Category Reviews

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie Review

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie Review

Ever wanted to experience the Marvel Cinematic Universe of RPGs? The Trails series is exactly that. More specifically, The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie is the Avengers: Endgame of RPGs. It’s the culmination of three different subseries within Trails and two decades’ worth of meticulous storytelling, easily totaling over 100 hours of gameplay time between its story, combat, and post-game activities. Despite a bloated cast of characters resulting from combining the expansive Trails series, impeccable pacing makes every event and interaction manageable. With its politically engaging story and strategically fun turn-based gameplay, it’s one of the best RPGs of 2023.

Reverie is able to pack so much content in because its overarching story is split into three routes, each with a di...

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AEW: Fight Forever Review

AEW: Fight Forever Review

In the 1980s, 16-time world champion Ric Flair popularized the expression, “To be The Man, you gotta beat The Man.” In professional wrestling games, “The Man” has been the WWE 2K franchise, existing completely unchallenged for the better part of a decade. Newcomer AEW Fight Forever’s challenge does not change the balance of power, but its audacity to try by leaning into arcadey design ideas from yesteryear and embracing a pick-up-and-play philosophy should be praised. It’s the noticeable lack of genre-standard features, an underwhelming single-player campaign, and a smattering of mechanical bugaboos that take the legs out from under it. This fighter isn’t ready for the main event just yet.

In the style department, Fight Forever comes out swinging with cartoony character mode...

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Crash Team Rumble Review in Progress

Crash Team Rumble Review in Progress

On paper, Crash Team Rumble doesn’t seem like it should work. It’s a team-based, strategic platformer that breaks a lot of the rules we associate with other multiplayer games like it. Instead of getting ahead by KOing members of the enemy team, you’re racing to collect 2,000 Wumpa Fruit before them. But while this concoction may seem strange at a glance, it comes together in surprisingly fun fashion. The three hours I was able to spend with Crash Team Rumble as part of a pre-release review session (plus a few more on live servers since launch) isn’t enough to get a full sense of what’s here or how it might hold up over time, but I did come away with a much better understanding of what developer Toys For Bob is going for and a hunger to collect even more Wumpa Fruit.

Rumble’s 4-on...

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Aliens: Dark Descent Review

Aliens: Dark Descent Review

Even with all the wild genre mashups I’ve seen over the last several years, I don’t think I could have ever predicted a survival horror RTS. And that’s basically what Aliens: Dark Descent boils down to, adding stealth elements and tense resource management to its isometric, squad-based tactical action. When it’s fully locked and loaded, it captures the essence of the 1986 film Aliens better than any game in ages. But slimy, fun-bursting technical issues show their creepy heads too often for Dark Descent to be a smooth ride.

Blending up a bit of XCOM, a bit of Darkest Dungeon, and a bit of Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, I can’t deny that Dark Descent is a very unique game with lots of interesting ideas...

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F1 23 Review

After roughly 940 million kilometres, the Earth has reached the point on its 12-month celestial march around the sun where it’s time for another Formula 1 game. Fitting, perhaps, considering I feel like I’ve driven roughly 940 million kilometres in this series over the past decade-and-change. Jokes aside, it’s a testament to the incredible robustness of Codemasters’ brand of open-wheel motorsport magic that climbing back into the cockpit each year remains a pleasure, and F1 23 is no exception. Alongside noticeably improved handling for the new-era cars, F1 23 also adds the next chapter of the Braking Point story mode introduced in F1 2021 – plus a new reward-based progression system with daily, weekly, and seasonal goals...

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Amnesia: The Bunker Review

Amnesia: The Bunker Review

Amnesia: The Dark Descent changed the face of horror games 13 years ago, and 2020’s Amnesia: Rebirth seemed to bring the story seeds it planted to a bone-chilling and climactic final bloom. So Amnesia: The Bunker, a smaller and more self-contained chapter, has its work cut out for it in getting me excited about this frightening franchise again. And while a lot of the fundamentals of its stealth and exploration have stayed the same as they were when I woke up as Daniel more than a decade ago, this gloomy, open-ended cat-and-mouse thriller proves you can teach an old hellbeast some new tricks.

Set in a dim, doomed World War I bunker in 1916, we take on the role of a French soldier who is wounded in battle, and wakes to find the exits destroyed and nearly all of his comrades-in-arms slaughter...

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System Shock Review

Trapped in a hell he helped make, a lone hacker aboard a space station far from home sneaks and fights his way through horrible mutants and killer robots in order to take down the monstrous artificial intelligence behind it all: SHODAN, one of the all-time great gaming villains. System Shock pioneered so many first-person shooter concepts back in 1994 that now feel fundamental, simultaneously paving the way for the entire immersive sim genre. Nightdive Studios has done masterful work with this 2023 remake, taking a fantastic game that the years have made hard to play and updating it with modern conveniences that will let it be enjoyed for decades to come.

Nominally a shooter, System Shock is more about exploring the labyrinth that is the TriOptimum corporation’s Citadel space station than...

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Street Fighter 6 Review

Street Fighter 6 Review

Remember when Street Fighter 5 came out and a lot of people were disappointed by its distinct lack of meat on its bones? Street Fighter 6 is the polar opposite. Complete with an excellent 18-character roster of both new and returning fighters rendered in a killer new art style, an incredibly ambitious online Battle Hub that puts all other online fighting game lobby systems to shame, and just about everything you could ever ask for when it comes to training tools and systems to help you get better at fighting games, it’s a spectacularly feature-rich fighting game. Street Fighter 6 takes many swings in many different directions, and though not every blow connects, the ones that do are absolute knockouts.

The gameplay of every Street Fighter game since Street Fighter 2 can generally be def...

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The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review

Whether it’s a book, a movie, or a video game, creative works generally exist for a reason. Sometimes it’s to delight, by entertaining with stories or fun gameplay. Other times it’s to inform, with news or by exposing the audience to different perspectives. Or it makes you think, with interesting ideas that challenge you to consider or reflect. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, however, is a game that does none of these things. Instead, it thrusts you into the role of the titular character without doing anything meaningful with his defining internal conflict, and sends him on a series of missions that are neither fun to play nor interesting to experience. The one question it poses is: why would someone want to play this?

Playing as Gollum sounded like it might’ve been a decent pitch for...

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Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun Review

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun Review

Perhaps the ultimate dream of a ‘90s Metalhead nerd, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is the fusion of retro-style first-person shooters with the beloved sci-fi universe that birthed the term “grimdark.” It gets a lot of fun mileage purely from combining the aesthetics, sense of story, and level design of a game like Duke Nukem 3D or the original Doom with the rich library of character designs that 40K has built up in its 35 or so years of history. You’re a Space Marine Sternguard, a decorated elite who doesn’t say much, and you’re on loan to the scary and very mean imperial Inquisition. Your job is to kill everything between you and… whatever objective you’re currently after. Don’t think too hard – there’s not much of a plot here, just a whole lot of old-fashioned running and gunning.

Acr...

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