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Steep Reviews For XONE

Steep Reviews For XONE

Mountains are far from uncommon in open-world exploration games, but even in the most impressive ones, they’re normally little more than pretty white fences encircling a greener playfield. Steep reverses this concept with some success. Here, it’s the valleys and green spots of the world that trigger the invisible walls and the mighty Alps that fill its rocky, snowy sandbox. Steep’s gameplay unfortunately falls short of matching the grandeur of its open world, but it’s a tough act to follow.

Steep lets you seamlessly zip down mountain ranges via snowboards, skis, wingsuits, or paragliders with a quick click of a radial menu. At any time, you can leap from below the treeline to miles-high “drop points” you’ve discovered–either by walking or taking a helicopter–and partake in events and challenges that pepper the slopes. The races and time trials you find are fun ways to test your skill against everything from smooth powder to tougher rocky paths. Meanwhile, the freestyle events celebrate and grant experience points for general showmanship, and the “Bone Collector” events add some humor by inviting you to throw your body off a cliff as spectacularly as an avalanche.

The trouble with Steep is that beyond the gratification you get from simply moving about it’s impressive world, the best rewards it offers are cosmetic items, like fluffy bunny suits, and newly unlocked events that closely resemble ones you’ve already played before. The gameplay itself never changes: Your wingsuit might eventually look cooler with that sleek GoPro branding, but it always handles the same way regardless of how it looks. Nor does Steep actually embrace its “play as you want” philosophy as thoroughly as initial appearances suggest; you’ll need to rank well in most events in order to level up, even if you find the paragliding events as appealing as a snowman might find the Bahamas.

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That wouldn’t be such a problem if some equipment wasn’t considerably more enjoyable to use than others. Snowboarding is the best by far–performing spins, flips, and short glides off rocky prominences remains thrilling even hours in, as does navigating through narrow snowy chasms and deserted, half-buried villages. Skiing comes in a close second, although with a slightly more ponderous sensation of weight.

Whether you snowboard or ski, you’re bound to encounter frustrating controls. Even after hours of experience, timing jumps remains more of an art than a science, and sometimes your character may refuse to respond to commands that should have sent them flipping through the air for tricks that generate more points.

Steep often comes off feeling like the collaborative effort of two wildly divergent personalities–a John Muir-like wilderness sage, say, and a loud-mouthed Red Bull announcer. The wingsuit supplies a different brand of excitement, allowing you to jump off piers far up in the peaks and hurtle yourself face-first near powerlines and mere inches above jagged slopes for greater points. The physics involved sometimes seem wonky and fantastical, but they’re never impossible to master and the wingsuit events yield an entertaining alternative to the ground-based trials. Steep also allows you to paraglide, but from a mechanical perspective, this approach comes off as painfully dull. Watching Europe’s grandest mountains pass below as you glide overhead is initially awesome, but the paragliding suit’s simple controls leaves a lot to be desired; it demands little more than occasionally steering toward pockets of air in humdrum events that can drag on for a quarter of an hour. They’re not even particularly challenging–in many cases, you can skip off the designated course, over a neighboring peak, and glide right down to the finish line.

Taking everything into account, Steep often comes off feeling like the collaborative effort of two wildly divergent personalities–a John Muir-like wilderness sage, say, and a loud-mouthed Red Bull announcer. In its finest moments, swishing past the pines over a landscape awash in varying shades of white for long stretches at a time, it invites slipping into the meditative trance. But then, without fail (unless you turn him off in settings), the extreme announcer butts into that tranquility and drags you back to garish corporate reality, complete with Red Bull logos emblazoned on the sides of helicopters. The HUD itself sometimes ruins the mood, as the gaudy markers showing the locations of the many events stand out as starkly as billboards might in an Ansel Adams photo.

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Some of Steep’s commendable exploratory features can tend toward the goofy, as in the “mountain stories” that personify peaks like France’s Pointe Percée by giving them voice actors who brag about how they’re “the showman, the bombastic” and how “you’ll shred snow-caked ruins below my summit.” There are lingering bugs to contend with as well, which usually amount to mere inconvenience, but might send you falling under the mountain like Gandalf and the Balrog.

Still, Steep’s reflective moments and the sheer joy of its exploration can outweigh some of its rougher points, and some of the most fun it offers comes from simply traveling to undiscovered locations–just you against the mountain. Most players on the slopes seem to favor this playstyle despite Steep’s easy grouping options and its insistence on online play; time and time again, it’s challenging to find people interested in grouping up. Most of the time, unless you have some friends to invite along for some real competition, the multiplayer implementation seems best for watching others pull off complicated tricks.

Steep is a game that’s never really sure what it is, and its vagueness and lack of meaningful rewards causes it to suffer in any comparisons to the likes of SSX. But there’s a quiet thrill to exploring the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, and snowed-in Alpine villages. It’s a strangely attractive approach for all its qualifications, and there’s a constant sense that Ubisoft is channeling George Mallory’s famous response when asked why he wanted to scramble up Mount Everest: “Because it’s there.”

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Dragon Ball: Fusions Reviews For 3DS

Dragon Ball: Fusions Reviews For 3DS

Humor is an element of the Dragon Ball series that often goes overlooked in games. Where many Dragon Ball Z games effectively showcase superpowered combat, Dragon Ball Fusions is an attempt to embrace the sillier side of Dragon Ball in gaming form–though, sadly, it falls victim to repetitive combat and dull progression systems.

In some ways, Fusions feels like a companion game to the Dragon Ball Xenoverse series. Much like those games, you start off by designing a custom character based on one of the various races from the show, picking facial features, a hairstyle, and an accompanying voice. Once you’re done, you’re immediately thrust into the colorful world of Dragon Ball. The bright, often surreal environments and structures from the Dragon Ball universe are beautifully rendered on 3DS, and although the ability to view the game in 3D had to be sacrificed in the process, it’s not a huge loss.

Your adventure begins as you and your pal Pinnich–an original character created for Fusions–find the last of the Dragon Balls, earning the right to make a wish. Pinnich is a pretty simple-minded type: he wants to have the biggest, baddest tournament ever to determine the strongest warrior in all of the Dragon Ball universe. Before you know it, a wide range of the series’ locales are combined into a towering vertical universe, and everyone from across the franchise’s history is now trying to find teammates for the upcoming brawl. Pinnich has gone his own way, but you make fast friends with familiar faces: Trunks, Goten, and young Goku. With the help of other Dragon Ball favorites, you’ll meet and recruit numerous other characters to your team, ascend further skyward, and hopefully take the title of the greatest fighters the universe has ever seen.

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In between battles, you’ll soar around 3D environments, exploring and battling foes that cross your path while finding the means to progress further. There are towns to visit along the way that offer side quests, places to shop, and people to chat with. Fitting with the game’s overall lighthearted tone, your chats with NPCs tend to be on the silly side–though they may be ally or foe, you’re more likely to discuss things like food and puns than you are to address the bigger conflict at hand. Unfortunately, Fusions’ localization leaves something to be desired: there’s no English voice acting, some character names are inconsistent across menus, and there are times when dialogue in text boxes cuts off entirely.

You control up to five characters in a flat, overhead-view 2D space, fighting against a team of up to five opponents. As you battle, you and your foes move around the arena. This positioning proves to be very important in numerous ways. For example, if you’re close to friendly characters, they can help the fighter you’re currently commanding land some extra damage. If you’re launching a melee attack against a foe, you can try to knock them in a direction where another ally character will hit them, or you can smash them against another enemy for a pool-style ricochet effect. If you decide you want to fight with ki blasts or special moves instead, you can try to hit multiple enemies in a line or go for an area-of-effect technique. If you manage to knock an opponent out of the arena entirely, you’re treated to a cutscene, extra damage, and you reset their turn. But you must stay on your guard, since these same rules apply to your foes’ attacks as well.

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Attacks big and small are accompanied by an unskippable cutscene. While these initially replicate the dynamism of the fights in the anime and manga, repeatedly seeing the same animations greatly diminishes their impact over time. Zenkai attacks, which use stock from a bar that charges over the course of battle, briefly turn the game into an action aerial dogfight where you slug it out one-on-one with a chosen enemy for big-time damage. The titular Fusions allow you to combine characters using the ever-so-ridiculous Fusion Dance, granting the resulting character stat buffs and access to advanced techniques–along with some pretty funny-looking character hybrids.

There’s even a fusion skill that combines all five characters participating in battle into a single, superpowered warrior, who then launches an intense assault for a huge burst of damage. While this last option consumes a lot of resources, more or less emptying your power bar, it’s immensely fun and provides benefits beyond just incredible damage, such as reviving warriors on your side who might have been knocked out. Again, your foes can also do these techniques, meaning that you’re technically on equal footing in terms of your combat resources–though, depending on their level and team makeup, their abilities may vary.

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This all sounds pretty cool on paper, but in practice, it quickly turns into a slog. Attacks big and small are accompanied by an unskippable cutscene. While these initially replicate the dynamism of the fights in the anime and manga, repeatedly seeing the same animations greatly diminishes their impact over time. Fighting low-level enemies to farm energy and, eventually, recruits becomes an exercise in tedium.

Characters are designated as power, speed, or technique types in a triangular advantage/disadvantage system, which can be a real pain if you wind up in a lopsided fight. Even then, most of the non-boss fights in this game aren’t hard–they’re just drawn-out and repetitive. The frustrating elements of fighting come to a head at Fusions’ end, where the game starts asking you to perform very specific actions in combat in order to win battles–a sharp contrast to the free-form fighting seen earlier in the game.

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Ultimately, Dragon Ball Fusions feels like a game with some great ideas that could’ve been executed better. The interpretation of the Dragon Ball world is great, and the fun of allowing all kinds of fan-fiction-style character fusions is a strong basis to build a fan-service-laden romp around. If the progression felt a bit less stilted and fights weren’t drawn out, repetitive affairs, this would be one of the strongest Dragon Ball games out there. Alas, just like Hercule in the series, Dragon Ball Fusions postures and promises more than it actually delivers.

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I Expect You to Die Review For PS4 And PC

I Expect You to Die Review For PS4 And PC

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a daring escape. You’ve exhausted your options, had your epiphanies, and applied your knowledge under the extreme pressure of imminent death. It’s only in the aftermath, as your heart rate slows, that you realize how close you were to failure. But you succeeded anyway.

I Expect You to Die captures that feeling. It finds you in the shoes of an international spy intent on foiling the plans of the evil Zoraxis corporation, placing you in discrete escape-room scenarios that test your intelligence, resourcefulness, and performance under pressure. It’s equal parts terrifying and thrilling. It’s a rewarding puzzle game and one of my favorite virtual reality experiences yet.

This is due almost entirely to how well I Expect You to Die uses VR to its advantage. Although it can be played using a mouse, keyboard, and standard monitor, the game is multitudes better on Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR, where Touch controllers or PS Move remotes make proceedings a much more tactile, involving experience. Many of these puzzles would be simple in a standard video game. In I Expect You to Die, on the other hand, they’re nuanced and rewarding. It almost goes without saying, but here, in these virtual escape rooms, you almost feel the puzzles. You’re there, twisting your head to find useful items, glancing at your feet when you drop a primed explosive, extending your hand to seal the cracked window of an underwater vessel.

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The story serves mainly as context for your accolades, setting up each tense situation your suave character finds himself in. These range from bomb defusals to daring submarine escapes. My favorite asks you to create an anti-serum capable of distilling a chemical weapon formula, all the while disguised as a blue-collar window washer. Combining a variety of volatile chemicals is horrifying, but using my sponge on the glass in front of me to throw a nearby guard off the scent lends the predicament a grounded, almost humorous angle–the guard saw me, deemed me a harmless pedestrian, and went about his business.

Every super spy needs a lighter. Every super spy needs a lighter. Even now, in a year where virtual reality has finally broken into the mainstream, it’s hard to describe the emotions a good VR game can elicit. The added layer of kineticism makes the mere act of swiping a virtual sponge up and down involving, to the point that I was afraid to turn my head and make eye contact with the suspicious guard. I stared straight ahead, both at the virtual world’s digital window, and physical headset lenses in front of me, experiencing a fear that doesn’t dissipate as soon as it may in a standard video game. It’s not just that your hands start sweating–it’s that your whole body goes rigid.

I Expect You to Die is reserved in its approach to VR, but for the better. Each of the four escape scenarios find your character in a seated, or at least stationary, position: in the driver’s seat of a car, the desk of an office, the elevated platform outside a skyscraper window. Furthermore, developer Schell Games grants you the power of telekinesis–with only spare time spent justifying the ability, opting instead to admit how ridiculous it is through self-aware writing–allowing you to pull distant objects toward you. This lets you feel at home in I Expect You to Die’s world. Like your character, you can remain seated, and it won’t feel out of place in the virtual environment you inhabit.

There’s a bit of a learning curve to these controls, as you discern the sensitivity of your telekinetic powers and gauge how hard to maneuver your Touch controller’s analog stick. Once you do, however, you’ll be levitating card keys through complex laser grids, avoiding any alarms and deactivating security measures, giving you a moment to breathe before handling dangerous chemical solutions in the enemy’s laboratory.

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Throughout the game, voiceovers by an archetypical British assistant direct you with one-liners and observational quips that highlight the perks and downfalls of being a super spy. “For your next mission you’re going to the Caribbean,” he muses. “But don’t expect a vacation. I already told you we can’t afford that.” Like the writing that justifies your telekinetic powers, I Expect You to Die’s overall script is humorous, and shows a vivid understanding of its source material–spy movies with heroes too cool, and too daring, to feel fear. And the best part about this game is just that: it makes you feel like those heroes, those Bonds and Bournes and Bauers, as they barely escape with their lives, only to straighten their tie as explosions paint the screen behind them.

I Expect You to Die does slip and fall along the way, though. While countdown timers and decreasing oxygen supplies exacerbate the tension of a bomb defusal or underwater escape, respectively, they result in frequent deaths and subsequent retries when they don’t really work. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, as each new attempt increases both your mastery of the escape room and, as a result, the feeling of being a trained spy. But it does lead to frustration along the way. More than once, I accidentally pulled the pin on a grenade instead of merely grabbing the grenade itself. I also tried my best to rotate a nearby oxygen valve in my underwater sub, only to find the Touch or PS Move controls unresponsive. And, suffocating sucks.

But the annoyances caused by these hiccups pale in comparison to the thrills I Expect You to Die delivers. Through well designed puzzles, intense escape room scenarios, and a kineticism absent in video games on standard screens, I Expect You to Die knows exactly how to leverage the magic of VR, and proves it almost every step of the way.

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Torin’s Passage Review For PC

Torin’s Passage Review

In his latest project, Torin’s Passage, Lowe has cast aside the bathroom humor and created a game suitable for adventurers both young and old.

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Torin’s Passage Review For PC

Sierra has been perfecting their brand of computer adventure games for over fifteen years, and game designer Al Lowe has been a major part of that evolution. His ribald Softporn Adventure, re-made into Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, was religiously played by every teenager with access to a computer. In his latest project, Torin’s Passage, Lowe has cast aside the bathroom humor and created a game suitable for adventurers both young and old.

The script tries to stray from Lowe’s usual vulgar jokes, but still includes playfully overstated poo and hemorrhoid mentions. And while it’s thankfully devoid of his usual sexist fare, you should be prepared for a lot of corny humor mixed in with a few clever lines.

Although Lowe maintained control of the writing and game design, he employed over forty specialized artists to create the game’s visual artwork, music and sound effects, and it shows. Every scene in this adventure is beautifully crafted using a hybrid of hand-drawn cell animation, oil paint backgrounds, 3-D rendered objects, and the less fluid computer-generated art. While this may sound hodgepodge and gaudy, the overall effect is harmonious. Digital music, sound effects, and speech are flawless on a fast machine, but a major slowdown will occur below 75MHZ.

The puzzles, and there are plenty, come in two varieties: contextual (place gum on stick, use stick to pick up coin from grate) and exploratory (push the red button and the bridge lowers halfway, the green one makes it raise halfway). In an interesting (and pleasing) development, Sierra included on-line hints for all of the game’s puzzles. This means no more long-distance calls to a hint-line or frustrating weeks of being stuck in the same place, but wanting to continue the game. Veteran adventurers might weave their way through the game’s difficult logic puzzles, but novices will definitely need to use the on-line hints. Though this game is aimed at a younger audience, it may be too difficult for all but gifted children. Even so, the storyline and characters should keep the young ones enthralled while older siblings or parents wrestle with the puzzles. A fine family play.

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

Giant Machines 2017 Review

If you’re obsessed with construction equipment and large mechanical things, Giant Machines 2017 probably has something to offer you. Giant Machines 2017 is a game that simulates what it’s like to drive, well, giant machines. These are machines like dump trucks, giant bucket-wheel mining excavators, cranes, and that massive moving platform that hauled the space shuttle to its launch site.

I found the game bizarrely entertaining in short bursts. It’s buggy, not terribly attractive, and frequently requires the player to perform tedious, rather pointless tasks. Giant Machines brings up all kinds of questions about worker safety as well. Does the gigantic excavator really have a 300-foot ladder going straight up, with no safety guards whatsoever? And, if so, who takes that job?

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

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There’s a certain novelty to the game as a whole. Similar to the appeal of movies about sharks in tornadoes, there’s a goofy, yet earnest glee to playing with monster machinery. The 12-year-old in me couldn’t help but get a modicum of guilty pleasure out of plowing through town in a dump truck the size of a house or pushing massive piles of snow for no real reason at all. The game’s snarky narrator is also amusing as he gives you mission goals at the beginning of each level, frequently complaining about the incompetent guy who had the job before you.

Despite the inherent glee of operating massive mechanical contraptions and snarky narrator aside, the game takes itself way too seriously and focuses too much on out-of-place mini-objectives. Anyone who looks at a game like this and thinks, “Hey! That’s a great idea!” is likely doing so because they want to bust things up with giant equipment. There’s some of that, but there’s way too much fixing cables, replacing batteries, and other tedious tasks that just get in the way of controlling the vehicles.

When you finally do get behind the wheel of these mighty machines, the game opts for simulation-level pacing–without really delivering any kind of in-depth simulation. You can control almost every aspect of the various vehicles with a control pad, for instance, but don’t expect a riotous, over-the-top destructive rodeo. Instead, take a deep breath, contemplate life, and think about your day as you literally drive from Point A to Point B at about one or two miles per hour.

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

The camera has an array of options, which are frequently all bad. Viewing from the operator’s booth in some of the machines barely lets you see what you’re doing, and the third-person viewpoints tend to be even worse. It’s not so noticeable when you’re driving a giant dump truck, but for unusually shaped vehicles (such as the excavator), everything is awkward.

Every vehicle has a radio with several music stations. One sounds like weird ’80s-era action-movie synthpop, while another seems to be Eastern European metal. It was all stuff I’ve certainly never heard before. The tracks aren’t particularly good, but I kind of enjoyed the low-budget equivalent to the standard triple-A soundtrack.

Adding “2017” to the name might suggest this is a modern, up-to-date experience, but the graphics engine looks more like 2006 (or older). The machines–especially from a distance–look decent, but the landscapes are sharp and blocky, and close-up textures and architecture are rather primitive.

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Giant Machines 2017 Review

Giant Machines 2017 is only vaguely sim-like and suffers from a slew of flaws. Had the game just dove all-in on the idea of creating a destructive playground in which players could just run wild, it might’ve been a lot more appealing. As it is, the game has a distinct novelty value if you like low-budget, weird games.

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Chronos Review

Chronos Review

Chronos is a game about combat mastery. Hostile encounters lead you through its world, separated only by puzzles and moments of discovery. Understanding your enemies and overcoming them is key to moving forward, while death acts as the teacher that keeps you after class to discuss what you did wrong. Some foes can prove highly difficult, but learning their patterns and how they react to your actions turns such encounters from stilted and daunting to rhythmic and exhilarating. Chronos could be accused of mimicking a number of different games, but what it does with all it has makes for a highly enjoyable experience that stands on its own despite a few flaws.

A third-person action-adventure game, Chronos puts you in control of an 18 year old character, and every time you die and respawn, you age a year. With aging comes changes to your character. While you’re young, there’s a bigger emphasis on your strength, agility, and vitality stats, but that wanes as you grow older–your arcane stat becomes more significant, as your other three stats grow at a slower rate. Starting at age 20, you earn a trait every 10 years that grants you a significant stat boost in either strength, agility, arcane, or vitality. Getting older is just as scary as it is in real life, so staying alive feels paramount to staying strong and healthy; thankfully, it’s not quite as dire as that since I felt like I needed to restart because I had gotten too old–you don’t lose any of the points you assign after leveling up.

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VR lends an incredible sense of scale to Chronos’ world and enemies.

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Your options in combat consist of attacking, dodging, and blocking. Your weapon of choice should correspond to where you’re putting your skill points; if you use a sword, you’ll benefit from more agility, while an axe will become more powerful with a higher strength stat. It’s unfortunate that there are more strength-oriented weapons earlier in the game, as I only got a chance to switch up my sword for a worthwhile weapon when I was deep into the second half of my playthrough.

Arcane is Chronos’s form of magic, though it acts less like what you’d expect and more like a power attack. However, this isn’t a bad thing, as executing arcane-infused attacks is incredibly satisfying. When you get the first arcane stone, it adds a little extra kick to your heavy attacks. Additionally, your attacks become infused with the arcane magic when you dodge at the right time, further enhancing the satisfying rhythm of combat.

Puzzle solutions range from finding and combining the right items to spotting hidden points of interest in the environment. The former works every time, however, the puzzles that require a keen eye can be a pain; an early puzzle that required me to notice a relatively small detail had me stumped for quite a while. The solution consisted of looking intently at something I wasn’t yet able to interact with, so I just brushed it off as something I would deal with later. Eventually, after going through every room and tinkering with every little thing a couple times, I discovered the solution and was able to progress–it was a frustrating bump in what was and would continue to be an engaging adventure.

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Chronos Review

The story revolves around three different worlds, defeating three bosses, and then slaying a dragon. There’s more to it, and it even (sort of) explains why you age a year every time you die; however, it’s all delivered through computer terminals, books, and other optional articles. It’s not the most exciting or interesting narrative, and you won’t feel lost or confused if you choose to ignore it–the sparse narrative acts more as a world-building device than anything else. Chronos allows itself to be all about the combat, puzzle-solving, and adventure.

Initially, Chronos didn’t strike me as something that would make much sense in virtual reality. However, as I played, my mind was quickly changed. Chronos made things you wouldn’t even think about in a non-VR game stand out in effective ways. Gigantic enemies feel huge and made my palms sweat more than I’d like to admit, and there’s a type of enemy that only moves when you don’t look at it–not your character, you. These seemingly small touches make a big impact when playing in VR.

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Chronos Review

Chronos made things you wouldn’t even think about in a non-VR game stand out in effective ways. Chronos is played at a fixed camera angle that shifts as you explore the world, similar to classic Resident Evil games. In one room you’ll be positioned on top of a table, while in the next you could be looking down on your character from a ceiling corner. This method allows for great scene composition, adding to Chronos’ already foreboding atmosphere in an awesome way. One particular moment sets a creepy mood as you–the viewer–are put behind the bars of a prison cell, watching your character move about on the other side. This approach is a defining element of Chronos, and it’s a boon the majority of the time, but it proves problematic on occasion when you have to judge the location of pitfalls from an ill-fitting perspective. Enemies can also get in your way and obstruct your view, and while this is a rare occurrence, it plagues your encounter with the last boss, who’s otherwise frustrating. It’s a disappointing bookend to what is otherwise a game filled with fantastic enemies and rewarding combat.

Chronos’ flaws are obvious, but thankfully few and far between. When you push your way through its more annoying aspects, it welcomes you with enticingly grim set pieces and tense encounters. It’s a highly-rewarding game that proves you can leverage VR to enhance traditional games, but Chronos doesn’t use it as a crutch; it stands tall all on its own.

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

There are more than 100 characters to discover in Lego Marvel’s Adventures, and it’ll take dedicated players dozens of hours to access every single one. But even when you’ve unlocked only a handful, it’s clear that many of the characters play in the same way. There may be a lot of Marvel heroes and villains to be found here, but there’s also quite a bit of repetition.

The same could be said of the many Lego games that have released in the decade since Lego Star Wars kickstarted this popular franchise. There’s a familiar, predictable feel to most of these games, and outside of cosmetic differences and some non-impactful combat additions, Lego Marvel’s Avengers very much plays like the latest iteration of a well-worn template. After the wildly inventive Lego Dimensions last year, Avengers feels a little old-fashioned.

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

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Old-fashioned doesn’t necessarily mean tired, though. Lego Marvel’s Avengers is packed with fun moments and plenty of content, even if all the beats are ones you’ve heard before. This Lego game goes back to proven ground as a charming action adventure that has a strong focus on puzzle solving. Most of the game plays out in the same way–two or more characters (drop in/drop out two-player support is present as always) traverse through levels, fighting their way through hordes of enemies and having to solve puzzles that usually involve the use of unique character traits. Tony Stark, for example, has the mechanic ability to fix broken machines, while Black Widow’s invisibility allows her to sneak past security systems in order to disable them. Very few of these puzzles are taxing (which is apt for a game aimed at kids), with the key to even the most obtuse ones usually being “hit enough environmental objects until the solution presents itself.”

Combat is simplistic, and is limited to one attack and another special attack. Lego Marvel’s Avengers tries to improve on this by introducing unique moves that result in two characters combining their skills. Thor can strike his hammer on Captain America’s shield to create a massive shockwave, for example, while Scarlet Witch can take a whole quiver of Hawkeye’s arrows and shoot them out in all directions. There’s a good variety of these combinations to be discovered, at least within the core group of Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers–the uniqueness of these moves thins out once you get to pairings with other, lesser-known characters. But with the very simple combat (as per usual there’s no penalty for losing lives) there’s no real incentive to use these flashy moves other than for the brief visual flair they provide.

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

This simplicity makes Lego Marvel’s Avengers feel light and breezy, and despite its adherence to formula, there’s still undeniable fun to be had in conquering the game’s many levels. Several action sequences are propulsive and exhilarating, such as a battle on top of a moving train (taken from Captain America: The First Avenger) and a long section set on New York streets in a battle against the Chitauri.

A lot of the joy here can be attributed to the charm the Lego games exude, something that is again abundant in this latest version. The game’s main quest line follows events from the first two Avengers films as well as some of the standalone Marvel films from the MCU’s Phase Two series, but puts it’s own irreverent, kid-friendly spin on them. (Movie spoilers incoming.) Quicksilver gets sprayed with ice cream instead of bullets in Lego Marvel’s Avengers version of one key scene in Age of Ultron, for example, while some of Tony Stark’s routines to get in and out his various Iron Man suits are played to good comic effect. There’s even room made for some sweetness, such as a quick, quiet flashback scene in which Captain America finally gets to have his dance with Peggy Carter.

Outside of the main story, Lego Marvel’s Avengers also features several large open-world areas for exploration. These areas are dotted with quests, checkpoint races, and collectibles. They feel more alive and vital than in previous Lego game iterations of open world environments; the New York area in particular feels jam-packed with things to do, with many Marvel characters dotted through its streets. That same sense of goofy fun in the main quest lines permeates these worlds as well (gigantic dragon Fin Fang Foom, for example, needs culinary help for some strange reason).

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Lego Marvel’s Avengers Review PC

It’s probably no surprise to say that Lego Marvel’s Avengers appeal will vary depending on your affection for Marvel characters (particularly their Marvel movie versions), and as a fan I was made giddy by the level of detail to be found in this game. The most impressive for fans is the huge number of available characters, which spans a wide gamut of both the well-known and esoteric. Tony Stark alone has several Iron Man suits that he can wear, while obscure names like Captain Universe and Madame B also make an appearance. My personal favorite is Squirrel Girl, who also happens to come equipped with a Hulkbuster-like suit of armor.

After the inventiveness of Lego Dimensions, it’s tough to go back to a game that follows the old Lego formula. But Marvel’s Avengers mostly staves off franchise fatigue thanks to its fast-paced, cheery nature. If you’ve played a Lego game in recent years then you’ll know what to expect: another familiar and fun adventure that you can enjoy with your kids.

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Armello Game Review For PC

Armello Game Review For PC

When you don’t have three friends and some reasonably good beer to keep you engaged, a board game–especially a virtual recreation of one–has to work a lot harder to hold your attention. Armello accomplishes this and then some, and while it could use some fine tuning, it remains one of the best virtual board game experiences available.

At first glance, Armello can feel like a tangle of things–dice and cards and boards and coins and stats–but the quick four-part prologue does a good job of making sense of these pieces. Your primary actions include moving a character around the board to complete quests and avoid hazards. There are eight playable characters, and each character has different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities in addition to items they can equip to skew their stats in a slightly different direction. They also each have great-looking combat animations. Ever wish Disney’s Robin Hood had 40% more bears punching each other senseless? Well, this game is for you!

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Armello Game Review For PC

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To win in Armello, you have to either kill the king or have the highest prestige when the monarch dies due to a disease called the rot. Every full day–one turn for day and one turn for night–the King’s health dwindles lower while his rot creeps higher, so no matter how things shake out, there are a finite number of turns that can be taken before the King will keel over on his own. It’s also possible to defeat the King in combat, either by gathering four spirit stones from quests or tiles, or gaining a higher rot level than him. If a would-be assassin fails, the victory will automatically be handed to the prestige leader. Unless you’re playing against clever friends, a prestige victory is almost always the easiest way to win. This can make the game feel unbalanced, especially when playing against AI opponents that frequently make ill-advised assassination attempts. That said, if you can resist the siren song of an easy victory or have other players wanting to spoil your plans, the varied win conditions provide enough variety to accommodate different play styles and keep things spicy through multiple sessions of playing with friends.

You also have a hand of cards–which are as well-animated as the characters themselves–that can be anything from equippable items and followers to spells and tricks that can be applied to yourself, other actors on the board, or specific tiles. Imagine if you could slam your Hearthstone deck down on a Clue board and swarm Professor Plum with Murlocs, and you have an accurate idea of just how neat this is in practice. Cards all have different costs to play, and crucially, they can be played regardless of whose turn it is. This allows for some tense moments and sharp twists in matches with other human players. On the other hand, when it comes to the A.I. opponents, the game tends to jump around a bit too fast to take full advantage of that ability unless you’re particularly quick on the draw.

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Armello Game Review For PC

What Armello suffers from most is a lack of customization options, something it could have stood to learn from more-traditional strategy games. There’s no way to define whether you want a quick or a long game, A.I. skill levels are static, and when you’re playing with friends, you’re bound to a move timer whether you like it or not. Graphics controls are also somewhat limited, which means that you won’t be able to turn off the haze of clouds in the sky, which would be dlightful if you didn’t have to look down through them when you zoom out to see the full board.

Armello picks and chooses a variety of elements from board, card, 4X, and role-playing games without demanding either a familiarity with or a fondness for any genre. It also leaves a lot of room to engage as deeply as you want with the game’s guts without feeling like you’re floundering if you don’t. Whether you’re bumbling your way to the top or playing all your cards right, Armello makes regicide ridiculously entertaining.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review Games

Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

There’s an alluring sense of immediacy and simplicity to God Eater Resurrection. You jump into a mission knowing full well what your orders are, you carry out those directives, and you exfiltrate when the job is done. It’s the same kind of glamorized efficiency that makes spy fiction so appealing. The narrative device that improves on this premise is, of course, when things don’t go as planned, when the agent or squad must adapt to changing circumstances. It’s due to a shortage of these surprises, however, that God Eater Resurrection never transcends its safe, uncomplicated design.

Resurrection’s world is candy-wrapped around an anime-influenced aesthetic and the medium’s ever-growing fascination with urban dystopias. Along with the variety of environments, there’s a lot of creativity to be found in the design of the enemies you’re sent to destroy: four-legged beasts with faces of old men, living iron maidens, and large bipedal lizards with stylish helmets.

You play the newest member of a team of god-killing soldiers, a group of teens and 20-somethings who’ve managed to survive an apocalyptic event in which hostile demon-beasts dubbed “Aragami” took over the world. As with many teen-targeted manga-styled ensembles, the cast is a collection of distinct personalities with limited emotional capacities. All the tropes are here: the archetypically neurotic support teammate, the brooding all-business specialist, and the squad member whose bubbly, saccharine demeanor can be forgiven thanks to her usefulness in combat.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

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Your custom character fits right in as the rookie who sounds self-assured no matter what voice type you pick. Your squad’s confidence in the face of humanity’s likely extinction is complemented by the extreme designs of their multipurpose God Arc weapons. Not only are these tools of destruction often larger than the people who wield them, but these gunblades also eat Aragami–hence the “God Eater” name. These echo the kind of transformable armaments found in Monster Hunter and Vanquish, only they’re infused with the ferocity of the beasts they kill.

Resurrection’s faithfulness to the original PSP version, Gods Eater Burst, underscores its limitations. The original appealed to that specific on-the-go audience that enjoys brief play sessions. It’s a different set of expectations in the context of a console in a living room, where it feels more natural to tear through a dozen missions in one sitting. It’s unfortunate that you can’t take on multiple assignments in Resurrection without enduring the time-consuming process of returning to base to assess your rewards after every mission.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

There isn’t depth in combat so much as there are multiple moments in a fight where you need to adapt to changes in an Aragami’s behavior. When it’s enraged, you keep your distance, and when it tries to escape, you give chase. It’s like a chess match where the opponent always gets to make the first move. While the majority of the sorties are involved, there’s little room for improvisation. You can pick up the pace of play by using attacks that capitalize on an enemy’s elemental weaknesses, using consumable enhancements, and, most significantly, using the God Arc to bite a chunk off the Aragami. These mid-conflict opportunities not only provide a temporary stat boost for your customized protagonist but to your teammates as well, provided you can spare a couple of seconds to shoot your buddies with Aragami-infused ammo. Yes, you have to fire at your squad. It’s unusual, but it sure beats having to run up to them to enhance their abilities.

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Trials of the Blood Dragon Review

The straightforwardness of Resurrection’s missions is both its greatest strength and most frustrating weakness. There’s comfort in knowing what you’re getting into and in the specificity of your missions. Unfortunately, it takes less than a few dozen quests before monotony sets in. There’s a modicum of gratification in maxing out your gear to keep up with the increasing difficulty of every subsequent batch of missions, yet there’s also a palpable sense of routine, since the Aragami throw very few curveballs. This uncomplicated approach has one bright spot: It’s easy to manage your team, which is both self-sufficient and made up of meaningful contributors. Given that boss battles can reach a frenetic pace, it’s often more sensible to leave your buddies to their own devices.

The simplicity of the maps reinforces this level of ease. Resurrection avoids the Monster Hunter-style loading-screen tedium of chasing your prey from area to area. A ranged strike from anyone on your team will stop a fleeing Aragami. Rarely does a target use the terrain effectively enough to find respite for longer than a few seconds.

There’s a bit more depth to be found in Resurrection’s customized gear and crafting systems. Player progression doesn’t rely on gaining experience through kills but rather on weapon upgrades and other improvements. The challenge lies in ensuring you’re well-rounded enough to have a countermeasure for every enemy type. It’s a compelling judgment game to build a small collection of melee weapons that address every possible Aragami weakness, whether that’s through crushing, piercing, or slashing attacks. Then you have to factor in the weight of each weapon in the field and to determine how much damage you can deal per second. The one downside? There’s no item or weapon so rare or exceedingly useful that would warrant replays of any operation. Aragami item drops and the mission-completion rewards are abundant enough that you’ll always have items to craft and gear to enhance.

Beyond crafting and buying new gear, there’s little reason to spend time at your base, despite the game’s implication to the contrary. Conversations with NPCs are mostly superficial, save for the occasional chat that triggers the next batch of missions. HQ is merely a poorly created illusion of a grander base of operations, especially given the organization’s in-game role in saving humanity.

For as much as Gods Eater Burst excelled in 2010, it’s since been outpaced by similar games. That includes prey mounting in Monster Hunter and a more engrossing atmosphere in Toukiden: Kiwami. There’s comfort to be found in the simple mission goals, but it’s impossible to ignore how repetitive they are–and how outdated they make Resurrection feel in practice.

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Chibi-Robo Zip Lash Review Games Online For PC

Chibi-Robo Zip Lash Review

Chibi-Robo Zip Lash has the building blocks of a great game, but like a haphazard Jenga tower, it was just a matter of time before it toppled over. It’s a competent platforming adventure featuring a cute robot who uses its power cord as a grappling-hook to attack enemies, swing from ceilings, and lasso objects. By picking up certain items, its cord can grow longer, opening the door for complex puzzles that require you to bounce your cable off walls to hit far-off targets. It’s not all cord action, though; sometimes Chibi-Robo is dashing on a skateboard, leaping off ramps and dodging obstacles at the last second.

Despite being a key part of completing some levels, seeking out extensions for your grappling-hook ultimately feels pointless. It’s great at the end of the level when you can toss it into a hallway and watch it bounce here and there, grabbing coins and other collectibles, but it’s deflating when it’s back to square one at the start of the next level. It would have made for a much more meaningful experience if your tools and abilities progressed over the course of the entire game, and it could have paved the way for more complex levels, too. Unfortunately, it’s handled on a level-by-level basis, thus any joy you derive from making progress is short-lived, and you begin every level tackling the most basic of challenges.

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Chibi-Robo Zip Lash Review

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Chibi-Robo is charming, but he has the unenviable task of cleaning up your garbage. For most of its adventure, Chibi-Robo is the definition of mundane; you kill slow moving enemies and overcome basic platforming scenarios, collecting items, including literal garbage, such as a discarded coffee cup. Other times, it’s candy–real-world candy. While there’s nothing inherently awful about seeing brands like Pocky or Dots in a game, Zip Lash fetishizes these products, with NPCs who yearn for specific treats. Upon receipt, they repeat marketing catch-phrases, their favorite commercials, and lists of flavors, just in case you had any doubt that Tootsie-Rolls are the snack for you. There are dozens of these snacks to collect, but by the time you’ve seen the tenth “commercial,” it becomes a non-priority as you search for more worthwhile goals.

These garish displays could be forgiven if the rest of Zip Lash offered meaningful substance, but it’s a game that’s far too easy, with very little in the way of interesting level design. You play through six worlds, set in different locations such as North Africa, the South Pole, and Europe. These window dressings rarely amount to anything of note, with few standout elements. There’s some variation in the enemies you face as you travel the world, but not enough to make each location standout in a meaningful way. North America’s world does contain some lively and challenging stages, with lots of moving parts and chaotic sequences that effectively communicate the nature of factories during the industrial revolution. It can be fun to move about with your grappling-hook and search for hidden areas, but these joys are fleeting. It doesn’t help that Chibi-Robo is a slow-moving character whose actions are sluggish and few. Unlike other Nintendo platformers that thrive on variety, Chibi-Robo’s adventure is monotonous.

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Chibi-Robo Zip Lash Review

Things pick up when your cord grows, but it’s a process you have to restart in every level. To be fair, Chibi-Robo tries to offer a mix of experiences, but beyond status-quo platforming and grappling, you only find variety in boss fights and vehicle-based levels. The aforementioned skateboarding is fun, but I wish there were more stages that offered the same level of reflex-based challenges. When you’re plopped into a submarine that moves achingly slow, or a similarly-paced inflatable balloon, you groan out of frustration the same way you do when driving behind someone going 5 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. Sure, you’re doing something different than jumping and swinging, but that doesn’t mean much when the activity is aggravating.

Boss fights provide some of the best moments in the game, offering a real challenge as you’re required to use your grappling-hook in fresh ways in the face of new behaviors and obstacles. The bosses themselves are ornate, exhibiting a level of detail that’s rarely seen elsewhere in Zip Lash. These encounters are a breath of fresh air that only magnify the mediocrity of the rest of the game.

Chibi-Robo loves to collect, but there’s more in the world to find than just candy and trash. Coins, Chibi-Robo children, and medallions await the intrepid explorer, though you won’t have to dig deep. Most “hidden” items lie near the beaten path and are easy to locate if you look around with the slightest of care. The game toys with the idea of returning to completed levels to seek out collectibles you might have missed, but earning high-marks for finding everything isn’t motivation enough to return to unremarkable levels.

To make matters worse, Zip Lash features a convoluted world map designed around a mechanic that wastes your time. Rather than moving in a straight path from level to level, you’re forced to spin a wheel that determines how many steps you will move along the world’s path. This mechanic would make sense if you could hit a high number, end up on the final stage, and quickly complete a world. Zip Lash doesn’t work that way–you have to beat all six levels in a world before you can move on to the next, so there’s no incentive to aim for anything other than a panel with the number one–the most prevalent panel there is.

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Chibi-Robo Zip Lash Review

Chibi-Robo would have benefited from more fast-paced moments like the skateboarding and jet-skiing sections. While you could argue that the spinning wheel makes it tough to revisit levels exactly in the order you wish, you can freely move about the map once you’ve completed all six levels and beaten the world’s boss. Even if you’re clumsy, you collect so much currency in the game through casual play that you can always purchase specifically-numbered panels for the wheel to increase your chances of landing on the number you wish. When the wheel disappears after you beat the boss, or you fix the odds to your advantage, you wonder why it ever existed to begin with.

These frustrations don’t make Zip Lash a bad game, but they prevent it from rising above adequacy. For every promising moment–which are few and far between–there’s a commercial for candy, or a series of mini-tasks and menus that drag you back down. Chibi-Robo is a sleepy trip through a forgettable world. Plead with it to go faster, beg it to surprise you with new experiences, but don’t be surprised when it answers back with the merits of biting into the center of a Tootsie Pop.

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