Highland Arrow

Review: Hedon - Hedon is an ambitious exploration-based first-person-shooter with an emphasis on world-building in the same vein as Ultima Underworld, but without the janky-arse controls.  Good art direction, albeit with a few stumbling blocks, creative lore, and interesting world design combine to make a game that compelled me to see it through to completion, despite some rough edges in some of the sprites, a dreadful exposition dump in the middle, and lack of encounter variety.  It's a flawed but good game, that I hope gets better in future episodes, but nonetheless is definitely worth a look now.
Nostalgia Train Review: Final Fantasy 2 - Final Fantasy II is a faithful continuation of the beloved series. While it still has elements that I do not enjoy, like the random encounter mechanic that always seems to pop off when you are in a hurry, the game is still fun. These early FF games remain my most cherished gaming experiences as a young gamer, and still hold up today against the backdrop of countless other RPGs on the market. This game is fun, has beautiful 8-bit art and music in its original form and the PSP remaster I played was done very well. It's one of the more difficult ones to get outside of an emulator, but worth it.
Review: Final Fantasy VII Remake - There is a lot to like about the Remake of Final Fantasy VII, and some true moments of brilliance within the boss fights. Some great lines were removed, and some cringe inducing ones as well. The writing is a mixed bag. When it's really good, it's really good, but when it's bad... The combat is a blast and puts a new spin on an old system, adding a surprising amount of depth to the game. I don't think I'm a fan of most of the story changes they're making this time round, and it doesn't feel like much of a remake, so much as a complete reboot of the events of the franchise. Is it bad? By no means, but I can't guarantee that stalwart fans of the original are going to enjoy this one.  If you can get past that though ... its pretty good.
Review: Bloodstained - Bloodstained lives up to its claims.  While feeding off the lifeblood of previous titles from the same developers, it manages to almost stand on its own. The story is a little generic, with some obvious twists and turns. The art direction is sensational, and some of the bosses look so much better in 3D than  they did in the 8 bit prequel game. The music while not memorable is still enjoyable and fits every section of the castle.  Worth a look.
Review: Sundered - Sundered is the most disappointing game I've played to date.  I've played games and had worse experiences, and I've played games which have had more glaring design flaws, but none quite so disappolinting.  Sundered is a beautifully-wrought disaster of a game which marries an absolutely gorgeous art and animation with detailed sound design and atmospheric music ... with some of the most slipshod and lazy-feeling design I've experienced in a long time.  Where there was the promise of a metroidvania is more a bullet-hell button-mashing brawler, devoid of any feeling of taking skill or granding any accomplishment.  Aggrivating maps full of procedurally-generated tunnels that don't last long before they get repetitive, and bosses that feel more akin to battles of attrition than tests of skill.  Not really worth it except on a deep sale, if you're willing to put up with an experience that's fairly uninspired and rough in every aspect outside art direction.
Review: Hnefatafl - Hnefatafl is the ancient strategy game developed in Scandanavia, and popular across Europe until it was replaced by Chess as the more fashionable game to play. I got my set at GenCon from an artist known for his hand-carved Viking horns, and it's a beautiful and fun addition to our game library. It's easy to learn, and challenging to master. If you're someone who likes classic and old games like Chess, Backgammon, or Othello this game will be right up your alley. You can pick up a copy at almost any store that sells quality board games, or check out Where the Gods Live to see the artistic pieces done by Brian Marshall.

Review: Darkest Dungeon

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 2, 2020.

Neutral:  Darkest Dungeon spins a tale of insanity and despair that looks and sounds brilliant, but is something of a veneer western town, with quite plain mechanics underneath. Worth a play if you can stand a decent amount of artifical difficulty. It isn't going to sell you on it, if you aren't.

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Review: The Long Dark

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Dec 31, 2019.

Neutral:  The Long Dark's recent updates have added some more to the game, but its a game experience that increasingly is being shown as somewhat shallow. A somewhat zen and immersive survival experience falls prey to a pressure to make it more challenging, and the game does so by giving you challenges you have little chance to survive. The story is plodding, staid, and kind of bog-standard sterotypical mysticism which handles its themes extremely heavy-handedly. There's still plenty of fun to be had here in the survival mode, but its been dulled since initial release.

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Review: Diablo III - Rise of the Necromancer

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 2, 2019.

Neutral:  The Necromancer finds their way back into Diablo with ROTN, but their implementation is confused and overshadowed by a steep increase in artificial difficulty. Worth it for a fan, likely not for a newcomer.

Read more: Review: Diablo III - Rise of the Necromancer

Review: Baldur's Gate

Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Dec 26, 2018.

Recommended:  Baldur's Gate is a great game, even today. Getting the original or the extended edition shouldn't really be a factor either. The NPCs that were added don't have a serious impact on the game, and the mechanical changes won't be noticeable to anyone outside a hard-core D&D player. You're going to get hours of gameplay and story, for pretty cheap at this point. You can even find it as part of a package with the other games in the franchise. It's a small price to pay for hours of fun for new players, and some fond memories for those of us who played it back in the day.

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Review: BattleTech

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 22, 2018.

Not Recommended:  BattleTech is a game that offers a functional combat system that strains and ultimately breaks under an underwhelming roleplaying experience lacking player choice, a dreking fuckdump of clumsy exposition, and a swarm of technical bugs. Being a BattleTech fan since its heyday under FASA Corporation I desperately wanted to like this game, but ultimately found myself alt-tabbing out during enemy turns to rearrange desktop icons I was just so bored. BattleTech feels like an over-wrought, under-edited, and under-performing mess of a game to which its saving grace is that its combat system is fairly functional. That is to say, it feels like a bad game with a redeeming quality, rather than a good game that got brought down by flaws. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I wasn't having fun, and more importantly, I don't think fans of Mech combat games except series fanatics are going to find much of value here. For BattleTech fans, this is something to pick up on a deep discount; for anyone else, it's a pass.

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Review: EA Battlefront

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Nov 5, 2017.

Neutral:  EA's Battlefront is a beautiful game that plays well but ends up repetitive due to a lack of content.  While the core gameplay is enjoyable enough in small sessions that I did and still do find myself returning to it, the limited amount of game modes with player population makes the content ceiling artificially low when it already was quite low to begin with.  Since it enjoys a solid core of good shooting and frankly jaw-dropping visuals that are very authentic to the movie, Battlefront is a game that suffers terribly from the lack of being able to fill in the less popular game modes with bots.  The levelling system also makes early play considerably more frustrating than it has to be.  If you aren't bothered by only having a few game modes to play and want a Star Wars shooter fix, however, you're going to be hard pressed to find better, other than its original predecessor, or reaching even further into the past to the Jedi Knight series.

Read more: Review: EA Battlefront

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