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Updated: 2 hours 34 min ago

Outriders: Worldslayer Review - Pleasantly Altered

6 hours 38 min ago

Every time I return to Outriders, I'm reminded of how intense and fast-paced its core gameplay is. You play a superpowered killing machine who can create small-scale earthquakes, set enemies on fire, or teleport behind troops hiding in cover and tear them apart with your mind. Worldslayer, the game's first major story expansion, mostly just offers more opportunities to use ridiculous powers and guns to blast more enemies. Though it adds more story, the really meaningful changes are of a smaller scale, adding more loot to chase and endgame content that improves the game overall. It's not the most thrilling of expansions, but it does leave Outriders in a better place, with more to do and more reasons to tectonically shift enemies into oblivion over the long term.

Those endgame improvements were some that Outriders needed. Where the game stumbled to some degree at its release was with extensive loot mechanics in what is otherwise an RPG shooter. Outriders encourages you to replay the game on tougher difficulties with a long tail of chasing down top-tier weapons and armor. But once the story is done, it's tough to stay interested. Though deep adjustable difficulty tiers meant you could challenge yourself and reap better rewards, the most lucrative place to play was in its repeatable endgame activity, Expeditions, which quickly started to feel a bit thin.

Developer People Can Fly has been making adjustments to the game since its launch in order to give fans more to do once the story is over, with those improvements culminating in Worldslayer. The expansion not only brings a few hours of additional story, it also adds significantly to the endgame, with new difficulty tiers, new skill trees to enhance your character, and new gear to earn. In other words, Worldslayer addresses Outriders' initial shortcomings with a bunch of new things to hunt down.

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DNF Duel Review - Here Comes A New Challenger

Fri, 07/01/2022 - 06:57

Throughout the years, the fighting game has proven to be one of the most versatile genres. Much of that versatility comes through guest characters, from The Walking Dead's villain-turned-antihero Negan joining Tekken 7, to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's all-star cast. With DNF Duel, Arc System Works ups the ante on this idea, taking an entire game--Nexon's long-running MMO Dungeon Fighter Online--and building a fresh fighting game with it. The result is a solid brawler that, despite a mediocre story, boasts a varied roster, near-flawless online play, and a fighting system with plenty of options for newcomers and seasoned veterans alike.

DNF Duel is set in the world of Dungeon Fighter Online, sure, but prior knowledge of that game is not required to jump into this one. The source material is mostly referential, serving as a backdrop for the overarching story and characters. Each of these characters is built from one of the MMO's playable classes. Some of the characters look like they were pulled from another fighting game; the Grappler, for instance, is a dark-haired, hand-to-hand fighter wearing a martial-arts uniform, which sounds familiar. Others, like the Ghostblade and the Berserker, stand out thanks to their incredible and intimidating looks. The Berserker's red eyes, spiky blond hair, and scaly red arm make him look like an evil Super Saiyan, while the Ghostblade is doubly scary thanks to the ethereal black beast floating over his body like a Stand from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.

The fighting system in DNF Duel is the epitome of "easy to learn, hard to master." Moves are performed by combining single directions with attack buttons, akin to the control scheme in Super Smash Bros. Normal attacks can be performed with no restriction, while special moves pull from a finite amount of MP seen in a blue bar below a character's health. MP restores over time, but using a move that requires more MP than is available will put the character into an Exhaustion state, delaying MP regeneration and weakening attacks for a short period. This sounds pretty standard and honestly, that's a good thing; it makes for a low barrier of entry for players new to fighting games. However, that simplicity sits on top of a slew of moving parts that increase the learning curve significantly.

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Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course Review - More Than A Cherry On Top

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 23:00

I've played through Cuphead dozens of times over the past five years, and each time I appreciate its hand-drawn artistry even more. I still find new visual flourishes that I had never noticed before--split-second facial animations and the tiniest of details on the myriad objects and projectiles that fill the stages of frantic boss fights. Somehow, Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course easily surpasses the pure artistic beauty of the base game. The level of detail on display in the DLC's handful of boss fights is simply mind-boggling. More than just visually impressive, though, the new boss fights are more exciting, dynamic, and mechanically diverse. Coupled with a creative new playable character in Ms. Chalice and multiple interesting new weapons/charms, The Delicious Last Course is a triumph that expands on the base game in clever ways while also improving the original campaign itself.

Ms. Chalice is a game-changer in The Delicious Last Course, so it's not too surprising that the DLC's story is centered around her. The Legendary Chalice, a ghost who granted players Super Arts abilities in the main campaign, wants to come back to life. To do that, Ms. Chalice, Cuphead, and Mugman must collect the ingredients for the Wondertart from the bosses scattered across Inkwell Isle IV. In the meantime, there's a temporary fix for her not-being-alive problem: the Astral Cookie, a new charm that can be equipped to play as Ms. Chalice. And playing as Ms. Chalice is a fairly significant departure, especially for someone like me who has played the original campaign so many times.

While Cuphead and Mugman are functionally the same fighter, Ms. Chalice meaningfully changes how it feels to go up against the assortment of larger-than-life bosses. The Astral Cookie charm gives Ms. Chalice three unique abilities: double jump, dash parry, and invincible roll. She also gets an extra hit point. Considering that Cuphead is largely played with three buttons (jump, shoot, dash), altering how any of those operate shakes things up. At first, I found playing as Ms. Chalice a real challenge; it basically felt like I was learning how to play Cuphead again for the first time. I often pressed the jump button again to parry like I would with Cuphead or Mugman and wound up taking damage. But when it clicked, I learned that Ms. Chalice is an extremely versatile and nimble character.

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Neon White Review – Heavenly Sprint

Thu, 06/30/2022 - 05:51

Neon White is a curious amalgamation of Counter-Strike's thrilling surf maps, the time-trial-centric joy of Trackmania, and the anime-infused narrative of a visual novel--all sprinkled with a light dusting of Persona for good measure. It's also a first-person shooter/puzzle-platformer and one of the best games of the year. I've never played anything quite like it, despite being familiar with each of its influences. Not everything coalesces as one might hope, with the story's slow build interrupting the gameplay's rapid pace, but this does little to dampen the sheer, unadulterated glee that comes from traversing each of its 97 immaculately constructed levels.

At its most basic, Neon White is essentially a speedrunning first-person shooter. You play as the eponymous Neon White, a sinner from Hell who's given the chance to enter Heaven if he can rid it of a demon infestation. You'll glide, jump, and shoot your way through numerous celestial arenas, all with the end goal of reaching the finish line as quickly as possible--with the caveat that you also have to kill every demon along the way. Most of the levels are over in less than 30 seconds, but it's this confined sprint that proves so tantalizing. Reaching the end of a level is rarely ever difficult but the crux of Neon White lies in figuring out the best route through each one in order to shave off precious seconds and earn better medals and rewards.

To aid you in this endeavor is an inspired mechanic called Soul Cards. These finite pickups give you access to a range of weapons that can also be discarded to activate one-off abilities. The Fireball card, for example, functions like a shotgun, letting you shoot a powerful blast that's most effective at close range. If you discard it, however--losing the shotgun in the process--you can perform a directional air dash that obliterates any enemies you phase through. Other Soul Cards include long-range rifles, SMGs, and more, with their abilities giving you additional traversal and offensive options, including a double jump, ground pound, and grappling hook. You can only hold two unique Soul Cards at a time so you're never overpowered, but you can stack up to three of the same type, giving you more ammunition and multiple chances to use these secondary abilities.

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Poinpy Review - Moving On Up

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 07:14

To simplify Poinpy, you could call it the opposite of Downwell. The comparison is relevant as both games come from creator Ojiro Fumoto. In Downwell, you make your way down a well shooting enemies and collecting upgrades as you fall. In Poinpy, you make your way up a well and collect fruit to feed the giant Blue Beast that is chasing you upward. In practice, though, Poinpy has mechanics and a style all its own that expertly gamifies an action anyone who has ever used a modern phone is familiar with: the downward swipe.


Poinpy is the titular bouncy dinosaur-like protagonist creature that wouldn't look out of place in a lineup with Kirby and Yoshi. In the game, you are outrunning a giant Blue Beast who always lingers at the bottom of the screen, demanding specific fruit recipes. To climb, you drag down on the screen to slingshot Poinpy upwards, bouncing them against walls and leaping off enemies while collecting specific fruit that randomly appears. The downward swipe action is the key to Poinpy's fun as it feels great to constantly launch them to progress. The mechanic perfectly encapsulates the video game idiom easy to learn, hard to master. My early runs were enjoyable as I awkwardly careened off the walls while not totally clear on my objective, but by the end of my playtime I felt like an acrobat expertly lining up my jumps to bounce off one enemy to collect the final banana and slamming down to deposit a mountain of juice into the blue beast's mouth below.

All the practice in the world, though, does not overcome the occasional annoyance of making a mistake. Understanding how to gain additional jumps, earned from bouncing off of enemies and pots, is what leads you to success, and the on-screen icons don't do the best job of quickly reminding you how many jumps you have left. On more than one occasion, I would think I was in good shape to grab the last kiwi I needed, only to learn too late that I was out of jumps and came crashing to the ground. At that point, you have to restart the recipe, which is a huge bummer especially during the late-game. This is, of course, the challenge of the game--managing jumps to collect the fruit you need--but sometimes it feels a little too punishing.

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Disney Mirrorverse Review - Shattered Dreams

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 02:00

At first glance, Disney Mirrorverse looks and sounds like a child making up a story on the fly with action figures. Characters from all across Disney's catalog--heroes and villains alike--come together to fight off a malevolent force that threatens all of reality. These characters aren't their usual selves, trading in their children's movie personas for something with a little more edge. It's a bold and interesting choice, something never seen before from this group of characters, and this world's mere existence is an exciting prospect. Unfortunately, the boldness of Mirrorverse comes at a cost, literally, as the idea is buried beneath crystalline loot boxes, microtransactions, and convoluted progression. What could have been a whole new world for Disney is instead just the latest run-of-the-mill mobile game.

Disney Mirrorverse is an action-RPG set in the titular Mirrorverse, where enemies called the Fractured are growing in power. You battle these hordes with teams of three heroes called Guardians, chosen from the 44 characters who make up the roster. Each of the 44 fills one of four archetypes, Melee, Ranged, Support, and Tank, which informs how they fight. These classes are standard fare: Melee Guardians use swords and other handheld weapons, Ranged heroes rely on magic and projectiles, Tanks stay in the enemy's face while soaking up damage, and Supports heal teammates, debuff enemies, and more. You get new Guardians through Crystals--Mirrorverse's version of loot boxes that are both earned through gameplay and purchased with in-game and real-world currencies. Crystals come in multiple forms, some highlighting specific Guardians or guaranteeing specific ranks, and are opened with typical loot box theatrics via the in-game shop.

As a longtime Disney fan, I cannot stress enough how cool it is to see these characters in this new light. Belle from Beauty and the Beast steps out of the library as a powerful mage, wielding a staff powered by the magic rose itself. Her villainous counterpart, Gaston, has gone full Game of Thrones wildling with his massive bow and shoulder-spanning wolf pelt. The lovable bear Baloo dons his Disney Afternoon-era TaleSpin garb and uses a giant plane propeller as a broadsword. Not all characters receive such revolutionary designs--Elsa is an elemental who controls ice, for instance--but even those that don't stray as far from the source have their charm.

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Capcom Fighting Collection Review: Family Feud

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 01:00

Capcom Fighting Collection feels like a family reunion. Ten games reside in this digital banquet, ranging from all-time fighting game favorites to a few relics of the past. They all play exceptionally well, particularly online, and each one is an arcade-perfect port. The main issue with the collection is balance, as half of the offerings are centered around a single series: Darkstalkers. While those games are good--the previously Japan-only titles are particularly appreciated--a little more variety in this collection would have pushed it up a tier or two. As it stands, it's a little too much of a monster mash.

This isn't to say there aren't a few well-known, non-Darkstalkers games in the collection as well, as it showcases the breadth of Capcom's arcade 2D fighting game history. Both Hyper Street Fighter II--the 2003 port of 1994's Super Street Fighter II Turbo--and 1996's Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo are included in Capcom Fighting Collection. While each title has been ported multiple times since its original release--SFII is available pretty much everywhere, and although not as ubiquitous, Puzzle Fighter II Turbo has also appeared on more console generations than you'd think--this collection marks the first time the games have been sold together. Both play exactly as you remember them here: Hyper SFII is the classic one-on-one fighting game starring Ryu, Chun-Li, and more, while Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo replaces fighting with gem-matching in a format similar to Columns from Sega.


Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix--also known as Pocket Fighter--ups the ante for Street Fighter-themed inclusions. It is one of the goofiest fighting games Capcom has ever made thanks to its chibi-style character design and light-hearted battle animations, and revisiting this particular page of fighting game history was an unexpected blast. I'd forgotten just how wacky this game was until I selected Zangief for the first time and watched him transform through the stages of evolution in a single combo, and revisiting this particular page of fighting game history was an unexpected blast. One of the stages features a giant Capcom-themed toy store in the background, with a child version of Cammy pointing at a toy in the window and tugging on her father M. Bison's coat as he shakes his head in disapproval. It's a silly, irreverent, and wonderful gem of a game and I'm glad Capcom brought it back.

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Sonic Origins – Going Fast, Again

Tue, 06/21/2022 - 23:00

There's no denying the appeal of classic Sonic--the 16-bit Sonic games are some of the most memorable and influential platformers around. No matter what happens with modern-day Sonic, the old games remain as wondrous and as exciting as ever; a sort of gaming comfort food you can keep coming back to for years on end. It's no surprise then that Sega has re-released the classic Sonic games many, many times over in various compiled and standalone forms. Sonic Origins is the latest such compilation, with its main selling point being that the games have been completely rebuilt by many of the staff behind the beloved Sonic Mania. And while the games remain as delightful as ever, the package as a whole feels a little disappointing.

Sonic Origins contains four (technically, five, since Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were sold separately) classic Sonic games from the 16-bit era: the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic 2, and the combined Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Rather than the emulation most re-releases utilize, each of the games has been rebuilt in a new engine (the Retro Engine) to play almost exactly like their original versions--though with various quality-of-life improvements added. Sonic 1, for example, has a spin dash and fixes the infamous instant-kill spike bug, while Sonic 2 adds a new level (the mythical Hidden Palace Zone), and Sonic 3 & Knuckles has touched-up sprite animation for its cinematics and the Super Sonic transformation, and so on. In addition, characters who might not have been playable in the original releases also are made available, such as Tails in Sonic CD and Knuckles in Sonic 1. (Knuckles still isn't in Sonic CD, likely because his play style really doesn't match the way that game's levels flow.) Most of the original visuals and music remain intact, though some of Sonic 3's music (long theorized to have the involvement of Michael Jackson) has been changed, likely for legal reasons.

All of the games have a new "anniversary mode" that increases the viewing area to 16:9 (as opposed to the original 4:3 aspect ratio) and removes the lives counter. You can still die, of course, but you'll just respawn at the last checkpoint, making the threat of a looming Game Over moot. The lives counter is instead replaced by a coin counter. Coins can be collected within the games from power-up monitors, getting lots of rings, and clearing Special Stages. You can then spend these coins to unlock extras in Sonic Origins' museum, or retry when you fail to get the Chaos Emerald in a Special Stage. It's a great feature for Sonic 1 and Sonic CD, where opportunities to enter and clear a Special Stage are quite limited--less so for Sonic 2 and S3&K where opportunities are more plentiful early on and you can then blaze through the rest of the game as Super Sonic after getting a full emerald set.

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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review – Wars With Friends

Tue, 06/21/2022 - 23:00

With each new release from Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force, the word "Warriors" gets further away from the word "Dynasty". The Musou action genre it created, where you play as an ultra powerful soldier against an army of hundreds, is borrowing more and more from the franchises it licenses story and characters from. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity looked and even sometimes felt like Breath of the Wild. Persona 5 Strikers (which lacks "Warriors" in the title, but is a Musou game) played like an extension of Persona 5, but with a different combat style. This trend among Omega Force’s games is a positive one, as you can only press the Y button so many times before you want to do something different. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes offers perhaps the most opportunity to entertain yourself outside of comboing through thousands of enemies that the studio has released yet thanks to its Fire Emblem: Three Houses-inspired content between missions. The result is a better-paced, more interesting experience than previous Omega Force games, but one that is still very much a Musou game.

Where the original Fire Emblem Warriors presented an ultimately unfulfilled opportunity to meet and play with the larger history of Fire Emblem characters, Three Hopes reigns in the focus and is essentially a pseudo-sequel/alternate telling of Three Houses that is an action game instead of a tactics RPG. You won’t run into characters like Roy or Marth, but you do have the choice to join Edelgard’s Black Eagles, Prince Dimitri’s Blue Lions, or--the correct choice--Claude’s Golden Deers. If you’ve played Three Houses, seeing these characters and agonizing over the choice again is nice, but this time you’re playing as a new character named Shez, whose appearance throws the timeline out of sync and forces former Three Houses protagonist Byleth into the antagonist role. The departure gives an illuminating new look at that story, allowing you to interact with familiar characters under new circumstances. This change also made me admire Byleth in a new way, as she destroyed me the first time I met her, and proved to be a worthy challenge on nearly every subsequent rematch.

Before and after combat encounters is where Three Hopes is the closest to Three Houses and doesn’t feel like a typical Musou game. Between pressing Y arguably too much, you visit base camp, where you can upgrade facilities, train, speak with your soldiers, make a meal, or even take care of horses. I enjoyed the reprieve from the repetitive combat and though I didn’t want to hear from every character between battles (and often elected not to), the opportunity to get to know the cast of characters, improve all the interpersonal relationships, and make them stronger during combat, made me eager to return to base camp. I even enjoyed the strangeness of going on the occasional date between slaughtering opposing troops. Base camp doesn’t change visually as a result of upgrades, which is disappointing, but leveling up and improving the facilities is rewarding for the bonuses they provide, like faster training or stores being able to carry more supplies.

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Diablo Immortal Review - Evil On The Go

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 03:56

There is little to question that Diablo Immortal is a big and richly produced Diablo entry. It looks great, it evolves the formula of action role-playing introduced in Diablo III and matches it acutely to the hardware it was originally designed for, and it strikes a good balance of making you feel powerful while also enticing you to continue hunting down better loot. In that sense, Diablo Immortal is just another good Diablo game, but it's also one that can't always be played with the same obsessive cadence as prior titles given the number of barriers that can routinely force some time away from it.

The story takes place between Diablo II and III, with familiar faces popping up to provide some thin context for events that have transpired by the time you arrive in Tristram at the start of the last core title. Deckard Cain is back (why wouldn't he be?) and so is a new evil that is threatening to use shards of the same Worldstone to wreak havoc across the lands. Story conversations are fully voiced, which makes Immortal feel as premium as previous Diablo titles on PC. There's really nothing here that suggests it's anything less than that either, with large open spaces for you to explore and numerous side quests to undertake as you progress the story.

What is different is obviously where you'll be playing. Diablo Immortal was designed for smartphones, and it's unsurprising then that it plays best on them, too. The touch controls employ the familiar digital analog stick on the left side of the screen, while the right features a cluster of buttons for your various abilities. You have a single main attack along with four equippable skills to choose from, with a fifth ultimate ability button appearing once you have access to it. It's simple and well-spaced out, and I never found myself accidentally pressing any skills I didn't want to. You can move and have attacks target enemies automatically, which simplifies your focus further, but also helps you accurately aim certain skills that require it. With my Necromancer, I often need to choose the area in which I want to explode a bunch of corpses, which is easily done by just holding down the skill in question and rotating my finger to position it. In a chaotic fight where I needed to pull this off fast, the accuracy could be a little wonky, but these moments were mostly fleeting.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Review - Turtle Power!

Thu, 06/16/2022 - 01:00

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is fueled by the power of nostalgia and (presumably) dozens upon dozens of slices of New York pizza. 1992's Turtles in Time is one of the most beloved Super Nintendo games of all time, arriving at a time when the Heroes in a Half-Shell were at the peak of their popularity. It's clear that the beat-'em-up connoisseurs at developer Tribute Games have a deep reverence for both that game and the Turtles of the late '80s and early '90s, because Shredder's Revenge is essentially a sequel 30 years in the making. It faithfully re-captures what made Turtles in Time such a cherished brawler, all while introducing a few new ideas to freshen up the classic 16-bit gameplay for a modern audience.

If you're a fan of Turtles in Time, you'll feel right at home as soon as Shredder's Revenge begins. The opening cutscene sees the anthropomorphic brothers gathered around an old CRT TV watching a news report that's interrupted when a few of their notorious adversaries attack the Statue of Liberty. It's not exactly the same as Turtles in Time's opening, but it's very close. Once you hop into the first level, this feeling of familiarity doesn't wear off. The level introductions feature the same silhouette of the boss you'll be facing, and if you're playing as either Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, or Michelangelo, you'll notice that their abilities and combos have been faithfully adapted from their adventure in '92. Chaining together attacks is more fluid than it once was, but you can still perform a plethora of recognizable moves, from barreling enemies over with a running shoulder charge to canceling a dodge in order to launch into a slide kick. You can even grab Foot soldiers and toss them right at the camera.

Playing Shredder's Revenge feels like playing Turtles in Time--or, at least, how I remember it in my mind's eye--but there's still fun to be had even if you don't possess any of that potent nostalgia. It's still very much inspired by the beat-'em-ups of the era--including the earlier Turtles games released for the NES--with its fast, arcade-style action seeing enemies arrive on screen just as quickly as they're vanquished. There's a ton of enemy variety, too, which often forces you to diversify your offense to get behind a shielded foe or dispatch a flying nuisance. Defeating most of the bosses is a matter of learning their attack patterns and knowing when to dodge and when to inflict damage. A few of these end-of-level obstacles are more involved, though, such as the Rat King, who will jump out of harm's way and summon swarms of rats for you to evade. It's all relatively simple, but there's some depth beyond the surface with the likes of juggles and ground bounces, and the swift rhythm of the action is particularly satisfying.

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Mario Strikers: Battle League Review

Wed, 06/08/2022 - 23:00

Mario Strikers: Battle League may be the most mechanically dense Mario sports game I've played. The latest Mushroom Kingdom spin on soccer looks to take the sport seriously, allowing you to juggle passes, tackle, dodge, and cancel moves as the situation demands, even before factoring in its uniquely silly Mario twists. That makes for a high skill ceiling that could conceivably give the game a long lifespan, but its potential is held back by the fact that there just isn't all that much to do.

The mechanical complexity of the game is explained back-to-back-to-back in a dizzying set of tutorials. Rather than ease you in with a few basic lessons and then teach you some field skills and then progressively ramp up throughout practical games, Mario Strikers: Battle League asks if you'd like to do the tutorial, and then delivers you all of them in a row. Just as you're getting a handle on tackling and Hyper Shots, you start getting Expert-level lessons that teach advanced techniques like canceling a charged shot or the subtle differences between a free pass and a more powerful free pass. The mechanics themselves are complex so the hefty tutorials are understandable, but it can feel a little overwhelming when it's all dropped in your lap at once.

Once you enter into the game menu, single-player opportunities to test out your newfound soccer skills are sparse. You can take part in a Quick Match, the most basic of all sports game options, or you can play in a series of four-team, double-elimination tournaments called Cup Battles. That's it. There's no distinct career mode, progression ramp, or even alternate rule sets to mix things up. It's a remarkably anemic level of options, which makes the whole affair feel slightly unfinished. Mario Strikers has a great foundation, but there isn't much to do or see inside of it.

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The Quarry Review - Summer Scare Fest

Wed, 06/08/2022 - 23:00

What happens when you take a bunch of teenagers, strand them alone in the middle of the woods, and leave them with naught but a foreboding warning that's just begging to be ignored? "Nothing good," is the answer, but that's exactly why we're here. This is the devilishly appealing setup for The Quarry, Supermassive Games' spiritual successor to Until Dawn. After dabbling in shorter stories with The Dark Pictures Anthology series, The Quarry sees the studio return to its roots with a new 10-hour horror game that sticks closely to the well-received formula that made Until Dawn such a rousing success.

After a mysterious and unsettling prologue, The Quarry's first act begins on the last day of summer camp. With all of the kids sent home, only the counselors and the camp's owner remain. He's anxious for everyone to leave as quickly as possible, which immediately throws up a few red flags, but when their minivan fails to start, the counselors are forced to spend another night together. Being teenagers, they come up with the grand idea to throw one last party before heading home in the morning. No harm, no foul, right? Obviously, things don't quite go to plan--and not just because booze is hard to come by--so you'll spend the evening switching between control of all nine counselors as they attempt to survive the night against numerous unforeseen threats.

Delving into any more detail would infringe on spoiler territory, and part of The Quarry's charm comes from uncovering its enticing mysteries. There are some fairly obvious hints early on that should give you a good idea of what you'll be up against, but things aren't always as they seem, and the revelations keep unfolding right up until its final moments.

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Roller Champions Review - Keep Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

Sat, 06/04/2022 - 08:40

Roller Champions is an intriguing mixture of sports, strengthening the already-compelling baseline of roller derby by adding in elements of basketball and Mesoamerican ball game, ulama. This unique blend is a whole lot of fun, so it's a bit of a shame that it starts to feel so samey as quickly as it does.

In Roller Champions, players compete as teams of three, skating in a circular rink. Both teams fight over possession of a ball and then make as many consecutive laps as possible with it in hand, before then tossing it through a hoop to score points. If your team manages a full lap before scoring, you earn a single point, while two or three laps net you three or five points, respectively. If at any point the other team manages to get the ball away from you, it breaks the streak and you'll have to fight to get the ball back in order to break your opponent's streak and begin scoring again. The first team to reach five points (or have the most points after seven minutes) wins.

The first roller pass--Roller Champions' version of a battle pass--isn't all that enticing. There are a few entertainingly unique offerings but it's a largely drab first outing.

It's a straightforward premise, made more engaging and complex with the variety of moves at each player's disposal on both offense and defense, including multiple ways of tackling your opponents to the ground or passing the ball to a waiting teammate. Plus, there are the in-game physics to master, which dictate how a ball might roll or bounce depending on where and how hard you throw it.

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Soundfall Review - Not Quite My Tempo

Sat, 05/28/2022 - 08:39

It's easy to fall in love with the idea of Soundfall. Its action role-playing gameplay marries concepts from twin-stick shooters and rhythm games, challenging you to stick with the beat as you attack enemies while dodging their blows. It's a conceit that has been experimented with in multiple other games, sometimes to great effect. But those other successes manage to enhance the mechanic beyond its initial charm, which isn't something Soundfall ever quite replicates in its extensive campaign.

Everything in Soundfall moves to the beat of the song playing in the background. All your actions require you to time them according to the beat to be effective, whether that's your standard ranged attacks, up-close melee swipes, or damage-dodging dashes. Enemies are similarly tied to the same constraints. Their attack patterns don't change with the beat, but the speed of them does. The build-up time associated with the shot of a sniper will be faster or slower based on the song playing, for example, while the speed of environmental hazards is similarly affected.

Playing in tune with Soundfall’s music initially feels exhilarating. It doesn’t take long to match up to the new rhythm presented by a new song, but it still feels satisfying to settle in and fire off hundreds of perfectly timed attacks and execute precise dodges. Enemy variety is sparse at first, but there’s a decent number of combinations that keep most skirmishes engaging enough, and certainly challenging enough to encourage you to keep hitting well-timed attacks to do the most damage you can. It’s enough of a hook that it makes the otherwise routine isometric action fun, but also what quickly becomes monotomous as Soundfall fails to do anything new with it beyond the initial rush.

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Hatsune Miku Project Diva Megamix+ Review - The Most Miku

Fri, 05/27/2022 - 06:16

When the Hatsune Miku voice software debuted back in 2007, few could have guessed the tremendous impact it would have. The concept of a virtual singer--one whose songs were almost entirely user-generated--was a bizarre and intriguing novelty. 15 years later, Miku and her friends have endured, solidifying their reputations as pioneers across music, the internet, and gaming cultures. Sega's Hatsune Miku: Project Diva serves as a powerful testament to the aquamarine-haired songstress' lasting legacy, and Project Diva Megamix+ is a phenomenal reminder of Miku's musical significance.

Like previous games in the series, Project Diva Megamix+ is a rhythm game built around the popular Japanese "virtual singer" characters of Hatsune Miku, the Kagamine Rin and Len duo, Megurine Luka, Meiko, and Kaito. Each game in the series offers a selection of songs sourced from independent creators who've made songs using these characters. Most of these tracks also feature an elaborately choreographed, real-time music video that plays in the background, which can be customized with costumes and accessories for the characters you earn with in-game currency.

Megamix+ is an enhanced port of 2020's Hatsune Miku Project Diva Megamix for Switch, which itself was a “best-of” compilation based on the arcade and PS4 game Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone. That might sound a little confusing if you're not familiar with the series chronology, but the important thing is that it means that Megamix+ has no shortage of music. From the moment you boot the game, over 100 tracks--including many that were DLC-only on the Switch version--are ready to play. There's also optional paid DLC to add most of the songs from PS4/arcade Future Tone that didn't make it into the Switch game, and with up to five uniquely charted difficulty levels available for each song, you get a huge amount of bang for your buck, regardless of if you spring for the DLC.

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Sniper Elite 5 Review - Longer-Range

Fri, 05/27/2022 - 01:00

Five games in and sniping Nazis still hasn't gotten old. Whether it's a well-placed bullet in the back of the skull, a shot right through the iris of an unaware enemy, or a 200-yard peach that collides with a pair of testicles, Sniper Elite's schlocky long-range action remains gloriously fun. It's in the moments outside of the sniper's scope where the series has previously struggled to compel, but that all changed when Sniper Elite 4 arrived with refined stealth mechanics and massive, open-ended maps. In picking up where that game left off, Sniper Elite 5 doesn't feel quite as revolutionary in comparison, but with some smart new additions and a more ambitious emphasis on player agency and experimentation, this is another thrilling Nazi-hunting adventure where sniping is king.

Once again, you're thrust into the mud-caked boots of American marksman Karl Fairburne, this time deep behind enemy lines in occupied France. Sniper Elite 5 is set in the weeks and days just before, during, and after D-Day, when Allied forces launched a joint sea-based and airborne invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Your initial mission is to covertly disrupt enemy operations in preparation for the French theatre of war, destroying AA guns, disabling communications, blowing up fortified coastal positions, and so on. It doesn't take long, however, before you unearth yet another dastardly Nazi plot that could turn the tide of war, so it's up to Fairburne to put a stop to their plans and save the world from catastrophe.

You'll do this by sniping, blasting, and stabbing your way across various locales in northern France, from a picturesque chateau in the middle of the verdant countryside to the obliterated coastal town of Saint-Nazaire, where the Loire river heads inland. These environments are often gorgeous, especially early on, with the colorful scenery providing a stark contrast to the violent bloodshed happening all around it--bloodshed that most frequently bursts forth from the barrel of a sniper rifle.

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Apex Legends Mobile Review - Pocket-Sized Royale

Thu, 05/26/2022 - 06:30

Apex Legends has gone pocket-sized with Apex Legends Mobile, an entirely separate version of the battle royale game for Android and iOS devices. Apex Legends Mobile is quite different from its older sibling, featuring a unique roster, maps, modes, and progression track--some of which unfortunately detract from the overall experience. However, Apex Legends Mobile streamlines the process of playing a battle royale to create a fairly rewarding experience that's fun to play.

Apex Legends Mobile is a battle royale game first and foremost. You and your squadmates pick from a roster of hero characters called "legends," before then dropping onto a map. To win, you need to loot supplies and weapons, escape the encroaching energy wall that slowly corrals squads into an ever-dwindling space, and be the last team standing. When you fall in battle, your allies can grab your banner from the deathbox you leave behind and respawn you, keeping the whole team in the fight.

There's a satisfying heft to shooting and smoothness to movement, and the unique strengths and weaknesses of each playable legend encourage teams to stay and work together. Color-coded attachments and ammo types ensure the momentum of the match is constantly moving forward--at a glance, you know whether a pile of loot contains anything you might want or need--so you aren't wasting time navigating menus and can get back to the action.

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Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong Review - That Sinking Feeling

Sat, 05/21/2022 - 05:27

Swansong is a role-playing game that delivers the entirety of its drama through dialogue–there is no combat to speak of. Critical scenes between characters are resolved within conversational set-pieces called "confrontations." RPGs can exist without traditional battles--just look at Disco Elysium, for example--but the dialogue now thrust center-stage needs to sing, or at least harmonize with a deep skill system. Swansong, sadly, delivers neither. Its writing is pedestrian, often incoherent, and its supporting systems are underutilized, adding little flavor to distinguish the three playable characters.

You play as three vampires--Emem, Galeb, and Leysha--summoned to a crisis meeting at Boston's vampire HQ, after a party to mark an alliance with the Hartford Chantry (a sect of blood sorcerers) ends in a bloodbath, and not the good kind. The local vampire prince instructs the trio to uncover what happened and eventually sends them on a series of overlapping missions of revenge. Missions are tailored to each vampire's specific abilities, and you'll play as each character in turn. For the first half of the game, you'll decide the order in which to tackle the missions, giving you some choice to pursue the storyline that's of most interest. But over the second half, a more linear approach takes over, and you find yourself shunted from one character's mission to the next, each ending on something of a cliffhanger.


This structure allows the story to build across three concurrent timelines, and at its best, the perspectives occasionally align to let you see a specific event from multiple angles. Though it has to be said, crossovers are disappointingly rare and it's mostly a case of small references throughout missions that nod to events being experienced between the three characters. It feels like a missed opportunity to tie the story threads together that the three characters don't appear in the same scene beyond the game's early stages.

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Evil Dead: The Game Review - Somewhat Groovy

Fri, 05/20/2022 - 08:04

Horror fans are living in a golden age. It seems like a few major horror franchises are adapted into games every year, most often in the asymmetrical multiplayer genre. Casting a group of friends as hapless survivors against another player hunting them as a supernatural foe is a great idea on paper every time, even as end results can dramatically vary. Evil Dead: The Game doesn't stray far from this foundational premise. However, it smartly leans on its B-movie hijinx to deliver fans something worthy of being in their horror game rotation, even if it doesn't have the soul to swallow all of their time single-handedly.

While Evil Dead: The Game is its official title, you could rightly call it Fan Service: The Game instead. Drawing from the original three movies and the Starz series--sorry, reboot fans--Evil Dead beams with pride and fandom from its developers, collecting all manner of weapons, Easter eggs, locations, and corny one-liners that made the series famous. Original actors are brought back in most cases, including the all-important Bruce Campbell, whose many versions of Ash Williams make up a good portion of the character roster.

Wandering across the game's several large maps can feel like a museum tour through one of horror's cult-favorite franchises. The audio and visuals lend themselves to this glowing first impression, too. Music straight from the series and faithful character models--including the nauseatingly detailed Deadites--makes Evil Dead: The Game feel as lovingly crafted as the movies.

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