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Reviews

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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The Messenger Review

Being a delivery boy has never been so much fun.

It’s not often that a game does something that completely surprises me, but The Messenger managed to catch me totally off guard. What appears to be a modern 8-bit take on Ninja Gaiden suddenly morphs into something more at the halfway point of the game. Its once linear levels branch out and become a Metroid-like maze, with hidden secrets abound. Not only that, but the graphics and sound boost into 16-bit and the world takes on an extra level of detail. While this gimmick was incredibly cool, the tight gameplay and intricate level design is what makes The Messenger a truly special experience.

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Shio Review

O masocore games, how I love thee.

There’s an itch that super challenging platformers scratch for me that other games just can't. While it’s always nice to dig into a classic platformer like Mario or something a bit more unique like Rayman, getting my fix of games like Super Meat Boy and N++ is a necessity. Shio fits very nicely into that niche and offers a decent chunk of gameplay, a unique hook that differentiates it from the crowd, and healthy offering of secrets to extend the experience.

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Freedom Planet Review

The... purple... blur?

The genesis of Freedom Planet is quite evident from the moment the game begins. Though you play the part of a purple dragon, it’s clear it could’ve just as easily been a blue hedgehog. However, there are a few changes to the classic Sonic formula that sets Freedom Planet apart as its own unique experience that merely wears its influence on its sleeve. The end result is a well constructed, fast-paced platformer that entertains from beginning to end.

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Pool Panic Review

It's weird, but I'm not sure it's all that fun.

Anyone familiar with the typical programming of Adult Swim, won’t be the least bit surprised by their latest published video game, Pool Panic. It has the aesthetic of many of their shows, the offbeat humor, and preserves the general oddity of their late night flavor. It proclaims to be the least realistic pool simulator ever, and it’s not an inaccurate description. Pool Panic is actually a puzzle game dressed up as a pool game, using the basic premise of billiards as the foundation of the experience.

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Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review

You haven't lived until you've tag teamed a mugger with a dominatrix.

I consider myself a plugged in gamer.  I take it as a matter of professional pride to keep tabs on all manner of games, even if I’m not personally interested in them.  So imagine my surprise to learn that I’ve spent the last twelve years thinking the Yakuza series was just a low budget version of Grand Theft Auto, only to find out it’s actually a super deep roleplaying game.  This was a pleasant surprise as I worked my way through Yakuza Kiwami 2, my first true foray into the franchise.

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Mega Man X Legacy Collection Review

And the best Mega Man X game is...

Part of being a gamer is picking your favorite Mega Man subseries and diving in. Some enjoy the simplicity of the classic series. Others want the story and exploration from the Legends series. Personally, I like the X series. Something about vanilla Mega Man never clicked with me, with X giving me just enough complexity without deviating from what makes the series work. Despite my love for Mega Man X, I never tried its sequels, so I was excited to see what they added to the formula.

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Iconoclasts Review

What do ivory, supernatural abilities, and religious zealots have in common?

I’ll start by saying that I’m in awe of Iconoclasts. It’s the culmination of nearly eight years of solo work by Joakim Sandberg. As someone who has built a much simpler game from scratch on my own, I can assure you this was no easy feat, and for such a complex and beautiful game it’s really a stunning achievement. The world, the art, the music, and the gameplay are all phenomenal. Traversing the world, solving puzzles, exploring the locales, and defeating bosses is consistently entertaining. I have some reservations with the story and the, at times, cringey dialog. The story does prove to be quite memorable in the end, but for much of Iconoclasts, I found myself lost in it, focused solely on the gameplay.

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Code of Princess EX Review

I probably liked this a little less than Angelo.

For those familiar with the 3DS release, originally published by Atlus, Code of Princess EX is a technically and visually upgraded version of the game. Outside of the nicer coat of paint and a crisp 60 frames per second, a variety of other changes were made that have a fairly significant impact on the progression of the main quest. Regardless of the evident love poured into this HD upgrade, Code of Princess EX can be a bit of a slog that will likely only appeal to the most dedicated of brawler fans.

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