Flash Reviews – December 2017 (Stardew Valley, Destiny 2, Wonder Boy)

(Previous flash reviews: October 2017, November 2017)

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Review – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Switch/PSVR)

This review is going to be a little unique. We have two new versions of Skyrim, and being the Elder Scrolls fan that I am, I couldn’t stop myself from nabbing both. (Yeah, call me crazy!) Both ports were compelling to me for different reasons, and they are both great in their own ways. Still, they are the same game, so I decided to combine both reviews into one. I will write briefly about the game as a whole, and then I will dive into each version.

Skyrim should be a game that requires no introduction. Even if you’ve never played it, it’s impossible to miss the lasting impression this game left in the collective psyche of gamers everywhere. It was an enchanting experience, carried by the strength of its dense game world and interesting lore. Today, its DNA lives on in many modern games, but there’s still nothing quite like exploring the cold, desolate and wondrous landscape of Skyrim.

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Review – Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

In 2005, Capcom released what I consider to be one of the best games of all time: Resident Evil 4. Injecting just the right dose of action into the mechanics of its slow and clunky predecessors, it pioneered innovative concepts that would be imitated to death in other games, including later games in the franchise. That template would be reused to some success (See Resident Evil: Revelations), but it also felt like Capcom had no idea where to take the series after that. The best example of this is the directionless mishmash of ideas that made up Resident Evil 6, a game that tried to incorporate several different design directions, but failed at all of them.

But if that failure was required for them to bounce back with a game like Resident Evil 7, I’d say it was all worth the wait. Not only is this game a triumphant return to form for the franchise, it is also one of the best horror games of the past few years. All that it took was to shed the convoluted baggage that the series had built up over the years, bringing us back to the core elements of Resident Evil: you, in a spooky house, with a bunch of monsters trying to kill you.

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Review – Doom

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Playing Doom on the Nintendo Switch is kind of a surreal experience. This is the full Doom experience here, and while some concessions have been made in the visuals, it still walks the proverbial demon-slaying walk. It’s easy to see the parallels to 1995, when the original Doom was ported to the SNES, with its own hits to visual quality, frame rate and resolution. And while today it is not the most ideal way to play Doom, it was an impossible port that brought the game to a wider audience.

Of course, things aren’t as dramatic for this port of last year’s Doom reboot. That said, there’s still an undeniable magic in playing a game like this on a portable system. This is a polished modern AAA experience, in the palm of your hands. This is really what the Nintendo Switch was made for, and it’s an important port that shows what this system is capable of.

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Review – Divinity: Original Sin II

Divinity: Original Sin II is an RPG developed and published by Larian Studios. The first Divinity: Original Sin was one of the better Kickstarter-funded games in recent memory. It was, at its heart, a classic-style CRPG that was extremely well designed. It did away with a lot of archaic design decisions that often plague games in that genre, and Original Sin II goes even further to perfect this formula. In fact, it goes beyond being a simple callback to the days of classic RPGs, and perfectly nails down the magic that makes role playing so fun in the first place.

The world of Original Sin II is one of the most fully realized RPG worlds that I’ve ever played. Not only is the lore fantastic, your character and the choices that you make will deeply impact the experience that you have. Exploration and discovery exist in every facet of this game, be it in the dense overworld, the combat, the dialogue, or the character classes and skills.

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PlayStation VR Impressions

Although I was really enthusiastic about the potential of what VR can bring to games, I skipped out on buying a VR set when the first wave of consumer VR came out last year. I was an owner of the Oculus Rift DK2, but for my first true consumer VR headset, I wanted to be sure that I picked the right platform for me. This week, I bought a PSVR over the PC competitors for two reasons: first, it’s managed to build up a decent library of games over the past year; and second, the cost of entry is still much lower than with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which require high end PCs to work with. So how do I feel about the purchase a week later?

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