It’s impossible for me to assess Ashen and its design decisions in a vacuum. This is partly because it wasn’t created in one: elements of its story and design are direct responses to their analogues in the Souls series. Ashen demonstrates how the Dark Souls formula provides a backdrop for interesting ideas, but can also obscure or dampen a game’s own identity….
Welp, I’m doing the thing. I don’t typically go out of my way to do a Top Whatever list like this, but I guess I just got caught up in the GOTY hype. This past year wasn’t quite the deluge of big-budget showstoppers that 2017 was, but there were a ton of smaller titles that…
Into the Breach is a newly released game by Subset Studios (the team behind beloved space travel roguelike FTL: Faster Than Light). It’s a tactical combat roguelike in which players control a team of mechs and attempt to hold off waves of murderous giant insects. Both tactics combat and roguelike elements often fall flat for me, but this game combines them in a way that makes them both work wonderfully….
…Early into the DLC I found myself characteristically distracted by a side quest. I found a sad looking young woman with a little exclamation mark above her head. She told me she was a musician named Laulai who, until recently, played music in a place called Deep Din. It was a place, but also a musical instrument. But something had caused it to rapidly and unexpectedly flood, leaving her without her creative outlet but also without a connection to her late father, who had taught her how to play.
It was an odd but relatively mundane quest. Go investigate the flood, see what happened, fix everyone’s problems, good to go. So I went to check it out…
SPOILER WARNING: I’m going to describe the rest of the “Waterlogged” side quest in some detail, so stop here if you intend to play it spoiler-free yourself (which I totally encourage)….
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a game that I heard a lot of whispers about before ever seeing it. I knew that it was an action game by Ninja Theory, that it attempted depictions of neurodivergence, and that it supposedly had impressive audio design. Most of those descriptive elements were interesting to me. But I didn’t hear much about it beyond that. So when I started this game, I went in mostly blind, having only heard first impressions and seen a few screenshots.
Part of my enjoyment of the experience was discovering it without having many expectations. So on that note, my spoiler-free tl;dr is as follows: Hellblade is a fascinating story delivered through high-quality visuals and narrative-integrated gameplay. It’s part story, part action game, part low-key puzzle game, with some survival horror elements included as well. It’s also a foray into the honest depiction of psychosis in video games.
If you’re comfortable with the themes in the game and curious about it, then I highly recommend you experience it for yourself. From here on, there will be heavy spoilers…
Having just returned from E3 2016, I’ve written a few brief blurbs about the games for which I saw or played any exclusive content so I could give people an idea of what I thought. The following is a breakdown of what I played/watched/interacted with and what I thought of it.
I’ll talk about some of the hands-on demos I played (ReCore, Abzû, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Song of the Deep, Masquerada, Gravity Rush 2) as well as some videos and expo setups that I saw or found interesting….
Note: I totally forgot to take screenshots while the beta was still available to me, so unfortunately I have none to post here 🙁 Last weekend, I was selected as one of the players for the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Beta. As someone who enjoyed the original Mirror’s Edge, I was excited to give it a…