Outlast – Outlast is the first and currently the only game put out by Red Barrels, a company that is made up of several people with a long list of AAA games on their resume (particularly Ubisoft). It’s clearly derivative of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but Outlast is no less effective of a horror title. It maintains the limited light resource that was left out of Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and features several quite intimidating foes that are hunting you through the darkness. I’m reminded of Bioshock as I explore the cluttered and quite tangible environment that feels like a place that could almost exist. I just question how there are so many gaping holes in the concrete and why the idiot protagonist would ever do anything that happens in this game. I haven’t reached the end yet and don’t know what ultimately happens, but this guy frankly deserves to die.
Outlast Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5dr1EHvfwpPXOEo5V_p2AOmiVkq40Tez
Demon’s Souls – Overall it’s an excellently made game but you can certainly see where they learned and improved when they later made Dark Souls. The Dragon God in particular is a terrible boss fight. Anyone who has played Dark Souls and loved it is doing themselves a disservice if they haven’t given Demon’s Souls a shot in anticipation of the sequel. All of the most important elements are there: challenging and diverse boss fights, level design that encourages both caution and exploration, and a slow, deliberate combat system where moment to moment decisions can quickly become the difference between life and death.
Demon’s Souls Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5dr1EHvfwpMuVmxZzzqfMVUR48EaIbJc
Resident Evil: Revelations – The segments on the ship, particularly in the first half of the game, make for some fun and effective horror moments. Unfortunately this schizophrenic game keeps skipping around to shitty action segments where some other character who isn’t Jill has to mow down 50 of the same enemy in horrible monotonous levels. The last few bosses are also absolutely terrible. Revelations could be improved by completely cutting large swaths of its content. I was playing the new PS3 HD port, and the handheld game mechanics were all too apparent. Players are expected to pull out a scanner to search every single area if they want the supplies they need to survive. There is also a staggering amount of backtracking throughout the game. Because of this I would often start a new session worried that the game hadn’t saved properly since “I could have sworn I just did this part.”
Resident Evil: Revelations Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0Ci9ljEAQY
Dynasty Warriors 8 – The series that is constantly criticized for not changing finally made a ton of new tweaks, and they’ve all been pretty well received. The moveset of each character has been significantly increased, a rock paper scissors mechanic has been added to weapons types, you can automatically mount your horse (I cannot emphasize how surprisingly significant this change actually is!), and the new Ambition mode introduces welcome tension by asking players to take risks as they attempt to survive multiple back to back levels with persistent health. It probably still won’t change anyone’s minds, but the best Dynasty Warriors game appears to finally be here.
Dynasty Warriors 8 Stream – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGEc3k1rXqI
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – Attempts to create a fairly tactical third person shooter are appreciated, but the story tries way too hard to emulate Mass Effect and doesn’t have the writing to back it up. This leads to the space between missions being one big boring slog. The shooting mechanics also aren’t nearly polished enough to make up the core gameplay. As an overall package The Bureau is a pretty major disappointment considering how long it was in development, especially when it is inevitably compared to the quality of XCOM: Enemy Unknown from last year. It’s not nearly as bad, but in many ways The Bureau feels like the Walking Dead Survival Instinct when compared to TellTale Games’ The Walking Dead.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dlm1C4BtyA
Mass Effect 3: The Citadel (DLC) – The Citadel is probably what many Mass Effect fans wanted from Mass Effect 3. All surviving crew members from the past and present all come together for one big mission and a following party that you can organize. The story is something straight out of a cheesy 80’s action movie, and many moments throughout made me laugh more than I thought a Bioware game could. Bioware is clearly working on some kind of new Mass Effect game at this point and I sincerely hope that they choose to lean more heavily on this more lighthearted and fun tone in the future. The grim tale of a hero rising up to save the galaxy is neat and all, but we’ve seen too much of it and the seriousness of the last trilogy may be part of why the ending was ultimately so poorly received.
Beyond: Two Souls – David Cage has successfully created another game that wants to be a movie and that has several pretty emotional scenes. Unfortunately the plot is once again pretty nonsensical once you can look back at it as a whole. His previous game Heavy Rain at least had the illusion that your decisions had some impact on the plot. While playing Two Souls the story constantly skips forward and backwards in time. This means that segments that take place in the past (which make up most of the game) cannot have significant effects on future scenes because you’ve often already played them. It also quickly becomes apparent that doing absolutely nothing during most action segments does not lead to a fail state. Jodie will still limp away just fine or perhaps get momentarily captured in a manner that requires her ghost friend to save her. Obviously because of these last few points anyone who has a major emphasis on player agency should steer clear of this game. If you want to experience a mediocre movie filled with quick time events and pretty CGI, have at it. I won’t claim that I didn’t at least have fun with parts of it.
Beyond: Two Souls Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVVCico1W80kTnQq9u7z06ufpJflT8DWr
The Wolf Among Us, Episode 1: Faith – TellTale is at it again with another promising premiere for a new adventure game season. Wolf Among Us has the kind of beautiful art style where any random screenshot makes the game look great, and the story is immediately captivating. This time around we’re tasked to solve a murder mystery and judging from the publicly available player stats people’s opinions are currently all over the place when it comes to who is behind it. Only time will tell how well the full season fares.
The Wolf Among Us Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVVCico1W80n749cxGyJ-DtCnOnqV1zvp
Grand Theft Auto V – GTAV is a behemoth in a way that feels similar to how GTA3 and GTAIV felt at launch. Between the long story and huge amount of side content it’s very easy to lose a good 60 hours with this monster. I grew a bit bored near the end of the campaign because characters started having the same boring argument in every cutscene. GTA’s shooting mechanics also make for borderline unplayable multiplayer if you make the mistake of selecting deathmatch modes, and some of the side content just isn’t any fun. I don’t regret my purchase in the slightest because I was more than happy to pour dozens of hours into the game, but player should be warned that if they want to be completionits with this title they’re going to be in for some bad times.
Grand Theft Auto V Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVVCico1W80lzfPmwx3o3z4vbc4OA3OhT