Premieres 3


Expeditions Viking

While it’s not as strong as many other turn based, squad based, grid based tactical RPGs I can think of, it’s still a solid entry and still worth playing through at least once. A recommended sale buy.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Cheats: Yes (to rename characters, and to speed up final fights)
Total Play Time: 5 Days // 32 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-8-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Genuinely branching narrative, based on choices

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Positioning before battle helps setup and is affected by how, exactly the fight started
  • Overall style of combat is positive; movement and action are divorced from another, so you can move move, act move, move act, etc.
  • Good, custom difficulty options that allow you to customize specific variables of difficulty
  • Aggregate: Option to go non lethal at cost of crits, which has impact on quest battles // Clear indicators in combat UI for movement, action, and who has done what // Camping is a cool mechanic, if a little under-developed

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Absence of good music direction (many No Music or poorly done sections)
  • Once in Act 2 you are locked in party wise outside of a few new story characters. You cannot respec, remove party members, or recruit new ones
  • Aggregate: Inability to save in mid combat and usual associated problems (crashes, real life, etc.) // Inability to either confirmation click, or undo actions // Lack of information about a few key things such as range, line of sight

Chess Ultra

While there’s only so much you can do with a chess video game, this is not a good one. I strongly recommend looking into almost anything else rather than plonking down the time and money for a feature-lite Chess simulator who’s only claim to fame is 4k resolution options.
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: -3
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Day // 2 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-13-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The camera controls have no real options and are bizarrely counter-intuitive
  • The Twitch integration not only didn’t work at all, but hard-locked the game
  • Aggregate: for a 10 gig game that costs $13 it doesn’t look particularly good and has issues with reflections, lens flares, and blur // It’s legitimately hard to distinguish pieces on some maps // There’s paid DLC right on the front page you can’t even click

Pokemon Shield

This was a tough one to review. This was a game I enjoyed very much, that had substantial flaws that dragged its score down. The story was rather delightful, and I really was enjoying the playthrough. I theorize this was literally developed by two teams; one who put forth a great product, and one who put forth a rushed one. And the combination is this game.
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: +3
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 6 Days // 58 Hours
Time Reviewed: 11-22-2019

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Sponsor adverts, requiring a sponsor to join the challenge, actual League personnel and organization, uniforms, and a lot of general world building as well as an approach to the Gym Challenge like it’s a seasonal sporting event which is just kind of awesome
  • Team Yell is great, and in addition to not being evil, are just a delight every scene they’re in
  • The story is delightfully cheesy, and there’s no real evil people. Even scenes that would normally be ‘muwa ha ha and now I reveal my evil plan’ are more like ‘muwa ha ha and now I’m not actually evil’, it’s wonderfully wholesome
  • Multiple characters have actual character arcs throughout, including Hop, Bede, Sonia, and of course several Gym Leaders get good characterization too

Story Negatives:

  • The post game sequence is just kind of awful; deliberately irritating rich snobby people (who suffer no consequences for their actions), odd and badly designed dialogue, and general weirdness

Gameplay Positives:

  • The UI design in combat shows a great amount of info (including type effectiveness if you already have info on a pokemon)
  • There’s a good dynamic of tactics with 6 sized party and 4 moves per (Pokemon Point)
  • The music is surprisingly good
  • The music remains good throughout, not only did it not get old but they kept adding new awesome songs
  • Lots of good info in the menus and interface
  • A second interface positive, especially for the ‘access the box anywhere’ mechanic which is a godsend, and the ability to see suggestions for new pokemon to catch and where to find them
  • Raid fights are fun and neat in their own right, but also give good rewards, new chances for catching, neat boss phase style mechanics, and are fun with friends
  • The visible pokemon on the overworld map, which stay through combat, is awesome and allows you to avoid (most) RNG when looking for specific mons, removes the Trash Problem entirely, and allows you to hone in on specific enemies
  • A second positive for the visible overworld pokemon awesomeness feature
  • Some of the core ideas of the Wild Area are great, allowing you to gain local currency to by TMs and balls, lots of pokemon variety, trees, random NPCs, and raids…
  • Aggregate: The ability to search via a huge number of variables in boxes is awesome // Batch use on items // Giving the player Fly very early // Fly can access most points on the map, not just cities

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Only one save slot
  • Unskippable cutscenes
  • Lack of National Dex (note; this is something we actually debated at length during the stream, and ultimately is a more complex issue than it looks like, but it was determined that the absence of the National Dex was, ultimately, detrimental to our enjoyment of the game, hence a negative)
  • RNG of catch mechanics (Pokemon Point)
  • Walkthroughitis (Pokemon Point)
  • Literally cannot catch pokemon of certain ranges until you have an appropriate Gym Badge as opposed to any of the other alternate solutions they could do (including the one that’s existed since Gen 1)
  • …to continue from Gameplay Positive 9, the Wild Area is a very clear beta. The textures are either substandard or bad, there’s no good doodad design, it’s laggy and drops frames, and it has issues both showing and connecting with others (even when friended)
  • Aggregate: Inability to turn off XP Share // Dynamax battles just slog too much, and ultimately don’t really add much to the game // Consistent netcode issues with multiplayer features

Jedi Fallen Order

I will freely admit this one blew me away. Wonderfully difficult, the gameplay just absolutely shined for me, and the story’s presentation was fantastic. Hugely recommended if you’re into Metroidvanias, Star Wars, Dark Souls, or Uncharted.
Total Story Score: +18
Total Gameplay Score: +15
*Sushi Game*
Cheats: No
Difficulty: Jedi Master
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 27 Hours
Time Reviewed: 1-21-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Stormtrooper banter is just fantastic
  • Greez is just amazing; very relatable, very down to earth, very fun, very lovable
  • BD-1 is just the right level of adorable and is designed to be endearing… and succeeds
  • The transitions are really very excellent in almost every sequence they’re in (special props to the ones during the Dark Side Vision) and general directing work
  • The banter between the main characters is very, very good; it avoids most of the standard pitfalls and while it isn’t the best banter I’ve seen, it’s still very good
  • Animation is excellently motion captured for cutscenes
  • Voice acting is excellent pretty much across the board
  • Dynamic music and its direction throughout is very good
  • Psychometry as a narrative tool
  • The game maintains a low, down-to-the-ground feel of how low tier you are consistently and uses it to good effect. It also adds to the overall narrative because it helps fit you into the AU as a whole
  • Kashyyyk is just wonderfully atmospheric, especially once you get to the Shadowlands. The intro cinematic, the Saw showcasing, the creepy vine pokers, the Stormtroopers dying left and right, wonderful stuff
  • A very personal, up-front showcasing of Order 66 and just how awful it really was on the ground
  • Continuity application is good stuff, and actively adds to the story
  • Cordova is just kind of awesome, especially given the voice actor, but also how he fits surprisingly well into pre-existing lore
  • The Force vision showing the potential future of the Galactic Empire taking and converting the children is unflinchingly dark and willing to show just how horrible things really are under Sidious
  • Wonderful usage of light, camera angles, background music, and audio design to create great and distinct atmosphere for each of the worlds
  • Merrin is actually really endearing, adorable, and a fantastic insight into Dark Side and Nightsisters and the consequences of the war
  • Everything about Darth Vader’s presentation was absolutely incredible. The sound of his breathing, the reverberation of the pressure of his presence, the heavy clamping of his footsteps, the fact that he had a counter for every move you made, the glee in his voice as he talks to you, just… everything
  • Aggregate: Prauf was good for how brief he was there // Jaro Tapal was wonderfully voiced and sold his scenes well // Trilla was another excellent character who just sadly didn’t have enough screen time
  • Aggregate: Malicos was actually pretty awesome; a showcasing of a broken Jedi in the wake of the Purge (shades of C’Baoth) // A second plus for general excellence in voice direction, really helping showcase a lot of scenes

Story Negatives:

  • Aggregate: A few issues of general shoving the plot along // Occasional weird elements of total story-gameplay segregation and/or stupidity // Even more instances of gameplay and story segregation which just get worse as time goes on
  • Aggregate: No explanation of how exactly they found Bogano and no acknowledgement of the fact that there were literally Stormtroopers surrounding the ship // The fact that we survive Vader, while a very well done scene, was not great and is only tolerable because he was playing with us // The entire party basically gets away from the Inquisitorius with simply too little pain or loss to show for how threatening and dangerous it was/should have been

Gameplay Positives:

  • The 3D map is well designed and easy to navigate in general, but what’s even better is it shows where you’ve been, what you can interact with, where you can go, and where you can’t go all color coordinated
  • Graphics fidelity is very pretty, with a lot of attention to detail to distant or otherwise irrelevant objects
  • Rewarding exploration! There’s a lot of bonus lore, experience, and permanent upgrades you get for being thorough
  • Good tutorialization in escalation of enemy types; slowly introducing new ones, and usually in a vacuum to allow you to ‘learn’ them, before shoving boss versions or harder terrain or groups at you
  • Visual indicators of interact-able terrain is generally quick and easy even across different world biomes (thus using patterns rather than, say, a missile door)
  • Sound design; audio indicators for attacks, force powers, etc.
  • The combat itself clicked in ways I have trouble properly describing, and aside from the delay / commit issue (which is deliberate) it worked brilliantly for me and never got old
  • Music in general is good stuff, very Williamsesque
  • The enemy design is nicely varied and fun, with lots of different tricks and tactics (and ‘easy options’ to defeat if you scan them) throughout
  • Good placement of enemies throughout (with a couple of exceptions) where the enemies can become more dangerous because of terrain, or space, or fellow enemies
  • Level design in terms of flow and indication
  • Level design in terms of shortcutting and setpiecing
  • Special praise to the sunken Venator section for being well designed and fun
  • Between BD1 and the slow reconnecting of the Force, you have a decent kit of relatively viable abilities to get through encounters and enemies
  • Boss fights are just plain fun and varied, from other saber users, to giant monsters, to AT-STs
  • The boss fight against Trilla was really, really good in every way. It’s exactly what I want out of a duel boss fight
  • While not the best, the difficulty options being alterable on the fly and changing things that are actually difficult rather than just health/damage is good
  • Aggregate: The AT-AT section was fun, if brief // The asteroid side mission was a nice breather alternate gameplay mission culminating in some fun fights // On a few bosses they completely skip the cutscenes leading up to the fight

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Unskippable cutscenes (which honestly astonishes me)
  • Lack of fast travel which, by itself, isn’t awful but given how long and far it is just to do something simple like get back to the ship…
  • Aggregate: Some wonkiness with context terrain (very Assassin’s Creed’y) // Low health jam // General Unreal Engine issues which cause minor problems throughout

Black Mesa

While there’s a few ways it fumbles, this is a really good Proper Remake of Half Life 1 and hugely recommended you pick it up and give it a try if you’re a fan of the franchise. Just don’t play on Hard.
Total Story Score: +11
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Cheats: Yes (got tired of redoing Waste Processing)
Difficulty: Hard
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 23 Hours
Time Reviewed: 1-28-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • (HL Point) The intro sequence is a good visual dump, with lots of exposition that isn’t dry and also allows for tons of freedom in interacting with co-workers and the like, while simultaneously being almost entirely optional
  • Audio design is excellent, atmospheric, and indicative
  • Good doodad placement and usage both before and after the disaster
  • The pacing is excellent, leading from highs to lows seamlessly
  • The atmosphere is generally excellent, with lovely usage of visual and audio and just managing a great, dark, creepy vibe
  • Graphics direction is very good across the board, making sure that you’re ‘directed’ to look in ways to showcase, as well as just in the general layout and design of the areas
  • Visual continuity between sections is substantially better than in the original, and good besides
  • The dialogue bits from the radio, PA system, and NPCs adds some wonderful flavor lore
  • Xen itself is lovely in its visual and audio presentation
  • The additional story beats of the enslaved vortigaunts are present from the beginning but are really dialed up and have some great moments in Xen, in addition to the wonderful storytelling of the finale
  • Proper Remake positive

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The graphics fidelity is really quite excellent, going out of its way to showcase some good textures and effects (love the new radioactive ooze)
  • The pacing in flow of level design between explore, puzzle, combat sections is fantastic
  • Second positive for excellent pacing
  • Weapon, ammo, health, and armor distribution is well designed to ensure you don’t go any significant stretch without the capacity to recharge, though it’s mostly off to the side
  • The game does a good job of ensuring that the types of enemies you face vary from segment to segment without leaning too heavily on any one type of encounter, from ranged AI enemies to close range melees to barnacles to headcrabs, etc.
  • The level design and enemy layout nicely compliment each other with regards to ensuring you are still challenged by older enemy encounters
  • Good auto saves and quicksave/quickload
  • Xen is a nice change of pace and fun regardless, barring a couple of minor hiccups
  • The latter half of the conveyor section where you do the little blue shield, red laser puzzles is good stuff
  • Proper Remake positive
  • Aggregate: I loved the big boss fight against the three shield protected brains // The final boss against Nihilanth is far more engaging, and some lovely dodging bullet hell on top of shooting, and plenty of pickups to ensure you don’t run dry
  • Aggregate: While not the best, there is still good weapon variety // The music, when it plays, is good // The combat AI varies in quality but when it’s good it’s good

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The entire waste processing section kind of sucks, especially in contrast to the remainder of the levels. Very unclear direction, confusing layout, easy to die by simple slipping, having to redo huge sections because of slight mistakes, etc
  • Geometry is a nonstop irritant throughout the entire game, clipping or running into tiny bumps in the road that completely stop you, or interrupt jumps, etc.
  • Aggregate: Flashlight is just insufficient to offset the lighting design // Lazy difficulty options // Inconsistent usage of music direction aka far too many sections of No Music where it doesn’t work // The Gonarch fight was mostly fine (sans the geometry issue) but just had too much health in the end
  • Aggregate: 360 assault with no real indicators or recovery // Occasional crash and softlock issues // Plenty of times where the game effectively requires you to memorize what’s coming up // Lack of proper indicators or feedback of damage on basically all of the bosses (either recoil or sound or health bar or something) // Unskippable cutscenes kind of

Warcraft 3 Reforged

First and foremost, if you already have Warcraft 3, do not bother. All they really change is the graphics. At time of playing the port had many minor issues which also dragged it down, so I’d also recommend waiting for a patch. All that stated, if you’ve never owned or played it, this is still Warcraft III which is still a great game, so I’d recommend it on that basis at least. This score is essentially identical to the one the original games would have, minus one negative (for bad port issues), so take that as you will.
Total Story Score: +8
Total Gameplay Score: +10
Cheats: Yes (sped up one Rexxar quest)
Total Play Time: 5 Days // 38 Hours
Time Reviewed: 1-28-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Culling of Stratholme; the perfect kobayashi maru for Arthas, ensuring that no matter what he did he was doomed from the beginning, is one of the seminal points in all of Warcraft and an awesome sequence to boot
  • The descent of Arthas in general is beautifully done, even now, and upon re-examination really fits surprisingly well… at least within itself
  • The Orc campaign is good stuff; it covers multiple interesting characters, weaves together all the plot points to-date, and sets up the new status quo nicely (the unified ‘alliance’ against the Legion).
  • Grom Hellscream is a surprisingly interesting character. He’s bloodthirsty and violent… but he doesn’t want to be. He tries to be better, and he fails at it, and he hates that, and he tries again… and again… and in the end he dies trying to free himself of his own nature
  • Voice acting is generally good for the main characters
  • The introduction of Illidan, the intervention of Arthas via Ner’Zhul, and the removal of the greater Scourge from the board as well as Tichondrius ensuring the defeat of the Legion is well crafted and generally interesting
  • FT: Continuity! They use continuity constantly, to help flesh out both the world and the storytelling
  • FT: Doodad usage is excellent in the general map design
  • FT: Many missions for both NE and BE showcase just how blasted and destroyed Lordaeron has become in the wake of the Scourge
  • FT: Blood Elf campaign, the introduction of Kael’Thas and fleshing out of Kael, Vashj, and Illidan, and the overall conquering feel as we ride through Outland
  • FT: Illidan isn’t all that much in RoC, but he’s substantially fleshed out in FT, and I love how varied and nuanced of a character he is overall
  • FT: The foundation of the Forsaken, and the building blocks of Varimathras, Sylvanas, and the ruins of Lordaeron
  • FT: The finale of DK Arthas’ trek towards Icecrown, the build-up of the Old Gods, Anub’Arak, the Nerubian lore in general, and the finale against the biggies
  • FT: Daelin’s story is wonderfully tragic, and nicely sets the stage for Jaina’s stuff. Further, Rexxar is kind of awesome, and the foundation of Durotar in general is fun stuff

Story Negatives:

  • Medivh is, frankly, just a bit too vague and incorrect in his presentation and approach, effectively dooming his own attempts to unite people against the Legion
  • Honestly the Archimonde Destroys Dalaran cutscene is… lacking at best, and is presented so badly it actively hurts the character, the Legion, and the tone of the entire undead campaign
  • Gameplay / Story Segregation is so constant and so nonstop that you have to constantly adjust the story to fit what’s actually happening
  • Way too many instances of artificial drama where things could have been solved by just friggin’ talking to each other
  • Frankly, several elements about how many characters interact with each other and basically ignore each other irritates me (see: Jaina and Thrall)
  • Aggregate: Too much of the story isn’t actually on camera, requiring later covering to flesh out // Some of the lesser NPCs just have awful voice direction and or acting // Too many characters just sort of lunge between motives and character points (Kael, Illidan, Sylvanas)

Gameplay Positives:

  • Lots of information is on display for the player to know what, how, and why with regards to damage types, movement speed, damage, cooldown, mana cost, range, etc. etc. etc.
  • Significant effort is made to vary each unit from the others, allowing for a large number of feasible strategies and playstyles
  • Significant effort is made to vary each unit from the others, allowing for a stronger focus on micro and ensuring no ‘army of Hydras’ problem
  • Significant effort is made to vary the factions one from another, allowing for some excellent asymmetrical gameplay
  • The music is generally excellent, varied, and nicely suits the side you’re currently playing
  • The Culling of Stratholme is a great mission to play through, with neat little events, bosses, and the core mechanic of ‘racing’ against Mal’Ganis
  • FT: Mission variety and fun in NE campaign
  • FT: Mission variety and enjoyment of the BE campaign, and the general feel of conquering Outland
  • FT: Substantially greater variety and usage of units
  • FT: The undead campaign and the establishment and conquest of Lordaeron
  • FT: The undead campaign and the fun dungeon crawl through Ahn’Kahet, followed by the fantastic finale fight against three superior enemy forces while trying to hold ground
  • FT: The proto-WoW of the founding of Durotar is a ton of fun, and helps to showcase why WoW was such a hit that it was; just going around, doing quests and progressing the story was just as enjoyable as it ever was
  • Aggregate: Auto-casting is a nice concept that helps with setting up certain combos and abilities // The undead campaign is quite fun, with good side missions and general layout // The Orc campaign has some good mission design, notably with the lumber mission, the introduction of fel damage, and then the fight against fel Orcs

Gameplay Negatives:

  • A separate negative for the continuing, constant problem of sound balancing between noises, voices, and music
  • Aggregate: Lazy difficulty // The small selection size serves no purpose other than to kind of irritate // Sound clips repeat way too damned much // The ‘siege the base’ mission in the FT Orc campaign kinda sucks, giving you units but no real base building and forcing you to fight an uber-defended base
  • Aggregate: Port issues: The audio options are not properly split up, leading to sound balancing issues // Pissed sounds don’t play properly // Music just shuts off randomly for seemingly no reason // At one point the game had to be restarted to even continue the campaign // Healthbars and text overlays just vanishing // Story sound clips replaying at random

Disco Elysium

The first and most important thing I can say is that if you have any issues with depression, futility, suicide, drugs, or alcohol, do not play this game. It is unflinchingly realistic. No, not believable, realistic. If on the other hand you can endure that, this is a very weird, psychadelic game that feels and plays like an older CRPG meshed with an older adventure game, but has some very good design choices and some excellent writing that helps flesh it out. Presuming you can endure it, I highly recommend it.
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: +7
Cheats: Yes (to break softlock)
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 27 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-12-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The doodad usage and selection is very high quality
  • The art style, while I don’t like it, is very on point and adds to the flavor and tone of the work
  • When not trying to jam a political ideology down your throat, the game is very well written
  • World building is fascinating and horrifying, and one of the only things about the game that really caught my attention was the Pale and everything about it

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The HUD is very informative, with lots of information readily on display or for mouse-over
  • Many possible options to pursue as far as learning things and solving quests
  • Second All Roads Lead To Rome design
  • Failure and success both allow for continuing to go forwards, a truly rare thing in gaming
  • The skills being ‘personalities’ that talk to you and clearly have their own agenda
  • Skills being aspects that actually can be ‘too high’ and lead to disadvantages is a neat idea, and even more exemplified by the fact that the skills can mislead or argue with each other
  • There are multiple ‘web’ tasks which need to be passed which are high difficulty by design, but can be bypassed with luck (or reloading), high skills (if min maxing), or doing connected events on the ‘web’ which increase success chance the more you do
  • The big climactic finale with the Tribunal is extremely well designed, with multiple possible outcomes, multiple examples of the ‘web’ design to make options more doable, careful thought required to change the outcome, and a good amount of tension to what is essentially a 6 second boss fight
  • The game is very replayable, with many, many, many branching paths and possibilities

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Inability to pass the time, advance quests, or pay the bills which leads to basically being FORCED to talk to people in order to pass time because time doesn’t move forwards while you’re not actually doing anything so the game FORCES you to go meaninglessly talk to people to shove the timer forwards. I ended up literally cheating in money because I couldn’t access the bookstore, the bench, the free sleeping spot, or the paid sleeping spot, to the point where I was almost totally softlocked (I could have dumpster-dived if I knew it was there)
  • Aggregate: There are just many, many very small but persistent issues with the game that make it slightly irritating to play. Some examples; The dialogue options ‘darken’ if you use them, not if they are still usable, which is misleading. You have to double click to run everywhere. The terrain is somewhat difficult to determine where you’re going at times. You cannot save in mid conversation. You have to ‘pulse’ the tab button to figure out what’s interactable-with, no toggle option. You cannot rebind keybindings.
  • Aggregate: Issues with the text going completely off the screen and being unreadable or overlapping itself // Font size issues, which is just a thing these days apparently // Occasional very small bugs // Inconsistent music usage // Inconsistent voice acting

Duskers

While a bit short and lacking on longevity, this is a very fun roguelike that is fun, tense, and unforgivably random. It doesn’t have any real progression mechanic per say, so each ‘run’ is effectively a different run, but otherwise if you’re interested in the genre at all (and can type quickly and well) I highly recommend.
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: +7
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Days // 8 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-13-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The game’s concept is very unique but, more to the point, enjoyable enough to stand out
  • The puzzle-like nature of it, despite being real time, makes for some fun tactical decisions
  • There’s surprisingly good intelligent design in the commands system, being able to tell when someone is in an area they can access certain commands, or otherwise not requiring too much micro management to be able to context-sensitivity act on commands
  • Atmosphere and tension is really fantastic
  • Good, varied, well designed difficulty options
  • The interface and HUD are well designed and very clear at-a-glance, immediately indicating what and how you are dealing with

Gameplay Negatives:

    Aggregate: Interface issues; numbers are indistinct at times, probably because of font choice and scaling // Unclear button usage on some commands // The slimes literally cheat, spawning from wherever they want to // The game does get repetitive after a certain point (not really changing up the formula) limiting replay value

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Let me start by saying I don’t recommend this game. I was hopeful and expecting some fun stealth action with some fun puzzle platforming and I didn’t really get it. One section of the entire game was legitimately awesome but the rest was mostly just… boring. It’s inoffensive and if you can get it on super sale go for it.
Total Story Score: -3
Total Gameplay Score: -3
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 15 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-15-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Attention to detail and doodad usage
  • Legitimately gorgeous backdrop and scenery
  • Amaru (Dominguez) is an interesting character, with actual motivations and charisma, and a brain on top of it all

Story Negatives:

  • The cutscene camera jumbles around like it’s being carried by a person which is vaguely nauseating
  • Improper usage of music during otherwise quiet or emotional scenes
  • The game tries to be serious while also being a ridiculous action game and it fails at both
  • Cutscene incompetence is all over the place
  • The total lack of logic and copy paste trope usage without any of the writing or directing or presentation that would salvage it is, honestly, just awful
  • The Trinity as a whole was just horribly portrayed, and killing off the big bads (without naming or showing them) off camera was awful

Gameplay Positives:

  • Good overall sound design minus the issues
  • Good dynamic music usage
  • The stealth section after losing all your weapons was legitimately well designed and fun
  • New Game + is, as always, a plus
  • Aggregate: Closed captioning and subtitle options // Princess Peach segment as a kid // The optional challenge tombs are fun // While not fully fleshed out, there are sections of the game where the kit for stealth is fun

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Excessive jump scare / chord issues and music direction weirdness
  • Lighting issues are just awful, which when combined with bad color usage leads to inconsistent marker problem and a need to lean on Survival Instincts, which…
  • Survival Instincts not being a toggle is bad enough, but it’s virtually mandatory to be able ot determine what resources are where to be interacted with thanks to the visual design of the jungle, which is further exacerbated by the fact that once you get a talent upgrade to make it ‘last longer’ it… barely does
  • The HUD and Interface design are weirdly awkward and poorly designed, with few shortcuts or other convenience features, and a weird obsession with going HUDless (this especially applies to the map)
  • The level design does not inform the stealth aspect of gameplay
  • The ‘action setpieces’ are not well designed
  • The game is absolutely terribly optimized, even with graphics low or medium there are huge stutter sections as it loads new parts of the map, and the performance averages 30 fps especially in town or during a fight
  • Aggregate: The final boss was just really boring // The final level was also really boring // The excess of ‘running’ sections not only ruined their impact but also really weren’t fun to begin with // There were many sections here and there where context sensitive commands just wouldn’t trigger properly leading to unnecessary deaths

Rimworld

While the game has a bit of a steep learning curve and two major flaws, I tremendously recommend this game for anyone interested in management sims or survivalist games. The two major flaws are A: You really need a friend, a wiki, or just a lot of time to figure the game out in depth and B: The game really needs mods to be as enjoyable as it should be. On the plus side it’s incredibly easy to find and install mods so woo!
Total Story Score: 0
Total Gameplay Score: +8
Cheats: Yes (technically, tried them out to see what was available)
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 26 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-18-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Mod friendly architecture and design
  • Good complexity and depth to the gameplay without leaning into convolution and confusion
  • The base HUD of the game is easily understandable at-a-glance
  • One More Turn effect is on full display
  • The setup you have (terrain, people, tools, resources) massively changes your given strategy and effectively forces you to adapt
  • The initial survivalist phase is well designed with lots of modularity and options in what you start with and your setup
  • The mid-game transitionary phase is also well designed, where it becomes about managing what you have rather than holding on
  • Well designed built-in cheats with a ludicrous amount of options
  • Replay factor is very high thanks to the number of options and generations available

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Aggregate: The random select character screen is… not good // There are several issues with the interface and having to re-re-re check other tabs or windows in order to figure out who’s good at what and where // While a good amount of info is in the game, there are many mechanics not properly explained nor self explanatory which more or less necessitate a wiki or friends helping (or trial and error) // Inability to properly search storage area // Many little irritants here and there

Battlestar Galactica Deadlock

This is a difficult one to give a generalized thought on because it’s a great core game with an awful interface that was kinda short but has been fleshed out with multiple actually-contains-content DLCs. So… if you’re a fan of the show, turn based tactics, or tactical board games, I’d highly recommend picking it up.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Cheats: Yes (resources)
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 10 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-21-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The cinematic after-battle cam clearly had some good design built into it, rather than doing just random camera angles it actually stylizes itself after the show

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The strategic layer of trying to keep the different colonies happy while simultaneously balancing the needs of the fleet is a nice mechanic
  • The board-game nature of the combat itself is actually quite engaging and fun
  • Armor, facing, and arcs all add a ton of great elements to the tactical layer
  • The presentation of the Yoshi Drums music and the visual design of the ships are both quite nice

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The HUD is genuinely difficult to discern at times, with tiny fonts and little indication of units at-a-glance. Similarly the camera is just awkward to control
  • Interface just… wow, I really hate the interface of this game. It’s awkward, counter-intuitive in camera usage and selection and de-selecting and hitting shift and just… so many non stop issues
  • The ‘delay’ in being able to end turn is one of those little things that just drags missions on and gets slowly worse the more you have to deal with it

The Sexy Brutale

While short, this game nevertheless is pretty good. It doesn’t really go as far as I think it should with the core premise (for example, once you solve one ‘timeline’ it doesn’t alter the others at all) but it’s still a well crafted, fun little adventure game which really shines in the plot department. Easily recommended.
Total Story Score: +3
Total Gameplay Score: +2
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 Day // 7 Hours
Time Reviewed: 2-22-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The amount of and quality of dialogue is fantastic
  • The deaths themselves are wonderfully horrible and creative
  • The big twist (whether supernatural or not) was pretty damned powerful, and was a properly done reveal

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Good indicators in the game to show where people are, if you’re about to enter a ‘danger’ room, where you can hear people, color coded text boxes, and generally good HUD design
  • Good map design, with the ability to track (known) positions of people at what times, what things you can interact with how, etc.
  • The core concept of Majora’s Masking your way through the day to save everyone’s lives is really cool, fun, and interesting and the reverse-Hitman avoidance gameplay makes for a fun combination and encourages mapping and planning out

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Aggregate: Controller issues // There’s no way to rebind keys (or even see what keybindings are!) // Repeated audio clips on ghosts // Occasional minor issues with interacting with the environment and/or doors // Total lack of in game indicator of which cards you already have

Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2

This… is a game I actually didn’t finish. You may notice a relative lack of points (positive or negative) and that’s because the game was just overwhelmingly average. It’s not bad per say (I’ve certainly played worse) but I can’t call it good either. And the interface is just awful across the board. I… do not recommend this one.
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: -2
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 9 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-5-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The visual presentation of the cinematics, both ‘drawn’ and in game, are quite well done

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • While a bit lacking in both the tactical and strategic layer, there is nevertheless some good micro in the combat itself

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The interface is, frankly, kind of awful… with the inability to properly group ships, too many buttons in unclear distinctions, controls that can’t even be properly remapped, improper scaling for resolutions, tiny font sizes, no clear way to see planets and fleets at the galactic level, constant shuffling between sector and galaxy maps to maneuver, aggravating method of moving fleets…
  • The story missions are just… awful. Very binary difficulty, very RNG in terms of success (at one point I tried the exact same strategy on a mission 5 times in a row and succeeded due to dice rolls)
  • Aggregate: The tutorial is… not good // The campaign map music is bad enough that I just muted it after a while // The auto-battle is pure, pure RNG and can go wildly from great to awful and everything in between

Life Is Strange Before The Storm

This was a very difficult game for me to push through. I had friends telling me they were concerned about how bad of a mood I was in while playing it. The subject matter is just entirely too real for me. All that said, it’s a very well made and very well presented game which, if you can deal with full frontal reality in all its bleak horror, go for it.
Total Story Score: +4
Total Gameplay Score: +1
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 9 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-4-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The dialogue writing is surprisingly top notch, managing several distinct tones and styles
  • The perspective of the game is extremely down to earth, and very relatable (arguably too relatable)
  • Presentation manages to make the game, with good camera usage, lighting, and animation
  • The play scenes, before during and after, were just amazing

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Multiple possible paths which can result in substantially different scenes

Gameplay Negatives:

Warhammer 40000 Mechanicus

This is a definite recommended if you’re a fan of Warhammer 40K or of X-COM style tactical games. The game has some fantastic baseline mechanics and core concepts, and is only really held back by ultimately uninspired level design (which makes the game drag quite a bit towards the end).
Total Story Score: +1
Total Gameplay Score: +6
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 24 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-9-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • The game does a really surprisingly good job of expositing upon the setting as a whole, and really introducing people to the lore of 40k without bogging things down

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Large amount and variety of difficulty options
  • The music isn’t just good, it’s a great mix of modern (techno, dub step) and orchestral (choir, chanting)
  • The action economy is truly stellar, allowing for a huge variety and amount of actions to be used, in any order, and heavily leaning towards tactics in how much you can accomplish with your troops
  • The customization of the tech-priests is fantastic, allowing different gear, passives, and general setup
  • The ability to change almost every option (including difficulties) on the fly is excellent
  • The tutorial mission is well designed, and even set up to ensure a high probability of failure to help teach that losing a mission doesn’t end the game
  • The general mechanic of time vs. upgrades and balancing the two is stressful but enjoyable
  • The method by which they do movement deserves a plus by itself. The movement being points and allowing you to move, act, move (or move manually… or move lengthy) and then allowing you to use CP to move, and if you blow even one CP to move ‘extra’ it then allows you the full movement allowance for movement the CP gave really adds to the tactical layer

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The missions themselves are just lacking. There’s no real variety to map design or mission objectives and a huge amount of them, after you do the ‘objective’, require you to kill everything anyways
  • Aggregate: Improper font scaling // Issues with having to click very tiny spots to ‘advance’ or ‘confirm’, usually a little checkmark // Issues with some menus overlapping or not cancelling out properly // The color indicators are a bit hard to see on the DLC maps // Map issue continues throughout // Some issues with not being in a 16:9 resolution

Thronebreaker

While a niche of a niche, I still recommend people give this game a try. If cards aren’t your thing, play on Easy (which has the option to skip card battles) because there’s still a well done, well presented choose-your-own-story behind that. If you are interested in a single player campaign card game, this is super your bag. I’ve been wanting a game to scratch this particular itch for years, and this is the first to manage it.
Total Story Score: +7
Total Gameplay Score: +4
Cheats: Yes (once at the beginning, to not have people starve)
Total Play Time: 4 Days // 35 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-16-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Voice acting in general, but more to the point, the style of text generation alongside voice acting is a nice touch
  • The sound design during ‘cutscenes’ really helps add to the scene, easily offsetting the lack of animation or other modern cutscene design
  • The amount of detail put into the overworld sections is impressive, fleshing it out nicely
  • The ‘twist’ of being betrayed, losing our main military units (cards), and having to rely on the bandits was nicely done
  • Gascon and Reynard are just kind of awesome throughout
  • Dialogue design is generally very well done
  • Dialects and accents vary nicely from region to region

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • The graphics in general are pretty stylized, but the art style and design of the cards (particularly the rares) is nice stuff
  • Puzzle fights (manually crafted, interesting challenges)
  • The ‘scenario’ fights are excellent, and easily the best part of the game
  • Additional positive for the manually crafted combats, especially boss fights and events
  • Many, many interesting side ‘quests’ with multiple paths and options
  • Aggregate: Good fast travel system (unlock as you go, frequent unlock spots, usable on map) to help getting around // The ability to just straight up skip battles is a nice option // Music has some ehh but it also has some ‘yeah!’ // Lovely gameplay and story integration with the shift, as well as allowing (forcing) the player to shift decks entirely to match the story

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Forced ironman mode and related problems
  • Aggregate: Only one saved deck at a time which combines with… // The game kind of doesn’t really have deck building of any depth or value // The game has a tendency to pidgeon-hole you into two options when there’s pretty logical other options you could take or force a decision in ignorance // As a direct corollary to the deck building issues, the standard battles end up feeling like padder and honestly I just started skipping them // A second negative for continued aggravations of being unable to save and try routes, made worse by the fact that in some cases the wording isn’t very clear

Greedfall

While I can see why people are into it, and no judgement intended… I do not recommend this game. It’s lacking in almost every field, doesn’t really fulfill it’s (admittedly interesting) premise, and because of the length of the game it just starts to drag and drag after a certain point.
Total Story Score: -5
Total Gameplay Score: -5
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 26 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-19-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Constantin is well acted, believable, and interesting up until his ‘twist’ and he’s arguably the only character I really cared about
  • Aggregate: Unrelated companions having relevant dialogue during quests // Clothing design is weirdly well done, looks realistic and period specific // The High King quest // Reasonably pleasing architecture in the cities // Kurt’s presence and role in the Coup was nice, especially since you can effect it

Story Negatives:

  • Camera directing and blur absolutely ruins cutscenes
  • Actively bad music direction
  • There is an awful drudgery to the dialogue that makes it just take too long and too bleh
  • The story is just actively disinteresting, to the point where I was actually surprised when I found I cared about the consequences of a single quest and a character
  • Cutscene incompetence
  • The ‘twist’ with our cousin suddenly being evil because shut up he’s evil was terribly handled universally
  • The Outro and endings were bland at best, and frankly felt like they were thrown together in an afternoon (this is in addition to the fact that they are so clearly slanted as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ endings despite all logic and reason)

Gameplay Positives:

  • Aggregate: Quest turn in warping is a neat convenient feature // Visuals of the wilds are quite pretty // Guns are actually quite powerful // Occasional alternate paths to quest progression

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The blur is absolutely insane in cutscenes, to the point of distracting
  • A second negative for effectively having to not look at the game while playing it for over half the time
  • The camera issues are horrid, with bob, blur, and constant FOV changes which induced actual nausea… and no real options to fix (update; one fix removed the bob but not the other issues)
  • Bad dialogue rigging, which is noticeable in almost every cutscene
  • Map design is actively hostile
  • The Outro in its entirety was not well designed, and ultimately boiled down to yet another boring corridor with yet another boring HP sponge boss
  • Aggregate: Bad game design issues including but not limited to; having to hotkey shooting a gun like a skill and no tutorial helping with this, inability to do anything with party members other than equip them, limited looting range, ability, and time, constant yammering of the same combat quotes by companions
  • Aggregate: Mouse capturing issues // Font issues // Awful, awful lip synching // Occasional bugs and clipping issues // Lack of depth to combat which, by itself isn’t bad, but given how often it happens drags it on // General lack of variety in enemies and enemy design

Doom Eternal

While lacking in a few areas, this is still a great game that was great fun to push through. Lots of good exploration, arena combat, and an enjoyable fleshing out of the world and setting of Doom.
Total Story Score: +5
Total Gameplay Score: +9
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 22 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-23-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Presentation in terms of voice acting, sound design, camera work, animation quality, and shake really helps sell any given scene
  • Attention to detail, amusement, and general quality of the Fortress of Doom (including easter eggs and jokes)
  • Brick design and visual elements are well done and, importantly, varied
  • Fleshing out of world building of the setting
  • Good usage of continuity in tying together the Dooms

Story Negatives:

  • The ending and Outro in general are just… not good, falling completely flat and ultimately not even delivering a satisfying to-be-continued

Gameplay Positives:

  • Music is… really good
  • Usage of music is even better. I’m unsure if it’s Yoshi Drums or just smart transitioning but either way the music sways neatly and smoothly between high and low
  • The map is one of the better maps I’ve seen in gaming, with clear indicators and layout, as well as ease of manipulation
  • Enemies drop health on glory kill, encouraging one to do so (combat flow)
  • Chainsaw regenerates and makes enemies drop ammo, encouraging one to do so (second combat flow)
  • Blood punch generates health, flamethrower generates armor (third combat flow)
  • Fun and interesting (metroidy) platforming combined with clear layout and indicators of explorable areas to encourage and reward exploration along with good color coordination of types of interactables
  • The pacing of events (exploration section leading to combat arena leading to exploration section) is excellent
  • Sound design is fantastic, with audio cues for almost everything and distinct usage to help both action and exploration segments
  • Effective New Game + with reselecting maps and ability to toggle found cheats, get items you missed, and keep progress
  • Enemy combinations and usage (pairing enemies that had good synergy with each other and placing / spawning them incrementally)
  • Enemy enjoyment (all but one enemy in the game was fun to fight)
  • Aggregate: Looping design of levels and secrets // Excellent animation in enemies // Sticky commands (melee) // Auto weapon switch // Smart enemy drops

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Raspberry jam is pretty bad in this one (where, to indicate low health, the screen gets covered in red and harder to see)
  • Marauders (they’re mostly fine in terms of how brutal, fast, and varied they are but that damned auto invincibility combined with their spammy nature makes them just… honestly boring to fight)
  • Aggregate: Difficulty at ‘easy’ isn’t, and the jump between ‘easy’ and ‘normal’ is just too huge // Font issues // Inability to replay cutscenes while in level // The final boss was a wee bit too health spongey
  • Aggregate: The gross actively got too bad for me to stomach at points // Weird and frankly bad usage of kill planes and invisible walls preventing a lot of exploration in the more open ended levels // A second negative for constant raspberry jam issues // Occasionally they just have too small of arenas that make it easy to be body blocked and stunlocked

Link's Awakening

While not the full Proper Remake I would have liked, this is still a competent remaster / port of the old classic onto the Switch. I wouldn’t recommend it full price, since it is essentially just the original game, but it’s still worth a playthrough if you never have, or want to again.
Total Story Score: +2
Total Gameplay Score: +6
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 Days // 12 Hours
Time Reviewed: 3-24-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  • Marin is just adorable, and has a surprisingly large number of good scenes
  • Feels in general (the animals, the townsfolk, the abandoned house, Marin, and the ending)

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  • Map (marking locations, almost 1 to 1 so easy to navigate, shows what you’ve already gotten and where)
  • Clear flow of dungeon to overworld to dungeon design
  • Overworlds themselves are substantial and have their own puzzles and quests, though this causes some issues
  • Item variety and usage, as per usual for a Zelda
  • Dungeons and gimmicks are fun, interesting, and substantial
  • Dungeon variety and enjoyment of puzzle design throughout
  • The game has a well designed autosave as well as smart remembering of where to place you, leading to very little loss progress
  • Animation and graphics style are very stylized, cute, and well done
  • Music is good across the board, though some of the songs were better in the original
  • Aggregate: Separate buttons for some items // Tracker for all collectibles, both in menu and on map // Ability to save and load basically anywhere // Deaths and retries restart you effectively right where you died // Dungeon and owl directions // Memories to replay dialogue // Mid-point teleports at minibosses in dungeons

Gameplay Negatives:

  • The depth of field is ridiculous, headache-inducing, and there’s no option to disable. In addition to this, the blur actually makes it hard to understand what you’re looking at on the edges of the screen
  • The inability to be able to use the d-pad (despite being 8 directional) is just irritating
  • The slight pause basically everywhere, as well as repeated text boxes for interactions and items
  • Aggregate: Mandatory trade game to progress // The bow is expensive as hell and it’s ridiculous to try to steal it in this version // The Overworld being a dungeon in itself gets irritating when you just want to get to Point B // Inconsistent framerate in certain areas or on loading new areas

Starlink

This game is a fairly decent chill run to play while doing something else, like watching a show or movie… but honestly, the cutscenes are just kind of terrible and the story is not great. Make of that what you will.
Total Story Score: -6
Total Gameplay Score: 0
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 Days // 22 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-8-2020

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

Story Negatives:

  • The plot is… silly at best
  • The characters are silly and ridiculous… but played straight, which deflates them horribly
  • The exposition style for the characters aren’t great
  • The death of Grant scene was every single type of bad. Moments before death he gives a few vague words to his ‘children’ who awkwardly react to his death like they just got the wrong order at McDonalds, alongside some truly awful music direction which actively hurts the scene
  • The Outro and ending are laughably bad

Gameplay Positives:

  • Combat is designed to be sufficiently arcadey as to fit the overall feel and vibe which matches the core loop (simple and shallow, but fun)
  • Aggregate: System setup and map usage // Mods and customization are nice… if you buy the pieces // The music isn’t the best, but there’s some good tracks there // Good chill game

Gameplay Negatives:

  • Nausea inducing (probably because of the camera wobble)
  • Aggregate: Chatter spam // Pseudo unskippable cutscenes // Starfox missions stuck behind $12 paywall (including a quest to go start the chain… which runs into a ‘buy now!’ screen)