Some people really loved Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. I didn’t, and a lot of my dislike stemmed from what I saw as bad design. This is a game that does everything it can to hinder your consumption of its story, even though its story was the only thing of interest to its players. As a first-person walker, Rapture is a story-driven game in a story-driven genre that fumbles every aspect of storytelling. I hated playing it so much that I think that hate has seeped into my interpretation of its themes. It’s a game that is stuck in my mind not because it’s so good, but because it seems, to me, to be one of the most cynical and nihilistic games ever made, one that embraces the awfulness of humanity and celebrates our untimely end.
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Prune is an iOS game about trimming and shaping a bonsai tree as it grows, angling it out of the shade and into the sun, so that it can bloom. It’s a simple premise that gets wonderfully tricky at times, with your tree twisting around obstacles like a snake. What’s even more wonderful, though, is the wordless, visual storytelling that emphasizes hope, life, and the beauty of little victories against overwhelming darkness.
Some time ago I wrote a post praising Ubisoft for its dedication to climbing in the Assassin’s Creed games and Grow Home. I complained out loud that the grappling hook set to be introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was just a concession to gamers who want to speed through an open world as fast as possible, treating the space as an obstacle to be passed rather than as an environment to be appreciated. Thankfully, that’s not the case. As it turns out, the grappling hook is really pretty awesome.
Driveclub, a Playstation exclusive racing game, is a gorgeous looking game. I only played the free version available to PSN subscribers, which locks out a lot of content, but the one track that is available was more than enough to secure it the tentative title of “Best Looking Racing Game That I’ve Ever Seen.” But after completing that track, one whole race, I turned the game off with no desire to play it again. This decision was based on a tunnel featured on that track and the game’s insistence on creating a realistic world, complete with realistic eye adaptation effects (that is, the ability of the eye to adjust to various levels of darkness and light).
I like my racing games simple. I want to drive fast and flashy cars without having to worry too much about the physics of driving at 100+ miles per hour, I want to ram said fast and flashy cars into each other without being docked points, and I want to be rewarded for winning with even faster and flashier cars. All of which is to say that I’ve been a fan of the Need for Speed series for several years now, as it’s a racing series that has always traded on being fast, flashy, and relatively simple. While I’ve complained about the various games several times over the years, I’ve always kept playing them because they’re always genuinely fun in a way that few racing games are nowadays. 2015’s Need for Speed is no different is no in that regard.