Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a stylish detour that allows the series to safely explore some new directions while setting the scene before the next game. But it's not taking the risks where it really counts. In an era where right-wing extremism is an increasing threat, and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred, the visible politics of Wolfenstein can't shoulder the weight of the game alone.
They are so cute, but the juices and goo underneath their gelatin-like skin is a necessary resource. But I still feel bad. Sorry, Slimes. When my time on this mortal coil reaches its sunset period, I'll let the Slimes have my insides in an act of penance for the goo-based crimes I committed against them.
The detective-like gameplay allows the world to become a character in and of itself and, at times, I wished that there was no core central narrative. I would be perfectly content with exploring this beautiful Norwegian town, rummaging through the town's ephemera of life and taking it all in at my own pace—as slow and methodical as the bucolic surroundings imply. At just under three hours, Draugen is a perfectly fine excuse to interact with and explore a beautifully realized world; just be ready to come to terms with how forgettable its story is.
Sea of Solitude gives us a boat. And a light. And it accepts that we must sometimes think of ourselves as a contradiction of insignificance and grotesquery, as we wind our way through the path of recovery. That, monstrous though we may feel, we can still affect change in our lives, and the lives of others. Healing is possible, if complicated, non-linear, and often contradictory. Sea of Solitude wants us to see ourselves better than we do, but won't abandon us when we can't.
But how do you review the experience of a city? I still don't think I know. Perhaps, as Judgment understands, our experiences are too precious, too deeply personal to do more than hint at suggestions of experience. To anecdote and extrapolate. To let slip the micro moments of intimate connection to a person or space, to leave others with only the wordless emotion of a snapshot.
I appreciate that the development team gave the player the second option. But, given the splash screen that begins the game, and Frogwares' clear understanding that they are dealing with a heated and contentious period of history, I question why they gave the player the first option.
The wasteland is varied enough and yet it somehow manages to feel the same no matter where I am on the map. Rage 2 exists, it is playable, and it will keep you busy for awhile. Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot also exists, it is readable, and it will keep you busy for awhile. Do I recommend either of them? Nope.
Pathologic 2 is a deeply weird game, with a Mayakovskian cast of characters, plopped into an apocalyptic Bertolt Brecht play set deep in the Russian Steppe. And while the actual gameplay maybe disappointing or frustrating to some (it was to me), I can't help but be compelled by a game so enthusiastically bizarre.
By the end of A Plague Tale, its surviving heroes have earned their rest. It's hard to say goodbye to them, though, the same way it's hard to no longer spend time with the characters of a great book or TV show. A bittersweet post-credits sting hints at what might await the de Runes in the future; hopefully that's a story that players will be able to explore one day.
The unwinnable-for-plot-reasons boss fights aside, Devil May Cry 5 never wants the player to feel any less than like they’re the coolest person on earth. While the game isn’t overly easy, health and upgrades are plentiful, every character has multiple options to handle any situation thrown at them, and the checkpointing system is gracious.
Anthem is not “for me”, yet Anthem is trying desperately to be “for everyone.” It is a slow, sometimes terribly frustrating game with nonetheless incredible flying mechanics and adequate shooting. It is the future of videogames, built to be played forever and yet somehow forgettable—the sustenance meal of the online shooter-looter genre, inexplicably buoyed by a company known for legendarily good writing forced to hide its own characters behind mission talk-overs and loot notifications.
It is a great game that had to smear itself in a layer of whatever-nothing to convince you that it belonged in a certain genre. But like the octopus pretending to be a rock, Metro Exodus is a brilliant creature in the guise of a worse one. With some time, energy, and emotional investment it springs to life.
Far Cry never felt like just a shooter or just another open world game to me, but rather, a combination of many genres that offered balance between the cozier, more relaxing parts of the game and the high stakes, overstimulating pace of the main storyline. I guess maybe that's why, as I approached this review in the wake of Far Cry 5, I oddly felt the need to pin it to a single identity. I'm disappointed to see the series scale back at the expense of other features but New Dawn does a fine job of reinforcing that creative decision and offers some small hope that the writing may continue to improve. If outposts are your favorite part of the series, then you'll likely enjoy Far Cry New Dawn.
Which is why I find myself not angry with, but disappointed in YIIK. Where other games that draw heavily from the most celebrated of surreal ‘90s RPGs feel suffused with caring characters that carry the player through a harsh and weird world, YIIK comes off as callous, ignorant and (when the story finally begins picking up steam in its sixth or seventh hour) simply too late to be the groundbreaking experience that it so tries to be.
I am not out here hollering for a specific mode of card game design, and I love that we live in a world where there are a plurality of games for people with different desires and likes in their card games. I am simply saying that Artifact has emerged into a world where digital card games finally seem to have figured out the sweet spot between mechanical complexity and friendliness for new players, and it has totally ignored any and all of those lessons in favor of a model that, to me at least, seems to be interested in attracting diehard fans of massive complexity and basically no one else. And maybe that works for Valve and the Artifact design team, but it sure as hell doesn't work for me.
It's a structure, like a gym or a concert, and we have our role to play in it. It is good for what it is, but it isn't more than that. This is a first-person shooter on a large scale, and if you've played one before and you're itching for the most-recent and best-looking Battlefield, then you've found it. Anything more or less than that and you're better off getting last year's model. It's probably gotten all the kinks worked out, at least.
The ramp-up period to learn the game is long, even with the quickstart guide, because much of what factions can do and how they do it is new or just not intuitive. It's also the kind of game that can satisfy lots of different players, and I could easily see a group playing repeatedly with the same people playing the same factions because they learn specific strategies for each and like the style of one faction over all others. Just don't let the cute theme fool you—the forest of Root is a nasty, brutish place.