Early Access Review: The Long Dark
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 19, 2017.
Recommended: While there is obviously more the developers intend to add, The Long Dark as is now, is already a compelling survival experience. There's a few rough edges - but not many, and the experience itself offered an absorbing and somewhat surreal survival experience in that frigid north. If you're looking for a building-oriented game, you should look elsewhere, but if survival is what you want out of these games, none does it better than The Long Dark does right now, in my opinion. While there's some areas for improvement, including most notably better allowing players to better improvise, they don't ultimately detract enough from the experience that I was ever taken out of it. This is a game of exploration and survival, and boils it down to its basest essence, and given an interesting world to explore, and strong survival mechanics, it comes easily-recommended.
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Review: Spell Casting - Meowgically Enhanced Edition
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Nov 21, 2016.
Recommended: I went back and forth with the final verdict on this one. Honestly, Spellcasting is the most infuriating game I can remember playing. It's really not my cup of tea and it's definitely something I wouldn't play again. However, part of the point of our reviews is to consider the target audience. If you enjoy mobile-style puzzle games and games of memory I think you'll like this. I think you'll enjoy the art, the challenge, and the design of it. I think this would be fun for kids and adults that like these types of games, and absolutely should be played on a device with a touchscreen and stylus in my opinion. It's priced well for this type of game so the short play-time isn't out of line. If you like these kinds of games, give this one a try, I think you'll enjoy it.
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Review: Review: Blood & Gold - Caribbean
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 24, 2016.
Neutral: There's a lot to love in Blood & Gold: Caribbean, but there's a mite too many rough edges to be able to recommend it. Interesting new systems that are perhaps a bit too deep and not really well tutorialized could use some attention, and the production values are uneven and questionable, but at the heart of Caribbean, the roleplaying aspects and the sea combat, are done well. With some TLC this could be a great pirate sim. The strong sea combat mechanics coupled with the roleplaying aspect will likely carry it for many people with a strong interest in the niche of pirate sims, but otherwise, the many rough edges will probably put off less enthusiastic fans. With some TLC, this could be the pirate sim game, but as is, I'd only really be able to recommend it to someone really into the pirate theme or a huge Mount & Blade fan who wants more but in a different scene.
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Review: The Division
Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Oct 19, 2016.
Recommended: The Division is a hybrid title that suffers from some flaws for the fusion but is still enjoyable. I was back and forth between recommended and neutral, but I have to give it a nod just by a hair. I'd be lying if I didn't say I had fun playing the game. I believe I got value out of my purchase, and despite the issues I enjoyed my time playing it. I almost pegged it as neutral for the repetitiveness and lackluster story, but then I remembered I had fun even when I didn't think there was going to be a story, and I got over the redundancy by just not participating in every single mission or intel collection. I also defeated the feeling of it being a grind by not playing it for several hours at a time, and spacing it out over several weeks. The graphics and sound put this game at the top of the heap for production quality, and that's a big factor for me because immersion is key when I'm picking games. Story matters too, so bear in mind that this recommendation is barely on the plus side. If you are a die hard MMO or FPS fan exclusively you probably won't like The Division because it borrows elements from both genres, but doesn't deliver on the key features of either. If, however, you like both genres you might like The Division.
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Review: Sunless Sea
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 14, 2016.
Neutral: Sunless Sea finds itself caught between exploration and exposition without knowing which it wants to side with, and ends up somewheres in the middle - and in mediocrity. The writing is definitely the appeal, but the game makes progressing through things so arduous and slow that by the time you've gotten to the next point I was bored stiff. Pacing, ultimately, is what undoes Sunless Sea for me, as well as a lack of any real threat in most of the enemies. The different scenarios and arcs you can discover are fairly interesting by the by, ranging from average to excellent in writing, but there are not many of them and they're not good enough peaks to make up for the chasms that are the valleys. The writing is what will make or break Sunless Sea for most, so if it appeals, go for it, if not, take a pass.
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Review: Elder Sign - Omens
Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Sep 27, 2016.
Recommended: This is a game made true to the spirit of the series from which it derives its name - a delight stymied by the heavy RNG factor. Where looser interpretations might have dampened the random nature of the dice game that Elder Sign inherits from, this adaptation is warts and all, and as such some games are just going to go much better than others and it's as much down to fate and a roll of those proverbial dice as it is up to any player skill. Looking beyond the obvious failings of the dice game mechanics, however, you will find a moody, atmospheric game with a brilliant attention to thematic details. If there's any game that the feeling of a loss of control created by that random nature is at home in, its a Lovecraftian horror game, and as such, if you can see past that heavy RNG, you'll probably much enjoy this game.
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