Sneaking suspicion

How amazing that a turn-based game can feel so urgent. In invisible, Inc., I have as much time as I need to position my agents just so, but I’m always paying attention to the security level at the top right of my screen. That meter tells you when security will be heightened during your heist, and it’s a vital part of what makes this stealth game worth the gray hairs it causes.

Humans cannot live on atmosphere alone.

At their heart, adventure games are about delivering a narrative. They’re mechanically simple. At their most complex, they offer puzzles that give the player some agency in the world, and slow their progression so they don’t just blast through the narrative content. This means that in order to be successful, adventure games need to precisely execute on the few attributes they offer. There isn’t anywhere for developers to hide weakness or inexperience.

Tough center

Soft Body is a playable kaleidoscope, an ever-changing symphony of motion, color, and sound. It’s a mixture of different genres, combining the best aspects of bullet hell games, puzzle games, and Snake to create a challenging and mesmerizing experience.

Combat Week runs May 13-19.

Rockstar Games has detailed the next weekly event for Grand Theft Auto V’s multiplayer mode.”Combat Week,” as Rockstar is calling it, starts today, May 13, and runs through May 19. As part of the event, Rockstar is offering discounts on heavy artillery and vehicles from the Warstock supplier. Additionally, items and services from Ammu-nation and Merryweather are on sale.

Too many hooks.

For a game with so many strong personalities, Battleborn somehow lacks a cohesive identity. Every facet from the characters to the progression to the visual presentation feels overloaded with ideas–some good, some bad, some just confusing. Because it throws so much against the wall, the end result is a scattered grabbag of manic gameplay, complex leveling, and cartoony humor. It vacillates wildly between excitement and predictability, innovation and routine, inspiration and incomprehensibility. In short, Battleborn is fun but messy, and while I appreciate its hyper-stimulating approach, parsing the experience underneath can be maddeningly tricky.

Interstellar remains.

Galak-Z is a game of tense moments and heavy decisions. Its first expansion The Void, to its detriment, is one long adrenaline rush from start to finish. Galak-Z’s frenetic core mechanics are intact, but The Void has sacrificed much of what makes the game so great in the first place.

Oh, to be dead again.

Shooters have certainly changed since Doom 3 landed on Xbox and PC over a decade ago, so it comes as a relief to discover that the new Doom embodies the spirit that I loved about its predecessors. Sure, it’s laced with modern touches–Glory Kills get a lot of attention–but after a handful of hours with the campaign, the core experience is thus far familiar-feeling in the ways that truly matter. The demons are tough, the guns are fantastic, and the atmosphere is gnarly. So far, so good. Without early access to Doom, I haven’t been able to play enough to write a full review yet. Like anyone picking it up at launch, I will be knee-deep in virtual blood and ammo casings over the weekend, prepping for my full review early next week.

Gods and monsters

The Magic Circle is another entry in the burgeoning but fascinating subgenre of games about the process of making games. Most games in that niche tend to aim small, often taking up the perspective of underdogs struggling to make tiny personal games in an industry filled with multimillion-dollar productions. The Magic Circle, on the other hand, aims big. It’s the product of AAA veterans, evidenced by some impressive technical wizardry, but also by the tone and timbre of its commentary, which pointedly deconstructs the egos of business types that tend to rip creativity up by the roots during big-budget game development.

Bleszinski weighs in.

Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski has shared his early reactions to id Software’s long-awaited and just-released Doom. Writing on Twitter, Bleszinski said he’s enjoying the game a lot, but had one “minor” piece of criticism–and it’s the same one he has for Gears of War. Check out the tweets below (via DualShockers).

Old-school multiplayer shooting with flair.

Housemarque has produced action games with an old school pedigree for years, but Alienation may be its most intense release yet. The epitome of the retro-style, overhead four-player shooter done up with new school technology, this is a game that clearly shows off the developer’s skills at crafting intense action experiences. Alienation isn’t that far removed from Housemarque’s Dead Nation; the aliens you fight here frequently move in a zombie-like fashion. The overhead, isometric perspective and focus on team-based survival feel very familiar, too. However: the devil is in the details. There’s a decided focus on refinement over Housemarque’s past games in Alienation.