Equipped with nothing but wit and courage, players slowly descend into a world inhabited by avian folk and seemingly deadly furniture monsters in the puzzle-adventure game Creaks.<br>Amanita Design

Fantasy puzzler Creaks explores the world behind your bedroom walls

There is a world behind your bedroom walls waiting to be discovered — a place of strange sights and dangers. That’s the premise of Creaks, a lusciously animated game that takes one of the great primordial fears of childhood and runs with it.

Flame-throwing, air-bending battle royale arrives with Spellbreak

Don’t look now, but we’re surrounded by battles royale. The last-man-standing formula has been regurgitated over and over again in countless attempts to create the next Fortnite, the next worldwide phenomenon, the next holy grail in online gaming.

Take or leave the fringe features, but the core of Madden 21 still feels great

Lining up under center and taking a snap in Madden 21 for the first time in a long time in the long-running NFL sim series is an eye-opening experience, particularly for those of us who grew up with this video game franchise over many years (and many consoles) of our youth.


Reagan’s role in Black Ops: Cold War primed to stir up controversy amid election season

It’s an election year, and once again we’re hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan these days. Here he is, introduced in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series with the same grandeur and aplomb as actor Giancarlo Esposito’s reveal in Far Cry 5.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a delightful take on battle royale

I don’t normally laugh when I die in a video game. Usually, my untimely demise is met with frustration. But in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, I’m left in stitches whenever my poor jelly bean-shaped character is bonked by an aggressively circling hammer, or trampled by a stampede of players. With each failure, I can’t help but appreciate the ridiculous situation and the wholesome experience. I quickly queue up another match to join the turbulent fun once more.

With Origami King, Paper Mario series leaves RPG fans behind

Let’s get this out of the way first. The latest Paper Mario isn’t a role-playing game. It’s a puzzle adventure game. It’s not a game where you gain experience points and gather loot for new gear. It doesn’t resemble Final Fantasy. It’s a Toad joke book.

Rich characters, stunning visuals propel Ghost of Tsushima

Though Ghost of Tsushima’s charismatic characters and intricate combat are a significant draw, what first kindled my admiration for the new open-world RPG set in 13th century Japan is its respect for poetry.

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  • More to explore: Isle of Armor expansion outshines base game

    The Isle of Armor expansion is the first piece of downloadable content (DLC) to drop for the Switch era of Pokemon. It features the titular isle and a new legendary monster, Kubfu, as well as more than 100 other creatures, including several returning favorites. Most impressively, the new content is all Wild Area, and it feels more cohesive and true to the world than the Wild Areas in the base game. For one, the desert isn’t just a patch of sand in the middle of a valley. The erratic weather system is also gone, replaced with distinct named areas with their own weather patterns, such as the Forest of Focus and Challenge Beach.

  • Little Orpheus: A cheeky homage to the golden age of science fiction

    Little Orpheus is quite a departure for the small British development team The Chinese Room. Rather than tackling weighty themes like remorse and death, the game channels the spirit of mid-20th century sci-fi and matinee adventures to spin an outlandish tale, full of vim, about a cosmonaut who travels to the center of the Earth. Divided into eight episodes, roughly a half-hour each, Little Orpheus is suited for gaming on the go.

  • Medieval mayhem ensues as Ancestors Legacy marks return of strategy games to consoles

    When considering where to start with Ancestors Legacy, I thought about the results of my DNA test. If I wanted to dive into my ancestors’ legacy, I figured I should start with the Anglo-Saxons. After all, they provided 48% of my genes.

  • Clubhouse Games for the Nintendo Switch has something for everyone

    Leveraging the versatility of the Joy-Con and the system’s touch screen, the developers at Agenda have programmed 51 fine-tuned games plus a rudimentary piano for players. The roster is a mix of card games, board games, toy-based curiosities and other pastimes.

  • Shark RPG’s clumsy controls diminish Maneater hype of being the apex predator

    In this open-world shaRkPG — that’s publisher Tripwire Interactive’s reference, not mine — players take on the role of a female bull shark.

  • The 3D remake of Trials of Mana helps novices get acquainted with RPG basics

    Role-playing games can be intimidating. They involve all this math, stats and different mechanics to memorize and track. Enemies might explode into a treasure trove of new items with benefits harder to read than your insurance policy.

  • Players flock to download Minecraft’s Education Edition, offered for free since March

    With schools closed and many a parent thrust into the difficult role of managing a job, a household and a child’s education, here’s one unexpected bit of positive news to emerge from the coronavirus outbreak: Video games are good for your brain. Well, some games, at least.

  • Move through a wild simulated ecosystem by solving puzzles in dreamlike Paper Beast

    Perhaps it was when I unspooled tape from an old reel-to-reel player and created a beast out of its ribbons, or maybe it was when I saw a tree sprout hot air balloons. It also could have been when I watched an elephant lead a menagerie in an underwater procession. Each is among the possibilities for the moment I decided that Paper Beast should be counted among the handful of truly great games available on PlayStation VR.

  • Five indie games for Nintendo Switch to play while you’re stuck at home

    In this period of social distancing, many of us have found more time to play video games. Maybe you recently purchased a Nintendo Switch for just this reason, or maybe you’ve already had your console for years. Regardless, there’s more to the Switch than just Mario or Animal Crossing’s anthropomorphic tanuki. There are countless games on the Nintendo Store created as passion projects by independent developers — indies for short.

  • Game review

    Wastelanders propels Fallout 76 with addition of NPCs, more activities

    With the advent of COVID-19, the postapocalyptic world of Fallout 76 seems much less alien. As I don a hazmat suit to wander the depopulated landscape of West Virginia to search for essential supplies and deal with unexpected creatures, I get a feeling of deja vu. Only a day before, I was wearing a face mask while scouring the depopulated shopping centers of Northern Virginia for toilet paper and removing a snake from our front steps. The only differences: Fallout features more gunplay — and more available toilet paper.

  • Game review: Resident Evil 3 has superb graphics, good level design, but it’s still the zombie apocalypse

    I’m typically numb to the cultural fixation with zombies. One can see only so many instances of brain munching and exposed entrails before the power to shock begins to dim. That said, when the Resident Evil series is at its best I can ignore how cliche the whole zombie-killing enterprise is.

  • Doom Eternal staves off another demonic attack with more content, crushingly hard difficulty level

    Most of the time when playing Doom Eternal, I hover between life and death. During those moments, I am both predator and prey. The lurid demands of the game have provided some measure of escape for me over the past few days.

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons has the resources to please even hard-core gamers

    If Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the hottest games around, Nintendo can probably thank COVID-19. The game was released just as restrictions were starting in my area. When I went to pick up a copy, all that was left was downloadable code — not my preference for a game on Nintendo’s Switch, since the console has relatively little memory for game storage. I soon discovered that Switches were even more difficult to find than physical copies of Animal Crossing.

  • Hand-drawn visuals, dream-like puzzles define point-and-click game Luna

    Developed by a small team of four people, Luna The Shadow Dust is an enchanting point-and click adventure that reminded me of the old “let me just get to the next screen” impulse. From the start, its beautiful hand-drawn visuals, dreamlike puzzles and mysterious storyline — which unfolds without a word of dialogue — drew me in and held my interest until the credits. Perhaps not since “Forgotton Anne” has a game so skillfully adopted the texture of animated films in its moment-to-moment gameplay.

  • '7th Sector': An inspired sci-fi game from the point of view of a spark

    Although it has its stealth and action moments, at its heart "7th Sector" is a challenging puzzle game that will occasionally tap into your math or logic skills, or, if you’re like me, send you scurrying to the internet for answers.

  • Did Patrick Mahomes end the 'Madden Curse'? The journalist who coined the term says no

    The Madden Curse didn’t bear that name when it claimed its first victim. Shortly after gracing the European cover of Madden NFL 99, Garrison Hearst broke his ankle. In the years to come, Hearst would be followed by a slew of football players facing injuries and disappointing performances the season after appearing on the game franchise’s cover.

  • Kind Words is a bright spot in a dark world

    For many, video games are an escape or respite from day-to-day problems, a way to absorb yourself in a virtual world. Kind Words, a game about sending positive messages to strangers, isn’t just a safe haven for players, but also an escape for its creators.

  • 5 titles you can feel good about buying for children

    I love my child more than anything in the world, but her taste in video games leaves a lot of room for improvement. Of course, that’s partly the old man in me that considers the things I liked growing up to be better than the things kids enjoy today. Even with that understanding of my bias, I still look at the games my kid plays and cringe.

  • Nintendo Tokyo is a paradise for gamers and anime fans

    Fans of anime and video games — especially franchises that fall under the Nintendo umbrella — are making pilgrimages to the sixth floor of the newly opened Shibuya Parco building, site of Nintendo Tokyo.

  • PlayStation VR roundup: Stardust Odyssey, Audica highlight holiday offerings

    PlayStation VR is still going strong going in its fourth year. The peripheral has seen a fair amount of great games since then developers get a grasp of the maturing medium and create higher-quality experiences.

  • Jedi: Fallen Order’s rich, immersive story marred by technical issues

    As a Star Wars fan, I always wondered why it was so easy for the Empire to simultaneously wipe out nearly the entire Jedi order. After all, these Force users are superpowered beings, capable of moving objects with their will or mind-controlling the average stormtrooper. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has helped clear up that mystery. Not every Jedi is Yoda. Some Jedi just suck. I am one of them.

  • Death Stranding is the postapocalyptic Oregon Trail of today’s gaming

    Look up the word “enigma” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Death Stranding. Since it was revealed in 2016, the game raised more questions than answers. The project seemed like an amalgamation of random images with gameplay that was equally as mysterious.

  • ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ is Nintendo’s bid to slay the fitness dragon

    Early in Ring Fit Adventure, a talking, virtual Pilates-like ring tells you that your “glistening sweat” is beautiful. Your opinion of such a phrase — sorta cute, kinda funny or infuriating — might reflect how you will feel about Nintendo’s latest bid to enter the fitness and tech market.

  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 scares up fall fun

    Mario may be the most recognizable mascot in gaming but I’ve long been partial to his brother Luigi, probably because he seems like the more conflicted of the two. Whereas Mario is short, round and confident, Luigi is lanky and bumbling — qualities dear to my heart. Yet, despite my affinity for the younger brother, I haven’t settled my thumbs around a Luigi’s Mansion game until recently.

  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s terrorism scenes detract from great online package

    Call of Duty Modern Warfare has returned with a vengeance. It’s been eight years since the release of Modern Warfare 3. Since then, a new console generation has boosted gameplay and graphics capabilities. And the real-world war against terrorism has morphed into something even more sinister. That allows developers at Infinity Ward to deliver a game that’s bold, beautiful and very brutal.

  • Code Vein borrows from Dark Souls and tweaks some less-forgiving aspects of the classic game

    Difficulty has always been a barrier for Dark Souls. The franchise’s intimidating reputation is a turn-off for gamers who don’t see the joy in “getting good.” That’s a shame, really, because the series shines once players shatter those challenging roadblocks.

  • Despite being marred by numerous mechanical glitches, Ghost Recon Breakpoint offers fun cooperative gameplay

    When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ruled the gaming world, Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon franchise delivered exceptional tactical shooters built around ingenious gadgets, stealthy combat and enthralling cooperative play. Missions were intense and every action had significance. A console generation later, the franchise is a ghost of its former self.

  • Faithful rebuild of Link’s Awakening will please fans and newcomers alike

    In recent years, the Zelda franchise has seen a number of remakes. Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess have all been recast to take advantage of more versatile hardware. Advances in technology have allowed the masterful game design of these titles to shine even brighter. Arguably, no game in the series has benefited as much from a visual overhaul as the The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which was originally released in 1993 on the Game Boy.

  • Astral Chain is complicated, but ultimately enjoyable

    At the end of each of Astral Chain’s missions, a menu pops up on screen asking if you’d like to advance to the next “file” with the same “play style” or difficulty level. I can’t think of another game that so frequently reminds its audience of such options, and I wondered why the developers of this flamboyant new action game might do this.

  • Switch Lite is Nintendo's second consecutive hardware home run

    To see the Lite is to touch it. It hits you immediately when you first pick it up. The matte finish feels just crispy enough under your fingertips. Your index fingers nestle into a slightly deeper scoop on the trigger buttons. Like resting your hands in slime, it’s tactile bliss, ASMR for the grabbers. Both airy and sturdy, the discounted ($199), handheld-only “Lite” model of Nintendo’s hit console Switch is the most comfortable mobile gaming device ever made.

  • Gears 5: The definition of a great action game

    It’s there in the title: Gears 5, not Gears of War 5. Just “Gears,” the de facto name that fans have been using for more than a decade. The clipped title agrees with the game’s sense of focus which seems intent on reminding players why the series remains an exemplar of AAA game development.

  • Control is a space-warping science-fiction game with much to like, but not a lot to love

    In New York City, a woman walks into a federal building that goes unnoticed by most passersby on account of its “paranatural” qualities, which make it there and not there. An extraterrestrial voice in her head tells her where to go. She passes through the empty lobby of the Federal Bureau of Control and meets a janitor with a Finnish accent thick enough to make subtitles an appealing option.

  • Eliza explores the perils of technology and our desire to automate intimacy

    Please, pleads a character we meet in Eliza, just let him talk to a real human. The interactive game unfolds as a not-too-distant nightmare, one in which technology has enabled us to talk to everyone and connect with no one. It also taps our fears over healthcare access and how our always-connected life affects our mental health. It’s a timely work of digital anxiety that captures a generational desire to use apps and technology to solve problems rather than seek to fully understand them.

  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses explores romance in a sword-and-sorcery setting

    The drama comes quickly in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest in Nintendo’s wonderfully weird, soap opera-worthy sword-and-sorcery fairy tale franchise. A teacher introduces her medical practice by also noting that she’s single and ready to mingle. A student lays the groundwork for doubting that you’re truly your father’s daughter. An academic administrator says, “We try to avoid discrimination based on social status,” but, well, you know how the upper class can be, so get used to it.

  • Team up with a friend or play solo in 1st modern co-op Wolfenstein adventure

    Picking up 20 years after the events of the last game, Wolfenstein: Youngblood stars the twin daughters of the series hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, who take the fight against the Nazis to the streets of Paris. A few cutscenes notwithstanding, Youngblood doesn’t have the number of arresting narratives as The New Colossus. But, in a series first, its campaign is organized around co-op gameplay.

  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night shows how much fun the Metroidvania genre offers

    It’s been more than two decades since I first played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and my love for it has only grown through the years. In fact, I consider it to be my favorite game of all time, and I replay it regularly. Naturally, I was thrilled to hear that Koji Igarashi, the creative mind behind Symphony of the Night, was working on a spiritual successor titled Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

  • The Sinking City an ambitious detective game that fails to reach its full potential

    The Sinking City is quick to set a mood, but struggles to deepen it. Its supernatural elements aren’t unnerving, its noirish elements rest on characters who are simply shady as opposed to morally complex, and its technical shortcomings don’t do it any favors.

  • Sea of Solitude explores the terrors of loneliness, what it means to be human

    We’re accustomed to games, even the most nuanced, beginning with a clear problem: an outlaw on the run, a world in peril, a loved one kidnapped and held hostage by a gorilla. Sea of Solitude, however, starts with an overwhelmed plea, a phrase spoken with equal amounts of desperation and hopelessness: “Change me.”

  • My Friend Pedro a bizarre ballet of bullets and brazen bananas

    Close your eyes and picture this, if you will. You’ve just woken up in a butcher’s freezer with no recollection of who you are or how you got there. You’re terrified, angry and alone — except for some banana. But it’s not a regular banana — no, not at all. This banana has a name. It’s Pedro. And he’s your ticket out of this nightmare. The only way out is with guns and a whole lot of crazy. Good thing, because you’ve got it in droves. Welcome to My Friend Pedro, a game all about pistol-whipping enemies, slowing down time and listening to your psychotic, fruity friend. Strap in, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

  • Uber satisfying: Upcoming Neo Cab examines the gamification of life

    Games, multiple companies at this year’s Electronic EntertainmentNeo Cab was the most perfect demo I played at E3 this year, a game designed not just with the sort of clean and simple choice-based interface that could be grasped by many, but also calling attention to the mini emotional mind games that occupy — and wreak havoc on — our day.

  • Draugen a scenic game about delusional thinking

    Draugen is a pleasant vacation from the world of mainstream gaming. Its protagonist is not a hero, but a man traumatized by his past. Its pacing is leisurely rather than hurried. Its mysteries court the mundane more than the spectacular. Billed as a “fjord noir,” this short, narrative-driven game is set in 1923, in a small Norwegian village bordered by sparkling water. The area’s rustic charm is undercut by an atmosphere of tragedy that’s captured by a sign that hangs over a hastily boarded up church which, when translated from the Norwegian, reads: “God is not here.”

  • Interesting concept behind Heaven’s Vault takes a while to grab you, but stick with it

    Learning a language can lead to a profound transformation of how one interacts with the world. But the struggle to acquire a basic proficiency is enough to deter most of us from stretching our linguistic abilities. Heaven’s Vault is a visual novel that dramatizes the grind and reward that comes from studying a foreign language, where progressing through the game’s worlds of robots and spaceships is dependent upon adding to its heroine Aliya Elasra’s vocabulary.

  • Confidently bland: Good gunplay gives small boost to Rage 2’s overly familiar story

    The one time I got mad about Rage 2, it was my fault. My first night with the post-apocalyptic shooter, I spent at least 30 minutes fuming over the game’s “insane balancing issues” after I tried to flush out a bandit enclave and kept getting plucked off with explosives. “Why,” I fumed to myself, “do the enemies have so many grenades this early in the game?!”

  • Mortal Kombat 11 lives up to its reputation: Brash, fun and ridiculously violent

    “Can you believe that we’re playing a Mortal Kombat game?” my friend Milton asked as we dove into the new “Mortal Kombat 11.” It has been 20 years since he and I went to college together. Back then we played a serious amount of Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat 4 on the Super Nintendo and the N64, respectively. Though I got into fighting games via Street Fighter 2, my fighting game skills plateaued with those two MK games. My friends and I used to play them with a guidebook on our laps which we used to memorize long combo-strings and fatalities. At the height of our mania, MK became for us an almost-purely cerebral experience where we’d try to guess each other other’s strategy, then switch up the tempo of a game on the fly. It was our chess.

  • Tired of the zombie apocalypse? Sure — but Days Gone can still provide hours of entertainment

    As someone who long ago stopped watching “The Walking Dead,” and generally has little interest in zombie-related fare (excepting The Last of Us), I wasn’t keyed up to play Days Gone. I never expected it to wring any fresh ideas from one of the most strip-mined veins of contemporary pop culture. The few dozen hours I’ve spent with it haven’t given me a reason to amend that assessment, but I’ve been surprised at how easy the game has been to fall into.

  • Far Cry New Dawn an entertaining return to Hope County

    Nuclear Armageddon might not have improved things in Hope County, but it certainly didn’t make them much worse. A slightly irradiated Hope County, Mont., is the setting of Ubisoft’s Far Cry New Dawn, a sequel to last spring’s Far Cry 5. The first-person shooter is set about 17 years after the previous game’s hero battled the Eden’s Gate cult, which was terrorizing the rural county. During those years, nuclear war — a looming menace in Far Cry 5 — has come and gone, and survivors have crawled out of their shelters to establish new settlements.

  • ‘Devil May Cry 5’ steps out of shadow of original by breaking from past

    With “Devil May Cry 5,” director Hideaki Itsuno fulfills the promise of his predecessor. But players have to delve through a complicated story line. Told through three perspectives, it follows Dante, the long-standing protagonist; V, a mysterious newcomer and Nero. The three have teamed up to take down a demon called Urizen, which has planted a giant tree called the Qliphoth that is sucking blood out of humans and unleashing monsters on Red Grave City.

  • Plenty to shoot, plenty to love in 'Division 2'

    Rarely has a video game been more about hope. “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” is about bringing hope to a plague-stricken metropolis beset by warring gangs and paramilitary forces. It’s also about bringing hope to gamers who have experienced some recent disappointments with cooperative shooters. “Anthem” is a rocket-powered sci-fi adventure that’s going down in flames, and “Fallout 76” turned into a postapocalyptic disaster.

  • District of destruction: ‘Division’ developers bring Washington to life, then bring it to its knees

    When Stripes moved to its new offices a few months ago, I didn’t realize my desk was a great sniper position that could provide overwatch for teammates operating in the dark zone north of Capitol Hill. Or at least it could in the post-apocalyptic world of Ubisoft’s “The Division 2,” which releases March 15.

  • New game-a-day platform Meditations proves there can be joy in text-free play

    Over the past several weeks, new video games have tackled unexpected subjects in unpredictable ways. One release was designed to capture the sensation of seeing a newborn smile for the first time. Another sought to illustrate how an entire family could drift apart after the death of a beloved grandfather.

  • 'Metro Exodus' a post-apocalyptic train ride to adventure

    I love a good post-apocalyptic romp among vicious mutants and cutthroat brigands. I like it even more when my actions have consequences beyond the body count. Games of the “Metro” franchise have delivered that quite nicely, and the latest entry is no exception.

  • 'Kingdom Hearts 3' has a baffling backstory but is a treat for fans of Disney and Pixar

    Whenever a popular, story-infused video game is released and has a few numbers in its title, the question, “Do you need to play the previous ones in the series?” usually pops up. The vast majority of the time I say “no.” No, you don’t need to play the earlier Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption, Assassin’s Creed, The Witcher or Persona games to forge a deep connection with the latest incarnation. But if you ask me this question about “Kingdom Hearts 3,” well ...

  • ‘Resident Evil’ remake modernizes a survival classic

    Capcom never lets a good idea go to waste, and if it’s popular enough, the company isn’t afraid to use it twice. The company has released reworked editions of “Street Fighter II” and gathered the “Mega Man” games and sold them in collections. With the “Resident Evil” series, the publisher has opted to revamp the titles from the ground up. Beginning with the excellent original, the company has updated the visuals and design for several chapters.

  • 'Katamari Damacy Reroll' will charm its players with strangeness

    Ever since the study of consumer culture began, attention has been paid to the anxiety people feel toward their possessions. The downside to living in a society that values accumulation is that many of us feel uneasy about the amount of stuff that surrounds us. (Clutter, some psychologists tell us, can create a stressful environment.) Of the innumerable artistic responses to this phenomenon, Keita Takahashi’s classic game “Katamari Damacy’ is one of the more sanguine.

  • Upcoming video game forces commanders to earn the trust of their troops or face defeat

    In many combat-themed games, soldiers are simply a collection of polygons that do what a player commands — but the upcoming World War II battlefield simulator “Burden of Command” shows players the complexity of leading people into battle.

  • 'Desert Child': race, ramen, repeat

    Sometimes we want a video game to relax with; something that doesn’t ask to be taken seriously because it doesn’t really take itself seriously. Sometimes making a game with simple mechanics allows the overall experience to shine, giving gamers the chance to enjoy what they see instead of focusing on what comes next. It’s not an approach seen often, and yet it’s exactly the sort of approach Oscar Brittain seems to have taken with his retro-throwback racer “Desert Child.”

  • Video game review

    ‘Vermintide 2’ a cut above

    In ages past, four heroes banded together to ward off the minions of destruction. They wielded their weapons with precision and maneuvered with skill or they fell before the oncoming hordes. Their deeds brought cheers from the masses. But enough of “Left 4 Dead.” A new franchise has risen to claim the mantel of the king of co-op fun: “Vermintide 2,” from the Swedish developer Fatshark.

  • 'Magic: The Gathering'

    Trading card game comes to PC with intuitive online system for casual and seasoned players

    “Magic: The Gathering” is the legendary trading card game by which most other new games are measured. Ever since it debuted in 1993, it’s been “the” go-to game when it comes to collecting, trading and decimating our opponents. Having grown up with “Magic” myself (Mercadian Masques, represent), I’ve played it at nearly every stage in my life, though I spent most of my childhood swapping between that and the “Pokemon Trading Card Game.”

  • Puzzle game is even more addictive in ‘Tetris Effect’

    I’ve never considered myself a fan of “Tetris.” Sure, I played it occasionally as a kid whenever a friend briefly relinquished their Game Boy, but I don’t have warm memories of lining up falling blocks into neat rows to make them disappear. Of course, Alexey Pajitnov’s game must be counted as one of the most accessible and broadly recognized video games in history. I just never figured that one of its iterations would prevent me from sleeping. That’s why, slowly, over recent weeks, I’ve tried to make peace with the possibility that “Tetris Effect” is a game I love too much.

  • 'Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding' alternate universe is a big hit with Facebook users

    Tony Snipes is the “public information officer” at The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co., an alternate universe that resembles the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. But at this Portsmouth yard, ships are built to fly.

  • Avalanche is taking action series ‘Just Cause’ to another level in 4th installment

    Avalanche Studios has consistently upped the ante with each entry of “Just Cause” and the latest shift is, essentially, tossing all of the previous upgrades into a weather-powered blender. “Just Cause 4” is using the new Apex engine and the developers are using the engine’s power and flexibility to add four extreme weather conditions to the series’ high-speed and malleable action.

  • 'Battlefield V' struggles to make sense of history

    The “Battlefield” series has never gone in order, or even really added up. “Battlefield V” is technically the 15th game in the series (depending on how you count), not the fifth. It’s the direct sequel to “Battlefield 1,” which was the 14th game, not the first. The first was 2002’s “Battlefied: 1942.” 2005’s “Battlefield 2” was actually the third in the series, and there were seven games released between it and “Battlefield 3.” Though the title of each always seems straightforward, when you look back across the series it seems to have lost track of itself. These are games built around moments that blend together without ever really connecting.

  • 'Fallout 76': Little life in the post-apocalyptic landscape

    Waking up in Vault 76 is a lonely experience. You start Bethesda Softworks’ “Fallout 76” by stepping out of an underground vault 20 years after a nuclear war. The vault was packed with the best and the brightest among Vault Tec’s employees — a crew intended to be the first to step onto the blasted landscape and start rebuilding civilization.

  • In ‘Luigi’s Mansion,’ the other Mario brother wrestles with ghosts in this fun, spooky 3DS port of the GameCube classic

    “Luigi’s Mansion” originally debuted on the GameCube in 2001. Now, 17 years later, it’s found a home on the Nintendo 3DS, thanks to a port from Grezzo and Nintendo’s baffling decision to aim for the handheld when the Switch is the port machine that typically gets the most love as of late. It’s a bit strange that a sequel to the game, 2013’s “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon,” hit the 3DS before the original did, but I’m thankful for it.

  • Things get dark and dirty in solid open-worlder ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

    This is what it’s like to play “Red Dead Redemption 2”: You’re living the life of an outlaw in the Wild West. You’re Arthur Morgan of the Van der Linde gang, and you and the crew are on the run. That means a battle for survival throughout five fictional states in Rockstar Games’ masterpiece, but it means more than that, too. It means maintaining guns, eating, and feeding your horse, and it means hours and hours on horseback, traversing one of the most detailed depictions of the Wild West that you’ve ever seen. This is life in “Red Dead Redemption 2,” and if you’re not careful, you’ll burn hours upon hours of your real life in New Hanover.

  • ‘Monster Energy Supercross 2’ is dirty, challenging and possibly the most exciting Milestone release yet

    Italian games developer Milestone S.r.l. might be primarily known for its hyper-realistic motorcycling racing simulators, but some game fans might be surprised to learn that the company has been producing off-road racing games since as far back as 2010. The latest dirt-focused title, “Monster Energy Supercross 2: The Official Videogame,” gives players the chance to live out the 2018 Supercross season with a selection of the industry’s top riders and tracks, and comes complete with new technical tweaks and rider aids that aim to create a much more approachable and engaging experience.

  • ‘My Memory of Us’: A fast-paced, stylish adventure with a storyline some might find off-putting

    Do you like the voice of the noted actor Patrick Stewart? Are you a fan of fairy tales starring plucky children? If you answer yes to either of these questions, then the stylishly animated adventure game “My Memory of Us” might be worth a look. If, however, you are troubled by the Disneyfication of historical tragedies then you’ll probably be put off by it, regardless of its conspicuously good intentions.

  • Battle royale boosts 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4'

    Developers at Treyarch have accomplished something truly unusual with “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.” They’ve eliminated a franchise cornerstone while still offering a satisfying array of content. And they’ve created a game that doesn’t break any new ground, but still feels incredibly fresh.

  • Latest Assassin’s Creed will please those who take time to truly play it

    The Assassin’s Creed series is known for making playgrounds out of history. From the banks of the Nile in ancient Egypt to the cobblestone streets of Victorian London, the games hopscotch through momentous epochs in human civilization, trailing intrigue and corpses in their wake.

  • Great visuals, new missions make for a good time, but ‘Forsaken’ starts to feel stale after a while

    The games in the Destiny series have always aspired to keep players busy not for hours or weeks, but months on end. When the first game launched in 2014, it appeared on track to accomplishing its mission. (Indeed, there was a running joke on Eurogamer about the number of articles devoted to Bungie’s interplanetary shooter.)

  • ‘Tomb Raider’ is a familiar thrill ride with new scenery

    Lara Croft is one of a handful of characters the video game industry has produced who scarcely needs an introduction. Three Hollywood films and a slew of cultural criticism have served to fix her in the public imagination as a successful Indiana Jones clone and a metric of how the industry has (and hasn’t) shifted in its portrayal of women. As Josephine Livingstone wrote in The New Republic, Lara Croft’s recent incarnation in games and on the silver screen is “more human, less funny, more abs than boobs.” Basically, still incredibly attractive, but in a less juvenile way.

  • 'Marvel’s Spider-Man' is breathtaking, electrifying - and a tad too predictable

    After 36 years and 37 Spider-Man video game appearances that date back to a 1982 Atari 2600 encounter with the Green Goblin, none shimmers with more signature angst and electrifying, heroic feats than Insomniac Games’ new, photorealistic offering for the PlayStation 4.

  • Game review

    'Donut County’ is a little bit about gentrification -- and a whole lot of fun

    “Donut County” is an upbeat game about being a callous worker, someone entitled and destructive who thinks he is a good guy. For most of the game you upend the lives of people and ruin different environments with rollicking abandon.

  • Shooting prompts cancellation of three remaining Madden Classic events

    Software publisher Electronic Arts has canceled the remaining three qualifying events for its Madden Classic esports tournament following the deaths of two competitors at the tournament's opening event held Sunday in Jacksonville.

  • ‘Octopath Traveler’ shows that old-school RPGs can learn new tricks

    Japanese role-playing games have strived to give players bigger and more bombastic experiences. Epic cutscenes rival anything this side of a Peter Jackson movie. Dazzling visuals showcase the latest hardware that make fantasies look like reality. But for all the effort to give fans a grand adventure, crucial elements of the genre were lost along the way — compelling characters and daring storytelling. "Octopath Traveler" from Square Enix does not make that mistake.

  • 'Airheart': A quirky quest to capture the great whale in the sky

    Occasionally, it can be uplifting to discover you've been going about things the wrong way. That's how I felt when I realized I was playing "Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings" incorrectly. This game rewards patience and restraint over frantic activity, which makes sense because "Airheart” is a mashup of a shooter and a fishing game. And as any angler will tell you, a relaxed-frame of mind is conducive to taking in a big haul.

  • Players roam America freely in Ubisoft’s open-world racer ‘The Crew 2’

    When making an open-world racing game that lets players freely roam the United States, expectations are high. With “The Crew,” Ivory Tower Ubisoft succeeded in creating an approximate replica of the country. The problem was that while “The Crew” reflected the vastness of America, it was a game that felt bland, empty and lifeless. “The Crew 2” fixes that major flaw by expanding the project’s main concept beyond racing.

  • Classic games, lovingly reimagined in 'Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy'

    At first blush, it makes perfect sense that Activision would remaster three Crash Bandicoot games and compile them under the moniker “N. Sane Trilogy.” The game is priced nicely, features a jovial, marsupial protagonist with a manic personality, and was an essential part of PlayStation history. I approached the compilation with trepidation, though, after playing other revivals during the past year.

  • ‘Mario Tennis Aces’ is the perfect way to kick off the summer

    I knew I was smitten with “Mario Tennis Aces” after I lost a hard-fought match to Shy Guy — Nintendo’s cutesy, mask-wearing scoundrel. At 40-all, we went back and forth angling for the two consecutive points that would clinch the game. “Mario Tennis Aces” is the first sports game since, well, “Mario Kart 8” that’s captivated me. I say that to make it clear that I’m not the sort of person that finds more realistic sports-themed simulations particularly appealing.

  • Interesting social simulator ‘Vampyr’ is bogged down by uninspiring combat

    Blood is at times cited as a marker of lineage, a gauge of health, or an index for commitment to a political cause (to give one’s blood for their beliefs). In “Vampyr,” an action-RPG set during the time of the 1918 Spanish Flu, the most decimating pandemic of the modern era, each of these dimensions is probed alongside the game’s spin on the vampire myth.

  • Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

    Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.

  • Video game review

    A cliched but enjoyable ‘Detroit: Become Human’ explores life after tech awakening

    For decades, technologists have bid us to envision a time when technology becomes self-conscious and claims responsibility for its self-improvement. According to the survey I took in “Detroit: Become Human,” a majority of players with early access to the game think that such an event will happen, and if a humbling phenomenon like this were to occur it follows that human society would be changed forever.

  • Sail on the winds of adventure with ‘Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire’

    “Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire” expands on the more traditional setting of the first game, infusing tropical scenery with traditional fantasy trappings to create an unforgettable experience.

  • Big Bad Wolf lays solid foundation for new ‘Council’ series with ‘Mad Ones’

    Despite technical flaws, the Telltale formula has propelled the studio to the upper echelons of gaming, leading more developers to leap into the episodic adventure pond following their games’ success. Big Bad Wolf, a French indie developer, is the latest to step up to the plate and is doing so with a secret society-centered mystery adventure set in the 1700s.

  • ‘Far Cry 5’ marries commentary with fun

    For more than a decade, the Far Cry series has been known for sending players to locations that would seem exotic to all but the most globetrotting Westerner: the savannah, the tropics, the Himalayas. Even without placing too much stock in the political wink-winks that date “Far Cry 5” as a product of the Trump Era, there is something ironic about setting the new game in Montana.

  • 'Hearthstone' has new competitor in 'Magic: The Gathering Arena'

    “Magic: The Gathering Arena,” is an online-only version of the venerated collectible card game that is attempting to bring together the glamour of "Hearthstone" and the deep, intricate play of Magic. It succeeds, for the most part.

  • Taking a quick, bloody walk down memory lane with ‘Amid Evil’

    Everything in the still-in-early-access “Amid Evil” heralds its creators’ love for the early-’90s FPS. The low-poly graphics, the visual aesthetic ripped from a death metal cover, the sound design that includes bloodcurdling screams and maniacal laughter. Every aspect of “Amid Evil” is a love letter to a bygone era — an homage to a more uncivilized time, if you will.

  • Fight the horde for fun and loot in 'Warhammer: Vermintide II'

    Online gaming has never been more popular than it is in 2018, with heavy hitters like “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” drawing millions of players daily. But the subgenre represented by “Left 4 Dead” hasn’t really seen the success of those frag fests. Thank Sigmar for developer Fatshark and its “Warhammer: Vermintide” series

  • ‘Golem Gates’ looks to blend strategy, luck and lane combat

    More than a few games over the years have attempted to meld real-time strategy and collectible card games. To date, none yet have really succeeded in marrying the two seemingly disparate genres. Yet, the endorphin rush of opening packs of cards and the ego boost of pulling off a master strategic plan remains an attractive combination for developers. Enter “Golem Gates,” the latest game that looks to extract the best qualities of those two genres, add a touch of MOBA flavoring and distill it all into one package.


    Lifting the veil of mystery surrounding ‘Abandon Ship’

    While there are a ton of Early Access games not worth the electricity spent to launch them, others such as They Are Billions and Astroneers are outright better than most of the games cluttering up Steam. Is Abandon Ship the next great Early Access title?

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