2017 is here and (apart from the cold and gloom) there are some pretty big titles to fill the void until other highly anticipated projects of this year – the new Mass Effect, Resident Evil, Outlast, and The Legend of Zelda instalments – are released.
So, let’s take a gander.
Dead Rising 4. Platform: Xbox One, PC
A well-established beat ‘em up, Dead Rising doesn’t need an introduction.
This latest instalment does not disappoint, as it adds the quirky festive humour into your zombie massacres, offering you yet more options of dispatching the walkers creatively, and watching them turn into exploding confetti or light up with fairy lights.
It’s amusing, addictive, and also massive. If dark humour and fast-paced survival horror are your thing, this should be your next purchase.
For me personally, the monotony of the actions, albeit varied, got a bit bleak too quickly. The impressive graphics and improved controls do add credit to this project, though, as does the morbid humour, so I’d give Dead Rising 4 a 7/10.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. Platform: PS4, Xbox Once, PC, Mac
This game is definitely an impressive and well-thought out specimen of a tasteful stealth game. That is to say: It’s compelling and intelligent, without being too pretentious and technical.
The game’s approach is subtle and very interesting – you command a small team of assassins in real-time events, and you are able to fine-tune each individual move and approach, employing a range of tactics and elements to customise your kill. It reminds me of a blend of the good bits of Assassin’s Creed with the better bits of Tenchu, but the execution of the concept is like nothing I’ve seen before.
What I also like is the fact that you’re heavily penalised, in the form of heavy enemy reinforcements, if you do not fulfil a mission using stealth or if you’re too sloppy, making you analyse your every move with care as you would a highly-pressured game of chess – one with great immersion, soundtrack, and gameplay customisation capabilities.
Would definitely recommend it to any open-minded player. 9/10.
The Dwarves. Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac
Based on the award-winning novel, the Dwarves’ intention was to create a story-based, lore-heavy game. And in that, it has succeeded. Unfortunately, in other aspects, like – uh – gameplay, it has not.
The graphics and controls have a whiff of early-naughties strategy games about them, like a more colourful and hectic Starcraft or Total War instalment. The idea of having 15 playable lead characters, each with their own unique skills and strengths, was a good effort, but again proved irrelevant when trumped by stubborn controls and bad camera angles.
The dialogue, story, and score are remarkable, though. So it’s a crossroads: if you’re an avid fan of lore-driven games or have read and appreciated the original novel, you will enjoy this project by default.
If, however, you are in it for the gameplay and immersion of the moment, this is not a promising release for you.
So, remember to do your research; with today’s vast variety of novelty gameplay, ‘new’ is not necessarily synonymous with ‘good’, but I digress.
I personally enjoyed this release, being a huge Tolkien fan and catching glimpses of his influence in some of the lore. I would not replay this game, however, nor recommend it to an objective player. 6/10.
The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier. Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC, iOS, Android
Telltale Games stepped it up for Season 3.
We are brought right back to the outbreak and introduced to an entirely new group of characters, with their own complex triangles and contentions. Then we’re propelled all the way forward, and see our much-beloved Clementine return as a mature and distant teen, joining the new characters and missions.
There are quite a few jaw-dropping moments, and the decision-making is becoming increasingly tough, meaning the player is invested. Season 2 was a predictable and anticlimactic affair, in my opinion. So here I went in with my expectations minimal, and was hugely impressed. The new characters add unpredictability and edge, while returning characters add grounding and history.
Also, the new urban developments and the problems occurring between different survivor groups, all set to the back-drop of walkers of course, make for exciting and multi-tiered experiences, showing that the developer finally got the balance between story and gameplay just right. 9/10.
The Last Guardian. Platform: PS4
You most probably heard loads about this release or have played it by now – if you haven’t, then what are you doing with your life? Team Ico has announced this title a formidable seven years ago, after which fans have gradually lost hope. Yet here we are and, at least in part, I’d say it was worth the wait.
You are tossed into an exceptionally vivid world, joined by a giant eagle-cat, who is the most weird and adorable thing, and your unlikely duo are to make your escape.
The game is poignant, as the designers purposely focused on creating an emotional bond between you and your new buddy Trico, and the ending is unexpected and heart-wrenching.
The main reason this game was in development for so long was the AI and the score – and I can fully vouch for the perfection of the latter, but not so much the former. This was a very ambitious project, relying on a level of AI for Trico never attempted on a non-playable character before. For the most part, it’s awe-inspiring, but the controls and camera angles get wonky, making commands vague and repetitive which, sadly, turns endearing moments annoying.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not propagating this as a traditional ‘game’ – the player’s input in this tale is minimal: you are led to different areas for some platforming and puzzle solving, but that’s about it for your contribution. You’re simply filling in the gaps between the cut-scenes. The actual project is the story.
I also loved the lack of introduction, tutorials, or even hints – you are simply thrown into the first scene, as lost as the character you portray. You are a guest in Trico’s world, viewing it as you would a painting through a keyhole, interpreting and deducing to the best of your ability.
If fast-paced action or FPS is your thing, then take a deep breath, as this is a new journey and in-game media amalgamation, which requires patience and interest. Nonetheless, I would recommend this to absolutely everyone, as the world you’re immersed in, the ambience, the soundtrack, and the indescribable bond you silently form with this creature, are worth pushing through the unreliable controls for.
If nothing else, this project brought the developers and the community a giant step closer to affirming the question debated for so long – whether video games are art. 10/10.