I picked up a Steam Deck due to the recent summer sale discount, and in looking for small, snackable games from my library to install on it, I remembered that there were a bunch of Vampire Survivors clones (aka "garlic-likes") that would be perfect for the portable system. I noticed that this game finally hit its 1.0 build and figured that's as good a reason as any to revisit it and see how things have improved.

Folks, this game is exactly the same as when I last played it, only there's more characters and stages now. None of the fundamental flaws I noted in my previous review have been addressed, most notably how there's absolutely zero build variety here since you'll almost always end up with enough upgrades to pick more or less everything in the 20 minute gameplay promise. In the end, it just kind of makes the game boring, which is the worst thing a game could be.

The only time I had a smidge of fun here was when the game seemingly glitched out and disabled mouse/stick aiming, instead opting to auto-target the nearest enemy, bringing it closer to its Vampire Survivors cousin by inadvertently slimming down the game mechanics. I frame this like a mistake because I didn't adjust any gameplay settings to make this happen, and I have been unable to make it happen again since.

Oh well. The dev's next game, Emberpath looks much better at least, so hopefully this was a good learning 'n earning opportunity for 'em.

It'd be pretty easy to dismiss this as a baby game since it is essentially a glorified I-Spy book), but the presentation is so downright charming that I managed to get 3 hours of enjoyment out of it. I even got a little emotional at the credits? I guess I haven't escaped my millennial status after all, despite my best attempts...

Anyway, the game is fun. Great game to play on the Steam Deck in bed to help you fall asleep. It even contains a Pizza Tower reference, if that moves the needle for you at all.

You ever play a game and think to yourself, "man, this would've been a cornerstone of my personality when I was 12"? I had that feeling after my winning my first road rage event in Burnout Legends.

It is, frankly, absurd that this game plays as well as it does on the PSP. There's a blistering sense of speed on display here, and all of it is somehow legible on the tiny screen despite the very limited pixels it's working with. The soundtrack elevates the slick presentation tenfold as it keeps queuing up banger after banger after banger that only sound better when accompanied by the squealing of burning rubber and thundering of metal against metal.

I'm not a big racing game fan, but I think what sets this one apart from the others for me is the fact that everything about the game encourages you to drive like a reckless maniac and take every risk you can to get ahead. Burnout Legends isn't about safe, technical, well-executed driving: it's about deliberately racing against oncoming traffic and tackling your opposition into concrete barriers to keep your boost gauge topped off and flamed on at all times. Fuck brakes, you don't need 'em - the walls will steer you around the course's twists and turns as long as you're gentle about it.

A possible downside to all of this is that, since the game is built around you straight up bullying your fellow racers, there is some insane rubberbanding to the CPU opponents to ensure they keep up with you at all times. This is okay though, as it makes every race a seat-of-your-pants victory, and it never gets old smashing into the car ahead of you so hard that you send it careening into the sunset. It's particularly satisfying when you slam an opponent with such force and speed that the slow-mo crash cam that usually highlights your carnage doesn't have enough time to activate, or the physics calculations fail to keep up with the chaos and your opponent flies straight into the void under the course. No dull moments here, baby!

I'll definitely be coming back to this one since it's just a joy to play. Maybe it'll even inspire me to check out Burnout Revenge for the PS2...

Remedy's strength as a studio lies in their deeply interconnected worlds, so on paper, taking their recurring Twilight Zone pastiche using it as a vehicle for bite-sized episodic Elseworld stories is a no-brainer. In practice, it's fun, and it works great. Unfortunately though, this kind of framing means that the player knows going in that the stakes are low and the consequences are nonexistent - or, in other words, that you could skip this DLC and not miss anything of substance.

And while that is extremely true of the first two episodes, the third episode "Time Breaker" breaks (heh) all convention established by this narrative framework without invalidating the core conceit of it. It's dripping with that Remedy secret sauce that flips the bird to whatever expectations you walked in with.

Unsurprisingly, this makes it the best episode in the pack, and as an added bonus, it completely vindicates my recent playthrough of Quantum Break (even if it did leave me with more questions than answers). Can't wait to see what implications this has on the "Lake House" DLC!

Hit credits after about four hours or so and thought to myself "this was a nice short little game, I wouldn't mind grabbing the rest of the collectibles before moving on". Like five sessions, ten hours, and several pages of notes and ciphers later, I can confidently say that I've had my fun here - and that is to say that there are still more things left to find!

This game's got layers, man.

If you like games like Super Metroid or Tunic and are looking for a densely atmospheric puzzle adventure, this is not a game you should be missing. With a few more fast travel points and a little less platforming precision in some areas (if you found all the bunnies, you'll know what I'm talking about), this would be an easy five star for me. But even with those few minor shortcomings, it's on my 2024 Game of the Year shortlist and I am confidently inducting it into my indie game hall of fame. I can already feel that this'll kick off another wave of indie game fever for me like Outer Wilds did a while back, too.

TL;DR: Animal Well is a fantastically unique experience from start to finish and it is absolutely worth all the high praise you've been hearing.



...still can't believe a donkey published this game...

After 160 hours, seeing all endings, bosses, and NPC quests, I thought I had experienced everything worthwhile in Elden Ring. Then, in the first VaatiVidya lore video I booted up after my playthrough, I realized that I missed an entire secret area.

That's the kind of game Elden Ring is: an endless wealth of some of the best stuff FromSoftware has ever cooked up. While I still slightly prefer the theming and narrative of Bloodborne, it's hard to argue that Elden Ring isn't the apex of the Souls-like so far: the sheer scale and variety coupled with GRRM's grandiose world-building with its warring factions and twisted family trees all but ensures that. I wouldn't even be mad if FromSoftware retired the genre after this - I mean, how would you even begin to top this?

I really have nothing new or insightful to add here, Elden Ring is just a masterwork of a game that deserves all its accolades and more. Can't wait to see what Shadow of the Erdtree brings, because if FromSoftware's track record for DLC is anything to go by, the best of Elden Ring is still yet to come.

Absolutely love the concept but damn is this game jank as hell, mainly in how resizing the window breaks the game UI. Predatory monetization also drags the experience down: like, man, I'm playing this little virtual plant care game to avoid the stress of having succulents die from neglect. Why on earth does the concept of "real time passing will kill plants if you don't sign in and water them" exist in this idle game??

I like the snail though. "wow cute" yeah that's damn right.

Great news! You too can develop a debilitating gambling addiction for only $15!

I don't think you could create a more addicting game if you tried. The pick-up-and-play element of this roguelite deckbuilder is so strong since it's based on poker, a game invented in the goddamn 1700s. For those of you keeping score at home, that's before we figured out how to synthesize cocaine.

And yet somehow, despite its simple origins, Balatro is just packed full of content. The game keeps throwing new shit at me left and right and I haven't even cleared the third stake yet. The satisfaction of making an absolutely busted deck setup is insanely gratifying, like what do you MEAN that I can score three million points by playing a single crumpled holofoil ace of spades with some red wax on it while the sound design and screen shake activate every neuron in my monkey brain. Is it legal to do that. I don't think it should be. This game needs like a Prop 65 warning or something.

Probably gonna continue playing this one until it stops having a Tetris effect (no not that one) like impact on my dreams. I woke up in a cold sweat last night because I was dealt some clubs when I needed hearts. That sounds like a metaphor for something. Hopefully Mercury isn't in retrograde or I might be in trouble. Maybe I should consult a psychic, or at least one of my goth friends who can read tarot and is a little too obsessed with astrology. Or perhaps I'm just a fool. I fold, cash me out dealer before I royal flush my life away.

Anyway good game. Don't even think about checking it out.

* Played perfectly on Ubuntu 20.04.6 via Proton 7.0-6.

Finally checked out that Metroid Prime remake that everyone's been talking about and damn, what a bold move to whole hog genre swap it into a pinball game! ...what's that now? You're telling me everyone's been talking about a Metroid Prime remaster, not a remake? You mean this review doesn't even benefit from being topical??

Anyway, yeah, it's a retreading of Metroid Prime in the form of a pinball game. That's pretty much all there is to it. It's not really a good Metroid or a good pinball game, but it is a fascinating curio.

The most notable element of the game is its soundtrack: while every other table has background music that would be right at home in the Metroid Prime series proper (like the Tallon Overwold table for example), the Pirate Frigate table has the most out-of-place buttrock Brinstar remix with squealing guitars and girthy bass aplenty. It's even wilder on real hardware - you don't need that Rumble Pak, the reverb from the absurdly mixed snare drum hits gotchu covered baby.

And if it that Brinstar remix sounds a bit familiar, it's because it's the wackass "SAMUS IS UNDER FIRE" song from Brawl. I went 16+ years thinking that remix was a fever dream cooked up custom for Smash Bros. but nah, that's from a goddamn pinball spinoff.

HOLD THE FORT. You mean to tell me that Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Masahiro Sakurai collaborated on a falling block puzzle game in 2006 and I'm just now finding out about it??

In short, this game rules. Sakurai brings the Melee orchestral soundfont, quirky game menus, charming art direction and scenario, and simple twist on a beloved genre that completely reinvents its gameplay. Mizuguchi brings the snappy gamefeel, reactive sound design, and overall dopamine-inducing game design. Together, they've made an addicting little time waster that's perfect as a pre-bedtime ritual.

Notably, this game is designed in such a way that I can't imagine it working on anything but the DS due to the touchscreen. Maybe a modern smartphone or even Switch port is possible, but Meteos is one of those classic victims of innovation left in the dust by the modern games industry.

I was totally vibin' with this and considering it a perfectly satisfying portable Monkey Ball experience (note: I have not played the original GCN games) up until the first level of the "advanced" courses completely filtered me. If it takes 5 continues to beat Level 1-1 then I simply do not care to experience the rest of those levels!

Side note: this era of gaming gives me serious "dead mall" vibes at times. For instance, the top-level menu of this game has a dedicated Facebook icon that, when selected, tells you that its functionality, whatever that used to be, is no longer supported. Had the same experience with Touch My Katamari and its "near"-powered Buddy Plaza. Feelin' like a ghost in the machine with how many Vita features just no longer work in 2024.

Gameplay shortcomings and egregious monetization aside, this Katamari iteration is worth experiencing just for that fuckass 3D model of the King. His hyper-realistic face and individually modeled teeth are the most upsetting thing I've seen in a while. The mo-cap for the King is uncanny as hell too, I don't want to see that creature dancing on my screen ever again thanks!

The cutscenes in this game are also completely bonkers, moreso than ever before - for example, the father in the opening cutscene has simply the fattest dumpy that would put even the King's exaggerated bulge to shame. I don't know what was going on there but it sets a very strange tone for what's to come.

Probably the worst Katamari I've played yet but I still enjoyed my time with it nevertheless. Too bad I'll never play those free DLC levels since they're locked behind currency that seemingly can only be obtained by spending Real Money on the PSN now.

Remains one of my favorites of all time so many years later. I'm sure it helps that this was one of the first games I ever owned, but there's still such a zen-like quality to running and jumping around the most beautiful PS1 pastels and polygons while Copeland's perfect score accompanies every moment. Full completion is a breeze and rarely frustrating (Tree Tops aside of course), so much so that you could probably knock out this entire game in a weekend if you wanted.

I'll keep coming back to Spyro until the day I die, you can count on that.

Remedy has to stop giving all their "good stories but half-baked gameplay" IPs to Microsoft because this game is just begging for an Alan Wake 2-tier sequel. There are a few moments where the otherwise standard (but very well-written) time travel plot veers ever so briefly into rad as hell territory, but those aspects of the narrative never get their proper moment in the sun and are largely left for us to speculate about. I would love to see what Sam Lake and his merry band of madlads cook up with those concepts now that the foundation of this world has been firmly established, but alas, Quantum Break is likely locked up in the Recycle Bin alongside Internet Explorer for the foreseeable future. Ah well, at least we've got legally distinct Tim(e) Breaker and Warlin Door now.

I'd give this a solid "check it out" even if I can only muster to rate it "good", because there's a wonderful sense of ambition on display here. Like, love it or hate it, you're not gonna find another game that plays full, live-action TV show episodes with dynamic content based on decisions you made in the gameplay segments in between its narrative chapters. Most people would call that very concept absurd just due to simple logistics, but Remedy will not be dissuaded by such mundane troubles. Sure, the episodes are shot like the digital display ads you might find in a dentist's office between fillings, but goddamn I'll give them props for going for it all the same.

Of course, it helps that Lance Reddick brings his best to every scene he's in, because that's just how he rolls. Rest in peace, man - gone too soon for real.

Imported this from Japan just to be able to play Tetris on the Vita, no regrets. However I don't know how to play the other modes because I can't read