The Suicide of Rachel Foster Review – Take the Stairs

The Suicide of Rachel Foster Review – Take the Stairs

The Suicide of Rachel Foster deals with some heavy themes that require sensitivity on the part of the developer. Suicide and rape aren’t themes you toss around at the dinner table at your grandparents’ house. Not every story that deals with themes like these needs to be revolutionary, but they do need to be revelatory.

The developers at ONE-O-ONE Games have crafted a game that is bold and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Even so, there are a few points during the game that offer some frustration. So is The Suicide of Rachel Foster just another walking simulator or does it have something fresh to offer?

 

Tall Tale

 

The Suicide of Rachel Foster

 

The story of The Suicide of Rachel Foster centers primarily around Nicole, a woman whose relationship with her father molds much of who she is. Her father was a horrible person in many ways, some of which you’ll learn about as the narrative unfolds. Nicole has inherited a hotel from her father and decided to find a buyer.

She finds herself stuck on the property, alone, due to a blizzard. She has the support of her FEMA agent, Irving, with whom she communicates via an old phone. This is the stage for the narrative to unfold.

I’ll dive into a few of the themes and characters without diving too much into the details of the narrative. As mentioned before, The Suicide of Rachel Foster handles several themes that most creatives shy away from. I would say that the game does a decent job of presenting and dealing with them. It doesn’t make light of the molestation that happens and sets up an antagonist that is downright evil.

 

 

Nicole comes across as a bit too gullible throughout the story, which is explained as a product of her childhood traumas. My problem with her gullibility is the way in which she is presented, which is smart, astute, and capable. It’s almost as if the writers decided where the story would go without taking Nicole’s character into account. As the central character, this just doesn’t work. 

Irving is cheerful and does his best to assist Nicole whenever he can, even if he can’t be there in person. He’s a bit naive and becomes quite the likable character for Nicole to bounce her sarcasm off of as they converse.

If those sound like characters you’d like to explore, then this game will be worth your time. Not every narrative thread is earned by the end of the game, which is one of my biggest gripes with the narrative. There are too many shocking revelations in the story. This isn’t a negative for some narratives, but this isn’t that long of an experience; a longer game would have had the time to properly set the stage for the ending.

 

Back and Forth

 

The Suicide of Rachel Foster

 

You could categorize this game as a walking simulator, as you’ll spend a long time walking in the sizable hotel. Since the game’s narrative is primarily told through a cell phone, it requires Nicole to pick up the phone to chat. This means you’ll spend a long time pacing or standing still while the dialogue exchanges happen.

A better-designed game would have you do something while these conversations take place. Although the dialogue is mostly engaging, I found myself walking around aimlessly in order to feel like I was participating somehow. It would have been nice to have most of these moments be shorter or more involved.

 

The Suicide of Rachel Foster

 

There is some interaction with in-game objects; you can pick them up and observe them or complete some puzzles. But there are many items that have no purpose, and it feels kind of arbitrary which items get this treatment. Packs of cigarettes can be picked up throughout the entire game but add nothing to the narrative. 

Your main means of guidance are the notes Nicole scribbles on her map of the hotel. They are mostly clear, but you’ll run into some confusion about what you’re supposed to do or where you’re supposed to go. The map is split into floors, which each have their own page, with important locations marked by name. 

The problem is that it’s difficult to know which floor you’re on because the map will not mark where you’re currently standing. You’ll have to figure out your location based on markers that aren’t clear. I spent most of my time lost while navigating the hotel.

That being said, the environment is interesting and fleshed-out really well. The hotel feels like a real location with a decent amount of things to look at. I just wish the map did a good job of getting me to the right places.

 

Silence and Sarcasm

 

The Suicide of Rachel Foster

 

Both central characters’ voice actors put out performances that transcend the lines they are given. The actors are the highlight of this game. They have fantastic chemistry, similar to what is provided in Firewatch. The constant sarcasm is the highlight of conversations for me. There’s plenty of playful banter, but also appropriate moments of seriousness.

Music is sparse but comes in at the right times to punctuate moments of revelation. Silence speaks just as loud and is necessary to build the sense of solitude that Nicole feels. The sound design is nothing to scoff at since it does its job of feeling realistic and grounded.

 

Hotel Hostility

 

The Suicide of Rachel Foster

 

I enjoyed my time with The Suicide of Rachel Foster less often than I would have liked. There were too many times where the game’s design got in the way of the story it was trying to tell. If you can put up with some of those obstacles, you should be able to enjoy this game. Otherwise, it’s almost impossible to recommend this game.

 

This review of The Suicide of Rachel Foster is based on the PlayStation 4 version. A review code was provided by the publisher.

 

Nier Replicant Remastered Releases April 2021

Nier Replicant Remastered Releases April 2021

With Nier: Automata raising the franchise’s profile immensely, it only makes sense that its predecessor would gain a second life. Square Enix is turning this wish into a reality with the impending release of Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139…, a remaster of the original Nier that started it all. Upon its initial release in 2010, Nier built a small but passionate fanbase for its vivid worldbuilding, hindered by some homely visual design. This makes the game a perfect candidate for a remaster, whose sweeping graphical improvements will no doubt introduce the game to some new fans. As the cherry on top, Nier Replicant will also boast some newly illustrated characters and a re-recorded soundtrack.

 

The game is set to release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 23rd, 2021 with a lofty collector’s edition exclusively sold at the Square Enix Store. This will include a two-disc soundtrack CD set, a seven-book script set, some character-themed pin badges, and a stylized steelbook case. Outside of the collector’s edition, all preordered editions of Nier Replicant will still contain digital copies of selections from the game’s soundtrack, not to mention a game that is substantial in its own right. Given that Nier Replicant takes place four thousand years before Nier: Automata, there are major aesthetic differences between each game that may surprise newcomers. For those who have only played Nier: Automata, the Nier experience is made complete by playing both games, making Nier Replicant worth any fan’s while.

 

Promotional image of Nier Replicant displaying the contents of the game's collector's edition
Image courtesy of Square Enix

 

More than ten years after Nier‘s original release, it will be a pleasure to return to a fully remastered version. Nier matches its cerebral storytelling with daring gameplay variety moving from hack-and-slash to bullet-hell in ways no other game has matched. As one of the first announcements made at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, the exhibition is already off to a lively start.

 

Twin Mirror Gets a Release Date, Gameplay Trailer

Twin Mirror Gets a Release Date, Gameplay Trailer

DONTNOD has put out a new gameplay video for the much-anticipated Twin Mirror along with a release date for the game. Twin Mirror will be releasing on December 1, 2020, and will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store on PC, but will also release on PS4 and Xbox One on the same date.

The game can be currently pre-ordered on the Epic Games Store for $34.99, which comes with the digital soundtrack on launch day.

Twin Mirror Gameplay Trailer

Twin Mirror was announced back at E3 2018, with DONTNOD going silent for a while before resurfacing with new information in 2020. The game is centered around protagonist Sam Higgs, who must go back to Basswood, West Virginia, and investigate a mystery through supernatural abilities.

The player can use these abilities to reenact past events and piece together what happened in specific areas and make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game’s narrative. You can check out some of the gameplay and cutscenes for Twin Mirror in the gameplay trailer embedded above.

DONTNOD gained popularity after releasing Life Is Strange, and have since released several other games in the series, as well as Vampyr and Tell Me Why, which launched this year.

They’re mostly known for releasing games in several episodes, but Twin Mirror will be a complete, one-time release. Will you be picking up DONTNOD’s new, psychological thriller? Sound off in the comments and keep it locked to Sick Critic for more gaming news, reviews, and exclusive features.

Ubisoft Announces Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake

Ubisoft Announces Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake

Just a few hours after making a conspicuous and accidental appearance on UPlay, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake has been formally announced. Quickly becoming one of the more polarizing events at today’s Ubisoft Forward, the remake’s trailer shows a game that may be a bit too faithful to its 2003 source material. The environments vividly resemble the labyrinthine architecture of the original game, but the remade character models have left many players scratching their heads. Prince of Persia was last seen on the market in 2010 and fans have been quick to remark that this remake doesn’t necessarily look current or next gen.

Also of note is the fact that the entire Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time trilogy was previously released together in remastered form for the PS3, whereas Ubisoft have now decided to just remake the first and release it for $40. This is an approach that proved fruitful for Destroy All Humans earlier this year, but could rub fans the wrong way if they view this remake as a cynical way to gauge interest in the IP. Nonetheless, the acrobatic swordplay-platforming balance defining this franchise still remains unique and has strong potential to win over a new audience.

The trailer is primarily cinematic, featuring brief interjections of combat and parkour gameplay. You’re as reliant on wall-running and fast paced puzzle solving as ever, with the classic controls retained or able to be switched out for a modernized version. The titular Sands of Time still allow you to rewind time to undo past mistakes and experiment with your surrounding environments. The Prince’s original voice actor Yuri Lowenthal is once again on board, and time will tell how faithful or modified the game’s narrative will be. Even if Ubisoft didn’t necessarily put their best foot forward with this trailer, we can hope that subsequent gameplay footage wins fans over. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake will be available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on January 21st, 2020.

Kickstarter Launched for ‘There Is No Light’ Action RPG

Kickstarter Launched for ‘There Is No Light’ Action RPG

Developer Zelart has officially unveiled a new Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming Action RPG, There Is No Light. The game is described by Zelart as a “grim post-apocalyptic pixel-art action-adventure.” Here are the details for the funding campaign and what you can receive if you fund this video game project.

 

There Is No Light Kickstarter and Demo

The Kickstarter campaign is officially underway as of September 8, with a goal of $30,000 and to be funded by October 6. The projected release date for There Is No Light is August 2021 as of this writing; funded Kickstarters are known to miss their release windows, so take this date with a grain of salt. Zelart says they’re planning to bring this game to all “current and future consoles” including PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and in a variety of languages. That is without taking any stretch goals into consideration, which is impressing considering that what they’re asking for the total funding amount is not too outlandish

Some of the features for There Is No Light include a non-linear narrative, player choices, a “Rage” system, and plenty of gory pixel combat to experience. Players will fight through the Underworld in a series of visceral, disturbing areas, fighting demons and other crazy monsters while also interacting with villagers. A one to two-hour demo is available for download through Steam (no other platforms have playable demos at the moment).

You can pledge any amount towards the Kickstarter, but the lowest tier that will net you rewards begins at $19 and includes a digital version of the game, your name in the credits, some wallpapers, updates, and a backer role in the official Discord server. Higher tiers include designing your own NPC, a personal pixel portrait in-game, and even a house and pet for your NPC. The Kickstarter goes on to detail some of the diverse areas you will traverse in the game and some of the weapons and abilities you can take advantage of throughout the experience.

HypeTrain Digital will be publishing There Is No Light on both consoles and PC and will team up in porting the game to consoles specifically. We’ll be giving you an in-depth preview of the playable demo sometime this week, so keep your eyes on Sick Critic’s homepage for updates.

You can check out the spooky official Kickstarter trailer on YouTube below in the embedded video.

Apex Legends Season 6 Shows Off Boosted Gameplay

Apex Legends Season 6 Shows Off Boosted Gameplay

Apex Legends is almost done wrapping up Season 5, which means it’s time for Apex Legends Season 6: Boosted. There’s a bunch of new content for Season 6 of this popular Battle Royale, including a new Legend, weapon, and crafting system. Let’s briefly go over what’s going to land with the sizable update on August 17 around 10 PM PST.

 

Apex Legends Season 6: Boosted – Rampart

With every season of Apex Legends comes a new, playable Legend for players to use. Season 6 will give players the chance to unlock Rampart, a defensive Legend with a gigantic minigun (ironic much?). Ramya Parekh, also known as Rampart, has an affinity for modding, with abilities that allow her to build cover and enhance her reload speed and magazine size. Other Legends can hide behind her Amped Cover and even take control of her minigun, affectionately named “Sheila.”

 

Guns, Maps, and Crafting

Season 6 of Apex Legends is adding a new SMG weapon into the mix with the Volt. We don’t know a whole lot more than that at the moment, but it’s a welcome addition to the decent-sized arsenal already available. It looks cool and is most certainly a gun.

There’s also going to be a new crafting for players to mess around with when the update drops. There aren’t too many details available yet, but from what we know, players will be able to gather materials from around the map and compile them to “build something better” at stations littered at certain locations.

Apex Legends Season 6 Boosted

Like with Season 5’s revamp of King’s Canyon, Season 6 will update World’s Edge with a variety of new locations and structures while erasing others. There are some notable locations being removed, such as Mirage’s Voyage barge, a big location for loot and shenanigans. You can check out some interactive pictures of major World’s Edge changes on Apex Legends’ official website. Lastly, Season 6 will implement a new Battle Pass, with over 100 unlockable items for players who choose to purchase it at 1000 Apex Coins ($10).

You can check out the full Apex Legends Season 6 gameplay trailer below and see if you can pick out any teases of new content.

Are you going to download and play Respawn’s latest update to their Battle Royale shooter? Leave a comment about your favorite new piece of content in this new season of Apex Legends and keep it locked on to Sick Critic for all your news and reviews.

5 Changes I Want in Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2

5 Changes I Want in Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2

Humanity can breathe a sigh of relief; Final Fantasy VII Remake is good.

Now that the dust has settled, we must look to the game’s future. Cautious optimism is tempering fan expectations for future Remake installments, but many continue to hold their breath while they wait to see how the rest of the Remake pans out. Square Enix has already shown a propensity for playing fast and loose with the source material with some mixed results – the ending in particular rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. We aren’t going to open that can of worms here, but I firmly believe that Remake’s potential could shine brighter with just a few changes. Here are five things Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 could implement to keep Remake feeling fresh and respect the original game.

 

I’m also well aware that there’s currently endless speculation about where Part 2’s story will end. For the purposes of this list, the cutoff point will be where disc 1 concludes in the original game. Already, that’s a bold and likely unreasonable assumption, but I gotta draw the line somewhere.

 

1. Please, Don’t Make the World Map a Corridor.

 

 

Doge Meme Final Fantasy VII Remake Open World

 

Right now, online message boards are flooded with opinions on how the remake will handle the world map. Some reckon we’ll see an expansive open world, a few think we’ll see interconnected zones like in Dragon Quest XI, while others believe there won’t be an explorable world map at all.

Please, Square Enix. Do not settle on the last option.

When I think back on the original FFVII, I realised that the game’s world is very much its own character. There’s something inherently ugly about the dark hue of the grass, the twisted ways trees grow, and the frightful monsters that roam there. But underneath all of that, there are slithers of natural beauty to discover. This is how the original game subtly convinced you the world was worth saving. If the remake reduces world traversal to bland hallways, or worse, quick travel menus, that sensibility is at risk of being lost. Part 2 doesn’t even need to go full open world, but players need the freedom to roam around this world to appreciate its place in the narrative.

 

2. Vincent Valentine Can Be So Much More than an Edgelord

 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 Vincent Valentine Changes

Ah, Vincent Valentine. A character so thin you could get a paper cut off his dimensions. Fact is, underneath all his enigmatic brooding, he really doesn’t have a lot going for him. Even Vincent’s standalone game, Dirge of Cerberus, failed to flesh out his character since it was clearly more interested in channeling Shadow The Hedgehog’s ‘cool factor’ and fetishizing Vincent’s edgelord status.

See, ‘cool’ is a fluid term. In the late ‘90s & early 2000s all you needed to be cool was a flashy Matrix-inspired bullet time sequence and the personality of a My Chemical Romance song. In 2020, though, nothing is cooler than having the confidence to accept yourself – this is what Vincent must do in the Remake. By all means, introduce him as an angsty anime gunslinger, but give him some humility and self awareness and he’ll blossom into a hero fans can really get excited about. Otherwise he’ll stagnate as a caricature of himself.

 

3. Oodles More Stuff to Do at The Golden Saucer

 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 New Golden Saucer Changes

 

Though some may have reservations about how Square Enix will remix chunks of the game, I think we can all agree that The Golden Saucer is the perfect place for the developers to go full cray cray.

In all but name, this place needs to be Disneyland – somewhere players could easily lose hours in as they tour the attractions. I’m talking about a bigger and better roller coaster shooting gallery, multiple Chocobo race tracks, and a revamped Wonder Square with minigames and arcade cabinets that aren’t just button mashing exercises. I can also visualize dozens of Yakuza-style side missions here. Like kids who ask you to win toys for them in crane games and cowardly guests who need help finding their partner deep inside the haunted house. Then, when you’ve had your fill of the theme park, you can cash in all your tickets for Moogle plush dolls to decorate your airship cabin with (a feature I’ve now deemed mandatory in Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 3).

Speaking of the Golden Saucer…

 

4. Make Everyone Dateable at The Golden Saucer

 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 Tifa or Aerith

 

Remember how you sniggered when you first discovered you could date Barret in the original FFVII? Why not multiply the hilarity and let Cloud take everyone on a date! Just picture buying ice cream with Vincent and learning his favourite flavour. Or going on the gondola ride with Cid as Cloud impassionately asks him to stop smoking since he’s legitimately concerned about his health. We then watch as Cid begrudgingly takes one last drag and flicks his final cigarette out the gondola window, sparks mingling with the fireworks as the cigarette vanishes into the starry sky.

Jokes aside, this point is a no-brainer. Fans of Remake cherish the extended script and the new romance scenes characters share. Seriously, whose Twitter feed wasn’t littered with Aerith waifu pics back in April? Relationship mechanics also lend tons of replayablity to JRPGS and if we gotta wait literal years between these remake parts, you better believe I’m gonna be shipping Cloud with every character in the meantime.

 

5. Tone Down the Self-Importance Factor.

 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 Bad

 

I’ve made peace with the fact that Final Fantasy VII Remake exists to be a giant piece of fan service. However, Remake is self-aggrandizing to a fault because it comes at the expense of the game’s pacing. Every cutscene lasts just a little too long, often overinflated by shots of characters looking artificially pensive. Sure, Cloud’s hair is meticulously detailed, but I don’t need another oddly voyeuristic POV shot to highlight that, especially when I’m itching for more gameplay.

All too often the game leans too heavily into our nostalgia. Every new zone you visit bombards you with an emotional and sensory onslaught as the game shouts ‘Remember this?!’ We get it: the original Final Fantasy VII is a masterpiece. I just wished Remake stopped reminding me every five minutes. Chalk it up to Tetsuya Nomura’s ‘on the nose’ direction, but future installments could afford to move at a brisker pace by sacrificing some of the navel-gazing.

 

Cheeky Bonus Point – Let Us Play as Red XIII

 

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 Playable Red XIII

 

Fair enough we couldn’t control Red XIII in Part 1. In Part 2, though, he can’t continue coasting as a ‘guest character’; we need to play as him. Fans are unanimous on that point. Not only could his feral fighting style add variety to an already sublime combat system, his appearance lends some much needed visual flavour to the otherwise humanoid roster. He’s also a great character in his own right, and it’d detract from the story if he exists in a gameplay bubble.

 

Aside from all that, keep up the good work, Square Enix! You’ve earned a lot of good will from Part 1. Just please, don’t squander it by stumbling at the next hurdle. No pressure, but all eyes are on you now.

 

Control Ultimate Edition Coming to Steam August 27

Control Ultimate Edition Coming to Steam August 27

Control Ultimate Edition was announced by 505 Games and Remedy Entertainment on Wednesday, hot off the heels of the trailer for “AWE,” the upcoming expansion for the game. This new edition will include the base game and all expansions and be Control’s introduction to the Steam marketplace on August 27, 2020, the one-year anniversary for the release of the game. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Control Ultimate Edition will release on September 10. Furthermore, purchasers of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 editions will receive free next-gen upgrades for the release of Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

 

Remedy Entertainment is holding a Twitch live stream on August 13 at 12:00 PM EST where fans can get a glimpse of what to expect. The stream will feature 15 minutes of gameplay from the upcoming “AWE” expansion and a discussion of Remedy Entertainment’s storytelling methods and the “Remedy Connected Universe”. This will all be hosted by Same Lake (Remedy Entertainment’s Creative Director) and Mikael Kasurinen (Control’s Game Director).

 

 

Control was originally announced as a project codenamed “P7” in 2017 and officially revealed during Sony’s E3 2018 press conference. After three years of development, the game released on August 27, 2019 to high praise from critics and players. Here on Sick Critic, the game received a 7/10 for being a “sophisticated and exciting game filled with a rush of adrenaline…” The staff also collectively named it Sick Critic’s 2019 Game of the Year and gave it Honorable Mention in our “Top 10 Games of the 2010s” article. However, its awards certainly don’t end with our rankings. In The Game Awards 2019, Control won Best Art Direction and was nominated for seven other awards, including Game of the Year and Best Action/Adventure Game. It also received plenty of other nods in the Golden Joystick Awards and several other award shows.

 

Control Ultimate Edition will release on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 for £29.99.

PlayStation’s State of Play 08.06.20 Round-Up

PlayStation’s State of Play 08.06.20 Round-Up

Sony recently presented yet another State of Play presentation, which was the longest episode yet at over 40 minutes. The presentation focused mainly on third-party and indie PS4 games, with a few surprises sprinkled in. Unfortunately, Sony did not have any big updates regarding the PlayStation 5’s pricing and release, so if you’re mainly interested in that, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Sony showed plenty of gameplay and updates to some highly-anticipated games, so strap yourself in as we recap everything they had in store.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time – Deep Dive Trailer

Toys for Bob had much to share about Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, which is scheduled to release October 2nd on PlayStation 4. The game takes place directly after Crash Bandicoot: Warped. The evil villains Dr. Neo Cortex and Dr. N. Tropy finally escape their interdimensional prison from the third game and devise a plot to not only conquer the world in one dimension, but all of them. The titular orange marsupial Crash Bandicoot and his sister Coco Bandicoot must stop the duo and save the world once again. Toys for Bob promptly goes into a deep dive on what this wholly original adventure has in store for players; detailing the diversity of worlds, gameplay-altering masks, and mind-bending extra modes. Players can customize the playable characters’ appearance through a large quantity of costumes, all acquirable via gameplay with no microtransactions. Not only can players play as Crash and Coco, but they can also assume the role of Cortex and, for the first time in the main series, Dingodile. There is also a special new mode called N. Verted Mode, which behaves like a mirror mode but offers much more, including radically different artstyles and new challenges for each level.

Hitman 3 – VR Mode Reveal Trailer

IOI Interactive’s Hitman 3 has an exciting new addition: a fully playable VR Mode, which puts the players directly in the shoes of Agent 47. This first-person mode will allow players to carry out assassinations and complete missions in every location in the Hitman trilogy. The best part: it comes with the game day one. Players can also import locations from previous games if they own them, so loyal Hitman fans can access over 20 locations in immersive VR. Hitman 3 launches in January 2021 on PS5 and PS4.

Braid: Anniversary Edition Reveal Trailer

Acclaimed indie darling Braid will finally receive a remastered version next year on PS4. The remaster boasts high-fidelity artwork and fully remastered environments, doing away with the blurry vaseline nature of the original 2008 classic. The remaster will feature a robust developer commentary, which will provide players insight in how the world of Braid was created. The spritework has also been improved, eliminating the 16-bit artstyle from the original. The remaster is slated to release in early 2021.

The Pathless Gameplay Trailer

 

From the developers that brought us ABZU, The Pathless is an open-world puzzle-platforming adventure game that puts an emphasis on exploration and rhythmic gameplay. The player assumes the role of the Hunter, a lone traveler in a world devoid of light, who must destroy the dark, evil spirits the corrupted the abandoned land. With her trusty eagle, the Hunter seeks out these spirits and confronts them head on, and in so doing restores light to the darkened world. Unlike most open-world games, The Pathless lacks a map and traditional waypoint system, forcing the player to use their environmental instincts and Spirit Vision to guide them to their next destination and discover secrets along the way. The Pathless is set to release this holiday season, possibly a launch title for the PS5.

Spelunky 2 – Release Date Trailer

The sequel to the beloved indie classic Spelunky finally has a release date, and it’s very soon: September 15th, a mere month away. Fans will find a lot to enjoy with this game due to the plethora of hidden secrets and surprises Derek Yu hid throughout the game. Newcomers will also enjoy the ceaseless nature of the roguelike maps and find something new for each run.

Genshin Impact Gameplay Trailer

Shockingly, Sony managed to negotiate with Nintendo to make a PS4 port for Breath of the Wi— oh wait, it’s an original game? Joking aside, Genshin Impact is an open-world hack-and-slash action-adventure game that may look similar to a particular Nintendo game in some scenes, but offers a wholly unique experience. It’s a free-to-play game, so some microtransactions may appear at launch.

Aeon Must Die Reveal Trailer

This beautifully animated hack-and-slash indie game published by Focus Home Interactive showcases how incredible talent can be exploited in the games industry. Sadly, the development team who produced this impressive game allegedly left the project in protest over their mistreatment and the publisher has taken the IP without the team’s consent. The story is developing, but those familiar with the project have unsavory things to say about the management and working conditions in the making of this title. Aeon Must Die is slated for release in 2021, regardless of what the original developers have to say about it.

Anno Mutationem Reveal Trailer

Another beautiful indie game that, fortunately, doesn’t have such a troublesome development. This 3D pixel art action-adventure game was developed by a Chinese indie team and funded by Sony’s China Hero Project. It takes place in a cyberpunk world with a dark and disturbing narrative. The gameplay features some RPG elements and perhaps includes some Metroidvania aspects as well, given the game’s focus on exploration and action. Anno Mutationem is scheduled to release this December for the PS5.

Vader Immortal Release Date Trailer

The successful PC VR game is heading to PSVR this August. Wield Darth Vader’s iconic lightsaber and decimate foes that stand in your way in this immersive thrill ride. PSVR users can finally experience what PC players enjoyed for a full year. Vader Immortal comes with all episodes in the series, giving it more value for PSVR players, and arrives August 25th.

Control Expansion 2 AWE Reveal Trailer

Alan Wake featured in a PlayStation event should have made this the closing game, but there’s still plenty left. The final Control expansion brings both Remedy worlds together, making a potentially epic final chapter for the lauded title. This expansion boasts new departments, new enemies, and a new story that fleshes out the lore for both elusive Remedy universes. The AWE expansion will release on August 27th.

Auto Chess Reveal Trailer

This competitive strategy game adds an intriguing spin to the classic board game Chess. Auto Chess is a free-to-play PC game heading over to PS4 this Halloween. I can feel the hype oozing already.

The Pedestrian Reveal Trailer

Another PC game heads over to PS4 early next year. You play as a stick figure confined to public signage and must traverse through each level by connecting adjacent signs. The environments can range from office spaces to urban intersections. PS4 players can enjoy this creative puzzle platformer on January 2021.

Hood: Outlaws and Legends Reveal Trailer

This 4v4 PvPvE heist game that combines a variety of gameplay mechanics to create a thrilling yet challenging multiplayer experience. Based in the world of the Robin Hood legend, players assume different roles as they work together in teams to collect the treasure and escape the guards unscathed. Reading into it further actually makes this game sound more intriguing, so I encourage you to take a gander at the PlayStation Blog article which details the concepts the dev team are putting together. Hood: Outlaws and Legends will arrive on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 next year.

Temtem PS5 Announce Trailer

The Pokemon game Pokemon fans wanted the Pokemon Company to make. Pokemon. Temtem is an early access PC game developed by Spain studio Crema. Those who played it have lauded it and claim it’s one of the best Pokemon games ever made. It will arrive on PlayStation in 2021.

Godfall Gameplay Deep Dive Trailer

Godfall was the first PS5 game the world knew about, so it makes sense for Sony to conclude the State of Play with a near ten-minute showcase of the combat, presented as though it is a tutorial sequence rather than a demonstration. Gamers were none too pleased with the prolonged Godfall test drive concluding the 40-minute State of Play, but there is some potential for it. For one, the game has no microtransactions and will not be treated like a game-as-a-service. Instead, the folks over at Counterplay Games will release the full game with no additional content patched in later. The game director describes the gameplay well in this deep dive, so I suggest you watch it if you’re interested in the game.

That’s everything Sony had to show us for the State of Play. It wasn’t much, but there was something for every taste in that episode. I expect there will be a PS5-dedicated event later in the month, but anything could change in Sony’s plans given the ongoing pandemic. What do you think about this State of Play? Did anything excite you? Did anything bore you? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for more news and updates from Sick Critic!

The Last of Us Part II Review – Back With a Vengeance

The Last of Us Part II Review – Back With a Vengeance

It’s quite the task to discuss The Last of Us Part II without spoiling anything. This review will attempt to dissect Ellie’s journey as vaguely as possible. I hope to explore the game’s narrative, themes, and characters in another article at another time. 

I’m gonna be honest, I am a huge fan of the original The Last of Us. I had ridiculously high expectations for The Last of Us Part II when launch night arrived. I harbored strong feelings towards Ellie and Joel, but I didn’t believe their story required further exploration. 

Does The Last of Us Part II need to exist? Well, after I finished the game and the credits rolled, I had mixed feelings about the whole experience. It took me a couple weeks to really solidify how I felt about the game. Let’s jump into my spoiler-free The Last of Us Part II review

 

Driven by Violence

The Last of Us Part II Review

The level of violence in The Last of Us Part II is uncomfortable and often revolting. It’s shocking in the early stages of the game, and then, as the game continues to pour more on you, it begins to normalize. Several-dozen, dismembered zombies and humans later, I grew numb without realizing. 

I started wrapping up the game’s narrative and decided this game was too much; that it went too far. Honestly, I wanted to give up on the game altogether. Even so, I powered through and then it was over. Was the violence showcased in this game worth it? No. But that’s the point. It’s supposed to make the player feel uncomfortable about what they’re doing. It fits the narrative Naughty Dog has created and pushes the theme of hatred forward. You’ll find out what that means once you’ve played a few hours or so.

 

Cut Spleens and Cutscenes

The Last of Us Part II Review

The gameplay in The Last of Us Part II is immediately recognizable to players who played through the first game. This game takes what you know and adds more depth, reworking mechanics while leaving others alone. You can now “go prone,” which basically means you can crawl on your belly to further avoid detection. You can do almost everything while you’re prone, including using every weapon in your arsenal. It’s this console generation’s equivalent of realizing you can finally use your sword while riding Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It’s going to be difficult to go back to the original game without this feature in it.

Ellie can now also jump when you press a button. This mechanic is mainly for traversal, but it can also be used to dodge some attacks (not the best way, but it sort of works). If you really want to avoid damage, the newly-added dodge is the best way to do this. You can dodge almost anything during combat if you get the timing right. This is just as welcomed as going prone, making encounters much more fluid and satisfying. Dodging is required, especially on the higher difficulties where enemies are more intelligent and resilient. 

The Last of Us Part II Review

As for weapons, there are several additions which I won’t go into. What I will say is that there are more upgrades to weapons and quite a few more character skills this time around. You can pick up training manuals that add more ability paths, each with their own set of related abilities, such as stealth and explosives paths. It’s likely that you won’t unlock them all on your first playthrough or even your second. This adds a whole other level of customization to your first playthrough. 

Crafting is also back, with some welcomed additions, such as arrows. The amount of resources that are available will depend on the difficulty level you pick, which can be changed and customized at any time in game.

The best way to play The Last of Us Part II is on the two hardest difficulty levels. The game’s AI is programmed to throw more at you: they check around obstacles, look under vehicles, and flank you. There’s an added layer of suspense and danger, especially on Survivor. If you can handle it, I’d recommend playing on Survivor for the optimal experience. 

The Last of Us Part II Review

You’ll be spending a large number of hours in combat, discovering new ways to maim and kill, but this game isn’t just about killing things and getting better at it. 

Cutscenes are back, but they’re not always as obvious or jarring. They’re interwoven into the gameplay so seamlessly that there are times you don’t realize that control has been taken away. Part II is the closest that games have come to blending the medium with the film medium. Gameplay and cutscenes are still pretty distinct, but they coexist so much better than in the first game.

 

A Tale of Many Zombies

The Last of Us Part II Review

At first glance, The Last of Us Part II’s story isn’t that complex. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that it’s a revenge story at its core. If you look back at the first game, the story wasn’t that complicated either. The Last of Us is about the characters and their interactions, their relationships. What Naughty Dog really nails is how the story is being told through the characters, environment, and the actors’ performances. 

Even the way that the world is designed tells a story. Some areas are more subtle, with the placement of bodies or the way props are placed. Other levels are more in-your-face about what happened there. Make sure to explore the environment to pick up extra resources and items. Collectibles are back, as well as documents that reveal side stories and also supplement the plot. They’re optional but provide interesting insight into the game’s world.

The Last of Us Part II Review

I felt some things that I’ve never been made to feel while playing any game. The feelings of anger, loss, and numbness hit me hard at different points in the game. There were a couple of times I had to take a break from playing just to process some of what happened. 

The performances in particular are a huge highlight in how the story is presented. Every actor brings their best in realizing Ellie, Joel, Dina, and the rest of the characters. The animators in particular deserve high praise for translating the actors’ work into even small movements and expressions. 

The meat of the narrative is experienced through Ellie’s eyes; her thirst for revenge comes into direct conflict with her sense of identity and her desires. There are some bold shifts in Ellie’s character, with further insight into her past and what brought her to where she is in Part IIJoel is softer in this game, but the repercussions of his actions aren’t far behind. Everything that took place in The Last of Us has consequences, and nearly every important thread is addressed. You’re most likely not going to be happy with some of the events that take place, but this game doesn’t care.

The Last of Us Part II Review

Although some of the new characters, Laura Bailey’s in particular, are incredible, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson have a chemistry as Joel and Ellie that can’t be outdone. There’s something so uniquely dynamic and interesting about their relationship; it’s further pushed and complicated in this sequel. Some of the biggest character payoffs come from the interactions between these two, just like in the original game. I have to say though, Shannon Woodward as Dina is my favorite addition to the cast. There’s color added to the game that only she and her character could bring to life.

Overall, the narrative of this game is bold and often unpredictable. It has a lot to say about humanity’s worst but also about its best. It’s a story that’s well worth experiencing at least once through. 

 

So Pretty You Could Frame It

The Last of Us Part II Review

The Last of Us Part II is one of the most gorgeous, detailed, and best-running games I’ve played. Once the game loads your save file, there are no load screens while you play. Some are disguised by crawling through gaps or in-world events, but they’re seamlessly woven in. 

There’s not much negative I can say about the graphics or performance of this game on the PlayStation 4 Pro. I don’t think I experienced any frame rate drops or really any problems with performance. There were several glitches that I ran into, but they were only visual. 

I have to say that some of what Naughty Dog accomplished with character models is insane to me. Video games are pretty sneaky about having some things happen off screen because they’re so difficult to animate. In Part II, muscles tighten up and glisten with sweat in a way that’s almost too realistic. This is the first game where I’ve seen a shirt being taken off without any clipping or weird visual quirks. 

The Last of Us Part II Review

As for the environment, I added some extra hours to my playthrough just by taking in the amount of detail in everything. Where other developers would create one or two items (such as a lawn chair), sprinkle them throughout the game, and call it a day, Naughty Dog decided they’d make five to seven different versions for just one area. 

This has to be the single most detailed game that exists up to this point. Nothing out there compares; nothing comes even close. You may spend just a few seconds in one area and miss most of what is there. This amount of quality and polish isn’t necessary. The game would still get the message across if there was less to look at, but it adds so much more depth and realism to the world. It’s no wonder this game got delayed several times and took over half a decade to make.

 

A Score to Settle

The Last of Us Part II Review

The Last of Us has one of my favorite soundtracks in gaming. It sets the tone for the original game and presents some memorable themes as well. With Part II, Gustavo Santaolalla is joined by Mac Quayle, who wrote scores for TV series such as Mr. Robot and American Horror Story

Sadly, this soundtrack is lacking the magic that the original had. There are more atmospheric songs than I would like, and while these songs enhance the game experience enough, there are fewer high points here. It’s a decent soundtrack, but I wouldn’t say it’s that special. There is one song that plays during the credits that you should stick around for, just a heads up.

I could spend a while ranting about the sound design in The Last of Us Part II but I’ll just say that it’s visceral and potent. Every weapon has a distinct sound that you will begin to recognize as your play time begins to add up. Striking enemies with any weapon produces some of the most satisfying, yet horrific sounds I’ve heard in a game.

The environment isn’t to be beat in the sound department, with whooshing gusts of wind, the sounds of insects and birds, and water crashing or smoothly trickling. My favorite sound has got to be the crunching of snow underneath Ellie’s feet. 

Enemies also scream in agony, slowly choke on their own blood as they die, and call out their comrades’ names as they see them perish. You can easily gauge where enemies are located or what direction they’re rushing you from as well. It’s better with headphones than with a surround system. 

 

The Last of Us Part II Is Crushing

The Last of Us Part II Review

This is a journey you’re not going to forget; it’s one that’s going to stay with you for a long time. There are some questionable decisions that characters make, but it serves to show the unpredictability and flawed nature of human beings. The exploration of humanity through a more pessimistic lens may be overbearing for some players, but it’s appropriate given the story that’s presented. This game wants to ruffle some feathers, and that’s okay. 

The Last of Us Part II is one of the most complete, ambitious single-player games I’ve played. And despite all the doom and gloom, it’s fun as hell to play. If you’ve played the original, this is a must-play game on every level. If you haven’t, go back and play the first game. There is a short recap in this game that catches up new players if you really don’t feel like waiting. 

There are a few personal nitpicks about the story that I can make, but they’re nothing that make the game any less amazing. When it comes down to it, The Last of Us Part II is the most near-perfect game I’ve played. Go out and get yourself a copy if you haven’t already. And maybe some tissues; you will probably need them.