This is the kind of game that's frustratingly shy of being great. With just a little more polish and a slightly bigger scope, it could have easily become my Game of the Year. As it stands, Cornerstone is merely "good." It's another island-based adventure game that will undoubtedly be compared to Wind Waker, which is also why I'm so enamored with it. I can't stress enough that Steam needs more Zelda-like games, although Cornerstone is far from perfect. For starters, it's easy to get lost. Not every task is put on your "to do" list, making it feel like the game has glitched out when said list turns up empty. Blaming it on glitches is totally valid, by the way, because Cornerstone is full of them. The controls aren't great, either, and the combat system is about as simple as it gets. Block, parry, repeat, only with the added confusion of weird button mapping choices. But enough with the complaints. I do like the way they've set up the islands and how everything revolves around crafting from four set materials. Swords, shields, bombs, and parachutes are all conjured on the fly and can wear out and break over time. I only wish this aspect of the game was stronger. Again, this is so close to being truly awesome, but even a less-than-stellar Wind Waker "clone" is still pretty cool.
The marketing for Lucanor is a little misleading. This is much more Silent Hill than it is Zelda. After a cheery five minutes of daytime, the rest of the game takes place in a dark, spooky castle where you must solve a series of puzzles... while being chased by monsters... with no way to defend yourself. I'm not that into horror games, anyway, but the art style and promise of puzzles really drew me into this one. The monsters, however, are pretty annoying, especially since there's one in particular that you cannot escape from if he sees you. I got insta-killed by this guy and lost over an hour of work, because... and here's the real kicker... you have to spend coins to save your game. Given that there's a finite number of coins in the game, you're forced to be selective about when to save your progress. This means Lucanor is a game you'll need to play in longer increments to avoid wasting coins. It's also a game I doubt you'll be able to beat on your first try, considering how easy it is to screw yourself over. Accidentally ate the food in your inventory? Forgot to help out the animals before you entered the castle? Sucks to be you. I know there are gamers out there who will love that cutthroat approach, but it just wasn't for me.
The art style in Corgi Warlock is great. All of the characters, from the heroes to the monsters, portray a lot of personality. I just wish the rest of the game had as much going for it. At its core, this is a very, very basic action platformer. Whereas someone like Mario can get away with only being able to run, jump, and shoot fireballs, Corgi Warlock is not that clever of a platformer. In fact, it's more like a dungeon crawler where the focus is on the combat, and any kind of movement is kept as simple as possible to act as filler in between fights. But the combat isn't that interesting, either. Many enemies can be defeated by holding the fireball button down and charging forward. Tougher enemies require backing up and maybe jumping over a projectile here and there. And that's the entire game. Every chapter. I'm sure that kind of simplicity was intentional, but it's simplistic to a fault. Heck, just being able to duck would have added a terrific level of complexity! It's almost like the game started out as a mobile runner but was changed at the last minute. Maybe it would work better on a mobile device. But I'd rather see Corgi Warlock reach its true potential as a full-fledged action game.
I've got to admit, the one thing that I really, really have been missing about last console generation is all of the great/borderline great bargain bin titles that seemed to be everywhere. Thankfully, we have games like The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing around to fill the void! Or we would if it was good, at least. Van Helsing is pretty much a straight copy of Diablo 3 with a skill tree worked in to allow for more customization of stuff. Unfortunately, it's not at all that good. The game feels clunky and the controls feel off. Not off in the general way of they don't feel tight enough, they actually just feel like they're wrong. It's really disappointing. So much in the game is decent that it's hard not to see some promise shining through, but even so, it's so little that you'll likely just feel like you're wasting your time in the end. If you want to play a dungeon crawler of any sort, I highly suggest going back to Diablo 3 or checking out Marvel Heroes 2015 instead of this. It's just a bore.
I know everyone reading this right now probably has some sort of familiarity with Rare so I probably don't have to tell you about how great their games are, but if not, let me tell you that most of their games are fantastic. Banjo Kazooie, Conker, Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark, there are just tons of fantastic games under their belt and in this collection. Well, if you want to play those and more, Rare Replay is totally something you should pick up. The emulation in the collection is fantastic and all of the games, for the most part, feel perfect. In fact, the only problem that I have at all with the collection is that it doesn't include Goldeneye, one of the absolute best first person shooters of all time. Thankfully, it does include Grabbed by the Ghoulies which is one of the most underrated gems of all time. Honestly, there's not a ton to say about this collection of rereleases because if you played games in the 90's, you probably know a few of these games and chances are even good that you LOVE most of these games and don't realize it. If you want to take a trip down memory lane or maybe just check out a few games that you've heard a lot about (Battletoads, anyone?), this is definitely something to try.
Pale Echoes is an RPG in the old school JRPG vein, just saying that will probably be enough to let you know whether or not you will like it, but if you're still reading this let me tell you that despite not liking turn-based RPG gameplay as much as I used to, I really love this game. The thing that makes Pale Echoes really stand out among its peers is that to make any progress you need to complete small puzzles where you have to sacrifice party members to get around the puzzle. This brings in a tactical meta gameplay element as the fights in the game are sort of few and far between and it can, at times, be difficult to correctly assess a party member's usefulness before you decide to kick them to the curb. Luckily, the game is pretty forgiving so if you lose a fight you'll just get the chance to start the fight over again from the beginning and none of the fights seem outright insurmountable even if you end up accidentally losing a fantastic party member. The story matches the gameplay very well as it may start slow, but it picks up its pace incredibly quickly and manages to maintain a good beat despite throwing a decent amount of puzzles into the mix. It's subtle, but the craftsmanship of this game is wonderful if you can take the time to notice all that it does right.
Good Lord, this shoot 'em up has it all. I don't think I've ever played a shooter that felt this complete. Across its two modes—Arcade and CS—you'll have access to more levels than you could ever hope to beat in one sitting. As for the gameplay, it is quintessential shoot 'em up material. There are multiple ships to choose from. Collecting power-ups is actually useful. Your secondary attack is satisfying to use and refills quickly. And you can even reverse the direction of your ship to take out straggling enemies. That also lends to some interesting and intense boss fights where the boss will switch sides mid-battle. There are perhaps too many boss fights, though, with not enough time spent on the sections leading up to them. I also much prefer CS Mode over Arcade Mode. CS Mode feels like a true "console" experience. It supports a more common resolution and doesn't let you continue indefinitely. But it's not overly punishing, because points you earn can be used to buy and upgrade custom ships, and there are branching level paths to work down if you get stuck in a particular section. Unfortunately, CS Mode does not support co-op. Only Arcade Mode has this feature. If you don't have a dual monitor setup, though, Arcade Mode is severely letterboxed. As such, I just don't see myself going into this part of the game often. But I'm more than happy sticking with CS Mode.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe is probably one of the most surprising games I've played in recent memory. I was never much of a Kirby fan as a kid and playing this game makes me feel like I missed out on something magical for years. Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a platform adventure game like the rest of the Kirby series, but it also offers Dedede's Drum Deluxe (the best rhythm game to play on a toilet), and Kirby Fighters (a toned down Smash Bros. clone) which are both totally fun. The main game is expansive and filled with branching level paths and secrets that you'll actually feel like seeking out because the game is just a joy to play. Of course, I may just feel this way because I haven't played many of the other games in the Kirby series, but every bit of this game feels magical and new while also feeling like it's something that was brought to the present from the golden days of Nintendo. That is to say, I've not played a game before that made me feel like I was 8 years old again, but Triple Deluxe does exactly that. It totally captures the quality and fun that Nintendo titles always seemed to have in spades in the 80's and 90's. If you want a nostalgia trip or even just to play a good quality Nintendo game, then you have to give this a play.
Let's just get it out of the way. Fallout 4 is another Fallout. It does everything you would expect a Bethesda adventure game to do, so if you liked any of the other games that they've released the odds are that you'll like this one. Now, the one huge thing that Fallout 4 does differently is that it takes what feels like forever to actually be fun. It takes from 10-15 hours to actually get to the part of the game that is interesting. I know that seems crazy because there's always something fun to do in these games, but the beginning is very bland and ends up feeling more like a cheap rehash of Fallout 3 than a new game. However, after you get to the first major settlement in the game (Diamond City), the world blooms and you're introduced to major story beat after major story beat. The story is surprisingly good while the side stories are especially great. Not a ton has changed where gameplay is concerned, but there has been a big change to the shooting and it is now much, much easier and actually fun to use outside of VATs. Outside of that and the gun and settlement customization (which you can totally ignore), not a lot is different between this and the last Fallout you've probably played. Nothing that this game does is spectacular, but it is reliably good and a great way to spend a few dozen hours.
Having grown up in the era of point and click adventure games (the wonderful 90's) I'm no stranger to the whole puzzle in first person thing, but I have to say, Pneuma: Breath of Life is probably the worst game to do it. Right off the bat you'll realize that the game is beautiful. It really is. After you're wowed by the visuals, reality quickly sets in and you realize that what you're doing is playing a glorified tech demo masquerading as a full game. There is some dialogue, but the player character (the only character?) just comes across as being self indulgent and like he's desperately trying to distract the player from the fact that this game maybe isn't really a game. I must admit, Pneuma does come across as funny and somewhat thought provoking at times, but it's in the same way that an idiot savant could be thought provoking in that it's like they're trying a last ditch effort to impress and barely pulling it off at the last second. There's a number of other point and click games you could play on the PC that are older and ten times the game that Pneuma: Breath of Life is. If you're feeling like playing something from the genre, please, please just play something else. This game is not good.
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