Review – Days Gone

The anguish of not knowing the fate of a missing loved one seems impossible to comprehend.

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Grief is at the center of Days Gone, developed by Sony-owned Bend Studio, as the main character Deacon St. John searches post-apocalypse rural Oregon for answers regarding the whereabouts of his wife. The last time he saw her was two years ago during the chaos of a viral outbreak, granting her the last seat on a medical transport in hopes of saving her life and a quick reunion. 

A depressing tone is evident throughout the game in the despondent attitudes of the introductory characters, deserted landscapes, and melancholic chords of the accompanying soundtrack. A player can’t help to be reminded of other popular apocalyptic-like settings such as The Last of Us and The Walking Dead. Although the familiar introductory failed to catch my attention at first, Days Gone works off of the ordinary premise, polishes it up, and delivers a remarkable adventure set in a stunning and unique setting.

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Microsoft Reveals Xbox Series X Footage – A Strong, Yet Mislabeled Presentation

Microsoft streamed an efficient and special Inside Xbox episode on May 7th, showing off a ton of new in-game engine footage and some gameplay for the upcoming Xbox Series X by way of a string of game trailers and a handful of short home-recorded video clips of Xbox Team members. 

Viewers were ready to get a first glimpse of the power of the new Xbox and watch the event that Microsoft had announced a week prior. What they weren’t prepared for was the absence of familiar first-party titles and well, gameplay in general. Trailers full of in-your-face spectacle displaying a giant graphical leap over the current generation featuring icons like Master Chief that gamers are accustomed to seeing when getting a first look at a long-awaited new console, were replaced with an impressive number of original property premiers.

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Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Revealed!

For only the third time in the prolific franchise, Ubisoft took a break in 2019 from releasing an annual Assassin’s Creed game leaving dedicated fans like myself to wake up lonely each day wondering to ourselves while staring out a rainy window, “will today be the day we finally hear about the long-rumored Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok?” 

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Finally, yesterday, they spontaneously teased the next entry with an hours-long stream revealing the first official artwork of the game. The artist, Boss Logic, slowly exposed the subtlest of hints over the course of eight hours: a backdrop of colorful sunset skies on one side and the aurora borealis on the other; a bearded figure holding an axe with the Assassins insignia; and a raven hovering over their right shoulder. Rumored for months to be subtitled Ragnarok, they set the record straight by ending the stream with a title screen: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and advising us to tune in tomorrow for the game’s first trailer.

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Review – Animal Crossing: New Horizons

“Man, I really want to keep this protein shaker that Buck the Horse gifted to me for my eventual home gym, but my storage is full of clay, Easter eggs, and a lava lamp, so I have nowhere to store it!!”

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This is an honest example of what you would hear if you could read the minds of Animal Crossing New Horizons players, a social and life simulation game. What does a life simulation game mean exactly? It means that you do many things in this game that you would also do in your life, such as pay off a mortgage, create a garden or furnish your home. The difference here is that everything is much easier to accomplish and far CUTER.

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Review – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

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Jedi: Fallen Order scratches so many gaming and Star Wars itches all at one time that it was hard for me to put down. Ultimately I continued my adventure after the credits rolled because I wanted to see everything and perfect my combat.

For me, this was a Star Wars Metroid Prime game; complete with backtracking and moments of awkward traversal. The more I played, the more I realized the amount of secrets and missable nooks and crannies that existed, purposefully hidden by the developers to reward those who explore.

As someone who has yet to play a “Souls” game, I really enjoyed the responsiveness of the thoughtful combat, parry system, and most of the skill tree, so much so that I’m keeping my wallet locked in a small safe in my bedroom so that I don’t spontaneously add Bloodborne or Dark Souls III to my backlog. 

Fallen Order is a weird one. At times it feels like it would fit in perfectly in the 360/PS3 generation of game design (think Tomb Raider reboot era), and in other moments I’m floored by the attention to detail Respawn chose to dedicate to some areas. Likewise, I’ll be awestruck with the beauty and fascinated by how fresh one planet can feel, then wear a frowny face for the majority of my time on another location due to level design and fuzzy graphic details. 

I would highly recommend you play this game if you are craving a good Star Wars story, enjoy telekinetic and sword gameplay mechanics, and aren’t afraid to spend some quality time wandering and exploring in your games. Respawn have once again demonstrated their creativity and I’m so glad they had the chance to show off in this beloved universe. I am VERY excited for any follow-up entry in the series!

SCORE: 8.5/10

Review – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

“Maybe that’s why people fear seeing the world through her eyes. Because if you believe Senua’s reality is twisted, you must also accept yours might be too.”

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Without skipping a beat the word I keep coming back to when describing my time with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is ‘harrowing’. I think it’s significant that this word comes to mind instead of scary, spooky, or tough. Harrowing is synonymous with heartbreaking, painful, and tormenting. It evokes more emotion than other words we frequently use to characterize other games. This proves to me that Ninja Theory successfully conveyed a different sense of fear than we are used to feeling in games. The last time I felt this way was when I was being chased by Mr. X in RE2.

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Review – Afterparty

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Afterparty was one of my most anticipated games of 2019 (I know, weird that I’m now just getting to it) but I never really knew why. Having played Oxenfree, I felt confident that Night School Studios would deliver in some way on the unique and strong premise. Now that I’ve finished it I can safely and simply say, I enjoyed my time with Afterparty (AP). As a 21+ individual who enjoys drinking responsibly, it was refreshing* and fun to see alcohol used in a gameplay format as well as narratively. The style, sound, and personality of NSS’s take on Hell made for a memorable and fun experience.  

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Review – Assassin’s Creed Origins

What I thought would be a fun romp in the sand turned into a full blown Grecian-Roman/Egyptian epic.

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Bayek and Aya, the stars of this story, are a welcome change from the sarcastic swashbuckling heroes we are used to seeing in this franchise. Similar to Evie and Jacob of AC: Syndicate they have great chemistry, but seeing the passion as a couple and care for their family play out through the story and dialogue elevated my investment in their relationship. There are multiple heartwarming exchanges between Bayek and children/civilians, demonstrating that when he’s not murdering corrupt politicians, he’s a respectful dude. I truly hope we see these unique characters again throughout this ancient trilogy.

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Review – Resident Evil 2

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When it comes to horror games, sometimes I’m not even sure why I put myself through the trauma of the experience. I consider myself a huge horror movie fan, but when you are actively taking a role in advancing through the nightmarish plot points, video games have the power to deliver a truly memorable and haunting adventure. Adversely, being in control of the protagonist can also cause you to miss the intended scare of the moment or make a scene awkward due to poor technical performance or lack of gameplay skill. Impressively, that never happened during my extended, hellish tour of Racoon City’s Police Department Building.

Playing the majority of the game in the dark and with headphones, I couldn’t have asked for a more dreadful experience. At first I was so shaken by how effectively scary the game was, I could only play it in thirty-minute intervals. Capcom combined realistic visuals, expert pacing, unique spooks, and a surprising absence of music to make for a relentlessly claustrophobic experience. Continue reading “Review – Resident Evil 2”

Preview – Resident Evil 2 (2019)

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I’m glad there was a time limit on this demo. My heart needed a break after thirty minutes with Resident Evil 2.

What I loved most besides cute little baby Leon Kennedy, was the animation, movement, and overall look of the zombies I encountered. They look truly decayed, moved slowly yet in an unpredictable manner.

The demo gives you a very quick introduction to some mechanics, like the ability to carry around boards in your inventory to repair and barricade windows in an attempt to prevent zombie access (I think), and even in the small window of time the demo gives Continue reading “Preview – Resident Evil 2 (2019)”