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: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

A puzzle platformer where you simultaneously control two brothers who must work together to navigate the environment and achieve goals. It isn’t perfect - there are some learn-by-dying portions and the achievement design is awful - but it’s really interesting and there isn’t anything else quite like it. It’s got dialog-free characterization, beautiful scenery and music, powerful atmosphere, and unique mechanics, some of which are actually used to convey story.

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Capsule Review: BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

A rhythm platformer like its predecessor. Your character runs automatically, you avoid obstacles and collect gold by jumping, sliding, kicking or blocking at the right time, and your actions affect the music. It expands on the original in several ways - the game is much prettier and has a bunch of characters and skins to unlock, there are more levels and many of them have branching paths, and most importantly there are now optional mid-level checkpoints.

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Capsule Review: BIT.TRIP RUNNER

A rhythm platformer with an Atari 2600-inspired aesthetic. Your character runs automatically, you avoid obstacles and collect gold by jumping, sliding, kicking or blocking at the right time, and your actions affect the music. It’s really good at creating flow, and to avoid breaking that flow, messing up causes the level to immediately restart.

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Capsule Review: DuckTales: Remastered

A 2D platformer that’s a remake of the NES original. It’s lovingly-rendered nostalgia that holds up pretty well, with gorgeous character animation, beautiful soundtrack, and tight gameplay as you explore levels looking for treasure. A single play-through is two to three hours or so. The intro and finale levels, which were added for the remake, aren’t as well-designed as the original levels, but those are all still there and quite fun.

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Capsule Review: SteamWorld Dig

A 2D mining and platform game with Metroidvania elements and a lightweight plot. You dig up ores to sell, find and buy upgrades and new abilities, and periodically have platform challenges and a boss fight or two. There’s maybe a smidgen too much resource management, as your flashlight has a limited timer that resets when you exit the mine, and buying ladders or teleporters back to the surface uses the same finite resources used for upgrades, though there’s enough that it’s not really a problem.

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Capsule Review: Super Meat Boy

A precision platformer with incredibly tight controls and jump physics. It feels really good to play - especially since the devs focused on stripping away frustration while still presenting a high level of challenge. There’s no limited lives (outside of a few bonus levels), respawn is instant, and the levels are small enough that the goal is always visible.

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Capsule Review: Thomas Was Alone

A 2D puzzle platformer with strong characterization that creates a lot of empathy, despite the cast consisting entirely of colored rectangles. This feat is accomplished through quite good narration of pretty decent writing, paired with evocative visuals and an incredible soundtrack. Some of the mechanics support the narration, though they never really reveal anything beyond it, and mostly just present competent puzzle platforming.

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Capsule Review: You Must Build A Boat

Like its predecessor 10,000,000, a match-3 game with endless runner and RPG elements, where obstacles and enemies must be overcome by matching the right kinds of tiles, and other tiles grant resources that can be used to purchase upgrades between runs. But there’s a lot more spectacle and complexity going on between runs - you’re expanding your boat, recruiting allies and monsters, traveling between different areas with different enemies and different bonuses and penalties active in the dungeons.

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Capsule Review: The Swapper

An intriguing puzzle platformer that captures the feel of a Metroidvania but without mandatory backtracking, since every puzzle is solvable when you first encounter it. You don’t gain new powers - you learn new applications, though the game doesn’t provide much scaffolding to help you figure them out. The trophy design is terrible (there’s one each for ten impossibly-hidden text logs that add basically nothing to the story) and the game would have been far less frustrating with an undo or brief rewind function.

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