While I may not have added much content to the site this Summer, I sure played a hell of a lot of games. Like the rest of the world, I found myself deeply invested in both Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3, but I also spread a lot of love amonst the indie downloadable titles of the Summer, namely Rocket League, Beyond Eyes, Submerged, Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture, and King’s Quest. It was a summer of strong variation in theme and tone. In truth, it was one of the most refreshing summers of gaming I have had in years. To keep from being long winded, I thought it would be worthwhile to give a simple, 100 word mini-review to each game, quickly summarizing my thoughts and impressions in a concise little package. Enjoy!
Rocket League (PC, PS4)
Rocket League is unadulterated fun. In many ways, it is the video game as concept broken down into its purest form. Simple in its mechanics, the concept of soccer playing cars works due to its marriage of chaos with tightly honed controls. It is strong enough in its basic gameplay to bring the non-sports gaming crowd into its highly competitive multiplayer ecosystem. Similar to last year’s Titanfall, Rocket League will provide easy and addictive gaming to more casual players while supply the hardcore with some of the most thrilling and challenging experiences of the year.
Beyond Eyes (PC, Xbox One)
I wanted to love Beyond Eyes. It’s premise is incredibly intriguing, a young girl who lost her eyesight due to an accident, is forced out of her comfort zone into a world where only her other senses can guide her journey. Like the genius PS3 game The Unfinished Swan, Beyond Eyes gives you a blank white canvas that you colour (beautifully may I add) as you touch and hear the world around you. It is a beautiful use of traditional game mechanics to generate empathy toward debilitating conditions so few of us ever have to face. If only the ending was worth the journey.
Submerged (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Submerged foregoes all acts of violence for a game hook built around exploration. Searching the dead remains of skyscrapers in a submerged city, you climb and clamber your way through multiple buildings to find goods necessary to keep your ailing brother alive while also learning the city’s many secrets. Like Beyond Eyes, the concept is very fascinating, but the execution falls so short of a good game. For lack of a better word, the game is just downright boring. There is little to no personality at all to the areas you explore, and it is a completely missed opportunity.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4)
Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture is a beautiful game, this cannot be said enough, but it is a beautiful game plagued with a host of issues. First and foremost is the obvious slow speed at which your character moves. Movement is such a huge problem with the game. I can only think of two reasons why they made this choice: a) they were trying to pad its relatively short length, or b) they were so in love with their environments that they felt the need to force their players to crawl from location to location so that they can stare in awe at every little pixel. Add to that a lack of sense of purpose to your journey throughout and you have a game that is almost all style over substance.
King’s Quest (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
This was unexpected. I could never have predicted at the beginning of the year that one of my favourite games of the year thus far would be an episodic take on the old PC Adventure series King’s Quest. The game won me over almost immediately with its humour and general sense of joy that permeates throughout. It is not deep at all, but it doesn’t need to be. It is such a positive experience filled with wonderful characters and some of the sharpest writing this side of Portal. If you need a pallet cleanser from the standard shooter, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.
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