Total Games Played
Played in 2023
Recently Reviewed See More
I suck ass at this game, and even still, I'm having a good time!
Everything you do in ULTRAKILL feels fast, snappy, responsive. You gain a kind of machine-like intuition - an ability to quickly come up with plans and execute them. Death comes fast, but so does life- It's genuinely technically impressive how well the checkpoint system here works.
What's also executed a lot in ULTRAKILL are demons! SO many of them. You will find new and intuitive ways of spilling blood on yourself (it is your fuel, after all), and that's a great segue into talking about this game's many interconnected mechanics: I'll tread lightly in revealing them here because finding them yourself is satisfying as hell, but just know that basically anything that ULTRAKILL lets you do mechanically has several applications and interlocks with other stuff to a wonderful degree.
Thematically and story-wise- well, don't expect narrative ingenuity from this, but still, know that ULTRAKILL did a good bit of homework on the mythological and religious concept of Hell to come up with its world. This is expressed in some of the iconography used (without using any of the gimmes like pentagrams or reversed crosses I could see!) and some cool enemy designs. From literature, there's Dante's Inferno as the obvious pick (and you will see "Abandon all hope [etc.]" pretty early on), but most new levels are genuinely very interesting in how they conceptualise the place, and in how it reacts to intruders. I was half-expecting it to throw a No Exit reference at me next-- though I guess that's not really apt for a game about a robot that kills Hell Demons for their blood.
Accessibility design is also present to an acceptable degree. It's not as intricate as something like Celeste in its options, but like I said: I suck at shooters, and ULTRAKILL still allowed me to feel adequately challenged while not grinding me to dust.
Lastly - and this is a personal note, bear with me - if you have struggles with bad thoughts and the slow, grindy games that'll help some people don't do it for you, give this a try instead. It gets hard to overthink and beat yourself up when the dulcet (loud) soundscape and flashes of crunchy demon violence accompanied by sick-ass breakcore blares on in front of you.
I have deducted a half-star, but this is just because the game is still unfinished, and I want to be cautious in case they mess up the home stretch. I'm really looking forward to where this team takes it, though!
Splatter's a surprisingly tricky arena horde shooter with lots of strange and intriguing visual distortion effects that blur the line between "stylish" and "fugly" in a way that, surprisingly, really works. Splatter has a style - that much is for sure, but it's hard to put into words, and I don't think it can be described as "pretty"- nor is that what it's aiming for.
If you were assessing the game unfavorably, you could say that "Oh, it's just another game with a glitch aesthetic"- but I feel like the cause and effect are different here. Splatter looks like that because it very distinctly focuses in on broken, or scammy technological detritus in its thematics, rather than only the "made-ness" (and unravelling) of the game itself. I called it "viruscore" to a friend once, and that seems to fit the bill.
It's also fairly challenging. Simple to pick up, hard to get good at. It's made me sweat a good bit!
And the story is...
...the story is...
the story... is...
-I think I'll let you see this one for yourself. This review's spoiler-free! Congratulations. If I had to circumscribe my thoughts on it though, I'll do so by saying that one of the main devs of this thing and I had a very interesting conversation about modernist literature in their Discord! That's all.
A phrase nobody has ever heard before: "Disco Elysium is well-written." Bah! How well-written could a video game be?
...very, it turns out.
Disco Elysium, as a piece of media, stands toe to toe with grandiose works of the magnitude of Bulgakov's Master and Margerita, or Musil's The Man Without Qualities. Disco Elysium not only takes, but bull's-eye nails shots that even a lot of political works outside of games don't even take. It goes places; it is desperately, meticulously nuanced - often in ways close to total discomfort - without being scared to take a stance.
The point of the above is (apart from heaping praise, seriously this is a once-in-a-decade game) to prepare you for a lot of reading. The voice acting is good throughout (not perfect, but good), but it's still a game that requires you follow its text closely. It drains one's focus pretty heavily.
Also, the two book comparisons above were not innocent. If you know what I mean, then sorry for the slight spoilers - but this is not only a very funny, but a heavy game, too. With decent knowledge of world history (especially the first two world wars, in Europe or elsewhere), it is abyssal in its implications about the past and the now. If you don't have that knowledge, you will likely miss a lot of what this game is doing! Which would be a shame.
This being said: The games writer in me is has nothing but praise. Disco Elysium is a game that is aspirational to anyone seeking to create stories, characters, worlds, and change. If you are a CRPG fan, check it out. If you ever enjoyed a book, read this next. If you like video games at all, then play it, too.