I mean, the title really says it all, right? But seriously, I know that it’s been a while since I last posted. If you follow me on Twitter (@Olivigarden, for those of you that don’t know…hooray, self-promotion!), you may have seen my tweets about how everything basically went to hell and back. Well, at this point in my prolific (HA) games journalism career, I feel that it’s probably in my best interests to keep my personal and professional (HAHAHA) lives separate for the most part. Unfortunately, certain events have a way of making it so that focusing on anything (including being a functional human being) is extremely difficult. I’ll avoid going into the gory details, but since February 11, I’ve been dealing with some…ahem…distressing personal circumstances. Don’t worry, nobody died. But, well, something did.
Alice: Madness Returns is a game that attempts to convey the realities of a descent into madness to the player, and in that regard, it is an unequivocal success. Unfortunately, that’s because it is one of the most maddening games that I’ve played recently. It’s a game that feels like it had so much effort poured into certain aspects, while others were left to waste away in irrelevance. And unfortunately, most of the latter were the elements that would make it a compelling and enjoyable game.
Well, it’s officially 2017 around the world. The start of a new year. Which means that everyone’s looking back on the last year and going, “Well that was a bit toss, wasn’t it?” That is, except for the people who are taking the opportunity to look back at their fond memories from the year past, namely when it comes to video games. There were countless fantastic games that got released last year, so many of which I desperately wanted to try out. Unfortunately, as a university student, there are two things that I severely lack in: money and time. As a result, it is incredibly common that I have to watch as new releases are hyped, released, and enjoyed by the masses, while waiting patiently for the day that they inevitably go on sale and I actually have the time to sit down with them. Some of these games have been sitting in my library for months, awaiting their eventual installation. Others are on my wishlist, hoping to one day be added to my ever-growing backlog. Whatever the case, these are (in no particular order) the games that I wish I had gotten to in 2016. You can also consider this to be a “To play in 2017” list, if that’s your thing. Either way, you’ve probably all already played all of these and think I’m a pleb for not looking at them yet.
Bedtime stories are whimsical, short adventures that can transport us (generally children, but hey, I don’t judge) to all sorts of magical places. It’s fitting, then, that A Story About My Uncle takes place within a bedtime story being told to a young girl by her father. It interleaves its simplistic story with some thoroughly enjoyable gameplay, and presents a pleasant tale of a young boy seeking out his missing uncle.
Short games present an interesting conundrum. On one hand, they tell a brief, concise story that can generally be experienced in one or two sittings without overstaying its welcome. On the other, they provide significantly less time for the player to actually get invested in the game, whether it’s the story, characters, or gameplay. In some games, this can work well; games like Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist immediately come to mind. However, others can feel like they’re over before they’ve even really begun; sorry, I don’t have some perfectly relevant example for this off the top of my head. Interestingly, though, Message Quest manages to fall somewhere in between, feeling like it’s both over too quickly and not soon enough.
Remember when you were in high school (or maybe elementary school) and you learned how to type? The teacher would sit everyone in the class down at a different computer, and you’d spend time learning about the “home row”, proper posture when sitting at the computer, and how typing with only two fingers on the keyboard at any given time is a horrible atrocity. (Author’s note: It’s not actually. You type how you want to type. Just never let me see it, because a part of me will die.) Well, if you remember that, congratulations! And if you don’t, then perhaps this review dates me, though whether it’s in a good way or a bad way is open for debate. Anyway, those that remember such typing classes and their associated programs may remember some of the games that were incorporated in. They were often simple affairs; tending to be very Space Invaders-esque, with various objects falling from the top of the screen requiring you to type different words to destroy, eat, or otherwise interact with them. Epistory: Typing Chronicles acts as a modern reimagining of such games, including more complex gameplay mechanics, a story and collectibles, and an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic.
Tomb Raider is one of the video game industry’s more venerated franchises. Since its inception in 1996, the series has seen many incarnations on many platforms, including home consoles, handhelds, PCs, and mobile devices. However, despite all the different versions of the game, Lara Croft (the protagonist) has remained mostly unchanged. Many are no doubt familiar with her classic outfit of a light-blue tank top and brown short shorts that are somehow classified as acceptable for the act of raiding tombs. Her appearance and role as the sexy, badass archaeologist gained her quite a reputation in the gaming world, though not necessarily for the best reasons. As a means of remedying this, Square Enix decided to take the Hollywood approach to the Tomb Raider franchise and give it a gritty, realistic reboot; the hope was to establish Lara as a strong-willed survivor who was defined more by her skills and personality than her looks. And thus, 2013’s Tomb Raider came to be.