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Pnumea: Breath of Life

The pretty aesthetics lured me in along with a hefty 85% price cut, though below the surface there's little depth with simplistic puzzles, a heavily linear world and a tedious existential narrative driven story.

3 Jan, 2017 (PC)

Both technically and stylistically gorgeous with an attention to detail of both the world and the character animations that the story is portrayed elegantly without even a word. The gameplay gets repetitive before long but thanks to its short nature and mysterious unraveling tale it's more than captivating until it's impressively haunting conclusion.

2 Jan, 2017 (PC)

A straightforward action platformer with a puzzle-like approach to the levels, in a similar vein to the more commonly known Gunpoint though with a greater focus on combat gameplay that emphasises fast and fluid katana sword play. The difficulty curve is fantastically on point, especially on the hardest setting, to the extent that I felt the need to play through twice.

26 Apr, 2016 (PC)

SUPERHOT is the most innovative FPS  I've played in years.

It's also a pretty great game with a game loop that I'd kill to have in most FPS games. Level after level I found myself saving replays in glee to the amazing gunplay I just executed. I really enjoyed the story too , which is unexpected given the platform its told upon. The biggest issue is that the game's core campaign offering is devastatingly too short at around two hours long.

4 Mar, 2016 (PC)
Resident Evil 4

I came into Resident Evil 4 expecting something entirely different. Right from the offset I struggled to stomach the stacked flaws. The superbly crafted interconnected open world of prior Resident Evil’s is gone replaced by overly linear and handheld progression, textures blurrily portray every possible shade of brown, the horrific UI consumes my screen and every time someone opens their mouth a dumb cheesy line is spouted.

And its amazing. Somehow it all comes together to form a beautiful complete package. The clunky tank controls create unbearable tension. The Regenerador moans will haunt my sleeps for nights to come. The balance of inventory and difficulty is perfect throughout. The boss fights were memorable. Heck when the credits roll even the floppy haired protagonist and massive eared sidekick get a pass. What a fantastic game.

25 Feb, 2016 (PC)

A great follow up to the already faithful reboot to the series with just enough polish and refinement to keep things feeling fresh. At just over 41 hours played I managed to conquer the world, methodically expanding my communication network whilst avoiding progressing the handful of core campaign missions for as long as possible. This stretched the game to its absolute limits as the repetition kicked in long before the credits rolled.

21 Feb, 2016 (PC)

With the meme of ‘what is Firewatch?’ having reached maximum saturation it’s unfortunate to see it finally release and conclude… not much. Firewatch is a ‘walking simulation’, most comparable to Gone Home, which tells a short story (4 hours or so) of a volunteer fire lookout named Henry. The presentation and voice acting is fantastic, and the game's core cast (two characters) bounce off one another brilliantly with dry wit and suspense from the events that unfold. Unfortunately the story itself doesn’t really go anywhere, and a late twist unwinds the potential that’s built up which ultimately concludes with a terribly disappointing end.

14 Feb, 2016 (PC)
Sound Shapes

A rather simplistic platformer in which you’re a ball that can stick to certain walls and create notes in a progressing completing song as you proceed through the levels. The game’s gimmick is the sense that your actions are generating the music, and to an extent it works fantastically. The problem is that the gameplay loop is extremely simple and shallow, rolling your way to the end point with either little challenge or enough flexibility to have the challenge be anything but frustrating. On top of this there really aren’t that many tracks to play around with in the core game and other than the lure of paid DLC you’ll have to jump into the community created levels to find more substance.

13 Feb, 2016 (PS Vita)
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

A fantastic extension to the core game, adding a meaty act and far more importantly another mode of play and repeatable randomly generated dungeons that adds a massive amount of replayability and a pure loot grinding bar filling bliss.

8 Feb, 2016 (PC)
The Witness

A genre defining masterpiece of a game. Unaware of what to expect I had high hopes going in, and after 40 hours of puzzle solving bliss I put the game down with my expectations surpassed. The world design and attention to detail throughout is stunning; everything from a rock on the beach to a treeline in-land can have purpose and be part of a series of meta puzzles coming together towards the end of the game. The only downside being that the strands of a story, pretentious and nonsensical, does little to compliment the world it inhabits and the ultimate mystery of the island is either still yet to be discovered or  lackluster. The journey more than makes up for the destination though.

4 Feb, 2016 (PC)
Diablo III

As ever Diablo III is a game I return to year on year for another playthrough. This time around the lure of a new season and a fresh start pulled me in, which is only extended by losing the progress from my US account not playing on the EU servers. Two characters to 70 already and I’m still itching to play more. The ultimate bar filling loot grinding masterclass.

30 Jan, 2016 (PC)
Destiny: The Taken King

Finally! After much grinding, frustration at gated content and difficulties organizing raid teams we finally defeated the raid boss Oryx. All in all The Taken King was a content rich expansion and fixed a lot of the rough edges Destiny had, although it in turn introduced a slew of its own. The raid itself, the focal point of the expansion, is one of the best Bungie’s done yet; namely because of its first-person platforming bliss.

26 Jan, 2016 (PlayStation 4)
Life is Strange: Episode 5 - Polarized

A fitting farewell to a memorable series. Whilst the last episode doesn’t quite hit the lofty highs of the three before it, namely thanks to an awkward stealth segment, loose ends are tied up well and the concluding choice is a heavy one. I couldn’t recommend the series more as both a staple of the adventure genre and a best practice for episodic storytelling.

17 Jan, 2016 (PC)
Life is Strange: Episode 4 - Dark Room

A stunning example of episodic adventure perfectly executed. Starting on a high continuing from the last episode the pace never slows, progressing the story in strides to a almighty climatic high. Coming in at around 4 hours it’s also the lengthiest of all the episodes, and sets up the series for a conclusion that could proceed in a plethora of unknown directions.

17 Jan, 2016 (PC)
Life is Strange: Episode 3 - Chaos Theory

After having demonstrated their flexibility with the time travel mechanic at the core of the game, this time around they ambitiously take it even further. The episode really focuses in on the teen angst and somehow pulls it off in a way that has me now fully engaged in the story, caring for the cast and anticipate each step of the plot as it unravels. As ever the episode concludes on a cliffhanger with such a poignant scene that my hand felt forced into hopping right into the follow up episode. I literally cannot wait to see how the series concludes.

11 Jan, 2016 (PC)
Door Kickers

Door Kickers is essentially SWAT in 2D from a bird's eye perspective. There’s a slew of standalone missions and campaigns, which are essentially bundled missions, that require you to navigate a small squad of soldiers with staggered commands to take down terrorists and rescue hostages. The execution is a bit muddled, as whilst it’s initially charming the appeal wore off after a few missions as levels do little to change up the gameplay from the first 10 minutes and there's frustration in the trial and error nature of its execution.

6 Jan, 2016 (PC)
Life is Strange: Episode 2 - Out of Time

A slow start ends with a huge high as the series has already built a good momentum with a cast I care about and a plot that still keeps me guessing. The production value, particularly when compared with other episodic games, is through the roof. My largest criticism of the first episode is also put to rest as the time travel mechanic is cleverly used in two puzzles, one of which begins to demonstrate its shortcomings. I’m excited to see what’s next and glad I don’t have long to wait.

2 Jan, 2016 (PC)
Super Mario Maker

A game I had almost zero interest in, and to which I couldn’t see the appeal. The rivalry between Patrick Klepek and Dan Ryckert around the game however exploded my interest. Since picking it up I’ve been playing it morning, noon and night. It’s the brilliance of Mario platforming bliss created in such a way that its replayability is endless. Already I’ve experienced, and created, mechanics with the Mario elements that I’d never imagined possible. I just wish more people had it, and a Wii U, to properly enjoy its social sharing potential.

1 Jan, 2016 (WiiU)
Fallout 4

As expected with a Bethesda open-world experience it’s a muddled bag of RPG brilliance and a bug ridden mess. Systems are many and the world is vast, but they’re typically limited in scope and flawed in execution due to the overwhelming breadth. I spent a lengthy 90hours with Fallout 4 and had such high expectations of a fantastic concluding review, even 60hours in.

The settlement, though flawed, along with the weapon and armour modding systems all felt like perfect additions that suit my gaming affections perfectly. Whilst it’s one of the least interesting Fallout worlds it managed to grip me, feeling familiar and comfortable like an old pair of slippers. It wasn’t until the turning point where the story suddenly becomes incredibly linear, forcing you down a path with a selection faction that all ultimately concludes in the same manner. The illusion of choice and branching paths fade away in crashing disappointment.

9 Dec, 2015 (PC)
Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis

A fantastic introduction to the series that is impressively well presented. Void of the typical episodic clunk that has become the norm, already in the first episode Life is Strange feels polished and well refined, to which I’m already engaged with the cast of characters and the initial tease of the story unraveling to come. The soundtrack and presentation is particularly fantastic, though the dialogue can be overly cringe worthy and the use of the time travel mechanic is weak so far.

9 Dec, 2015 (PC)