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Reviews

Wandersong Review

For once, bards are cool!

At first pass, you may mistake Wandersong for a game about a bard who’s trying to save the world. I wouldn’t blame you, because while that is what it seems on the surface, more importantly Wandersong is a game about emotions and relationships. It’s about conquering your fears and adversity, doing what’s right even when everyone else is telling you it’s wrong. It’s about leaning on your friends when you can’t do something by yourself, and yes, it’s about singing your heart out even when nobody wants to hear you.

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Marble It Up! Review

You'll have a Marble Blast... once the rest of the content is available.

Back when the GameCube released, I developed a real love for rolling monkeys in balls along complex tracks while hoping to reach the finish line without falling off. Yes, Super Monkey Ball was truly something special. Later, during the Wii’s lifespan, a couple titles based around rolling marbles appeared under a new series, Kororinpa, scratching that same itch. These were incredible games that used the Wii’s motion control to great effect and since then I’ve been pining for more ball rolling goodness in whatever form I can get it. Enter Marble It Up, a spiritual successor to the Marble Blast series that had its final release on the PC and Xbox 360. While I missed these titles, if Marble It Up indicates their quality, I’m sure I’d have loved them.

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MagiCat Review

Meow meow, meow, meow meow meow meow, meow meow.

MagiCat is a fascinating example of a game. While it’s not particularly great, it takes a simple concept and tries everything and anything possible with the idea to see what sticks. Oftentimes it’s frustrating and cheap, other times brilliant and fun, it all depends on what level you’re in and what gimmick is on display.

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Velocity 2X Review

All warped out.

Velocity 2X, by all measures, is a well made game. It has a pretty extensive amount of content including 50 core levels with a healthy number of objectives to achieve in each, a set of unlockable puzzle-based bonus levels, and the Switch version even includes the DLC out-of-the-box. But even after completing the whole game, I never really felt satisfied with it. While there’s a lot of content, each level feels similar to the last and this lack of diversity eventually wore me down. By the time the credits rolled, I was relieved to be done with it.

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Marvel's Spider-Man Review

Greetings True Believers!

Spider-Man is my favorite superhero, but his video game history has been a deep well of untapped potential. He’s had good games still worth playing today, yet he’s never had an entry on par with Batman’s excellent Arkham titles. Marvel’s Spider-Man is Insomniac’s attempt at elevating Spider-Man to the same level as Batman. While they do not quite reach that same quality standard, there is a solid foundation for Insomniac to build upon.

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Dust: An Elysian Tail Review

Dust is still as great now as it was six years ago on XBLA.

Somehow it’s been six whole years since Dust originally released as a Summer of Arcade title on the Xbox 360. It’s incredible to me that it’s been that long, but though six years have passed, Dust still holds up as a great title today. Since its original XBLA release, the action-adventure spectacle has made its way to PC, PlayStation 4, iOS, and now most recently the Switch, where it feels right at home.

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Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review

Squad E, retreat!

One of my favorite things about playing strategy/role playing games is the sense of satisfaction that comes from executing on a well-laid plan. The thrill of deftly maneuvering units into place for a swift and deadly strike after multiple turns of meticulous consideration is something that few games deliver. I love strategy/RPGs, and I was excited to tear into Valkyria Chronicles 4; a return to form of sorts for a series held in high regard by a rabid fanbase, and a franchise I have little experience with. Sadly, instead of tearing into this game because I couldn’t get enough, I will now need to tear into this bizarre title that not only doesn’t reward sound strategy but does everything in its power to undermine player agency.

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Azure Reflections Review

Danmaku Rush!

At a point, Bullet Hell games felt like they were generally exclusive to Japan and rarely made an appearance in western markets. These days, both consoles and the PC are flush with them, which I can appreciate. I’m by no means great at them, but I find them engaging and they hit that same nerve that other intensely challenging games in other genres do that makes me want to get better at them. Azure Reflections is of the Touhou variety (though an unofficial entry in the Project) and puts its own unique spin on the genre. Though incredibly challenging, it offers players a helping hand with its accessory system, as well as a variety of difficulty settings to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

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The Spectrum Retreat Review

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Since Portal hit the scene around a decade ago, it’s inspired a variety of other games that have chosen to use the first person perspective for puzzle solving and storytelling, rather than the typical shooting. The Spectrum Retreat is one such game and it does well in both telling an interesting story and providing some great puzzles. However, these two elements rarely coalesce and more often feel like oil and water, separated naturally by the construct of the experience. Though it’s too bad the two don’t come together, what’s presented is still compelling thanks to ever evolving puzzle constructs and the gradual realization of what's going on in The Spectrum Retreat.

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Nefarious Review

I wish it was good to be bad.

On paper, Nefarious is such a great idea. For once, you get to assume control of a villain, and instead of saving the princess, it’s your job to capture her. The boss battles that end a level? That's your time to shine and stop the would-be hero in his tracks. In execution, Nefarious is rife with issues. Unresponsive controls, mediocre gameplay, and progress halting bugs make for a game that’s just not at all what I had hoped it’d be.

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