After rebooting the sun using a rocket imbued with a gemstone from the help of druids while in Ireland, I knew The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark was something special. Spooky Doorway returns in spooktacular fashion with Season 2 of their comedy slash supernatural point-and-click adventure series, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark. While it’s entirely new, it manages to feel like classic adventure games while relying on its satirical and sardonic humor established in the debut entry. If you need a good laugh, The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark shines with every written word.
As someone who’s reviewed every incarnation of Aqua Kitty there has been, the unique blend of Defender and Gradius has been so joyous to experience time and time again. When I heard Astro Aqua Kitty was dropping the arcade aspect and adding RPG mechanics like multiple characters, experience points, quests, and loot – it was exactly the follow-up I didn’t know I wanted. This is a game that will have you hooked for at least a dozen hours, per character. Tikipod does it again; with its irresistible charm, gorgeous visuals, and effortless gameplay, Astro Aqua Kitty is the cat’s meow.
I couldn’t be more embarrassed than when I lost power to my base; because this then released all the imprisoned enemy agents, who then assaulted my minions, and eluded my pursuing security team. They were essentially home free as they ran through my casino, and ultimately escaped without a trace. This is a lowlight for my evil, supposed genius. Reflecting back on this little incident, I was able to better beef up my security, traps, and overall layout to make escapes a lot less easier going forward. For a game that originally released in 2004 from Elixir Studios, the sequel serves as a great reintroduction that doesn’t miss a step. It’s been a sleepy period for the genre, but I can’t think of anything as devilishly clever as Evil Genius 2: World Domination to reawaken it.
There’s something special about Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. It’s a bizarre thing too, and not just from a gameplay design choices from 16 years ago. It’s peculiar because it’s a game from three console generations ago, and it just resurfaced as it got re-released by publisher Aspyr. Now available on all modern consoles and PC, it looks and plays just how I remember. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse may not have been a massive hit, but it’s looked back on fondly. Now this is different kind of zombie game, and it’s a good way to kill the time. “Would Anyone Like A Peanut?”
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is easily one of the most unique and most memorable entries in the franchise to date, and it’s a stunning entry point for new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga. Shedding the brawler roots of its predecessors, Like a Dragon sports a fully-fledged RPG combat system that leans into Ichi’s love of Dragon Quest, combined with the incredible storytelling and unforgettable characters that have long been hallmarks of the Yakuza games. Ichi’s tale is tragic on many levels, yet his unyielding resilience and optimism in the face of adversity makes him incredibly endearing and fun to watch. He’s impossible not to root for, and his enthusiasm for life and adventure will carry you through this over the top, silly, and heartfelt romp through the back alleys and seedy corners of Injincho.
In 2019, I reviewed Monster Jam Steel Titans and felt it was middle of the road. I’m here now with the sequel, Steel Titans 2, and though I think: it’s an upgrade, and there are things the game does that make my time with it less than enjoyable. The initial presentation of colorful open worlds feels deceitful when you find out there mostly isn’t much to do within them. Overall, you find out quickly how much of a slog things are.
While it may not hold the same prestige it once used to, the Stronghold series is still one of the best. It offered sieging and defending within a real-time strategy wrapper. Firefly Studios returns with the first new Stronghold game in over five years with Stronghold: Warlords, offering an exciting new direction. While less of a sieging kind of game, and more of a traditional real-time strategy game, there’s a foundation laid here that Stronghold: Warlords shows a lot of promise for its future, and possible sequels.
Arcade-style dogfighting games are a rare find these days, and coupled with taking place in the Warhammer 40K universe — this one’s a unicorn. With Warhammer 40,000: Dakka Squadron – Flyboyz Edition, Phosphor Game Studios has brought their mobile game to PC, though the transition is a bit rough. The game’s controls are not standard, sounds clips often repeat, and mission objectives are rote. Thankfully, Orks are arguably the best thing in anything Warhammer, which might keep things entertaining long enough to see what this has to offer — maybe.
RetroMania Wrestling has been given all the blessings to be the official sequel to 1991’s WWF Wrestlefest. In the thirty years since that game, a lot of superstars have come and gone that could appear here, but don’t. And despite its sequel status, the limited roster keeps it from being larger than life even though it’s filled with notable names. From a visuals and gameplay standpoint, RetroMania Wrestling stands tall; and that should be enough to land the finisher, but it gets too gassed to pull it off.
Stepping inside the dome for the first time, you enter a place that feels both real and imagined; affixed in reality, and made of memories. This dreamlike sense of grounded surrealism sets the stage for your journey through Maquette’s story, in which you unravel the narrative by solving environmental puzzles entwined with the exaggerated locales and features of Maquette’s chapters. It’s a tale of love and loss interwoven with the game’s artwork and environments, in ways that are sometimes novel and others less so. While the primary draw of the game from the outside is its art and its puzzle design, it it is clear from moment one that the game’s true emphasis is on it’s love story, and it bets everything on the successful marriage of these elements.
At long last, the middle chapters of the Yakuza series have made their way to the PC via the Yakuza Remastered Collection, rounding out the availability of this extremely popular franchise on the PC. Coming from the PS3 and PS4 era, these games don’t get the full Kiwami remake treatment, but they are recent enough games that they don’t necessarily need it. Instead, what’s on order here are modernized versions of Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 that play at a crisp 1080p (or above) and 60 frames per second, giving you the ability to experience the legacy of the Yakuza series from the comfort of your gaming PC. While the game play of the older entries can be a little rough around the edges at times, it’s a fine way to revisit Kiryu’s adventures in Kamurocho and beyond.
It’s kind of weird that in 2021 we get a game like Taxi Chaos, where rideshare companies exist and this could’ve been something new and exciting for the genre, such as picking up multiple passengers for different drop-offs. Instead, we get a game that’s trying to be the next Crazy Taxi – yet it fails to do so in any meaningful way. It’s a vibrant, yet soulless and disappointing at recreating the magic that game once had over twenty years ago. Taxi Chaos is hardly ever chaotic, in fact it’s rather orderly. All I want is to go play Crazy Taxi, and that says all you really need to know.
In retrospect, I was too hard on Little Nightmares when I reviewed it four years ago. It wasn’t until my second playthrough, I was finally able to appreciate what that game was doing, and its DLC episodes enhanced the experience. With Little Nightmares II, Tarsier Studios offers more insight to its haunting world by upping the tension and displaying more disturbing behavior at nearly every turn. This is sequel in every respect, and improves upon everything that made the first game so great.
Horror video games have taken many shapes over the years, ranging from more action-focused titles like Resident Evil to psychological thrillers like Amnesia, with the common thread between them being predation upon the player’s sense of vulnerability. Jump scares and cheap thrills are the favorite tools in the pursuit of spooking players, but few manage to instill a sense of creeping dread so well as The Medium does. It creates tension that begins as a faint hum, and as you learn more about the places and people you’re investigating, it slowly builds into a steady buzz that keeps the knots tied in your stomach even during the game’s downbeats. Combined with a highly cinematic presentation, some truly excellent environment art, and unique game mechanics that integrate well with the storytelling, The Medium is a horror game that can be deeply unsettling but is compelling enough that it’s worth pushing through the discomfort.
I have a special spot in my heart for the Hitman series. Hell, Hitman was my Game of the Year in 2016, and with good reason. It was amusing, creative, packed with content, and most important of all, fun. Hitman 3 brings the World of Assassination to a close with a swan song; it takes what made the series great and gives us more.