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: Cosmic Star Heroine

An RPG with retro aesthetics and an intricately strategic turn-based combat system. Recruit a diverse cast of teammates, explore sci-fi environments, and battle your way through uncovering and thwarting a sinister plot. The Sega Saturn-like visuals and music by HyperDuck SoundWorks are both appealing and put to good use, and the UI is carefully crafted to give you all the information you need to navigate battle without being overwhelming.

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Capsule Review: No Man's Sky

An exploration and survival game with building and space sim elements. Explore procedurally-generated alien worlds, scan the wildlife, and collect resources and artifacts. Craft technology and upgrades, build a base, and trade with aliens. Fight space pirates, command fleets of ships, and investigate the galaxy’s mysteries. It’s a very ambitious game that constantly gets in its own way.

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Capsule Review: Proteus

A short exploration game set on a procedurally-generated island with minimal interactivity. Walk around and look at pixelated landscapes, plants, and animals, the latter of which usually flee from your approach. Passing near certain stones will cause them to emit white lights and during the night phase of the day/night cycle you can find a circle of these lights which allows you to advance to the next season.

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Capsule Review: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

A cooperative puzzle game about defusing time bombs. One player (the “defuser”) can see and manipulate the bomb, while another (the “expert”) can read the manual that indicates how to defuse it. The players must communicate clearly and efficiently to correctly defuse the bomb before time runs out. The simple controls (and fact that the expert isn’t using a game system at all) make it approachable for inexperienced gamers and the asymmetric multiplayer means more players are likely to enjoy at least one of the available roles.

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Capsule Review: West of Loathing

An Old West-themed comedic RPG with monochrome stick-figure art and surprisingly good music and sound effects. Pick your class (Cow Puncher, Beanslinger, or Snake Oiler), get a horse and a “pardner” (a combat teammate who is also tied to a major sidequest), and head out west to seek your fortune. Along the way, run into various random encounters and episodic sidequests featuring combat, puzzles, and a lot of humor.

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Capsule Review: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

A sprawlingly-large open-world action RPG with a ton of things to do, all of which are loaded with backstory and world-building. The game’s aesthetic, fascinating world, deep lore, and mechanical variety combine to create a feeling I haven’t experienced since quitting World of Warcraft. Set in a universe created and fleshed out by fantasy writer R.

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Capsule Review: Picross 3D Round 2

A game featuring a modified three-dimensional variant of Picross. Instead of a grid made of squares to selectively fill in to reveal an image, the player is presented with a rectangular prism made of cubes to selectively chip away to reveal an object. The clues work differently as well - not every row or column has clues, and each clue is a single number indicating how many cubes should be left in that row or column.

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Capsule Review: Hexologic

A simple puzzle game in which you place dots in hex cells so that each line of hexes adds to the specified total. For example, a row of two hexes may be marked with a total of four which may mean each hex needs two dots or one needs three dots while the other needs one dot.

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Capsule Review: Mario Tennis Aces

The Switch installment of a long-running series of tennis games starring Super Mario characters. While the core tennis gameplay is quite solid, as one would expect from a Nintendo title that’s been iterating for several console generations, what little there is on top is a mixed bag and probably not enough to satisfy those who play alone.

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Capsule Review: Disaster Report

A game about surviving and escaping a collapsing city on an artificial island. Gameplay includes elements of 3D platformers, adventure games, survival games, and even dating sims. Gameplay is split into a series of areas you must navigate and survive. Debris, damaged buildings, and uneven terrain present obstacles to get around, while earthquake aftershocks and newly-falling debris present threats to avoid.

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