The games I’ve been playing have been piling up in my “to review” queue, so let’s flush that queue with some mini reviews! This is also a wonderful distraction from our collective impending doom at the hands of Hurricane Irma.
Ratchet and Clank (PS4): Damn near perfect remake. Looks absolutely drop-dead gorgeous (and somehow even better on a PS4 Pro), controls fantastically, has plenty of compelling, fun progression and exploration hooks, and is loaded with diverse, playful weapons and tools. It’s an absolute must-buy for any PS4 owner.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves (HD Collection, PS3): On my continuing quest to be better informed about raccoon video game history, I recently finished the main story in Sly 2. The game, like its predecessor, offers smooth framerates, tight controls, and somewhat-muddy cel-shaded graphics. This iteration adds more playable characters and attempts more one-off mechanics, mini-games, and scenarios, and really doesn’t seem much better for it. Each game world is now an “open” world, which really just adds padding time of having to walk to each mission and little else. There’s still unskippable cutscenes and tutorials, atrocious turret controls, unnecessary upgrades, and the artifact of PS2-era character-driven platformers. It’s sad that these early 3D games that pushed the envelope are going to fall apart over time, but I’m glad the HD collection exists. I know this game is old, and feels like it would have been the best thing out there when it first came out. Recommended for raccoons and video game historians.
Axiom Verge (PS4, Vita, XB1, Wii U, PC): A Metroid clone that is too much Metroid and not enough Super Metroid. The game stands on its own with a decent story, interesting world, and lots of diverse weaponry to track down and utilize, but it leans on too many of the outdated, hardcore mechanics and traditions of the original, NES Metroid. Environments are forgettable, bland, repetitive, and often indistinguishable. Character movement is slow, every enemy encounter can be deadly, but the game requires lots of mindless backtracking and aimless wandering. Death is very painful (and annoying) when traversal isn’t fun. It was more fun on subsequent playthroughs for trophy hunting, but it’s hard to recommend to anyone outside of die-hard retro Metroidvania enthusiasts.
Risk of Rain (PS4, Vita, PC): I was a little late to this party, but thanks to Toya and Riloh, our household got a bit addicted to this marvelous little rogue-like. The pixel-art style is fantastic (it’s still my MacBook’s background). The characters and power-ups offer an exciting and insane amount of customizable and randomized variation (maybe too much). But the music is perhaps the best part and had me humming for days after each hours-long play session (a game is somewhere between 10 and 60 minutes).