Into the Breach Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Pacific Rim meets Chess isn’t exactly the most common elevator pitch for indie games, yet it perfectly describes Into the Breach, the long-awaited sophomore release from beloved FTL: Faster Than Light developers Subset Games.

Into the Breach successfully retains all the fun roguelike challenges and tactical strategy of FTL while minimizing most randomized frustrations, creating a compelling tactical board game.

Read the full review at Pixelkin


My Top Ten Games of 2017: #7

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Fire Emblem Heroes
#9 Metroid: Samus Returns
#8 Injustice 2

#7 Hand of Fate 2

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The first Hand of Fate was an interesting take on a rogue-like RPG using cards, but also had some really rough edges (and a straight up horrible final boss fight). The sequel is not only a vast improvement but a great game overall, providing a meaty campaign with wildly different missions and expanding the games of chance beyond cards (read my full review at PC Gamer).

The deliciously acerbic Dealer returns, but his antics take a backseat to the much improved story telling. Each story chapter presents a self-contained story with challenging objectives, from escorting a helpless farmer, to gathering resources while avoiding enemy patrols.

The chapters are still laid out as a series of cards that you flip over, with each card presenting choices, games of chance, or a battle (and often, all three). The new games are a lot more fun than the frustrating card shuffle of the first game, including rolling dice, stopping a card wheel, and stopping a pendulum-swinging laser.

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Combat is the least improved factor, and still mostly a Batman-lite affair as you shuffle from enemy to enemy mashing attacks while blocking and countering their strikes. Often I was facing a dozen or more enemies at a time, which can be exhilarating, but also incredibly frustrating. Controls and camera are still a bit clunky, though weapon abilities and combos work much better, and the different weapon types all feel very different from each other.

The new companions were probably my favorite element, adding a much needed boost to combat as well as some really nice story moments. Their tales were unlocked through a progressive series of cards and challenges, and the ending sequence goes as far as to borrow from the companion-driven climax of Mass Effect 2.

Hand of Fate 2 is an excellent sequel that successfully builds upon the neat ideas and concepts of the first game.

Read my review for PC Gamer!

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Many of my favorite games stick with me over the years not because of finely-honed combat systems or impressive visual effects. Often it’s the story and characters that remain the most memorable aspects of the those cherished gaming experiences.

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows has one of the best stories I’ve experienced in years. It’s an epic tale about heroic sacrifice, forbidden love, political betrayal, and self discovery set within a richly realized world of urban renaissance and ancient mystery. Masquerada’s tactical combat is serviceable, but it’s the story and characters that demand you experience this unique RPG.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

My Top Ten Games of 2016: #1

 My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Pokémon GO
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
#8 Stellaris
#7 Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
#6 Fire Emblem Fates
#5 Overwatch
#4 Pokémon Sun and Moon
#3 XCOM 2
#2 Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

#1 Stardew Valley

top five 2016

Once again my top game of the mid-year remains on top at my end of the year list. Once again it’s a delightful indie game I sunk dozens of hours into. Once again it’s a…. farming sim? Wait what?

It’s fun to say indie games come out of nowhere even though with the proliferation of Kickstarter and Early Access that’s rarely the case any more. Stardew Valley very much came out of nowhere (from a one-man dev) and quickly became my favorite, and most surprising gaming love of the year. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #1”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Another fun Shadowrun adventure, but overall weaker than Dragonfall as the series hits its gameplay limits.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: Harebrained Schemes

Publisher: Harebrained Holdings

Release Date: Aug 30, 2015

Franchise Fatigue. It happens to the best of them. Many times it’s a “it’s not you it’s me” kind of situation. Maybe you played a bunch of entries in a row, or maybe a sequel simply doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself form its predecessors.

I didn’t think I’d start feeling Franchise Fatigue in the Shadowrun games. Shadowrun: Hong Kong is only the third game after Harebrained Schemes resurrected the series through Kickstarter several years ago. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Shadowrun: Hong Kong”

Rogue Stormers Review [Pixelkin]

Rogue Stormers is an intriguing combination of side-scrolling shooter and rogue-like dungeon crawler.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

When I spoke to Black Forest Games at PAX South, they revealed that Rogue Stormers went through a major evolution during Early Access. It was originally devised as a standard action-RPG, but came off as too linear and boring. BFG revamped the gameplay, adding randomized levels and multiple characters. The result is an intriguing combination of side-scrolling shooter and rogue-like dungeon crawler.

The world of Rogue Stormers showcases a unique style called “Dieselpunk.” Dieselpunk represents an industrial World War 1-2 aesthetic. Black Forest Games applied this world of bulky technology to the medieval-like city of Ravensdale. A substance called “goop” powers all their diesel engines. It also turns the population of Ravensdale into monsters.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Stories: The Path of Destinies Review [Pixelkin]

The neat time-loop story-telling is a lot of fun, but the repetitive combat and limited gameplay doesn’t quite keep up.

Read the full review at Pixelkin


In the 2014 sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise gains a power that lets him restart a day after his death. Each “run” he learns something new about the war against the aliens. Stories: The Path of Destinies features this same neat idea. The intersecting story works well, but repetitive levels and limited content prevent Stories from becoming truly memorable.

The world of Stories: The Path of Destinies takes place in a fantasy land of flying air ships and talking animals. You play as Reynardo, a charismatic swash-buckling fox. The mad emperor’s armies are bearing down on the rebel base. It’s up to Reynardo to make the right decisions to save everyone.

The story is told through a magic book you find during the prologue. After each of the relatively quick levels you’re given an important decision to make. Save a friend or find a weapon? Sacrifice the general’s daughter or appeal to your past relationship? It’s the video game equivalent of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.

Read the full review at Pixelkin