Review: Cuphead. Tough but fair Beating Cuphead should come with a complimentary Mensa membership. It's a tough game, but Cuphead's difficulty lies more in exhaustive pattern recognition than anywhere else. Reactive shooting and jumping only go so far. Eventually, it's hardly reactionary anymore; it's muscle memory at that point. There's a cognitive brilliance about Cuphead that makes it more rewarding than most other platformer shooters.
Cuphead (PC [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: StudioMDHR EntertainmentPublisher: StudioMDHR EntertainmentReleased: September 29, 2017MSRP: $19.99 Cuphead tells the story of the eponymous protagonist who's up to his straw in gambling debts. The structure of Cuphead is such that it rarely wastes time on lesser encounters. Thematically, Cuphead is all over the place. Actually, the game probably benefits from this variation. There's an easy-to-ignore animation after every failed attempt that eventually comes to define the Cuphead experience. Ori and the Blind Forest. Every so often I come across a game that just makes me smile. I mean, I play videogames almost daily because I have fun doing it, but certain titles have me grinning from ear to ear the entire journey for a myriad of different reasons. Ori and the Blind Forest is one of those games.
It's just plain enjoyable from start to finish, and doesn't waste your time. Ori and the Blind Forest (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Moon StudiosPublisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: March 11, 2015 (PC, Xbox One) / TBA (Xbox 360)MSRP: $19.99 Ori is soaked in style from the very start. The amazing score makes me feel like I'm watching a Ghibli movie. The narrative is light. You'll accomplish this goal by way of metroidvania-style gameplay, and your compatriot, a sprite named Sein. Soon enough you'll start earning more powers like a charge attack, a wall-jump, and so on. Ori herself feels remarkably nimble, and controlling her is a joy.
I wish Moon Studios the best of luck on its next project. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. Geometry Wars games have always been, in a sense, one-dimensional. They present the player with the seemingly simple task of "shoot everything in sight," and that's the sole objective apart from staying alive. The onslaught of flying colors and booming music molds the experience, but the core remains uncomplicated. For many, that's enough to be held in the highest regard when discussing twin-stick shooters. In 2008, the heralded Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 vastly and competently iterated upon its predecessor.
It added a handful of new modes, each one legitimately fun and addictive in its own right. All hyperbole aside, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions makes Retro Evolved 2's efforts look puny by comparison. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Lucid GamesPublisher: Sierra EntertainmentReleased: November 25, 2014 (PS3, PS4, PC), November 26, 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 The core of Dimensions's systems are largely unchanged. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. For some, Hotline Miami was an existential look at the current macro-state of videogames. You were told to commit random acts of murder seemingly without remorse, and at the end, you get a bit of interesting commentary on the culture of violence. Many argued that the only way you can truly win is to not play, and it started some insightful conversations.
For me, it was a really bitchin' action puzzle game that made me constantly reinvent my strategy for each and every level. It was an experience that didn't hold my hand at every turn, and let me be as creative as I wanted while a kickass soundtrack blared in the background. Hotline Miami 2 may not be as "profound" as its predecessor, but it's still a bloody good time. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Vita)Developer: Dennaton GamesPublisher: Devolver DigitalReleased: March 10, 2015MSRP: $14.99 After the very first broken-down door I was hooked again. When Hotline 2 is said and done, there's 25 levels to play with.
Resident Evil HD Remaster. Playing the original Resident Evil was an experience. The mansion, the campiness, the mystery of it all -- before walkthroughs were easily accessible from all corners of the internet, getting lost was practically a given, and it was a blast. Secrets were traded between us gamers, telling of hidden rooms and items, and most of them was accurate. The Spencer Mansion was a veritable treasure, and that couldn't have been more true for the subsequent GameCube remake, and now, the recent HD edition. Resident Evil HD Remaster (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomReleased: January 20, 2015MSRP: $19.99 So what is Resident Evil HD?
This review is based off the PC version, and I have to say, Capcom did a good job. Although it's enhanced, there's still plenty of cheese in terms of the tone. You'll still get plenty of enhancements though, because the models look great, especially on a high-end PC with all of the settings jacked up. Welcome back to the mansion. Grim Fandango. Grim Fandango didn't need a remaster as much as it needed a re-release. Many, myself included, have found it difficult to track down a copy to play. We've had an entire digital catalog--GOG.com--devoted to getting good, old games up for sale on a digital storefront, but no Grim Fandango?
The touch-ups are appreciated. You can switch between the original and remastered look at the touch of a button. The latter has some nice dynamic lighting and new character models, but I stuck mostly with the former for its more vibrant colors. No bones about it, though, Grim Fandango holds up on its original merits as a stylish, humerus adventure. Grim Fandango (PS Vita [Reviewed], PC, PS4) Developer: Double Fine Publisher: Double FineReleased: January 27, 2015 MSRP: $14.99 Manny Calavera is a grim reaper, which in this art deco Land of the Dead means he's a travel agent, sending dead souls to their final resting place through a variety of fine travel options.
Then again, it's all about the journey. Legend of Grimrock 2. The first Legend of Grimrock was damn near perfect. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, it put a fresh new face on the dungeon-crawling genre. It was a game that didn't forget its roots yet also didn't forget that we live in a different time. It's no surprise, then, that the sequel is absolutely stunning. Legend of Grimrock 2 (PC)Developer: Almost Human GamesPublisher: Almost Human GamesReleased: October 15, 2014MSRP: $23.99 Legend of Grimrock 2 takes the players to an outside location for much of the game. Speaking of sights, Grimrock 2 looks great. Part of the beauty of Grimrock 2 is that it is focused entirely on the core gameplay, which is as strong as ever. The player will create their ship-wrecked party of four, now with more options for character classes and race. The enemies as a whole are smarter -- to a point. Boss fights are varied, but can also vary in quality. Combat often gets into a beautiful rhythm of clicks and swiping gestures that truly feels fluid and dynamic.
Sunless Sea. Adrift at sea in a massive underground cavern. No natural lighting to speak of. Your ship's hull has taken a beating from enemy cannon fire and giant crustaceans. Fuel and supplies are running low, but you might be able to survive the journey back home if you're willing to make some sacrifices. Your crew is growing scared and restless. You think you hear something moving under the water... Sunless Sea is a game of choices. Sunless Sea (PC)Developer: Failbetter GamesProducer: Failbetter GamesReleased: February 6, 2015MSRP: $18.99 Let's get something out of the way real quick: this game is sloooow. If you think you've got the patience for arduous oversea voyages, then you're in for quite a rewarding adventure. As captain of a sailing vessel, you'll be traveling from port to port, exploring and learning about the islands of the Unterzee, while trying to achieve your ambitions.
When you begin a new adventure, you're able to customize your captain. Your ambition will determine how you win.