ESH | Jackbox Party Pack 5 Review

Jack­box Games has been putting out some qual­ity party games for some time now. I would eve go as far as to say that they rev­o­lu­tion­ized the party video game genre with the release of the orig­i­nal Fib­bage. After sev­eral new entries, there’s always the chance that they could be run­ning out of ideas. Not every pack of games has been lived up to the high highs of the series as a whole, but I am pleased to report that The Jack­box Party Pack 5 has some fresh new games that keep me con­vinced that Jack­box Games still has the magic touch in cre­at­ing awe­some party games. Let’s go through each of the entries in The Jack­box Party Pack 5 indi­vid­u­ally to dis­cuss what makes each of them great.

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ESH | Overcooked 2 Review

Coop­er­a­tive games that require a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion seem like they are played best in per­son. This was the thought issued by the orig­i­nal order-delivering chef game Over­cooked. While this cer­tainly makes a lot of sense, it can be decep­tively hard to get the right peo­ple together to have a sat­is­fy­ing gam­ing ses­sion. Ghost Town Games looked to solve this by adding online play to their sequel, Over­cooked 2, but also man­aged to squeeze some sur­pris­ingly game-changing new fea­tures that makes for a sat­is­fy­ing return to the Onion Kingdom.

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ESH | Guts and Glory Review

Video games are often made with a very spe­cific pur­pose. Some are designed to be played all by your­self on a dark stormy night. Oth­ers are built to be played with friends either coop­er­a­tively or com­pet­i­tively. Ever since stream­ing became a big­ger part of gam­ing, a new type of game has emerged: one that you are meant to watch. Guts and Glory is one of those games that begs to be spec­tated as you acci­den­tally evis­cer­ate a man rid­ing his bicy­cle through a gaunt­let of buzz saws and land mines.

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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 | 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 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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ESH | Ultimate Chicken Horse Review

Grow­ing up in a highly com­pet­i­tive house, I’ve grown into a fair bit of anx­i­ety when it comes to com­pet­i­tive games. Find­ing one that man­ages to feel just as fun whether you win or lose is rare, but Ulti­mate Chicken Horse nails it. I can’t tell you the num­ber of times play ses­sions devolved into the entire room laugh­ing as the ridicu­lous­ness of the stages grow each round. Com­ing newly to the PS4, Ulti­mate Chicken Horse is one of the best couch com­pet­i­tive expe­ri­ences avail­able on the con­sole which can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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ESH | The Jackbox Party Pack 4 Review

When The Jack­box Party Pack first came out, it rev­o­lu­tion­ized how mul­ti­player video games could work at par­ties. So long as every­one had some kind of smart device, any­one could pick up and play the sim­ple and addic­tively fun games. As new entries have arrived, there has been a mixed bag of as Jack­box Games has exper­i­mented with the for­mula. Com­ing off of what was, in my opin­ion, the best suite of games thus far with The Jack­box Party Pack 3, there was a lot to live up to for The Jack­box Party Pack 4. Some games suf­fer from over­com­pli­cated rules, but largely this is another fun pack of games that any group can enjoy.

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