Resident Evil: Revelations 2 looks a lot like an action game similar to its predecessors, but these looks are deceptive. The game goes beyond the typical ammo rationing of action-horror (giving you bullets when things are calm so that you can use them all at once in a big fight) to reach for something more subtle and interesting than that. This is a game that evokes fear through contrast.
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One of the most maddening and one of the coolest things about Bloodborne is that it just doesn’t care if you miss things. I’m not talking about optional dialogue trees or one-off cutscenes. I’m talking about entire mechanics, huge boss fights, or even the story itself. Bloodborne has depth and complexity, and on top of that is a layer of obscurity that requires you to examine the game from every angle. As a consequence, it’s easy to wander through Bloodborne with a constant fear of missing out.
The trick is realizing that you will miss out on things. There is just too much for anyone but the most incredibly dedicated player to learn and find on their own. Consequently, the game maintains a sense of mystery throughout all of its stages and each discovery feels a little more special. There are plenty of things that I’ve either partially or totally missed out on, but I’ve found that ultimately I’m okay with that.
Secret Ponchos had me at “Hello,” with “Hello” being the image above. I love Westerns (there just aren’t enough of them in video games), I love super stylized art, and I love a skeletal figure in a sombrero.
I didn’t really know what the game was about, but, boy, did I want to play it. For the uninitiated, Secret Ponchos is a multiplayer twin-stick shooter available on Steam and the Playstation 4 that is being developed by and has been published by Switchblade Monkeys (hell’s bells, I even love the development company’s name). Players take on the role of variously Western themed characters (there is a Billy the Kid type character, an army deserter, a skeletal figure in a sombrero, a female matador, etc.) and are dropped onto Western themed maps to shoot at each other and stuff. Well, there isn’t a lot more to it than shooting at each other to be honest.
The common refrain is that video games are played for their challenge. For a long time feeling the sense of accomplishment from beating a game is why many players would say that they played video games and that creating a challenge for the player is a game’s purpose. This is, of course, not true, and challenge should only be included when it is useful for the game’s own goals and what experience that it wishes to craft. Adventure games, for example, don’t test the reflexes or a player’s management skills, as other genres that might typically be seen as challenging do. What is challenge in an adventure game?
Typically, it is arriving at that “aha” moment. Reaching that moment requires the act of applying non-traditional keys to non-traditional doors. It may be attempting to apply an item to the environment or trying to give another character an item and receiving something in return. The challenge is in solving logic puzzles, most of which come in the form of environmental riddles. Traditionally, the problem with this approach to challenge has been in trying to balance these puzzles, both in terms of making them difficult enough to deliver that “aha” moment and also in not creating puzzles that are absurd enough to stall the player or make the player quit the game entirely.
It’s a style. It’s interactive comedy. It’s a game.
Even after playing it, it’s hard to even begin to describe Jazzpunk.