Disgaea is a series that’s been around for a while, an absolute tactical-strategy juggernaut that’s made its bones on unique gameplay, a vast array of characters, and an absolutely wicked sense of humor. The fifth numbered sequel (Sixth game if you count D2) in the series delivers on all of that, with two snarky morally ambiguous heroes taking on the threat of a massive army poised to take over the Netherworlds and rule the afterlife entire. But while you can certainly expect all the usual hallmarks of Disgaea— Fourth wall breaks, snarky heroes, wacky humor, talking penguins— the game introduces some interesting new systems and classes while still giving you all the power to take the fight to the Netherworlds and conquer the lands of the dead in the name of revenge.Read More
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Monster Monpiece, the latest game from Compile Heart, is something of a departure for them. There's no obvious grind, no weirdly implemented combo system, and it feels significantly different from most of their other games. All in all, it's new territory, and at first, it felt like they'd learned something from the process. Maybe, I thought to myself, maybe I've just suffered burnout from too many samey anime-style JRPGs. Maybe this time I'm wrong.Read More
A few months ago, I reviewed an ambitious early-access game known as Zombasite. I was quite impressed with it back then, a title with staggering depth and a very low learning curve, where you could participate however you liked. It had an interesting mechanic with warring clans and an impending zombie apocalypse, and it was a lot of fun. It also had a lot of problems, some serious UI issues, and a definite problem with being overwhelmingly huge. It also couldn't quite make up its mind as to what kind of game it wanted to be, instead deciding to be all of them at once.Read More
Having been an afficionado of adventure games over the years, I understand that they aren't without their difficulties. For every Monkey Island or Space Quest, there are four that take the route of Phantasmagoria* and about six different games featuring puzzles with solutions that read like poorly translated stereo instructions. While it's the easiest genre to design for (no combat algorithms or anything like that, clean narrative with a few branches) it's also one of the easiest to screw up. All it takes is one puzzle where processor speed determines difficulty, or pouring whiskey into the gas tank of a car to fuel up a spaceship, or an infuriating pixel hunt and instantly people will throw up their hands and uninstall in annoyance.Read More
Okay, so for the past few years, there's been a franchise known as Hyperdimension Neptunia. The general conceit is that the games industry is anthropomorphized as a land called Gamindustri, ruled over by warring goddesses who have "console wars" to determine supremacy and games companies are depicted as anthropomorphized anime characters.
Inexplicably, this has grown into a massive franchise of games, one of which is Hyperdevotion Noire, an alternate universe game where the anime goddess representing the Sony systems has taken over everything.
It's also not very good.Read More
Marble Mountain, the new game from LightningRock Studios, is relaxing. With its bouncy synth soundtrack, bright color palette, and levels with just the right amount of challenge, it isn't the frustrating grind of most other arcade style games, but offers more challenge and depth than the average casual game. It's the perfect chillout game, the kind of thing you can do when you just need a break from everything. While not without its flaws, it's just a low-key, fun game, and that's really all it needs to be.Read More
Blood Alloy: Reborn from Suppressive Fire Games is an arena-style platform shooter with a 16-bit aesthetic. It promises fast-paced gameplay, fully traversable terrain, swarms of enemies, and an awesome soundtrack. And, for what it's worth, it delivers on at least some of those things. But overall, the game is a weird, messy thing. It's an arena shooter that behaves like it's a platformer, a game that requires more precision than either the controls or the game type allows for. But even if this were all, its flaws far outweigh its strengths, and the game ultimately falters in spite of itself. But more, as always, below.Read More
Overfall is a game with a lot of good things going for it. It has a distinct art style, an excellent modular story engine, some interesting tactical combat, and a very dynamic setting. It's a game that promises a staggering amount of depth, especially when one gets into it. It's a big, expansive game with a big expansive map and big expansive ideas.
I'm playing The Flock to lose.
The Flock is interesting in this regard, as there is a global endgame condition, and that condition is "lose or make others lose enough times." The count starts at something like three hundred and thirteen million "population." When the population counter reaches zero, the game will no longer be on the market. The more people who play or the more players who die, the more the population counter goes down, and the closer the players get to endgame.
This is actually pretty interesting to me. I'm always interested when something is difficult to find, or permanently out of reach. I kind of find this more interesting than the actual game itself. So I'm playing The Flock to lose.Read More
I will give the twisted minds behind the Warhammer 40,000 universe credit, they at least know what they're doing with atmosphere. The series, a reductio ad absurdam of pretty much all science fiction and a little fantasy, is known for its rich atmosphere and utterly insane character designs. (Well, and codex creep, but that's for another article) It's a huge, bombastic setting of spaceships the size of former Soviet republics and ten foot tall warriors with six lungs and specially made ribs.
Regicide, by comparison, is a tactical strategy game taking some of the elements of Chess and mixing them with XCOM and Warhammer 40,000. It's not nearly as expansive or as utterly batshit as the source material it takes from, but in its own weird, restrained way, it does manage to be a lot of fun.
More, as always, below.Read More
The Red Solstice is a tactical 8 player co-op survival game set in the distant future on Mars. I can see how, in the heat of the moment, with all cylinders firing and everyone trying to figure out a tactical position against the alien hordes, it could be pretty cool. I'm sure there are guilds out there who would do great, shouting orders to one another and locking down a position, mowing down shrieking monsters as they run straight at you. But then there's a part of me that thinks it really missed the boat. A big part of me, actually. And it has to do with independence.Read More
I don't like having to pontificate on things like this. I get that it's my job, but it's kind of annoying when I can see the game for what it is, see where it could possibly be, and then be forced to lament that it wound up like this.
Galactic Inheritors is a game that seems like its ambitions exceeded its grasp. It might just be the way the game presents itself, or it may be that it seems like a very intelligent 4X game with some definite perks to it. That those perks are weighted down with a variety of bugs, strange design choices, and just in general failure to seem like an interesting game is more of a tragedy than a delight.Read More
This game has broken me
I've tried every possible angle of attack, from sarcastically framing it as the perfect game for the "offended set" to long pontifications on exactly why this game was made and managed to be released through Steam when it's clearly a quarter of a game. But in the end, I keep coming back to the person whose words have impacted my life far more than anyone's should have, especially his: Roger Ebert.Read More
So disclosure time: I loved Sid Meier's Pirates.
I bring this up because Windward is similar in a lot of respects to Pirates. Both are games where you and your crew sail around a large chain of islands and mainlands representing your chosen faction, attacking other ships, trading goods, fighting in wars, and gaining standing and reputation.Read More
The Shadowrun franchise is enjoying something of a renaissance recently. The tabletop game franchise; where the players take the roles of hackers, cybernetically enhanced mercenaries, and mages in a dystopian future; has been streamlined and cut down on at least some of the crunch that gives everyone issues with it. Shadowrun Returns (and its superior sequel Dragonfall) has made waves as the first successful licensed game for the franchise since the Genesis iteration back in the '90s.
Now with the online multiplayer game Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown, there's a way for people to link up with their friends, break into some corporate buildings, and cultivate an irrational fear of the words "milk run" just like fans of the franchise have done so for years, but with less of the bookkeeping, crunch, and confusing die pools of the tabletop version. And I'd love to say it's every bit as fun as the isometric single-player iteration, but...well, read on.Read More
0rbitalis is the most obtuse game I've ever played, and I love it.
Perhaps I should explain: 0rbitalis is an abstract gravity-puzzle game. The object is to keep your tiny red dot orbiting on screen as long as possible, arcing it around planets and stars (represented by larger and smaller abstract shapes) as it swirls and whirls around the screen. While you only have to do so for a very short set amount of time, there are online leaderboards that encourage players to keep their orbits going for as long as possible, with some frankly unbelievable times in places.Read More
Sometimes, a game doesn't need to be complicated or big to be interesting
Sometimes, a game can just be odd black and white scratch art and a way to bring its concept to fruition by forcing everything in its world to try and kill you. Sometimes being as simple or as basic as a flash game forces you to look at the game, try to see what it says, and apply those things outward.
Sometimes, a game's just beautifully dark.
All these things are Sym.Read More
When I sat down to write this review, I found myself at a loss. With a game that fails this way on so many levels, what could one possibly address first?
It's pretty clear the game isn't good. There's not really a unifying theme, a lot of the mechanics are better implemented in other games, the weapons boil down to "mash attack as hard as you can," there's no real way to pick a loadout other than blind luck, and the near-constant waves of enemies are actually numbing at a certain point. I found my sensory input dissolving into generic music and bright colors as my fingers tapped the attack keys for reasons I could no longer understand.
But, even with all of that, it's hard to pinpoint somewhere to start. Somewhere to point out where in the horrifying and sad mesh of monstrous machinery things begin to go wrong.Read More
I want to like The Charnel House Trilogy, really, I do.
It's an atmosphere-heavy point-and-click adventure game by a small indie company. It's got a strange plot like nothing else I've really played, except maybe for Downfall. The art has a handmade feel to it that reminds me of older adventure games, so it has the nostalgia factor going for it. And let's be honest, as someone who enjoys Jacob's Ladder and horror games a little more than anyone would ever admit, there is really no reason that I shouldn't have had an amazing time with The Charnel House Trilogy.
But as much as I'd love to trumpet Charnel House to the heavens, I found that the game falls a little short of what it could possibly deliver. While there are some great ideas overall in The Charnel House Trilogy, there's too much here for me to suggest giving this anything but a miss.Read More