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

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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

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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

Stardew Valley Review [Pixelkin]

Many mobile and social games have used farming gameplay to great success. Stardew Valley elevates the genre into something truly unique and special.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Farming games have existed since the 90s with the likes of Sim Farm and Harvest Moon. In recent years many mobile and social games like Farmville have used the rewarding feedback of growing your own crops to great success. Stardew Valley puts them all to shame, and elevates the genre into something truly unique and special.

After creating your pixelated character you re-discover a letter from your dying grandfather inviting you to take over some farmland in a rural village. You leave your mundane office job and set out to Pelican Town to start a new life.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hard West

A fun XCOM-lite in a dark Western setting hampered by its tight indie budget and odd campaign structure.

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: CreativeForge Games

Publisher: Gamibitious Digital Entertainment

Release Date: Nov 18, 2015

hard west banner

Hard West had all the right ingredients that got me excited about its Kickstarter campaign: tactical XCOM combat, Western setting, supernatural elements, choice-driven gameplay. The end result is something of a mixed bag, mostly due to its shoestring indie budget and odd campaign structure.

Hard West mostly tells a classic Western story of revenge. Warren loses his parents, then his girlfriend, then his life (life was rough back then, man).  He’s given a second chance with a not-so-subtle Deal with the Devil, and begins his quest for vengeance. Also an ill-conceived quest to bring back his dead girlfriend.

Now I said “mostly tells” because that story represents only a fraction of the total campaign. And here we come to the crux of my issues with Hard West. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Hard West”