Review | Death Road to Canada

Canada always seems to be the goal of post-apocalyptic trav­el­ers seek­ing respite from the assault of the undead. I sup­pose the rea­son­ing is that it’s cold-enough up there that the zom­bie hordes won’t be able to cope, but Death Road to Canada offers a much more silly and awe­some expla­na­tion for this. I won’t dis­cuss this here, you’ll have to make it to the bor­der your­self to find out. Instead, let’s talk about the goofy jour­ney that Death Road to Canada puts you through in this pixel-based brawler.

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ESH | Moss Review

Vir­tual real­ity has often been used to insert play­ers into sit­u­a­tions that would oth­er­wise be impos­si­ble. Moss, one of the newest PlaySta­tion VR titles, goes about this in a slightly dif­fer­ent way. Instead of mak­ing the player the focus, each stage of the game is a sort of inter­ac­tive dio­rama. Con­trol­ling the adorable mouse pro­tag­o­nist Quill, play­ers can make their way envi­ron­men­tal puz­zles by inspect­ing every nook and cranny of the tiny world set in front of them. It cre­ates an expe­ri­ence that feel unique to VR and facil­i­tates a new sort of immer­sion that is the breath of fresh air that VR needs right now.

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ESH | Blasters of the Universe Review

Insert­ing one­self into the action of a video game is what makes vir­tual real­ity such an immer­sive expe­ri­ence. Bul­let hell games are scary enough as it is, tak­ing place on a 2D plane while tons of bul­lets head towards a tiny ship. Thrust­ing this con­cept into the first-person per­spec­tive of a VR shooter, Blasters of the Uni­verse takes the brain-busting space man­age­ment of a bul­let hell game and forces you to stare help­lessly as the sea of bul­lets slowly drift towards you. One of the smoother-controlling shoot­ers I’ve played in PSVR, while rel­a­tively short, it offers plenty of chal­lenge that will have you com­ing back for more.

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ESH | The Fall Part 2: Unbound Review

Crash­ing down on us in 2014, The Fall was a fas­ci­nat­ing adven­ture game with some admit­tedly clunky com­bat. The story mainly con­sisted of a com­bat suit with arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, named A.R.I.D. search­ing for med­ical atten­tion for the passed out human inside of it. In a major twist, stop read­ing here and go play The Fall if you haven’t already, the suit turned out to be empty the whole time and her whole pur­pose has been made null. As you might expect, I was eager to see where the story went from there and The Fall Part 2: Unbound does cer­tainly go in some inter­est­ing directions.

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ESH | Oh… Sir! The Hollywood Roast Review

Video games always seem to involve char­ac­ters resolv­ing their prob­lems with their fists or guns. Some­times, is it a smarter choice to use your words? This is the hypoth­e­sis that Oh… Sir!! The Insult Sim­u­la­tor and Oh… Sir! The Hol­ly­wood Roast seek to answer. Tak­ing a brand new spin on fight­ing games, these games pit two char­ac­ters against one another in a bat­tle of words that can only end with one victor.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 1 — The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The hype was real for The Leg­end of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but no one could have seen just how inno­v­a­tive and rein­vig­o­rat­ing the game would end up. Nin­tendo had been play­ing it safe for too long with the Zelda series and vowed to go back to its roots for Breath of the Wild. The suc­cess they found with this new for­mula will likely go on to influ­ence the series going for­ward and likely the design of open world games in gen­eral. Many open world games rely on point­ing the player in the direc­tion they want them to go, for fear of them get­ting bored. Nin­tendo expertly solved the issue that other devel­op­ers didn’t even see here, by rid­ding the world of developer-laid icons and allow­ing the player to choose their own jour­ney. Stand­ing at the top of a tower, you might see some­thing that looks inter­est­ing and decide to inves­ti­gate. Nearly every time, you will be rewarded for your curios­ity with some­thing, even if it’s some­thing small. This is what sep­a­rates Breath of the Wild from other open world games. It allows play­ers to cre­ate their own sto­ries and explore the world at their own pace, while pack­ing every nook and cranny with fun things to find. Hours melted away while I was play­ing Breath of the Wild as I got lost in the gor­geous world. The Leg­end of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made and eas­ily deserves the spot as the best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 2 — Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

It was easy to lose heart after the garbage fire that was Res­i­dent Evil 6. Thank­fully, Cap­com stepped up and deliv­ered a brand new Res­i­dent Evil expe­ri­ence that is both brand new feel­ing and upholds the roots of what makes the series fun. Bring­ing the series into the first-person per­spec­tive was bold move, but it paid off with Res­i­dent Evil 7. Even though the point of view changed, every­thing about the game­play like man­ag­ing ammo, find­ing keys, care­fully nav­i­gat­ing cor­ri­dors and even open­ing doors still felt uniquely like it belonged in the series. Play­ing the game in vir­tual real­ity is one of the most intense expe­ri­ences I’ve done in gam­ing. Many parts of the game are very scary and being put into that world through a VR head­set only makes it that much more ter­ri­fy­ing. The story is self-contained enough that folks who are new to the series can eas­ily join in now, with some sly easter eggs for series vet­er­ans. The char­ac­ters, espe­cially the Baker fam­ily, are inter­est­ing to learn about and the story goes to some cool places by the end. Many peo­ple have crit­i­cized the lat­ter por­tion of the game for becom­ing more action heavy, but if you look at pre­vi­ous games in the series, it actu­ally fol­lows a sim­i­lar pat­tern in that regard. I played through this game four times in 2017 alone and will likely go back for another round in 2018. In any other year, this would have been an easy top spot, but I reluc­tantly call Res­i­dent Evil 7: Bio­haz­ard the 2nd best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 3 — Super Mario Odyssey

Pick­ing the order of the top three games of 2017 was a night­mare. Each of these games are amaz­ing in their own right and rank­ing them was near impos­si­ble. That being said, I have decided on an order and I am stick­ing to it! Super Mario Odyssey is a joy to play in nearly every way. The bright and col­or­ful envi­ron­ments are packed with fun stuff to do and inter­act with, nearly all of which will earn you some power moons. I never had a play ses­sion with Super Mario Odyssey where I felt that no progress had been made and I always spent the entire time smil­ing ear to ear. It has been a long while since we’ve got­ten a Mario game as open as this one and this could arguably be the best one that fol­lows that for­mula. The main game doesn’t over­stay its wel­come, allow­ing you to blast through each world and get a short intro­duc­tion before mov­ing on, but doesn’t dis­cour­age stick­ing around and play­ing in each king­dom for a lit­tle longer. There are some very fun sur­prises after the cred­its roll and the game is a great one to come back to every now and then for some relaxed fun. Super Mario Odyssey just barely came in as the 3rd best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 4 — Horizon Zero Dawn

Post-apocalyptic robot dinosaurs. These are prob­a­bly the only four words that needed to be spo­ken in the pitch meet­ing that green-lit Hori­zon Zero Dawn. Piv­ot­ing away from their first-person shooter com­fort zone, Guer­rilla Games shocked every­one when they announced Hori­zon Zero Dawn. This open-world action game is, in my opin­ion, the finest work the stu­dio has put out to date. The com­bat sys­tem is fun and diverse, with a mul­ti­tude of options to approach any encounter. There’s plenty to do as you explore the world, with side-quests that feel more per­sonal than the “go there and get that” fare of other games. The story is top-notch, with a vibrant world full of inter­est­ing char­ac­ters and fea­tures an out­stand­ing per­for­mance by Ashly Burch as Aloy. It’s also one of the best-looking games to come out this year from top to bot­tom. Hori­zon Zero Dawn more than earns its spot as the 4th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 5 — Cuphead

The mark of a high qual­ity dif­fi­cult game is when it man­ages to be incred­i­bly fun as well. Cup­head was quickly on most people’s radar due to the art style which oozes the charm of 1930s car­toons. Play­ing Cup­head, it’s almost incom­pre­hen­si­ble how Stu­dioMDHR was able to so accu­rately and fluid cre­ated the look of this game. Many peo­ple have floated the phrase “it’s like play­ing a car­toon” about games before, but it has never been more true than with Cup­head. The char­ac­ters are fun and styl­ish and it has one of the best and most fit­ting sound­tracks of the year. On top of every­thing else, the game is fun as hell! Each boss takes trial and error, patience and feels amaz­ing every time you beat them. Cup­head cer­tainly deserves the spot as the 5th best game of 2017.

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