Lake (Review)

Developer: Gamious
Publisher: Gamious, Whitethorn Games
Available On: PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S
Reviewed on Xbox Series

Every now and then it’s important to slow down and catch your breath. Life can feel like a constant push to work harder and play your part in a never-ending competition of success, which is probably why so many people never give themselves time to relax and recover. What makes Lake such an impactful experience is that it understands this push and pull and delivers a charming and meaningful story about work-life balance, resulting in one of the most stress-free indie titles in recent memory.

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Days Gone (Review)

Developer: Bend Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Available On: PC & PS4

PS4 version reviewed on PS5

Although it may seem tempting to roll your eyes at yet another zombie video game, Days Gone has more than a few tricks up its sleeve to give it its own identity. Inspired by shows like The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy, Days Gone presents a dark and twisted world where infected hordes of zombies roam the land, the dwindling remains of society form sheltered communities, and despondent biker gangs take to the open road as restless drifters. While none of these concepts are original in and of themselves, Days Gone meshes them into a (mostly) cohesive experience that’s well worth seeing through to the end.

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Halo Infinite (Review)

Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Available On: PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S
Reviewed on Xbox Series S

I can’t think of any game that had a more surprising turnaround in 2021 than Halo Infinite. Originally intended to be a launch title for the new Xbox consoles late last year, the first gameplay reveal of Halo Infinite left a lot of fans underwhelmed in the visual fidelity and performance of the game, resulting in a showing that became a meme (shoutout to Craig the Brute) and led to a year-long delay to address the concerns. Now, after releasing a few weeks ago and having spent plenty of time finishing the campaign and diving into the multiplayer, it’s clear that the delay was the right call, because Halo Infinite is by far the most fun and exciting the series has been in over a decade.

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Firewatch (Review)

Developer: Campo Santo
Publisher: Campo Santo and Panic Inc.
Available On: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Xbox One version reviewed on Xbox Series S

Firewatch is one of the most deceptive games I’ve played in years. It presents itself as a hiking simulator set in the forests and mountains of Wyoming, but as it slowly pulls back the veil to reveal its true nature, it becomes increasingly clear that the breathtaking scenery hides a dark secret.

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The Matrix Awakens (Review)

Developer: Epic Games and The Coalition
Publisher: Epic Games
Available On: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S
Reviewed on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S

Okay, I’m well aware this is a weird one to review, but I’m still going to do it. The Matrix Awakens is a free tech demo marketed as “An Unreal Engine 5 Experience” for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, so it’s not technically a game. Regardless, there’s a ton to unpack here and while the experience is brief, it’s also an incredibly eye-opening look at the near future of video games, especially in terms of open-world settings.

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The Little Acre (Review)

Developer: Pewter Game Studios
Publisher: Pewter Game Studios
Available On: PC, Mobile, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

Xbox One version reviewed on Xbox Series S

The adventure genre is notorious for being obtuse, but The Little Acre serves as a wonderful example of how to challenge decades of intimidating design. Instead of relying on unintuitive puzzles and pixel hunting madness, Pewter Game Studios have streamlined the genre to craft a short 2-hour experience that briskly moves you along and delivers a heartwarming story full of humor and heart, resulting in one of the most welcoming and memorable entries in the genre of the last decade.

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Kid A Mnesia Exhibition (Review)

Developer: Arbitrarily Good Productions, Namethemachine
Publisher: Epic Games
Available On: PC and PlayStation 5
Reviewed on PlayStation 5

The Kid A Mnesia Exhibition is a free interactive art show centered around two of the rock band Radiohead’s early albums: 2000’s “Kid A” and 2001’s “Amnesiac”. Designed to be a nightmarish introspective of two of the band’s most popular albums, the Exhibition is a sprawling labyrinth of garbled graffiti, horrifying demonic figures, and transcendental audio tracks that combine to form one of the most surprising and original experiences of the year, pushing the boundaries of what a video game can be.

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LEGO Batman (Review)

Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Available On: PC, DS, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, and Xbox 360
Xbox 360 version reviewed on Xbox Series S

As much as I love complex, emotionally nuanced, and thought provoking works of art, I also love the simple joy of smashing things to pieces in LEGO games. I’ve played virtually every game Traveller’s Tales have crafted starring everyone’s favorite interlocking brick system, so to say I’m a fan of this studio and their work is a bit of an understatement. I first played LEGO Batman when it launched in 2008, but when I saw it featured in Xbox’s Games With Gold service earlier this year, I quickly claimed it so I could replay it and write a review, since that’s what I do now. While returning to this game has undoubtedly been a rush of nostalgia, there’s also a few aspects that haven’t aged nearly as well as they could have.

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I Played Three Hours of Elden Ring

The Elden Ring “technical test” took place this weekend and gave select players a handful of opportunities to spend some hands-on time with FromSoftware’s upcoming open-world RPG. I was thankfully able to take part in this test and filled in an early time slot on Sunday morning (I had to wake up at 5:30 A.M.) for the PlayStation 5 version of the game and found myself absolutely infatuated by this stunning new world. While I was already intrigued by the possibilities of what this new open direction could mean for this style of game, playing Elden Ring for a few short hours has now made it one of my most highly anticipated games for 2022.

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