"The definitive version of a true modern classic. Steins;Gate presents a truly captivating and uncompromising storyline with exquisite characters, powerful themes and often heartbreaking choices to make."
"It's a beautiful, essential thing." - 10/10 review
What more can I say about Steins;Gate? It's a true modern classic, not just as a videogame or visual novel, but as a work of fiction and a story for the ages regardless of medium. The recent PlayStation Vita and PS3 release delivers the definitive version of this latter-day gem... except that, for true fans, it doesn't.
GAME briefly offered a special edition containing an art book, but Rice Digital are exclusively selling the El Psy Kongroo Edition, which contains a Metal Upa collectible and two pins in a presentation case as well as the aforementioned special edition in its entirety. They kindly sent us a copy to review, and I'm delighted to report that it's one of the most brilliantly-conceived and highly desirable special editions I've ever had the pleasure of covering.
Like the game itself, it's a class act, containing gorgeous replicas that actually mean something rather than the overblown, gaudy and ultimately meaningless nonsense that we're used to from most collector's editions.Click here to read more...
Steins;Gate is the best visual novel I've ever played.
Read. Experienced. Whatever. It's easy to get hung up on the parlance seeing as visual novels blur the line between books and videogames, reader and player, but it's also completely moot. Not only is Steins;Gate the best visual novel I've ever reviewed (sorry, Danganronpa), but this time-travelling course-correcting masterpiece is almost certainly the finest example of the genre to have ever released.
We already knew that when the PC translation released last year and now Steins;Gate has launched on PlayStation platforms. Does it still hold up? Can it still pack a punch?
You've read the strapline and this review is already shamefully late, so let's drop the pretence and discuss exactly why Steins;Gate is one of the truly essential games of 2015.Click here to read more...
Before we dive into our appraisal of Book Three, here’s our usual bit of housekeeping for our episodic reviews. If you haven’t already, be sure to get up to speed with our reviews for Dreamfall Chapters – Book One: Reborn and Dreamfall Chapters – Book Two: Rebels by hitting the links provided. As always with our episodic reviews, our score will be published once the season is finished, reflecting the game as a whole.
The first two Books have rocked our twin worlds with their huge environments, atmospheric world building, and expertly crafted narrative. Rebels in particular provided a run time to rival most episodic seasons and ended on a shocking cliffhanger. If anything, we’ve been spoilt rotten by Red Thread Games up until now, but as a result Book Three doesn’t quite hit the same marks as the previous instalments. Make no mistake, though – surprising revelations and long-awaited returns make Book Three an important episode, but it did come off more as a setup for the remainder of the story than anything else.
Click here to read more...
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy was one of my most anticipated games of the year.
Hailing from Experience Inc, the studio behind sensational and sexy dungeon crawler Demon Gaze, it presents a much darker and more interesting storyline than its raucous predecessor. Starting out in a literal cesspool, you'll join a secret organisation of mutant-hunting high schoolers battling to keep the city safe from a rising tide of horrors.
It's a fascinating premise full of complex themes, uncanny characters and creepy situations, a little like Persona meets Blade Runner by way of Tokyo Ghoul. A great excuse for some dungeon crawling. Unfortunately, seeing as Operation Abyss is actually a remake of the ancient Generation Xth trilogy, the story and characters are sometimes buried under some functional but deeply convoluted systems. What matters, then, is whether the dungeon crawling is strong enough to be worth digging back out.
Thankfully, it is.Click here to read more...
This is the end folks. Rocksteady's last Batman game. As we saw with Warner Montréal's Arkham Origins, you can't just ask another studio to copy the formula and come up with the goods. Wipe away those tears though and step into the world of Batman: Arkham Knight.
This final adventure sees Batman finally playing on home turf in the expansive Gotham City. A dream come true for gamers, but the Scarecrow wants to make it everyone's worst nightmare. He's been cooking up a small ocean of his trademark fear toxin to make a whole city lose its mind and tear itself apart.
Rather politely, because he only really wants to break Batman, he gave the citizens time to evacuate. All that remains on the streets of Gotham is Batman, a few allies, the cops and any surviving members of the Rogues Gallery and their legions of goons. Oh, and some chap called the Arkham Knight who has an army of mercs, hundreds of tanks and a personal burning desire to hunt down the Bat.
While we're sure Batman would be arrogant enough to think he could punch a hole through them all (and to be fair, he might), he's lucky enough for Lucius Fox to have finally entrusted him with the keys to the Batmobile. I've already gone into extensive detail about my opening impressions of the Batmobile in this feature article, but I'll give you a quick updated rundown.Click here to read more...
Tales From The Borderlands: Episode 3 - Catch A Ride makes a worrying first impression.
An attempt at rendering an all-out battle spotlights the clunky limitations of the engine, the voice acting is surprisingly unconvincing and badly mixed during the opening section, while a limp instant-fail action sequence crawls out of the woodwork. The first few minutes feel oddly rushed and to be honest I was concerned.
Was Tales From The Borderlands about to bottom out after two great episodes? Was this the tipping point? Thankfully, as it turns out, the shaky start is just a blip in another exceptional piece of interactive storytelling. All is forgiven as a choice, a death, a road trip and some fantastic new characters propel Rhys and Fiona into one of Telltale's best adventures yet.Click here to read more...
J-Stars Victory VS+ is the ultimate anime and manga crossover.
Where else can Shonen Jump royalty fight with or against each other in pitched combat? Where else can Monkey D. Luffy gomu gomu no bazooka Ichigo Kurosaki through a brick wall while Gintoki Sataka drives his moped straight into Vegeta? Where else can Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo and Koro-sensei gang up against Boa Hancock as Kenshiro winds up his Hundred Crack Fist?
Nowhere. J-Stars Victory VS+ is a real treat for Shonen Jump fans featuring dozens of characters both famous and obscure, but just as importantly, it's a fun and technically accomplished brawler too.
No matter what mode you play, and we'll get to that later, J-Stars Victory VS+ is based around madcap 2-on-2 battles in deliciously destructible 3D arenas.
You'll assemble a 2-man team from a giddying roster of manga greats, including fighters from One Piece (my personal favourite), Naruto Shippuden, Bleach, Hunter X Hunter, Assassination Classroom, Fist Of The North Star, Dragon Ball, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Chinyūki -Tarō to Yukai na Nakama-tachi, Dr. Slump, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Saint Seiya, Medaka Box, Toriko and loads more besides. Each team also gets to pick a support character that acts as a powerful special attack with a lengthy cooldown.Click here to read more...
Videogames have undoubtedly grown beyond toys into a bona fide art form and entertainment medium, but Yoshi's Woolly World reminds us that there's no shame in creating a wonderful toy. Beautifully crafted with love, innovation and attention to detail, it's a joy to play with - not just play.
Or in other words Yoshi's Woolly World is an absolute belter: one of the best platformers of recent years and the surprise hit of the summer. If you thought that Nintendo were going through the motions this year, think again.
Yoshi and his clan live a carefree existence in the titular Woolly World, a snuggly universe of cushions, yarn and soft furnishings that's a delight to behold. Unfortunately when a rogue Magikoopa unravels the knitted Yoshis into balls of yarn and scatters them across the land, it's up to our green hero to sally forth and save the day in an adventure that's as relaxing, challenging and hardcore as you want it to be.
Click here to read more...
Frankly, it's a surprise it's taken this long for the team at Traveller's Tales to get their hands on the Jurassic Park license. But on the plus side, it's meant they have managed to squeeze the brand new Jurassic World entry into the game alongside the original trilogy.
In fact, if you want to dive into the new movie straight away, you can after the prologue level. But if, like us, you love the original movies, you'll want to play through from the very start. By now, TT are seasoned pros at reproducing iconic moments from films into family-friendly games. They've had their work cut out for them though as the original movie is surprisingly violent, so the game has been heavily reimagined or cut. So nobody really dies, goat spines don't land on sunroofs and you certainly won't be seeing Samuel L. Jackson's severed arm flopping onto Laura Dern's shoulder. Hell, even Dennis Nedry has even been slimmed down (because Lego doesn't do fat). I'm surprised (disproportionately outraged) the electric fence scene has been completely cut though.
There's no beating around the bush. It's another Lego game, so don't expect any genuine innovations. Aside from enjoying the Lego games' established gameplay, your main reason for buying this should be a love for the source material. Expect the usual mix of platforming and smashing everything made of Lego in sight. Unlike real life, any problem in Lego games can be solved with wanton destruction and that's the status quo once again.Click here to read more...
A reliable sign you're playing an absorbing game is how it makes the time fly. I was constantly interrupted by my TV's two-hour auto-shutdown notification throughout my time with The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Geralt's adventures will cut through the days and nights so fast it'll shock you.
The Witcher III marks the series' debut on PlayStation and as such will be played by many gamers unfamiliar with the past games. There's no getting around the fact that you're going to be at a loss just diving in, I'd seriously advise reading a few wiki summaries of past events and brushing up on some of the main characters so you won't feel too left out.
A few hours into the game, you can replicate the important decisions Geralt may have made in The Witcher II via a series of questions. Again, I'd read a guide on what these choices actually mean, as the in-game conversation will mean nothing to new players. Here's the guide I used.
As you play through the game, character bios unlock and are updated throughout the adventure, which does help alleviate the crushing amounts of lore you're trying to catch up on. Don't be put off though; The Witcher III is all about new adventures, or more specifically, the ones you find naturally by exploring. There are extensive main quest missions, but the main meat of the game will be spent taking on hunting contracts or performing secondary quests for extra EXP or money.Click here to read more...
I really enjoyed Enemy Territory back in the day. It blended the excellent teamwork gameplay of its predecessor, Return To Castle Wolfenstein, with match-specific XP progression similar to that found in modern MOBAs. Hell, I’ll even state on record that I liked Brink, which built upon ET’s foundation and added in parkour traversal. The problem with the latter was that it was an unbalanced mess at launch, and by the time developers Splash Damage fixed the flaws it was already too late. The player exodus had happened and they weren’t coming back.
Not deterred by Brink’s failure and eager to try again, Splash Damage have taken yet another stab at the team-based shooter genre with Dirty Bomb – a free-to-play title with obvious influences from both ET and Brink, yet not quite hitting the mark of either. The end result is something that is reactive, fast and certainly fun when played with friends, but it clearly needs some refining. The Open Beta tag might call for some leniency, but with it quite clearly being a ‘soft launch’ (as Splash Damage and publisher Nexon are now charging for microtransactions) it’s time to decide if Dirty Bomb is worth sticking around for.Click here to read more...
Hatred commits a truly heinous videogame sin.
No, I'm not talking about its controversial premise. I find the idea of playing as an innocent-murdering psychopath distasteful, but by the same token I vigorously defended its right to exist. Games should be free to cover any subject or source material, so I vowed to return and review the finished product based on its worth as a game with as few preconceptions as possible.
I try to keep my promises, so here we are and we have to face up to one surprising fact. After all the controversy, all the cynical provocation and all the knee-jerk histrionic backlash, Hatred is... boring.
As mentioned, the premise is exceptionally grim. Playing as a trench coat-clad killer, we stalk through the New York suburbs armed to the teeth and aiming to kill every living human you find -- innocent civilian or not. That might sound edgy, but it gets tedious fast.Click here to read more...
Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser is a cheesy throwback. Setting out to parody the likes of Power Rangers, Getter Robo and Voltron, it's a loving homage to transforming robots and every localised Saturday Morning anime you've ever seen, complete with hilariously weak alien invasion premise, silly dialogue and arch characters.
I do of course mean all this as a glowing compliment. I'm delighted to report that Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser feels like a genuine example of the genre, perhaps a re-released version of a little-known anime tie-in. What matters, then, is whether it's also a good bullet hell shooter.
Things certainly start out well with four difficulty settings and native gamepad compatibility, throwing you straight into a left-to-right scrolling danmaku gauntlet. Waves of foes swoop in to destroy with your withering firepower,from small fighter craft to hulking mechs and even massive capital ships spewing out increasingly complex bullet patterns to weave through.
It's familiar and exhilarating bullet hell action with some fantastic bosses at the end of each stage (which are always fun to watch in the included replay functionality), but Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser doesn't do a huge amount new or exciting with its foes beyond their raw numbers.Click here to read more...
If ever a PS4 game deserves its own extensive strategy guide, it's Bloodborne. Sony's PS4 exclusive by From Software has rapidly become the PS4's most essential title, adored by fans of Demon's Souls and the Dark Souls series, as well as a fair few new fans, myself included.
I know what many of you are thinking, 'why do I need a guide book, when the internet is out there?' It's a fair point and one impossible to ignore during this review. But having browsed multiple online wikis and read the weighty 550 pages of this guide with official information gathered from the devs themselves, it's clear that this hardback guide is an essential purchase for fans of the game, whether they're just getting started, looking for ways to finish off those last few bosses, master the incredible depths of the Chalice Dungeons or discover new weapons and how to use them. No stone is left unturned.
In this extensive review, you'll find an overview of what you'll find in each of the game's thick chapters. We begin with the Training Manual, which is worth reading even if you've already sank a few dozen hours into the game, especially as the in-game tutorials are as bare bones as they come.Click here to read more...
The fact that Lord Of Magna: Maiden Heaven even exists, let alone made its way to the US and Europe, is nothing short of incredible.
As far as I can tell the original studio was shut down partway through development, but Marvelous Games managed to put the band back together long enough to finish, publish and localise it. Effectively Lord Of Magna is back from the dead and the result is a fun, cheeky and very interesting little thing indeed. Halfway between a strategy JRPG, romantic visual novel and ten-pin bowling, it's absolutely delightful.
Lord Of Magna revolves around the harem dynamic we've seen in everything from Sekirei to Omega Quintet. A hapless innkeeper with an unpronounceable name, Luchs Eduard, finds himself forced to scavenge for crystals to keep his business afloat. Encountering monsters instead of riches, he's saved by a mysterious Fairy Maiden and becomes her master via a strange bracelet. With a new purpose, Luchs (ugh, thank goodness that we can rename him) sets out to assemble six more Fairy Maidens, discover their true origins and learn the truth behind his family inn.
Oh, and he also puts them to work in the hotel to earn their keep, inspired by his enthusiastic yet slightly lascivious friend. Cue some light romance and a little bit of ecchi teasing as you grow to know the seven sisters through lighthearted banter and absolutely insane combat.Click here to read more...
Horizon Shift isn't just a great shoot'em up, it's a genuinely new shoot'em up.
Following a shaky last attempt, tiny British SHMUP specialist Flump Studios (try saying that five times quickly) are back with a vengeance. Lean, muscular and exceptionally hectic, Horizon Shift uses a simple yet revolutionary idea to blend Tempest, Space Invaders and bullet hell into something completely fresh and exciting. With so many 'me-too' attempts clogging up Steam's virtual shelves, it sticks out like my sore thumbs.
Speaking of which, it's also seriously tough in a satisfying technical kind of way. Hence why the review is a week late.
Click here to read more...
The announcement of this standalone expansion prequel to last year's excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order was an excellent surprise and the news that it was only going to cost about £15 was even better. Fast forward a few short weeks and you can pick up a copy for about a tenner. You're looking at the best bargain of 2015, folks.
While the majority of the last game was set in the alternative version of the 1960s where the Nazis won WWII, The Old Blood takes place towards the end of the war in the mid 40s. You're attempting to infiltrate Castle Wolfenstein, an enormous fortress built into the side of a mountain. The word 'imposing' doesn't really do it justice as you approach it via cable car.
I'll not ruin any of the main story beats for you, but the pace never slows down to mild crawl that occurred in the middle of The New Order and there's much less chatting, which is what we want really.Click here to read more...
Splatoon is fresh, messy, raucous and brilliant.
Swapping guns for paint, soldiers for squid and gritty grey authenticity for wild vibrant style, it's the best thing to happen to third-person shooting in quite some time and a game that only Nintendo could have delivered. Approaching the genre in a totally different way, it's full of radical new mechanics that are easy to learn yet change absolutely everything about how you play.
In fact, I can categorically state that Splatoon is the most fun I've had with a multiplayer shooter since Titanfall. Which is hardly surprising seeing as both games boast breathtaking new traversal methods, smooth polished mechanics and unique personality.
Unfortunately, they also share something else in common: they're a bit skinny at launch.
Click here to read more...
We’re now at the end of what is effectively the second act of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, with only two episodes of its 6-part run left to come. As such, you can get up to speed by reading our reviews for Episode 1: Iron From Ice, Episode Two: The Lost Lords and Episode 3: The Sword In The Darkness. As always with our episodic reviews, our score will be published once the season is finished, reflecting the game as a whole.
Throughout the previous three episodes, it’s been clear that Telltale have done a fine job of making their version of Westeros feel authentic, but there has been one particular issue. While players have been able to make some key decisions, they have been subtle shifts towards the larger goal or, perhaps more to the point, ensuring the survival of House Forrester. There’s been a lot of “one step forward, two steps back” in that regard, but that finally changes in Sons of Winter. The Forrester’s finally fight back, climbing the ladder of chaos in a bid to take back what was lost, all of which makes this latest episode the most action packed one so far.
Click here to read more...
Magicka 2 is many things. It's a raucous sequel that builds upon the original game's superb spellcasting system, allowing us to create our own insane elemental magic on the fly. It's a parody that pokes fun at every license under the sun, yet still retains its own unique identity. It's a cooperative romp and a single-screen multiplayer delight.
But most importantly of all, Magicka 2 is the simple childlike joy of "accidentally" setting your friends on fire... then getting away with it.
From the original Magicka through its numerous DLC packs and HellDivers, Arrowhead Game Studios have cultivated a deliciously unique brand of competitive-yet-cooperative mayhem. Pieces Interactive are clearly on the same wavelength. Magicka 2 jams friendly fire firmly on then hands you and your pals a book of devastating spells, many of which will freeze, soak, electrify, pummel and/or disintegrate friend and foe alike. The result: an unsubtle game, but quite possibly the most fun you can have with your robes on.Click here to read more...