Feb 15, 2018

January Backlog Games - Mini Reviews

By turning a new leaf with my gaming habits, it's allowing me to play more than I have in a long time. In my last post, I gave a full rundown of what I played in January that you can find here. This post is meant to give some quick reviews on older titles that don't need the full treatment. There's already dozens of reviews out there for these, some now years old. I'll only write full reviews of newer games. I'll be writing a short review for Albert & Otto in this post, and a full review for The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human later, both of which released in January.

Good to Great:
Each character story is unique and memorable.
  • What Remains of Edith Finch - I cannot rave enough about this game. Walking simulators, as they've been defined, are a drag most of the time... but this game nails it. I guess it deserves a better genre description than others like it, so we'll go with the more proper "Narrative Adventure". An excellent story, with actual gameplay elements mixed in, makes this something everyone can and should play. It's based on short stories of different individuals from the Finch family tree. Each one is unique and almost all of them are powerful. There are great messages hidden in the game, and a sense of discovery and wonder lingers from beginning to end. Don't miss this one. - Score: 9/A-
  • NBA Playgrounds - Essentially it's a modern day NBA Jam, mixed with some features of newer sports games, like opening packs to get players. I had a ton of fun playing this, and didn't put it down for a couple days. I liked almost everything about it. The controls, or the actions themselves, don't feel as polished as they should. Blocking/rebounding feel off, but it's sort of irrelevant as you're sinking sick 3's and huge dunks. There's a few neat power ups you get as you hit shots, or play solid defense that spice it up a bit. Didn't get bored at all. - Score: 8/B-
  • Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax - Shoot Em Ups happen to be one of my favorite genres, even though I'm not great at them. This one was a bit of a turn off at first, with it being focused on mechs, and some emphasis on melee attacks. Once you get into the groove of the game, the mechanics come together as you unlock upgrades and start tackling tougher enemies/bosses. The melee focus even found it's way into my repertoire eventually. the couch co-op is a MUCH better experience than the solo game is, and I recommend it more if you have somebody to play with. - Score: 7.5/C+

Decent to Average:

Songbringer isn't as epic as its title screen, but it tries.
  • Songbringer - A top down rogue-like that steals a lot of inspiration from early Zelda games, and isn't afraid to show it. There's a lot of secrets hidden within, a nice dungeon structure, and a world that is generated by the six letter word you type in at the beginning. If the gameplay style is something you're into, there is almost endless replay value. By the fourth dungeon, I found myself a bit annoyed with the combat, and generally unimpressed by much the game had to offer. This is one of the few games I didn't finish, but I'm sure I'll go back to it eventually. I feel like there's a lot I missed, since the game doesn't outwardly explain much. I'll give it a placeholder score for now. - Score: 6/C-
  • Tower of Guns - Rogue-likes have taken over recently, and not many of them are actually good. I was skeptical going into Tower of Guns, and remained so as I played it. It wasn't until a good completion and another run through the levels while powered up made me change my mind. Initially the movement feels awkward, the starting weapon is bad, and the game sort of isn't fun. Once you unlock better weapons and start understanding how the game world works, it comes together. I'm not sure it's a must play, but it's worth a look if you're a fan of the genre. This was the first rogue-like I've played that was an FPS, so it was unique in that sense as well. - Score: 7/C
  • Livelock - A top-down arcade shooter, where you choose from three different starting mechs. They each have unique weapons/abilities, and the game is focused mostly on upgrading said abilities until you gain an advantage over the waves of enemies you face. It doesn't really get any more interesting than that. It's separated into three acts, which is way too much. The game drags by the end, to the point I only finished it for the sake of saying I did. It's unremarkable across the board, but does have online co-op, which is a better experience... but not by much. - Score: 6/C-

Don't Bother:
This picture is more exciting than the game.
  • Race Arcade - A top-down arcade racer like you played on the NES/SNES, only it isn't fun and doesn't match up to any of them. It's not a bad game by any means. There are a variety of different vehicles to choose from, all of which control differently and keep the game mildly entertaining. However, the circuits feel like they go on forever. The track variety is its strongest asset, and I enjoyed setting new records on the time trials. You miss absolutely nothing by not playing this. - Score: 5/D
  • Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour - I get that the original Duke Nukem 3D was wildly popular, and its significance in gaming history matters. That's great! That doesn't mean this 20th anniversary remake deserves to be held to the same standards. It plays decently, it's an FPS, and the humor is there. The problem is that the only target audience is those that adore the original. The gameplay is tedious, and is only fun when messing around with the cheat menu. Meh. - Score: 4.5/D
  • Albert & Otto - A 2D platformer that takes its inspiration from indie titles like Limbo and Monochroma. Well, not quite. It's much worse than Limbo, but still a better game than the latter. It's unremarkable, and that's why it ended up here instead of getting a formal review. It's only about an hour long, and I didn't dislike my time with it. I just didn't really enjoy it either. There aren't many puzzles to speak of and the best one is part of the final area. It's a mediocre attempt at the genre. - Score: 5/D

I really enjoyed playing through so many different games in January, and I think writing short summaries of my experiences is much less pressure than full reviews. Not that I won't write them for new games, but my main goal is to keep the hobby fresh and exciting. Writing a quick opinion is a lot less stressful than a full deep dive into a game, so maybe I will find a way to do this with my reviews as well. 

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