Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you're all having a great Christmas weekend! Here's another round of game reviews from the backlog of my library. Maybe you'll spend some of those holiday gift cards on these games if they spark your fancy. Are these games worth your valuable time and money? Keep reading to find out.
Let's begin with the most recent Life is Strange game. True Colors features a protagonist who has the ability to identify people's emotions and manipulate them to a certain extent. For example, she can help someone overcome their grief and feel at ease. It's an unusual and interesting take on super powers with excellent character development and great storytelling instead of action scenes. The graphics are gorgeous, the plot has plenty of unexpected twists, the voice acting is superb, and your choices drastically alter the outcome. Despite having some flaws, True Colors is definitely the best entry in the Life is Strange franchise.
This game is a strong narrative adventure, but it lacks replay value. Once I finished the game, I never felt the urge to play it again. Even though choices and consequences are a major part of the story, the ending and overall plot never changes. Additionally, I feel weary about the main character’s powers. She can listen to people’s thoughts and manipulate their feelings. It makes her seem like a busybody who’s projecting her own issues by making everyone else feel better. However, people need to sort through their own anger, sadness, regrets, and trauma. True Colors appears to have good intentions, but the primary message left me feeling conflicted.
It might not be a perfect game, but Life is Strange: True Colors is worth playing at least once. I’m not sure if you should buy it at full price. Maybe wait for a sale.
Quake might be a good choice for people who enjoy retro computer gaming. If you remember the original Doom series, the remaster of Quake is probably be up your alley. This title is a first person shooter with a variety of weapons and monsters. I wouldn’t call it a true horror game. It’s more like a frantic action game with monsters and dark fantasy elements. Overall, it’s a fun experience and a nice callback to an earlier period of gaming. You can also look up various cheat codes for access to specific missions, weapons, and other perks.
I’m not sure how many people will really finish this game. Quake is entertaining, but it lacks variety and direction. Most of the levels feel the same and it’s very easy to become overpowered with certain weapons. Finding the right keys and secret passageways can be frustrating. I spent most of my time trying to find the exit to each mission, long after the enemies were dead.
Should you buy the remaster of Quake? I would say it’s fine if you really like the old Doom games. It’s available on Xbox Game Pass and that’s probably the best way to experience this release.
Warhammer: Chaosbane is a top down RPG in a similar vein to Diablo. I’ve seen many Diablo clones, but Chaosbane is one of the best examples. It’s a fun dark fantasy with a variety of RPG elements, upgrades, weapons, enemies, move sets, and more. The gameplay and missions are somewhat repetitive, but the formula works very well and it never feels mundane. It has everything gamers want in a Diablo-like release: a solid RPG system, a gritty fantasy setting, and frantic gameplay.
The drawbacks are pretty minimal. Like most Diablo clones, Chaosbane has a route storyline with mediocre voice acting. It’s less challenging than other games in the genre, which probably means you’ll need to crank up the difficulty settings. Once you’ve played a Diablo-like game, everything looks the same. Play this game for the action and gameplay, not the plot.
Overall, I highly recommend Warhammer: Chaosbane. Nearly all Diablo-like games have fundamental issues, but they’re not particularly terrible or distracting. The entertainment value, RPG system, and dark fantasy setting is more than enough to keep gamers engaged. You can purchase the enhanced Slayer’s Edition at most retailers.
Deathloop is an action RPG and first person shooter that's set in a retro time loop setting. It was a nominee for Game of the Year, but I fail to understand why this game received critical acclaim. The gameplay and upgrade system is very confusing. Trailers are deceptive because they show the protagonist performing a multitude of flamboyant actions and kills. It takes a really long time to reach those move sets and many players will never learn how to accomplish those combinations. Basically, Deathloop relies primarily on stealth gameplay because open combat probably won’t end well. I became frustrated with the time loop elements. The day starts over whenever the player character dies. After a while, it gets pretty old and repetitive. The story is forgettable and the graphics don’t seem like a next generation experience. Deathloop has great voice actors, but their performances weren’t enough to keep me hooked on such confusing and frustrating gameplay.
This game wasn’t for me, but I’m sure many players will enjoy it. Deathloop seems to be getting a lot of positive reception from both critics and gamers. However, it’s also one of 2021’s most divisive games. If you feel like playing Deathloop, keep your expectations realistic. I’m also seeing holiday sales, so it might be a good opportunity.
Tormented Souls is a survival horror game with influences from the original Silent Hill and Resident Evil games. Honestly, this game isn’t very good, but it has some charming elements. It’s similar to survival horror titles from the original PlayStation era. The animation is appropriate for this type of game, the inventory management is a step up from older horror games, and the fixed camera angles work really well.
However, this game also has a lot of problems. The story is downright bad and predictable, the map is useless, and the game isn’t particularly scary. It borrows the same environments from earlier PlayStation games, such as a hospital, mansion, and mausoleum. I suppose those locations are homages to popular horror games, but it just feels derivative and unoriginal. Tormented Souls also incorporates single use save points in the form of audio players. It means players can only save their progress in a given location once. That’s an obnoxious component from the original PlayStation era and it needed to be left in the past.
I certainly don’t recommend spending money on this game. Tormented Souls might be nostalgic for some gamers, but modern audiences won’t have an appreciation for this release and the execution was pretty weak.
Gamers who are looking for stealth adventure games could try out Aragami 2. It primarily focuses on stealth combat through sneaky traversal and magical abilities. Head on combat will usually lead to a quick death. Aragmi 2 was a disappointing release from the Fall 2021 schedule. The enemy AI, stealth mechanics, and overall gameplay is a bit clunky. Additionally, the missions are incredibly repetitive. The skill tree isn’t very interesting and the story is forgettable. 2021 was a competitive year for games and Aragami 2 fails to stand out. Stealth games are cool in terms of concept, but they rarely pan out.
Obviously, I don’t recommend spending money on this release, but you could try it on Xbox Game Pass.
Song of Horror is a survival horror game with some unique gameplay mechanics. Here’s another game with interesting ideas that don’t work out in practice. There’s no combat in this game, which shouldn’t be an issue, but the gameplay is very tedious and dull. Players must be careful with the characters because death is permanent. You must search for essential items and listen for activity behind each door. A lovecraftian monster is hunting down the characters, so listen for suspicious noise or whispering before entering any room.
This game might seem enticing, but it’s actually super frustrating and boring at the same time. Most of the time, the game is slow with very little activity. None of the characters are interesting and the story is pretty minimal. Seriously, I couldn’t tell you why a shadow monster is popping out of a music box and attacking the characters. The plot doesn’t provide any context. Multiple characters will probably die randomly because the creature can be difficult to avoid sometimes. Ultimately, your decisions don’t seem to make a difference. Most importantly, this game isn’t scary. It’s really dark, but the gameplay is more obnoxious than frightening.
So, I would say it’s a good idea to skip this game too. My backlog has many great releases, but some of them are disappointing.
That’s all for now! We’re almost done with 2021 and it’s been a really crazy year! Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates the holidays. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or other holidays, I hope you can find some time away from work and stress. Pretty soon, I’ll post my favorite games of 2021. Some time after New Year’s Day, I’ll post my thoughts about the 2021 film slate. No offense to filmmakers, but I thought most of the movies from this year were lousy. I just need to watch some of the late 2021 releases, such as The King’s Man, Eternals, and a few smaller films. Enjoy the rest of the year and I’ll be in touch right around New Year’s Day. Good night!
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