Death of the Critic

Games

Prey - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I loved the original
Prey, as there was something about the science-fiction shooter that just clicked with me. It was weird, wacky, and broke new ground with its gameplay mechanics while at the same time being something very familiar. And while the reboot is something completely different, separated entirely from the original title, it does evoke many of those same feelings within me.

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Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
has one thing going for it. The world isn’t engaging, the characters are lackluster, the story is cookie cutter, but you have a rifle, and an uncanny ability to shoot people in the face from very far away. And that is what you do. Start a mission, mark targets, and snipe people. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It isn’t a bad system so much as it is a well-trodden and forgettable one, but luckily the novelty of shooting people in the face with high-powered rifles from hundreds of meters away lasted a while for me.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Mass Effect: Andromeda
put itself in a rather unfortunate position before it was even released. It is a follow-up to one of the best franchises of the last generation that tied everything up rather neatly. Bioware has fallen out of favor in recent years, and after a series of rocky previews, Andromeda finally came out. Plagued with issues at launch, Andromeda is not a great game. It isn’t bad, but in many ways, it highlights a lot of the issues that I have with contemporary video games, while taking massive steps backwards in the franchise. It is painfully average and fails to trigger those same emotions that the earlier titles were so good at tugging on.

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Future Unfolding – Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Future Unfolding
is a hard game to describe. A philosophical, top down exploration of a gorgeous world as you try to figure out what exactly is going on. You are dropped in with basically nothing, and what story is there is confusing to say the least. But there is something magical about wandering through the world here, almost discovering new things and slowly inching your way forward on this quasi-vision quest that you’ve found yourself in the middle of.

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands – Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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There are so many things that should have been great about Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Having a four-player co-op game set in an absolutely massive open world with free-form mission structure and tactics based combat? It sounds like the perfect storm, a game to suck up all of your time. And while it can very much eat up your time, the way it does feels cheap and unearned. There was too much to do and no real reason to do any of it, and more than once I found myself questioning why I was even playing.

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Resident Evil 7 - Review

Written By: CJ Streetman

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Despite having had more than my fair share of dumb fun in the last few
Resident Evil games, I had completely lost hope that the series would ever find its way back to atmospheric horror. Thankfully, however, it seems that the critical and commercial failure of Resident Evil 6 has led Capcom to return to the series’ roots.

That is, in all senses, what
Resident Evil 7 is: a returning home for the series.

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Stardew Valley - Review

Written By: CJ Streetman

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Stardew Valley
is an addiction waiting to happen.

Coming from over a decade of experience with a wide variety of games, ranging from classic one-more-level platformers to prolific time sinks like
Diablo and World of Warcraft, I can easily say that Stardew Valley has the most refined gameplay loop of any game I’ve ever played.

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FEIST - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is hard to look at this game and not immediately think of Limbo. In many ways it is an apt comparison to the 2010 sidescrolling platformer. It's a pseudo-3D, atmospheric world with freakish enemies and light physics puzzles, and walking through the world brought flashes of nostalgia to games past. FEIST is gorgeous, with a more colorful world that legitimately feels dangerous. Everything can kill you, from a forgotten trap to a tumbling rock waiting to crush you; and over the course of the game, most of them will. Unfortunately, few of these deaths feel earned, and the simple act of playing can leave you wanting for something more.

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Killing Floor 2 - Review

Written By: CJ Streetman

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In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of games like
Call of Duty, which dilute their experience by trying to be everything for everyone. They become bloated  with serviceable modes that all are perfectly adequate in their own rights, but don’t really excel in anything.

Conversely, games like Killing Floor 2, which come with a clear sense of identity and purpose, are becoming more and more rare.

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Titanfall 2 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is not often that a shooter manages to get almost everything right. Every year we see so many games try and so many of them fail. The original Titanfall was a great game, that simply didn't last long enough to be fantastic. What was there was excellent, but there simply wasn't enough stuff packed in the box to leave many gamers, including me, satisfied. With
Titanfall 2, we finally have what the first game promised to us and teased us with, and it is the best shooter of the year. It has a fun, if slightly ridiculous (in the best way) campaign, and a fantastic multiplayer mode that I've already dumped way too many hours into, that I can see myself playing for a long time. It is the most complete package on the market right now, and all signs point to its strength going forward.

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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In some ways,
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the most interesting Call of Duty game to release since Modern Warfare. For once, they have finally nailed down the shooter campaign story in a way that no other game quite has this year. It goes to places that are legitimately surprising to see as a player, and they actually try to say something with the story. But at the same time, the multiplayer experience is subpar. Which is so out of left field for a game like Call of Duty. It is the exact opposite of what you would expect when you pick up one of these games each fall.

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Small Radios Big Televisions - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Small Radios Big Televisions
is the latest title to be released by Adult Swim. Developed by Fire Face, the stylistic puzzler dips you into a series of themed “factories” as you try to figure out the mystery behind the world that you have found yourself in. Essentially it is a point-and-click puzzle game with a heavy emphasis on style over difficulty. The world is colorful and broken, as nature slowly tries to reclaim the crumbling buildings from civilization. To get through each one of the shaped factories, you must collect cassette tapes that you use with your character’s VR headset to transport you from your industrial tower back to a piece of nature from before whatever has happened to the world.

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Battlefield 1 - Review

Written By: CJ Streetman

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Battlefield 1
is an odd beast. It’s probably the best the series has been, but it’s also incredibly fickle.

I’ve played every Battlefield
game since Battlefield 2, and never have the largest problems I’ve had with the series ever been addressed. The multiplayer has always been long treks to the spot of your inevitable death. Snipers have always been annoying. The campaigns have always been lackluster, though this last point was alleviated in the Bad Company games.

To my immense surprise
Battlefield 1 has fixed every one of these issues, but from the ashes of these decade-old problems rise a whole new set of issues ranging from rage-inducing to a kind that simply make you shake your head and carry on.

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Dishonored 2 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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There is a lot of stuff that I really love about the Dishonored series. They nailed down stealth gameplay in a way that few other games have ever managed, allowing you to be either brutally efficient killing machine or stealthy, nonviolent avenger. There are so many great things that start to add up to make Dishonored 2 a great game. In many ways it’s better than the first, giving you options that you never knew you wanted until they were presented to you. But in two crucial ways it falls short for me. I like the way that this game plays but the story itself does nothing to pull me through the worlds. It feels like a flimsy excuse to put your characters back into the same situation as they were in during the first game.

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Super Dungeon Bros - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is that time of the month again where we get a new free game from Xbox Live. This month we get the newly released
Super Dungeon Bros, which tries to be part Castle Crashers, part Brutal Legend, and part Diablo all rolled up into a single hack-and-slash dungeon crawler. A supposedly rock and roll themed co-op quest where you fight your standard array of skeletons, floating eyes, and mages in progressively more difficult levels of the dungeon. You take control of one of four rock legends with Axl, Freddie, Lars, and Ozzie rounding out the core cast of characters. With them you challenge the dark land of Rokheim, and unfortunately the place isn’t looking so great. Traps, monsters, and crumbling architecture stand between you and the next level of the dungeon. You and your three color coded friends must push on to try to reach further depths in a quest to see how far you can get.

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Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is rare to see a game that allows its players to play together on the same system. The days of couch co-op are long past. It is even rarer to see a game that practically demands it.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, which sounds like something equal parts 1950’s science fiction and pulp romance novel, begs you to play with someone else. Together. Playing alone, this game is good, albeit a little frustrating at times, as you and your space pet, a relentlessly happy fur ball of a cat or dog, battle your way through a bleak but colorful space full of enemies and environmental hazards. They stand between you and saving your tiny friends and fighting back the anti-love that is threatening the universe.

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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Deus Ex does its best to raise interesting questions about morality, humanity, and authority in its newest installment. Back in the shoes of Adam Jensen, you work as an agent of a secret government task force that tackles terrorism. Since the end of Human Revolution and The Aug Incident, augmented people have experienced systematic oppression and injustice, and a group has sprung out of the anger that it has caused. The Augmented Rights Coalition (ARC) is suspected of bombing a train station and you must investigate, while at the same time attempting to find out what happened to you in the aftermath of the incident on Panchaea. Someone tinkered with your augs, unlocking powerful new abilities of you to play with, on top of the same compliment of powers from the previous game that you are already familiar with.

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How Much Do You Need To Play?

Written by: Tom Blaich

I’ve been playing games for a very long time. I’ve been reviewing them for years. And over this time, I’ve noticed a trend towards longer and longer games. As a player, this is a really exciting trend. I love the push towards a more intense, story-focused experience for a player. But at the same time, it is beginning to get a little out of hand. I’ve written about this before in regards to every games desire to have an expansive open world. It seems like every game wants to be an epic, 40 plus hour-long experience, following the chosen character as they save the world/galaxy/universe.

This raises an interesting question for reviewers. How much do we need to play?
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Grow Up - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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It is refreshing to sit back and play something a little more relaxing every now and then. Coming off of several months of playing some fantastic, if relatively day and self-serious titles, an experience like
Grow Up can serve as a nice palate cleanser. A follow up to the 2015 title Grow Home, it tasks you with navigating an alien world as the robot B.U.D, attempting to reassemble your scattered ship at the behest of M.O.M, the AI in charge, so that your journey across the galaxy can continue unabated.

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Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich

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I’m glad that this game went free. I would otherwise never have played it. I don’t exactly like “Musou” games. I never really have. Every few years I will pick up the latest one for an afternoon to see if I have been missing something, and every time I quickly find myself sated. I don’t know why. Maybe I came to them too late in my life, I missed something by not playing them as a child. Maybe they simply aren’t the games for me. That being said,
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is easily the most fun I’ve had while playing one of these games, even if it couldn’t grab hold of me for very long.

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