Gaming

Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Like so many other open-world games, The Witcher 3 is way too big for its own good.

I’ve long been a fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s world of The Witcher, centering on the professional monster slayer Geralt of Rivia who tries and utterly fails to stay away from grand politics, intrigue and conspiracies. Having enjoyed Sapkowski’s seven novels and CD Project Red’s first two games in the series, I was looking forward to the much hyped third installment. To quote its product page on Steam, it boasts of a large open world “full of meaningful choices and impactful consequences”, and I’ve traditionally quite liked those kinds of games. What could go wrong?

Continue reading “Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”

Gaming

Review: Tales from the Borderlands

Despite Telltale’s best efforts, Borderlands is still best enjoyed aiming down the sights of randomly generated guns.

The Borderlands games have managed the impressive feat of carving out a distinct identity and firmly staying put against a tidal wave of ever more monotonous first-person shooters. The strength of the franchise has been a core of loot-driven, trigger-happy run-and-gun FPS gameplay with RPG elements, wrapped in a generous helping of wacky humor. This makes Telltale Games’ spin on the Borderlands universe an interesting one, entirely swapping out the FPS mechanics with the now genre-standard conversation-driven adventure format. I’m intrigued by a Borderlands game where your strongest weapon is your wit, but while they certainly nail the absurd humor, I could to without the halfhearted attempts at adding drama to the mix.

Continue reading “Review: Tales from the Borderlands”

Gaming

Review: Republique

Republique completely fails to follow through on its solid elevator pitch.

Imagine a high-tech Orwellian dystopia. A teenage girl known as 390-H (or Hope, as she calls herself) is caught with an illegal political manifesto and scheduled for “recalibration”, an unexplained but undoubtedly nefarious process. Using a cellphone, she contacts you – the player, a mysterious entity in an undisclosed location – and begs for help. Your task is then to help her escape by jumping between the ubiquitous surveillance cameras in the strange facility, hacking doors and other equipment, and telling Hope where and when it’s safe to go in order to avoid patrolling guards.

The elevator pitch is great, but sadly, Republique completely fails in delivering a satisfying, cohesive experience.

Continue reading “Review: Republique”

Gaming

Review: Oxenfree

The most natural conversation system I’ve seen in a game combined with excellent voice acting makes this five-hour experience a worthwhile one.

I’ve never attempted to hide the fact that I’m a sucker for big open-world games with complex mechanics. But games can be so much more than that. In particular, I’m fond of short and focused games that know what they want and how to get it across succinctly, without pointless filler content. Oxenfree is just such a game.

Continue reading “Review: Oxenfree”

Gaming

Review: Life is Strange

Life is Strange touches on important topics and, despite some flaws, is well worth experiencing.

Most games lack complex characters with any depth at all. Most games steer clear away from important topics and issues. Most games do not concern themselves with evoking more complex emotions than “I’m having fun”.

Thankfully, Life is Strange isn’t like most games.

Continue reading “Review: Life is Strange”

Gaming

Review: Just Cause 3 – everything looks better on fire

Rico’s new grappling hook makes all the difference.

I finally got around to playing the now half-year old Just Cause 3, and you know what that means: Time to chew gum and blow stuff up, and I’m all out of gum (no really, I am). The series’ third installment follows squarely and safely in the footsteps of its predecessor, but while it is in most respects a better game, you wouldn’t think a whole six years have passed.

Continue reading “Review: Just Cause 3 – everything looks better on fire”

Gaming

Review: Far Cry 4 – just another take on Far Cry 3

In an alternate world, Far Cry 3 and 4 could easily have switched places.

I recently blasted my way through the second half of Far Cry 4 after having meticulously collected and completed everything in its first half. The transition in my playing style happened when I realized that 1) much of Far Cry 4’s “unique” content is really just slight formulaic variations on the same concepts, which aren’t really that interesting in the first place, and 2) I’ve got better things to do. So here’s a ranty kind of review of Far Cry 4, which may be a bit negatively biased because I’m already grumpy about Ubisoft sandboxes’ lack of respect for my time.

Continue reading “Review: Far Cry 4 – just another take on Far Cry 3”

Gaming

So Long, and Thanks for All the Draugr

On putting Skyrim away for good.

Skyrim, Land of my Ancestors,

I write this to you now, at the turn of the era, as my bones have grown weary and old. My arms and armor, imbued with powerful magic still as potent as in my glory days, have been laid to rest throughout your lands, to be discovered by the intrepid adventurers of the next age. Only the Thu’um remains to me now.

In this forsaken place at the far end of the world, I have little save my quill and parchment. It is to these tools I now turn in my final hours on the plane of Mundus. There are things I need to tell you.

Continue reading “So Long, and Thanks for All the Draugr”

Gaming

Quick-save – impacts on playing styles and difficulty

Quick-save has skewed my sense of difficulty and, surprisingly, made my playing styles more monotonous.

I was heading down a narrow corridor. My trusted KilLite 2k non-lethal taser at the ready, a MegaBlast 3000 Plasma Rifle on my hip, and the Widowmaker sniper on my back. I stopped before rounding the corner and considered my options. I knew a semi-open room laid just beyond. On the scaffolding up to the left, a sniper. I would have to take care not to be seen. Two guards with assault rifles patrolling the perimeter. The brute with the minigun lighting a smoke behind a crate, ready to jump into the fray if things got ugly. And at the far end of the hall – my target.

Continue reading “Quick-save – impacts on playing styles and difficulty”

Gaming

Review: Twilight Princess HD

Can added pixel density give this Zelda classic new life?

I never reviewed the original Twilight Princess. This puts me in an odd position when reviewing its 10-year anniversary HD remake. Should I make this a full-fledged review of the game as a whole? Or would that be unfair, what with most of the game being 10 years old and all? And how do my opinions on the game, never fully articulated or brought into the conscious, impact how I feel about my experience with the remake? Instead of rambling on about these questions I’ll go back to basics and try to answer what most people reading reviews are wondering deep down:

Is it worth it?

Continue reading “Review: Twilight Princess HD”