590 Reviews liked by Cakewalking

Going into Yakuza 4, I wasn't sure of what to expect, as pretty much nobody talks about it and reception seems to be mixed, so it surprised me how much quicker and strongly the game hooked me from the start. With the multiple character setup, the city is open for you very early on, but this game also has the best progression system in the whole series, as I hear even 5 messes it up a little, letting you pick exactly which upgrade you want as long as it's not locked. This lets you get new moves quickly and have fun with the combat very easily, despite how limited every character that isn't Kiryu ends up feeling. Despite the snappy gameplay though, its first chapter is pretty slow when it comes to proper bosses (more than 8 hours for Akiyama if you go around doing side stories!) and meaty story bits, partly, because Yakuza 4 is more interested in showing us who the new protags are on a personal level, so it's not a big problem if you're into that.
Speaking of levels, they're the best in the whole series so far! In my Yakuza 3 review, I mourned how little of them there were, as this is where Yakuza's combat shines the most. Here, they throw neat twists to the combat that I'm surprised took this long for them to try, and coupled with the great progression system, they can be a great challenge as sometimes the game will put them at the beginning of a character's story and you'll have to... Think about which moves are most convenient to buy in your current situation, woah. Akiyama's has no healing items because it's at the end of his story, Saejima's has you dodge snipers while you fight and he also has some fights with time limits before this; Tanimura has you fight enemies while walking on slippery oil and Kiryu gets one that lasts like one hour, with 4 minibosses and a fight in the dark. It's great! But the finale really needed one final epic level where you switch between all 4 protags before the final bosses. You finish leveling everyone up and some of their side content, ready to take on the final challenge and it ends very quickly and underwhelmingly.
This is why I also recommend doing Amon on this one. The game doesn't require you to complete every hostess and every minigame to unlock it this time, so it's pretty easy to get to him, and the fight isn't complete stupidity for masochists either, I fought him on hard mode and I didn't even die, but it was a decent challenge and a good way to finish the game. I was actually advised against playing hard mode, people saying Saejima's first boss was one of the worst designed in the series, but it really wasn't that bad. I honestly had more trouble with the dude that chokes grenades at you on that level lol. What surprises me is that Yakuza 3 combat haters never complain about this one's combat. Maybe it is because I was on hard, but I swear, something actually IS wrong with this game because the frequency in which enemies will grab you from behind, even teleporting from 6 feet away to do so and stunlock you as 5 dudes punch you is way more egregious than any of the blocking in Yakuza 3. One quick tip for the final boss, no spoilers, get a good spear for Tanimura, trust me.
Some notes on side content: Inner Fighter sucks in this. It came up with neat twists to previous boss fights in 3, but here, they only do it with the chainsaw guy for some reason and you only get new skills from fighting Kiryu, whereas 3 gave you some with all fights, so it's a waste to do them outside of Kiryu unless you want a larger heat bar, which you don't need. There are less substories this time, but the game doesn't overwhelm you with them like 3 did, it feels like the right amount for each character. And finally, Yakuza 4 introduces a batting cage minigame that doesn't suck ass!
Now I'm gonna talk a bit about the story so get out if you haven't played it. Let's get it out of the way, the twist is fine, the first time. Most of the talk about this game's story revolves around it, but its critics seem to not realize that the whole point is that this is the shittiest, most sloppily done conspiracy ever, and the only reason it was kept that way is because someone of higher power and even more corrupt wanted in on the whole thing for bigger purposes. It doesn't invalidate Saejima's arc or his scene at the coliseum either, even if he didn't kill all those people, he still pulled the trigger each time, lived for years with the trauma and guilt, was treated like an animal in prison and lost his sister because of it. No wonder he doesn't give a shit that they were rubber bullets and he got framed. Part of this twist is obviously still motivated by the awkwardness of RGG Studio not actually wanting to have a protagonist that murdered people so savagely but also wanting to have multiple protagonists that are criminals, corrupt officers, or just kinda shitty people (Akiyama). Now, the second time this rubber bullet twist happens, it's pretty silly, but whatever.
Akiyama may have the shortest end of the stick here, I really would've liked to see more of his relationship with Arai and I think he should've been the one to fight Kido as well, he's been friends with both for years and I think this should've been the emotional crux of the conflict with the villains, but it left them without someone to fight Saejima with Katsuragi being both weak and dead. I dunno, they could've brought back the biggest hater in Japan, Saito, one last time, who would surely side with Munakata. I enjoy Munakata's design, guy never seems to blink and it makes him creepy as hell, but there's a reason these games always have the weak main villain with a gun and goons be the penultimate boss, and have a strong rival as the final boss. Maybe they could've had Daigo as the final boss, whose role here, really should've carried a lot more weight. Kiryu's just kinda reprimending him and because this is a Yakuza game, this can only be done with a shirtless fistcuff on a rooftop, but unlike Yakuza 3, it doesn't feel like it should go like this with Daigo, who looks like he knows he has no chance of winning here. I would've liked to see a Daigo that gets more corrupted by the position Kiryu mistakenly put him in, a Daigo that goes "balls out" to accomplish his goal, even if it means killing Kiryu. So we're left with Munakata for last and Tanimura is the one to fight him because it makes the most thematic sense.

A lot of it feels like they wrote the story first and designed the game second, and it would explain many of the issues with the game. The plot isn't as convoluted as it's made to be, Yakuza 3's was worse, but most of it is awkwardly dumped on Tanimura's chapter as, again, the game is more interested in exploring the characters on a personal level, where it usually shines really nicely. I especially love, once more, Hamazaki's arc. The whole "this clan is the only proof guys like us ever existed" thing really got to me, here's where RGG actually manages to fully do it, I feel empathy for a proper criminal that did terrible things, with just a few words. The game is very good overall, but its finale just deflates the whole thing and makes people think the whole thing sucks in both gameplay and story and I think it's far from it.
Special thanks to @Detchibe for this and Binary Domain's Steam key.
Boxcelios > Boxcelios II

This review contains spoilers

Gear up, this is somewhat of a long one, and my first big review on this website! :D
I just "finished" Talos Principle about half an hour ago, and by finished I mean I got two endings: the tower one and the stars one. I'm still not done, I'm going to go back and 100% complete the game and see the easter eggs I missed next week when I have free time, and I'll update this when I do so, but for now here's my thoughts.
Go for the tower ending. It's an absolutely fantastic closer to the story, which is I found to be extremely heartfelt and packed in with a lot of nice philosophy (which some admittedly goes over my head, I'm not very smart on this subject) and extremely hard-hitting moments. There were some extremely heartfelt and depressing moments that had me in tears, even when it was just text on a screen. The problems with the story, though, are the narrative pacing. A lot of its best moments are packed in with a lot of weaksauce allegory squished in between (that some also went over my head), though despite that, uncovering the secrets of the world you inhabit and what's actually going on is still a great experience, whether it's through Elohim, a snarky talker, good text logs, or the fantastic audio recordings (Alexandria's VA was so good!). Some of the QR codes were also funny and nice worldbuilding (and even lead to a nice out-of-world puzzle :D).
The "characters" are also good, specifically the computer AI and Elohim, though I think the computer AI needed some work. Part of his routine is to make you think about the world and ask you questions, but you have pre-ordained responses to him. I believe it's intentional, because of the nature of the world that it's built (commented meta-wise through text logs aware that it's a game), where it has specific responses you can use to eventually gain true independence. That being said, it's frustrating to be unable to answer questions in the way you want to, or to add nuance when the AI gives edge cases and you want to say "there's a line", or it's "context-dependent", which are not available answers. I still like it and the reason it exists, and the snarks are hilarious. Though I also think the AI could've been... a LITTLE less pretentious.
Also on the stars ending, it's not worth it. I think it's neat to potentially be a "helper" for future players that are in your friends list, but I think the QR paint code is already more interesting interaction (I got freaked out by a few of them lol). The helpers also come so late by the C-world, and from what I've gathered there's usually not that many puzzles left, unless of course they've been skipping sigils, but I think most people playing this game will go out of their way to do a lot.
The gameplay, especially the puzzle design, is top-notch with some rough patches. The difficulty curve is really good, especially with the grey puzzles and the think outside the box stars, though it has problems where by the C-world I found the main puzzles too easy, save for a few exceptions (the prison break one and Tower 5 AAAAAAA). The stars are GREATLY challenging and I appreciate their existence for the most part, though you do notice patterns eventually after solving a few (I like to say your brainwaves match the devs and you realize how they craft them). The way you think outside the box is great, especially with the signposting.
I had so many "a-ha" moments, which I think is my favorite part about playing puzzle games. I had a lot of them through Worlds A and B. I also think it's great how open-ended it is to go do puzzles while having some hard ones gated off, keeps the difficulty curve nice for most of the game. Elohim also pushes you to do other puzzles when you're stuck so you don't get tunnel vision, which is great.... but I'm super persistent and refuse to let a game BEAT ME! Got an achievement for it :3
Platform usage is also really cool but underutilized. Some reflector puzzles using great spatial awareness, especially the ones when you have to realize their multiple uses, are GOAT. Almost every puzzle requiring smart usage of multiple jammers were my favorite puzzles by far, especially ones asking for smart observation skills. The recorder also had some great puzzles. It's so much fun when it first shows up and you find out what it records over time, that's wild. The fans are also great for great 3D up-down awareness puzzles, though it can be a little frustrating when what you think the fan gives to solve isn't what it actually is (maybe fan distance signposting?).
Exploring to find stuff is neat, but... I feel like the process of knowing where the stars are is annoying, at least parallel to how little I think the stars ending is worth. I feel like a "path" signposting would've been nice to see where they are but give no help to solve it. There were 2 stars that were outright BULL and I don't even want to talk about them.
Some other frustrating mechanics I want to talk about include the recorder. While I love its use in puzzles, it's SOOOOO SLOWWWWWWWWW. I wish there was a way to speed it up instead of having to stand on a platform for so long because I don't trust myself to be speedy. The mines and turrets are also TOO GOOD AT THEIR JOB. I think they're way too scary. Made me dread every time I came close to them, or had to do a puzzle with them. I had to use a messenger on one with a mine because I didn't want to do it because SCARY... and that's when I found out they don't solve it for you, so I had to do it anyway. ;_;
Getting the axe and then having to painfully go through elevators to open up new entrances was a bruh moment. Block sigil puzzles are also STUPID AND I HATE THEM. 2D topography awareness is my kryptonite along with geometry. Figuring out where one stupid block goes in the square drove me nuts. They also had an annoying difficulty spike around Tower Level 3 in runtime.
Not a fault of the game, but I do wish this game was more accessible. The messengers you can unlock do give neat guidance, but I wish they were more helpful and plentiful. Having a tiny amount makes you never want to use them, though I think it was the devs' intention of wanting you to solve it by yourself (especially with the ARE YOU SURE)... but the hints they give aren't that great either. They're a good step to help, but they're not amazing from the two times I used them (just for achievements hehe). But again, this is a nitpick.
Some other nice things. Finding the dev room was super nice, and I'm excited to find other easter eggs when I go back to 100% finish. I was warned that the game would not be wise during current time right now, but I actually found the coronavirus timing to be both hilarious for some things and.... made other stuff hit harder. I don't think the current global situation is a barrier to entry, but it's worth thinking about..
The aesthetic is nice, though it really hits when you find the sacred grounds. The music for messenger rooms are godlike. The general OST is pretty good, though I started tuning it out (save for sacred grounds) by the C-worlds. Long times spent on puzzles and the OST not being that gigantic does eventually make you grow tired of it, and it's not THAT amazing an OST to replay constantly, unlike Celeste imo (though they're both completely different games).
When I'm eventually completely finished with Talos Principle, I really want to break down how each puzzle teaches the mechanics of the world. It reminds me of Portal but it has more depth to its teachings, and I think in the future that's going to be a big passion project for me... when I have time. I'm doing a lot of things at once.
Anyway, really good game. I don't have the time for a TL;DR right now, and these aren't my true final thoughts as I still need to complete it all! But I enjoyed it still. Thinking 8.5/10
(Thanks to SGS for the game rec!)

Since jumping into Starfield on its Gamepass release date, I’ve become even more of a disgusting gremlin than I already was. No longer cognizant of the passage of time, I have let my already unhealthy sleep schedule become positively obliterated. My baby son’s life passed by in the blink of an eye. I spend my days bathed in the sickly light of my television, creeping to the kitchen periodically to get a tasty treat. The only evidence of my wife’s survival is a missing Diet Coke or two from the fridge.
Starfield is not ’No Man’s Skyrim’. It’s actually more like a better version of The Outer Worlds. I have gripes with it that keep it from a top score, like a pretty weak opening, the lack of interior ship customization, repetition of outposts, and the fact that you can’t have a fleet of ships captained by your ai companions… okay, they didn’t necessarily promise that last one but having only one ship out at a time seems like a missed opportunity. While you can’t circumnavigate every planet on foot, many have multiple biomes and topographical features, with plenty of secrets and activities to discover. I ran into a crazy amount of weird side quests just because I took the time to explore and root around on land and in space.
I can only speak to my expectations and experience with the game, but I think this is the most actual roleplaying a Bethesda game has allowed since Morrowind through its skills, quests, and traits. Many of the quests allow multiple routes for completion, with different avenues of play and endings. The central followers all being goodie-two-shoes is another qualm I have, but I usually play the good guy anyway. The main quest isn’t excruciatingly annoying this time around (Have you seen Shaun, my baby… Shaun he’s just a baby, a brand new baby little baby child!), with an ending and New Game+ that serves and a direct answer to me restarting Skyrim 1,000 times over the years.
But I love exploring strange new worlds, constructing spaceships, getting into dogfights, and expanding my crew. In many ways this is a dream come true game for me, far surpassing No Man’s Sky with its inclusion of compelling side quests and narratives, even if I can’t seamlessly fly from a planet to space. Another gripe. But for my worries going into this game and relative displeasure with Bethesda over the past couple years, I was pleasantly surprised to find they had loosened up on me as a player. I’m stoked for The Elder Scrolls VI, because I think they’ll almost certainly resolve some of my complaints just by toning down the physical scale a bit. Not saying it won’t be big, but I don’t think it’ll have 1,000 planets and therefore will probably have less repeated content; I’m glad they tried it here even if I don’t feel it’s right for Elder Scrolls or Fallout.
I have spent too much time away from the game now… the Starfield is speaking to me. I give myself to it. Goodbye.

Starfield is the surprise of the year. The trajectory of titles developed by Bethesda Game Studios has consistently declined since the launch of Morrowind. This decline has been characterized by a noticeable simplification of game systems to cater to a broader, more mainstream audience.
Starfield is not quite the return to deep, engaging RPG systems, but it seems like the closest thing we could get from the studio now. After an admittedly terrible introductory few hours that feel like an afterthought, the game opens up and lets the player off the leash.
While many have understandably bemoaned the disconnected, fast-travel-oriented nature of the game's structure, when you're in the game's main cities, it's hard to care because it's extremely easy to get sucked into one of these locations. My first time landing on Neon, the game's cyberpunk-themed city, I got sidetracked from a main quest and wrapped up into the branching feed of side content that mostly felt well crafted before stumbling upon the planet's faction quest, which was shockingly excellent.
The world is much more reactive to the player than BGS's modern output. Characters involved in intersecting quests acknowledge your previous deeds, and occasionally, your choices can significantly impact quest progression, even allowing you to bypass certain parts. Admittedly, there are occasional awkward moments, such as companions who should be aware of specific events acting surprised by related revelations. However, the frequency of these dynamic world reactions is a notable departure from the typical approach found in both Bethesda Game Studios titles and contemporary AAA games.
Here, not only do your choices carry weight, but your character's background plays a pivotal role, too. This manifests in dialog options that ground your character within the game world and in choices that profoundly impact progression and interactions with the world.
For instance, I opted for the "Neon Street Rat" background and assumed the role of a Cyberunner, and the consequences reverberated through my experiences in Neon and the Ryujin questline. These effects ranged from characters recognizing my character's prior knowledge of local gangs and politics to dialog choices that provided alternatives to persuasion when dealing with quest characters. Essentially, it felt like my character was more than just an apparatus for me to navigate the world, but an actual individual.
It's also a beautiful game, and not just by BGS standards. This is easily the strongest art direction of any title made by the studio, and I found myself taken aback by how gorgeous environments or vistas were, whether I was in space or on one of the game's procedurally generated planets.
The procedural nature of these planets is a hangup, as the game always has a different sense of exploration than one would expect from a BGS game. However, this is offset by the quality of the individual cities, which are incredibly dense. Even then, it often feels more like an elaboration on Mass Effect than it does Fallout or Elder Scrolls in space. But even within this segmented nature lie small nuggets of discovery that lead to some of the best moments in the game. For example, while fast traveling to a system for a faction quest, I came upon a ship hailing for immediate assistance. I found myself face-to-face with an AI developed from NASA's Juno probe that had been aimlessly wandering through the galaxy for centuries.
The quality of the writing is all over the place, with some incredibly rote dialog that is easily skipped through and some legitimately gripping sequences such as this.
Other than the segmented nature of "Loadingfield" another issue is how long it can take for builds to activate and many of the game's most interesting systems (such as shipbuilding) being locked behind skills. I understand that this was done because the developers intended players to play through multiple NG+ runs, but it often feels at odds with the type of game that BGS wants to make, one that allows players to see nearly everything. This game have substantially benefitted from cutting players off from certain factions or questlines due to their allegiances since it focuses on NG+ runs and alternate realities.
The most significant problem for me was grappling with the game's confusing politics and vision of a future society that seemingly never evolved beyond contemporary neoliberalism. Jemison and the UC are emblematic of this, as they have classes for their citizenship. The Freestar Rangers, billed as the antithetical faction, are just a different flavor of capitalists in that they are raging libertarians. Overall, it tries to present a hopeful vision of the future. Still, I was disappointed by such a myopic view of the future held back by contemporary capitalist ideology. Maybe that's an unrealistic expectation since this game was made under said ideology, but still. And Jesus does this game like cops. Almost every faction is a different flavor of space cop. Thankfully, some of these end with the player getting to choose to kill CEOs and political war criminals, which makes this an easier pill to swallow, even if the game presents these people as isolated evils instead of symptoms of a more immense superstructure.
All-in-all, Starfield is a thoroughly enjoyable, if low-stakes, adventure. The end of the game offers a rather poignant and genius play on the concept of the Bethesda protagonist that makes at least the main quest worth playing for anyone who enjoyed even one of BGS's previous titles.
If there are multiple realities as Starfield posits, there's definitely a better version of this game in one of those. But in this one, Starfield was never going to be able to live up to the expectations placed upon it by Besthesda, Microsoft, and fans. But in a world where development times have reached 5-6 years, that's ok because sometimes a flawed but enjoyable experience is enough.

yeo's environmental design, soundtrack direction, and laissez-faire approach to 'structure' elevates the somber and dour proceedings here and the title's very much so animated by its refusal to guide the player in any strict sense. it's commendable how driven yeo is towards theme and feeling and the world has just enough in the way of flourishes to stimulate a sense of role-playing but too little to fully and succinctly become immersed in; yeo does well to play with this disconnect, causing the complete and utter listlessness of the game to swell and swell and continue to swell prior to the game's climax (if you could call it that) on a frigid november day
on the other hand...there's a dearth of particulars here for me to really feel invested in or compelled by. backtracking here: ringo ishikawa's ultimate success lies in a delicate marriage between the formal & aesthetic language of a kunio-kun game, and the - you'll have to forgive the reductive if undemanding comparison - exploratory, life-sim mechanics of something like shenmue. and the idea's so obvious, so axiomatic even in the kunio-kun games that ringo does little to iterate upon that idea, with certain environmental backgrounds and even mechanics feeling directly lifted from its NES progenitor. thrusting the lifesim framework to the forefront, then, is the most transformative quality of ringo and it achieves this by inviting players to test the boundaries of the world and create their own sense of meaning within that structure - that ringo obscures how tightly directed the game actually is only serves to further entrench just how well-considered and intelligent its design is as well. the game is also underscored by honest-to-god literary ambition which all eventually coalesces into an absolutely devastating ending but whatever i digress
point is, stone buddha...bit less going for it. it's a mood piece first and foremost - which, to its credit, its executes with total conviction and belief in the premise - but everything that you'd expect a game which probes into ennui would have is here, which honestly does it no favours. a lack of concrete narrative + good deal of economical prose invites some lovely interpretations, but you can see this specific ending coming a mile away and there's just too little that's actually transformative about it to really have the same sense of emotional resonance
sounds like im ragging but it's still a great time. unpolished sections and inelegant difficulty curve, sure, but it doesn't overstay its welcome and yeo's willingness to eschew conventional game design continues to delight. there's a lot to love about how the mechanics inform the atmosphere and how you eventually build an innate and instinctual feeling for exactly what you're supposed to do (and i particularly did enjoy how rote it felt when finally mastered - that contrast between what's supposed to be kinetic and improvisational versus the reality that you're a slowly advancing turret) but im also unconvinced that that part of the game was supposed to be intentionally monotonous like everyone says or whatever which does make me feel a bit of internal conflict. id bet my apartment on yeo designing the combat with a bottle of beluga going like 'yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa'. good for him

"Gee, Ichi. What are we going to do this fight?"
"The same thing we do every fight, Adachi. Use our strongest AoE ad nauseam."
The transition to turn based JRPG battles is refreshing at first but becomes a drag as the game progresses. Unlike the other Yakuza games where you always adapt to a situation and feel like you've grown as a player through new combos, here you will almost always use the same couple attacks. I almost never used a status ailment outside of poison and rarely buffed my party or debuffed enemies outside of boss fights. That so many bosses resist all but one type of damage makes them exceptionally tedious, even moreso when they can one shot you. The cycle of Orbital Laser, Orbital Laser, restore MP/HP, repeat during the second last boss fight is the most egregious example of this. I feel this could largely be remedied by giving bosses more health and removing their resistances altogether so you can at least feel like you're doing something even with your party members who cannot exploit a weakness.
On the plus side the story is good but not great, though that's understandable given these are new characters without several games of backstory to fully flesh them out. Everything else is more Yakuza which is all it ever needed to be.

You, a nondescript robed person awake in what seems to be some sort of sarcophagus, you wander down some stairs, through an arch and further up some stairs of a beautifully vibrant yellow world full of clean lines and strong shadows along with a lovely whistling tune that accompanies you. You eventually find yourself at a broken piece of wall that leads out to a glistening man made stream, possibly a canal and just a little further you come up to a door and your first interaction both literally with actions and also with the game's world and ideas.
Before you is a simple device with a handle and what seems to be a sign. Both the device and the handle share a simple two point gear stick-type marking but the sign has four icons. Four characters possibly?
These characters are certainly not latin-script, they’re not arabic or kanji.
It takes you little time to notice the four of them are in two sets of two and both pairs have the same glyph second.
Your protagonist opens a journal to take note of these and now you’re allowed to write whatever you want to relate to them, but what do they mean?
This here lies the puzzle and the main thrust of the game, you can take an educated guess, you can pull the lever to see what happens to further inform your decisions or you can leave it and move on to see if anything else can give you some context.
Not too far on you meet another character, seemingly a little stuck across the canal who speaks to you. The NPC says something shown to be one glyph, followed by another three, you know from your previous fun with the door and other levels that they want you to open a door.
Albert Mehrahian surmised that communication is only 7% words, that more than half of it is non-verbal while the rest was vocal.
The NPC seems to do a small bow and the tone of their voice is certainly not threatening so you can be sure that the thing to do, not only because you’re playing a video game but is right, is to help them.
Through a small series of one-sided conversations the two of you meet, they say the same glyph they first used when they saw you and leave.
After a group of interactions the protagonist notes down with illustrations some of the things they have seen and you can now assign the glyphs to these things.
If you had been making notes you’ll be placing things quite easily but even without you can use some process of elimination.
In a similar fashion to Obra Dinn’s rule of three, these double page spreads that typically are no more than a handful of pictures will not tell you if your guesses are right until you have them all.
Once this is done however each time you see or hear those glyphs again in the world you’ll have subtitles where not only your guesses are used but grammar is corrected because as you’ll be quickly reminded in Chants of Sennaar not all languages have the same sentence structure and grammar can change throughout.
Without ruining the beautiful sights, as you progress up the tower seemingly as with the whole game a reimagining of the biblical Tower of Babel (which is the land of Shinar), you’ll meet different people with different languages.
The game will not always make you start from scratch however as much as visiting foreign countries some signs and other things may show two sets of languages which will not perfectly translate but give you a huge head start into figuring out yet another language.
Each of these floors have different people and different vibes but they are all interconnected and they all look beautiful.
Chants of Sennaar is one of the best arguments for art direction over graphical oomph. I ran this game on a very underpowered laptop at higher settings with no hiccups, no issues, not even a slightly hot machine. Simple may sometimes come across as an insult, but it is far from it here.
Whilst visiting these sights and untangling the puzzle of new languages the only small fly in the ointment swims up to the surface in the form of stealth sections.
I understand those two words alone will be enough to put people into a state of shock, but do not be worried. While the stealth sections are by no means fun or something ever worth thinking about they do at least fit within what is happening and are short and forgiving.
Chants of Sennaar is a beautiful and wonderful game that gives you the right amount of head scratching alongside the joy of feeling like a genius when you get something right or you start to feel you’ve cracked the code.
While occasionally you may find yourself simply guessing in a poor process of elimination, much more often you will notice patterns in the glyphs, how they relate, where they are and when they are used. Your guesses will be more and more educated and very rarely a shot in the dark and even if you are struggling to see what the game is trying to show you the Obra Dinn-like journal will always give you a fighting chance.
Chants of Sennaar doesn’t just play and teach us with the wonders of translation, it shows how it can connect us all throughout its strong, but again simple, narrative and this allows the game to not only let you think “I’m a genius” but quite a lot of the time that things can be nice and you’re doing good in this virtual world.
Once it’s all said and done this game will stick with you will feel good about yourself and that you’ve spent your time wisely and that is something that’s not always easy to say with a straight face when talking about video games.
So come on, you should really give this game a Chants.

An improvement over previous Payday games in most aspects, but it wouldn't be an Overkill game without some baffling missteps. That the game exists in a "real engine" should presumably receive partial credit for obvious improvements to moving and shooting, but the developers themselves deserve the rest: They have clearly been paying attention to how missions are played and received during Payday 2's ten-year lifespan and used that knowledge to craft 8 heists that are - any way you slice them - more interesting than Payday 2's base game offerings. They're further enhanced by changes to stealth that make it feel like a worthwhile approach in its own right instead of a shortcut you take to level up without playing the game. All of this forms a solid base for future growth, and it does need some future growth: Overkill have been a bit too aggressive when it comes to trimming features from their last game and seem to have thrown some important QOL features out with the bathwater.
Pre-game lobby chat is non-existent, which can be pretty important for coordinating strategies and loadouts. Similarly important for team play are ammo indicators for your teammates - I don't even need exact numbers (Deep Rock has it figured out), but I'd like to drop an ammo bag at the right time without relying on my teammates to ask. These are the most obvious ones, but problems like this start to pop up everywhere as you start looking for information you would have if you fired up Payday 2 right now. I say "right now" because they've made these mistakes before: Payday 2 had serious information issues at launch, especially when it came to knowing how much a skill increases a value and for what duration. Making these numbers visible in Payday 3 is a complete layup when it comes to balancing development effort with player appreciation, given that any long-time PD2 player can probably name 2 or 3 major HUD mods (even if they didn't use them!) dedicated to slathering the screen in even more hideous timers.
It needs work, but it's a decent game. I'll admit that I came into this one fully expecting to love it so it should be little surprise that I do, but I think that the most dated parts of Payday 2 (gameplay systems and some mission design) have seen the greatest glow-up and I think the differences will be obvious and greatly appreciated by the vast majority of people who are coming from the old games.

As much as I love Spider-Man, it’s hard to deny this game’s off-putting love for authoritarianism and cops.
I hate to play the outspoken, annoying Spider-Man nerd here, but you can’t have Spider-Man and cops be buddy-buddy; it just doesn’t make sense. Especially a Spider-Man who claims to help the homeless while at the same time upholding and praising the very same state apparatus that enacts violence upon this group and throws them into inhumane cages for simply existing. Not only does Spider-Man love cops in this game, but he sure does have a hard-on for mass police surveillance.
Spider-Fascist (2018) is just another on a long list of superhero properties that have been reduced to nothing but a mouthpiece for the state and those who support the oppressive systems it upholds.
Despite all that, the game is still enjoyable to play, but my enjoyment is brought down quite a bit by this game’s love of cops and constant need to praise them.
Hopefully, Spider-Man 2, which is coming out next month, won’t have these same issues, but I’m doubtful. I know I will have a fun time with the game as I did with this game, but it'll be a fun time that's soured by its fascist overtones.