Charm is perhaps the biggest thing Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game - Complete Edition on Xbox has going for it. Unfortunately, the fighting isn’t quite as tight as it could be and occasionally lets down the wonderful music and great visuals.
The alpha of a game is always an interesting thing to see. It’s sort of like looking at a painting from far away. You can vaguely make out what it’s supposed to be but those small details haven’t come into frame yet. You assume they mean very little for the overall perception of the painting but - sometimes - they entirely skew it into something unrecognisable. A good alpha gives you something to look forward to, something to watch change over the coming year. A great alpha shows you exactly what you’re in for. Back 4 Blood does both.
In a way, the soundtrack for Katamari Damacy REROLL on Xbox is a pretty good interpretation of the game itself. It’s eclectic, fun, weird and charming but perhaps a little antiquated when looking at it now. With better technology, this could lead us to a great sequel, but for now it’s just a short, pleasant experience
The world of darkness is a fascinating one filled with dark entities, brutal backstabs and a surprising humanity underneath it all, as cheesy as that sounds. Vampire: The Masquerade - Shadows of New York’s story manages to grasp that well, with some great writing, but the short playtime and limited mechanics left me hungry for more.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain has set some very solid foundations. It is eerie, occasionally quite thorough thematically, and has some really good design decisions. Like porcelain, the end product has the opportunity to be pretty, thoughtful and beautiful, but taking it off the heat too early could damage the overall product.
For what it is trying to do, it is hard to fault Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on Xbox One for practically anything it does. It accurately and lovingly recreates the original games whilst adding tons of new content and ideas - it just perfects the formula.
Unfortunately, it seems the more of Marvel’s Avengers you play, the less likely you are to come away with an overall positive experience. The single player by itself might take you up to 10 hours but diminishing returns for the multiplayer aspects set in rather fast. The single player is Hulk: strong, fast and a surprise when you aren’t expecting it. The multiplayer is Bruce Banner: calculated, small, and has the potential to be something powerful but isn’t quite there yet.
Hypnospace Outlaw on Xbox One is so wonderfully put together, it’s hard to imagine anyone it wouldn’t make an impact on. If you have any interest in the early days of the internet, meta humour or just unique games, I strongly urge you to give this a go.
No Straight Roads is a love letter to the old school. From its rock versus electronic story to its gameplay and characters, this could fit in with any of the classics from the PS2 era and it's all the better for it. It doesn’t just appease this longing for the old, it entirely satiates it.
Beyond Enemy Lines 2 touts itself as a hardcore strategic shooter that requires patience and intelligence to make its way through. Whilst that idea is certainly an interesting one, it fails to deliver in almost all regards.
Ultimately, Hexagroove: Tactical DJ on Xbox One doesn’t feel fully contained in what it is. It tries to offer engaging gameplay and adaptive songs, but never really delivers either. When given the choice between the big bang ending or fade out, Hexagroove quietly fizzles away on the sidelines.
Naturally enough a beta is only a short snippet of the full game but the recent Marvel’s Avengers Beta on Xbox One came across as rather impressive, boasting decent visuals and exciting set pieces. Not everything is so smooth though with (understandable) glitches and some annoyances. But the big worry and the takeaway we need to talk about is found in the fundamental gameplay.
Whilst there are some issues with platforming, some annoying jokes and inconsistent level design, Helheim Hassle on Xbox One is a great example of how far Perfectly Paranormal have come as a team. It could realistically be seen as extra content with the formula Samuel set beforehand, but instead it adapts from it and grows. Helheim is just as wacky and strange as Manuel Samuel yet offers so much more to keep you playing.
From my time with Bite the Bullet on Xbox One, its charm and uniqueness was made clear, but the more traditional sides of its game design and combat ultimately let me down. The RPG systems are rather shallow and progression feels hollow throughout most of the game. The general level design, whilst pretty decent, does not reward exploration, and some of its systems don’t really matter that much to the overall experience.
Ultimately, Skater XL on Xbox One offers a vision of something that could be excellent in the future. It has a great but lonely atmosphere and downright revolutionary controls, but this is brought down by the sheer lack of content and mediocre performance. It is too messy to be able to call it technically good, but it is definitely a game that is worth keeping an eye on. As a full experience, you might be let down, yet as a demo of what it could become, it is very promising.
Neverwinter is thought of by many as the most in-depth Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG experience available on console. Free-to-play it delivers a world rich in lore, full of quests and containing enough gameplay hours to keep you busy for years to come. It's constantly evolving too - and that is never more true than with the launch of the recent Avernus expansion. We wanted to find out more about how Neverwinter and Avernus sets players up, and reached out to one of the Lead Designers on the game. Randy Mosiondz was more than happy to spare us some time.
I think it’s going to be very easy to misconstrue what it is that Ary and the Secret of Seasons really offers. It immediately offers a power fantasy of a young adventurer taking on the world and winning, before pulling that from underneath you as you explore what this game is. It offers a charming level of brightness and casts that aside as it tells a surprisingly mature tale. Needless to say, this won’t be a game summed up in a single paragraph.
Currently in Early Access on PC, Merge Games have announced the full release date for their teeny tiny open-world multiplayer survival game - Smalland: Survive the Wilds. And as they do so, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 versions are confirmed.