The first game is Life is Strange an episodic choice focused narrative adventure game Not made by Telltale! You play as Max, a young photographer newly enrolled at the prestigious Blackwell Academy. You deal with the usual problems every student deals with. The homework, meeting a long-lost friend, gossip, a conspiracy involving a missing girl, bullies, time rewinding powers, wacky teachers, and a massive time tornado that’ll destroy the town in less than a week. You know the usual.
You see Max can rewind time (it’s never explained how) which allows for some unique puzzle solving and amusing interludes encouraging you to screw around with your powers. It also is one of the cleverer additions to this genre since it allows you to explore what these games do best, writing and dialogue. If you don’t like how a conversation played out, just rewind a few minutes and try different options. Unfortunately, the writing and dialogue leave a bit to be desired. In the game’s defense, it does deal with some weighty topics like suicide and euthanasia, with the seriousness the deserve.
In the game’s defense, it does deal with some weighty topics like suicide and euthanasia, with the seriousness they deserve. It has your usual paradox problems that every time travel story has but it explores the possibilities of it and alternate universes in a fascinating way which eventually leads to some creepy but interesting visuals near the end as time falls apart. And since time travel is always something I think about it did a decent job at showing the consequences of meddling in the time stream while at the same time showing why it would be so appealing and how it could play out in everyday life.
On the other hand, the dialogue was written by thirty something French people trying to write how they think American teenage girls in Oregon speak and it shows. The dialogue can veer from mostly realistic and even charming at points, to characters spouting slang that South Park was making fun of literally 20 years ago. Most of it coming from Chloe. Chloe is your long-lost best friend. She has a tragic back story and a good voice actress. She is also a thoroughly unpleasant, hypocritical human being who treats people like garbage, parks in not one but two handicap spots at the same time, and does stupid things such as not calling the police in a scene in episode 4 when any halfway intelligent human being would call the police.
This wouldn’t be so bad except you’re with her for most of the game and most of the major decisions involve her, but since I did not care for the character they meant nothing (except for the major choice near the beginning of episode 4. That was a tough one). In fairness, she has a good writing explaining why she acts the way she does and the writers wanted you to dislike her to an extent, but for me they did the job a bit too well and the ending was one of the least difficult things I ever had to do in one of these games. The ending itself is decent though if you have any sort of experience with time travel stories you can probably see it coming a mile away. When the game is good though, it can be a dark but engrossing story with a pretentious atmosphere that is its own and filled with some clever writing. But then that awful slang that not even the best voice actor can make sound natural creeps in and Chloe does something horrible or stupid. But if you can stomach characters like that there is more good stuff then bad.
Next is Killing Floor 2. An online shooter where you and online friends do battle with mutated zombified abominations in the ruined streets of London. You can customize your character and be anything from an assault rifle toting commando, healing grenade tossing medic, and even a pyromaniac that can obtain a microwave gun which is as awesome as it sounds. You fight the abominations in waves with a too brief interlude giving you a chance to upgrade weapons, armor, or just resupply as you try to stay alive before getting killed by the powerful boss zombies in the final rounds.
When you have a good group of players who know how to cooperate it can be an invigorating experience with a nice variety of weaponry and classes. When it’s a bad group, it can still be kind of hilarious seeing how quickly you are slaughtered by the undead hordes. Not my favored type of game and I probably won’t play much unless I can coordinate with my friends but for what it is it is well polished with a nice atmosphere and some dark humor. If you want the thrill of Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies mode without having to buy a COD game, then this might just be what you’re looking for.
Neon Chrome is a top down roguelike shooter where you control a series of soon to be corpses in a corrupt cyber punk city run by the evil Overseer. You see the Overseer can control anybody in the city through his evil VR system and it’s up to you to end his tyranny. The best aspect of the game is the set up since they establish that for whatever reason you have an evil VR system of your own and you control a random person in your creepy pod room to keep throwing at the waves of death bots, lasers, and soldiers at the Overseers disposal.
Along the way you collect money and upgrades which can be used to improve the overall status for all your pawns or regain any upgrades you might have liked that are lost whenever somebody dies. This dark set up goes a long way to distinguishing this game from your other synthenated soundtracked cyber punk dystopia games. Though it can be frustrating to lose a character you have invested so much in, that becomes part of the fun as you get to try new play styles and experiment with new builds in your seemingly futile quest. So if you like your top down shooters with a rogue like twist and don’t mind an 80s cyberpunk aesthetic then this might just be the game for you.
Spy Chameleon is a little puzzle stealth game where you play as a… well spy chameleon who must use his natural ability to blend into his environment to make it through a series of rooms to do everything from taking an incriminating photo to stealing valuable jewels. You’ll have to contend with search lights, cameras, security bots and more as the rooms start simply but very quickly become mazes of security requiring you to master your stealth skills, timing, and luck to get by. Some replayability is encouraged since you can complete time trials and gain items to unlock secret levels and new rooms.
Perhaps the coolest ability is that you can change your color with the Playstation’s shape buttons (the blue X turns you blue, red circle turns you red etc) this leads to some fun puzzles as you will have to change color multiple times in one room to avoid being spotted. Though overall it is a tad repetitive at points and doesn’t sit well for long playthroughs. But if you’re in the mood for a simple but engaging puzzle game that can be finished relatively quickly there are worse ways to pass the time.
WRC 5 is a rally racing game. Racing games are not my forte and this game did nothing to change that. The basic tutorials didn’t help since all it does is show you a demo of how to do something and then expects you to just know how to do it while yelling “left 4” or “right 2” at you and expecting you to know what that means. The first lesson required such precision just to move around a few corners with absolutely no room for error allowed that I was unable to even get past it. And my first trial mission didn’t fare much better.
I feel bad because the graphics look pretty good for a game that came out a few years ago on PS3 and there is an extensive amount of customization and use of real people and car brands that the people who know about these things would probably go nuts over. And again, I’ll admit that I’m not the best at this genre and maybe if I was I could get into it. That’s why I’ll be giving it a passing grade since I’ll admit it’s not the game it’s just me. But, let it be known that I gave the game a solid 15 minutes to change my mind and it failed to do that. 3/5
And the last game is Abyss Odyssey a side scrolling rouge like beat-em up. You start as Katrien but can play as a few other unique characters as you fight your way down to the titular abyss. You see, a great warlock fell asleep and he is so powerful that his nightmares have seeped into reality creating the constantly changing abyss and the monsters that dwell within it. However, it also creates his dreams such as Katrien who seeks to slay the warlock to bring peace to the world even at the cost of her own existence.
Off the bat the best thing about the game is its style. You’ll fight a variety of strange enemies from skeletons, bronze bulls, dear centaur women, weird bird men the works. There’s a strange beauty and style to the abyss which offsets the so-so graphics and makes it beautiful to look at. The combat seems simple but theres some depth as you control your sword with the right analog stick and can do high, middle and low attacks. Along with your parry’s, grabs, dodges and the occasional fireball
Since it’s a roguelike you will die a lot, but since you are just a dream you’ll come right back. But, when you first die a mortal human soldier will take your place and if you can get him to an altar he can revive you. This helps bring some steaks to your death if the thought of having to restart the dungeon again didn’t already provide some incentive. Though with some effort you should be able to beat it within a few hours, the fact that each playthrough will be completely different and that you can play with different characters with their own stories and abilities will help with the replayability. Though I didn’t particularly care to replay it that many times, the sheer style and unique art direction meant that I at least remembered it. 3.5/5