[REVIEW] Anima: Gate of Memories – Beyond Fantasy Edition

Anima: Gate of Memories
Developer: Anima Project
Publisher: BadLand Games
Available on: Beyond Fantasy Edition exclusive to PS4 (reviewed)

When a team of overly ambitious developers doesn’t have the necessary resources to bring their ideas to fruition, it usually becomes clear to the player rather quickly. Such is the case with Anima Project’s action RPG based on their table-top gaming series, Anima: Gate of Memories. Continue reading

[REVIEW] Has-Been Heroes

Has-Been Heroes
Developer: Frozenbyte
Publisher: Gametrust
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price: $19.99

When the king put his faith in two aging heroes and a scrappy rogue to escort his twin daughters to school, he must have known he was sending them off to their deaths, right? In Frozenbyte’s new roguelike Has-Been Heroes, defeat seems like the only probable outcome. This genre typically thrives on the holy trinity of difficulty, permadeath, and randomization, but Has-Been Heroes’ use of these features is both unrewarding and erratic.

The experience isn’t entirely bad, mind you. Has-Been Heroes is, in some ways, unlike anything I’ve ever played. That alone is an impressive feat. Continue reading

[REVIEW] Snake Pass

Snake Pass
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sumo Digital
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price: $19.99 USD

The folks at Sumo Digital have taken a novel approach to the beloved mascot platformer of the N64 era, in by which they’ve gone and removed jumping altogether. In Snake Pass, players control Noodle the snake and slither and weave their way through branches and blocks in order to locate three hidden gems. Every stage presents an increasingly difficult obstacle course to navigate, but underneath the game’s beautifully colorful exterior and charming characters lies a game whose enjoyment will be largely dependent on your ability to adapt and appreciate its frustrating control scheme. Continue reading

[REVIEW] NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata
Developer: PlatinumGames Inc.
Publisher: Square Enix
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Release date: February 23, 2017 (PS4), March 17, 2017 (PC)

Yoko Taro’s Drakengard on PS2 was a bit of a mess, but underneath the mounting frustration was a sign of something brilliant. The way the creative director formulates dark tales and digs into the human psyche is unlike any other on the planet. NieR, Yoko Taro’s 2010 action RPG based on the 5th ending of the original Drakengard, suffered from similar issues, like repetition and unsatisfying combat, yet it’s a game that touched a lot of people and amassed quite a cult following along the way.

It’s been nearly seven years since NieR graced the PS3 and Xbox 360. In what seems to be a continuing theme, NieR: Automata isn’t the prettiest game on the market (sometimes resembling a late-generation PS3 release) and can be a little insane at times, but there’s no denying how incredibly special it is to me. It’s a rare gem that comes along every so often and turns everything we know about video games, storytelling, genre definitions, and the emotional engagement of its players upside down.

In short, NieR: Automata is not only a worthy sequel for a game many thought would never receive one, but one of the strangest, most compelling, thought-provoking, and beautifully heart wrenching games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Continue reading

[REVIEW] Double Dragon IV

Double Dragon IV
Developer: Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, BlazBlue)
Publisher: Arc System Works
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Release date: January 30, 2017
Price: $6.99

Growing up in the NES generation, I played my fair share of Double Dragon. Whether alone or with friends, it was a series of games that I gravitated towards whenever I wanted a break from the labyrinthine map of Metroid, the open world of Zelda, or whatever cheap garbage Mike Tyson was pulling in Punch-Out. I’ve never put Double Dragon in the upper echelon of classic gaming, but for what it was it was just fine.

For better or worse, Double Dragon IV is essentially more of the same.

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[REVIEW] Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
Developed by: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), PSVR, Xbox One, PC
Release date: January 24, 2017
Price: $59.99 MSRP

While Resident Evil 4 is often lauded as the best in the series, it’s hard to argue that it’s the game that sent the franchise in to a more action-focused direction. And while the fifth and sixth entries built upon that less-horror-more-action focus, at least we received stellar remakes of the GameCube’s Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0, along with the Revelations side-stories.

At first glance, Resident Evil VII is a far, far departure from what made the series a household name. It’s presented in first-person, supports VR, and tends to draw its inspiration from the likes of P.T. and Outlast. However, after spending nearly 11 hours trapped within the terrifying Baker plantation, I completely disagree with that notion. This entry truly embraces what made Resident Evil Resident Evil, doing so in such an effective manor that it not only dethroned Resident Evil 4 as my new series favorite, but ranks among the greatest horror gaming experiences of all time.

In short, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard is fucking incredible.

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[REVIEW] 2064: Read Only Memories

2064: Read Only Memories
Developed by: MidBoss
Publisher: MidBoss
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Genre: Visual novel/point-and-click adventure hybrid
Price: $19.99

As a struggling journalist living in the futuristic Neo-SF area, your life pretty much sucks. Your apartment is run down, with walls and milk alike sprouting mold, and you can barely earn a living reviewing the latest budget tech. The computer you peck away at is a figurative dinosaur. Nearby lies a stack of blank paper; a constant reminder of the book you’ve always wanted to write, whose progress is indefinitely halted by whatever excuse feels the most believable. You’ve also somehow managed to murder a succulent in your spare time. You bastard.

It’s cool, though. Things are about to get worse.

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