this genius agent of deduction and carry out an investigation in any credible way without holding their hand would be to assume they already possess genius skills of deduction. To take that hand and lead them through a string of scenes to marvel at this character’s glorious intellect would be to create a lifeless work ill suited to the medium. Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders (2016) does very well to include the player on a linear tale of murder by designing a loophole of a game mechanic; the flesh of the game is not in possessing Agatha Christie’s famous detective Hercule Poirot, but in directing his subconscious in pursuit of a serial killer.

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Persona 4: Dancing All Night

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I hate dancing. I can respect dance as an art form and admire those who do it well. I can enjoy and be moved by a dance as a spectator. But I am bad at dancing. I almost never find dancing fun and I am far too gangly and self-conscious to be able to express myself through dance. I lack rhythm, which is why I am not often one to get involved in rhythm games as a general rule. But when one of my favourite Japanese RPGs gets a spin-off rhythm game called Persona 4: Dancing All Night, I can’t help but be reminded of how fantastic the music is in the Persona games and become curious to play it. Will Persona 4: Dancing All Night (P4D) be good enough to tide fans over whilst they wait for the long-anticipated Persona 5? Or will it only serve to fuel their insatiable hunger?

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Minecraft: Story Mode

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(Lucky you have a short name, Jess.)

When I first heard about Minecraft: Story Mode, I (like many others) had so, so many questions. Most of them were variations of “why” and “how”, with a whole bunch of “what” thrown in there, just for good measure. Telltale, however, are masters of what they do, and so I approached this new addition to their growing oeuvre with cautious optimism that they would make good use of Minecraft’s signature design and unique feel. As it turns out, the expansive and immersive world of Minecraft was just crying out for someone to throw a proper plot into it – and Telltale seem to have found the perfect one.

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Ninja Pizza Girl

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‘Ninja Pizza Girl’ isn’t a title that immediately evokes the kind of image I would associate with a game that tackles serious issues. Well, unless you’re really serious about pizzas and their timely delivery (which, to be fair, we all are at heart). So when I heard that this was a game about ‘self-esteem, bullying and resilience’, I had to know how the hell that was possible – and the result was better than I expected.

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The Talos Principle (Deluxe Edition)

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The Talos Principle is a fantastic presentation of art, thought and design. While the narrative is far-reaching and rather ambitious, it works because the delivery is straightforward and logical, and is a complementary fit for the logic-puzzle gameplay and exploration. There are no ground-breaking gameplay mechanics akin to Portal’s gun, but The Talos Principle perfectly utilises what mechanics are offered. Within the recent landscape of rather disappointing attempts at innovation and immersion in video games, I’m proud to claim that The Talos Principle is the best game I’ve played in recent memory, and it ticks all my boxes. There’s no jokes or jabs right here, it’s just straight-up good.

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Zombi

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Matt’s note: I loved Zombi U but haven’t played this one–that said, I did love lots that Nick didn’t about the game (characters, setting etc.) So if roguelike zombie killing in London piques your interest, I’d still 100% heartily recommend Zombi U; it’s one my top games of this gen. I can’t praise it enough–it was a beautiful way to start off the Wii U and flew under almost everyone’s radar. I’m looking forward to getting my own hands on the update. That said, Nick wasn’t quite as fond of it, and I want to play it myself and see if it was the Wii U -> everything else transition that didn’t do it any favours, or if it just wasn’t his cup of tea. There’s no such thing as an objective review!

After getting off on most certainly the wrong foot, I was relieved to enjoy Zombi for what fun it offered, even considering the array of disagreeable design decisions demonstrated from the onset. Zombi has successfully stuck the landing in the realm of PS4, Xbox One and PC after jumping from Wii U exclusivity, but the inherent process of shedding tablet-infused high jinks during that leap has taken away the only factors that made this title distinguishable from every other piece of zombie fiction. The name change captures this notion neatly – Zombi U minus the Wii U became Zombi, a generic name for a generic game.

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