Reviews

Reviews of the games we play, aiming to quickly encapsulate the game’s essence and quirks. Most games have an audience; our goal is for the review to make it clear to you whether you are part of a game’s audience - even if we aren’t.

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Capsule Review: Contrast

A noir-styled puzzle platformer in which you play as a mysterious woman with the ability to interact with shadows. By approaching well-lit surfaces, you can merge with your shadow and use other shadows as platforms to reach otherwise unreachable areas. This central gimmick combines with a few other mechanics (such as the ability to carry objects into the shadows and resposition light sources to move and resize shadows) to enable a series of platforming challenges and puzzles that you solve in order to help a little girl save her family.

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Capsule Review: Cat Quest

A cute and simple action RPG set in a world populated by anthropomorphic cats. Wander around a 2D Zelda-like overworld getting into quick fights with randomly-spawning enemies, descending into mini-dungeons and clearing them of enemies, and doing quests for NPCs (that usually involve killing particular enemies). The story is light and serviceable if not particularly memorable, leaving the focus squarely on combat.

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Capsule Review: Kero Blaster

A retro-style pixel art 2D platformer and shooter. Jump and shoot your way through seven levels, each of which is an obstacle course of enemies ending in a boss fight (sometimes with a miniboss in the middle). While there are a few platforming challenges, the emphasis is firmly on combat - which is good, since your slow floaty jumps make precision difficult.

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Capsule Review: The Sims 4

A simulation game in which you create and control or observe the lives of virtual humans (“Sims”) in a simplified version of the modern Western world. Sims can learn skills, make friends and enemies, start families and have children, go to school and get jobs, engage in various hobbies, and more - either under their own autonomous decision-making or under the direct control of the player.

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Capsule Review: Quarantine Circular

A conversational game about first contact with an alien race and the ramifications for humanity’s chances of survival. Play control rotates between a few humans and even the alien, and each has their own goals to accomplish mainly through dialog choices. The game is a semi-sequel to Subsurface Circular with a similar format and apparently set in the same world, but they stand separately and can be played in any order.

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Capsule Review: Car Quest

A 3D collectathon platformer where the player character happens to be a car. The simple gameplay and story, vaporwave-like visuals, and relaxed soundtrack suggest the game is intended to be a chill experience, but lack of polish and backtracking-heavy design make it increasingly frustrating as the map opens up. A car-based platformer is something I’ve wanted ever since Jim Sterling asked why 3D Sonic games didn’t use driving controls in 2011, but Car Quest doesn’t take full advantage of the premise.

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Capsule Review: Night in the Woods

A character-driven narrative mystery game with occasional platform/rhythm/adventure game elements. Play as Mae, twenty-year-old college dropout returning to her hometown of Possum Springs and reuniting with her family and friends and confronting how things have changed. Gameplay is mostly a matter of exploring the town, talking to inhabitants and passers-through, and deciding which friend to spend the evening with on each day.

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Capsule Review: Go Vacation

A sports minigame collection set in an island resort. Activities range widely from table hockey to skydiving to playing a glass harp, connected by a surprisingly rich hub world to explore and featuring a surprising amount of customization in the form of outfits, vehicle skins, a variety of dogs that can follow you around, and a villa for the player to lay out and furnish.

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Capsule Review: Dust: An Elysian Tail

A 2D action RPG Metroidvania that feels like it’s set in an animated movie, because it basically is. Play as the amnesiac Dust exploring varied environments and fighting monsters to find answers and help people out along the way. While not everyone likes the art style (which is somewhere between Vanillaware and The Secret of NIMH) I found it beautiful.

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Capsule Review: Kamiko

A short and simple retro-styled game that feels like an essentialized homage to Zelda dungeons. As any of three shrine maidens, progress through a series of four levels defeating enemies and solving simple puzzles to reach and cleanse four gates which also act as save points. Once you’ve cleansed all four, fight a boss and proceed to the next level.

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