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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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 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 7 — Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Naughty Dog always starts off devel­op­ing DLC with the best of inten­tions. Build­ing upon the themes and lore of their most recent game by explor­ing rela­tion­ships either hinted at or nonex­is­tent in the main game, the DLC grows in size and scope. Inevitably, every story-based DLC that Naughty Dog pro­duces breaks off and becomes a bite-sized bit of bril­liance. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion in great form by tak­ing some of the best things from Uncharted 4 and expand­ing on them in some smart ways. The rela­tion­ship built between Chloe and Nadine dur­ing the short adven­ture is a lot of fun to watch and the ban­ter is bril­liantly per­formed. The open design imple­mented in the mid­dle sec­tion of the game improves on what was in the main game by giv­ing you rea­sons to explore the beau­ti­ful envi­ron­ments. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy gives plenty of rea­sons to be an excel­lent 7th best game of 2017.

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ESH | RiME Review

Atmos­pheric explo­ration puz­zle games have long been per­fected by the likes of Team Ico with titles like Ico and The Last Guardian pro­vid­ing stel­lar exam­ples of how the genre is done right. Show­ing clear inspi­ra­tion from the afore­men­tioned games, Tequila Works has crafted a beau­ti­ful game in RiME, trans­port­ing the player to a sea­side tem­ple with a bevy of secrets to unfold. Tech­ni­cal glitches occa­sion­ally mar the Nin­tendo Switch ver­sion of Rime, but the over­all expe­ri­ence is a gor­geous and sat­is­fy­ing puz­zle adventure.

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ESH | The Escapists 2 Review

Ago­niz­ing over the per­fect plan, metic­u­lously prep­ping all the nec­es­sary com­po­nents and then hav­ing it all come apart due to an unseen cir­cum­stance. Escap­ing prison seems like it would be an endeavor that which I would fail mis­er­ably to exe­cute with the per­fec­tion it requires. If noth­ing else, The Escapists 2 has only proven this fact as I have spent plenty of time in soli­tary con­fine­ment for my failed schemes. Thank­fully, unlike real life, the con­se­quences of these failed jail­breaks are min­i­mal and with enough prac­tice, I was even­tu­ally able to spring myself from the joint. It’s this con­cept that makes The Escapists 2 the per­fect action puz­zle game for any­one with a lot of patience look­ing for a real challenge.

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ESH | TWD Season 3 ‘From the Gallows’ Review

Start­ing up the final episode of sea­son 3 for The Walk­ing Dead, I had a hard time imag­in­ing the endgame Tell­tale had in mind. The main antag­o­nist of the sea­son had already been dealt with and the fate of Rich­mond seemed pretty set in stone. There were cer­tainly a few sur­prises in there, I’ll get to that in a bit, but after fin­ish­ing up Javier’s story, I felt like they didn’t quite make good on what made this sea­son unique: The flash­back sequences and your rela­tion­ship with David. Despite this, the thrills are still there and some dif­fi­cult deci­sions still had to be made in Episode 5: From the Gal­lows, which make this a rea­son­ably good sea­son of Telltale’s break­out adven­ture series.

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The Platinum Diaries | Horizon: Zero Dawn

Why This Game?

My deci­sion to go for the full plat­inum comes down to a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent things for Hori­zon: Zero Dawn. It’s both an awe­some game that I was happy to con­tinue play­ing and the remain­der of tro­phies weren’t that bad to round up in the end. Don’t get me wrong, this shouldn’t be on your short list for easy plat­inums, but if you’re going to play it any­way, you may as well go the full dis­tance. Con­sid­er­ing it’s a game where you fight giant robot dinosaurs, con­trol a com­plex and badass female char­ac­ter and the story is engag­ing and inter­est­ing, there are plenty of rea­sons to play it and grab that plat­inum by the end.

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