Little Nightmares | Review

Background: Little Nightmares is a puzzle-platformer horror adventure game that was developed by Tarsier Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Players control Six as she endeavors to escape The Maw with only wits and a small lighter.


Have you ever had a nightmare of being eaten? For little Six, it’s not a nightmare at all. It’s a pretty certain outcome of any slip-ups in a resort called The Maw. So please, if you’re helping Six escape, don’t get caught.

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Little Nightmares picks something creepy and sticks to its guns. Over the course of this short, 4 hour game you’ll sneak through many distinct locations. However, while the setting may change, the overall threat of being eaten stays steady. I was impressed with this. The title seems to allow the possibility of exploring multiple horrific scenarios, but instead stays consistent with haunting manner in which you’ll meet your demise.

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This is a welcome choice because it allows for a cohesive narrative that the player can piece together. Everything is related and each area and discovery builds upon the last.  The Maw is a mysterious resort that will effectively creep you out while simultaneously begging you to explore its dark secrets.

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While exploring you’ll have only a small lighter and your puzzle solving skills. Stealth is a big deal here because enemies are unforgiving when they spot you. You have to act smart and act fast to solve the puzzles and escape those ready to serve, cook, and eat you. The puzzles were engaging while still being difficult. You’re often forced to run into the open, cross dark rooms, and get very close to people you’d rather avoid.

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The only trouble I had with Little Nightmares is that the game was short. Once you begin to have an idea of what’s going on, the game picks up and is soon over. The puzzles were interesting, the setting was creepy, and the story was disturbing. Similar games in the genre left me puzzled as to the overall meaning or intent of the story, but Little Nightmares tells its piece and leaves you thinking about it for a few days after.

93/100

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Gears of War 4 | Campaign Review

Background: Gears of War 4 is a third-person cover shooter developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft Studios as a Play Anywhere title in 2016. The latest entry in the series, Gears of War 4 picks up decades after the conflicts settled by Marcus Fenix and company. The game follows Marcus’ son JD and his friends as they survive in the aftermath.


The most immediate difference between Gears of War 4 and the rest of the series is that JD and his friends aren’t part of the COG – they’re Outsiders. Outsiders in other Gears of War games are looked down upon and left to fend for themselves. The game opens with JD, Del, and Kait raiding a COG base to obtain supplies for their settlement. As usual in a Gears game, things go downhill from there.

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I was very impressed with the new direction for this narrative. JD and Del are Outsiders who have abandoned the COG, so we get to see a completely different side of the world. Here, unlike the previous games, the COG are often spoken of negatively and disapprovingly. Their actions and motives are questioned by the non-military people who are trying to get by. It was refreshing to hear the main group talking to each other about life, conveying worries and fears, joking, and being normal. It’s a very new and very welcome experience.

Since they’re Outsiders, the first half of the game involves struggles between the group of friends and the COG. I enjoyed playing levels set in cities, COG fortresses, and Outsider settlements. I finally felt the struggle of the Outsiders instead of looking down on them from the COG point of view. When the inevitable alien species enters the conflict, I was worried about the families and people in the settlements who didn’t have the resources or firepower to protect themselves.

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This engaging narrative slowed down at the end of Act III when I realized that the story was falling into the same track paved by the previous games. The conflict felt similar, the settings were becoming more similar. There were a few new types of enemies, and the enemy race was under a different name, but even enemy encounters began to feel very familiar. Coming down from this new excitement to settle into what previous games had already done was disappointing.

The unfortunate thing here is that Gears of War 4 begins to drop the ball on the narrative. There is an attempt to bridge the Outsider conflict of the first half of the game into the level and story structure of previous games, but it only left me wishing they had stuck to the former. The game ends on a very big cliffhanger anyway, so it left me wishing the cliffhanger had been the reveal of the new enemy after wrapping up an Outsider vs COG conflict that could have been very unique.

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Luckily this lack of an engaging story is the only place that Gears of War 4 falls short. The game looked incredible in both 1080p on my Xbox One S and in 1440p on ultra settings on my PC. The only holdup I had here was that cinematic cutscenes were sometimes inexplicably blurry. I often felt that the actual gameplay looked better than the cinematics because of this, which was obviously still a welcome occurrence. When the cutscenes weren’t blurry, though, the visuals were stunning.

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The game played without a hitch on both platforms, so there shouldn’t be any worries about lag in the Windows 10 option. The only trouble I had with using a mouse and keyboard on PC was being too lazy to remap buttons. The default melee button made it hard to rev the chainsaw and move around at the same time. I have no plans on playing competitively, though, so I hooked up my Xbox One controller and everything was fine.

Gameplay is very similar to previous games. There are a few new weapons and a few reworks of previous guns. The level design was great. I didn’t ever feel like I was stuck in an area where the cameras were awkward and cover was usually readily available. The robotic Deebee enemies in the first half of the game were exciting, though they played very similarly to Horde and Swarm enemies.

There were a few new mechanics, like the ability to vault over cover while kicking anyone who is on the other side. If you don’t want to vault over, you can also reach across and pull the enemy to your side of the barrier. This leaves them vulnerable to assassinations.

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Ultimately, Gears of War 4 takes the best gameplay elements from the previous games and improves upon them, bringing the most fluid combat experience I’ve had in any of the games. The updated visuals of the current console generation, plus the ability to play on PC, makes the graphics beautiful and the settings really come to life. There are hints of a unique and engaging story, but this ultimately falls through into a familiar and predictable narrative reminiscent of the previous entries.

90/100

Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal | What We Know So Far

We’re a little under four months away from Destiny 2 releasing and it has been a day since Bungie’s big Gameplay Reveal. I didn’t get to play Destiny 2 because I wasn’t at the Gameplay Reveal, but I’ll try to condense everything – yeah, I mean pretty much everything –  I’ve seen and heard about the game into this article. Here’s what we’ve learned about Destiny 2 as well as some of my thoughts:

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Story: So far, after being revived by a Ghost the Traveler created with its Light, we’ve saved the universe from time traveling Vex, finished a failed raid to destroy a Hive God, helped our favorite Awoken queen quell a Fallen rebellion, annihilated the angry father of said Hive God, and now Destiny 1 has left guardians mitigating a SIVA threat initiated by the Fallen. Where do we go from here? (Minor spoilers ahead if you don’t want to know anything about Destiny 2, skip ahead)

In Destiny 2, the threat guardians face hits closer to home than any other. Since the Traveler found its way to Earth, ghosts have been finding guardians to resurrect and infuse with Light to grant awesome power to protect the universe (or, you know, the Traveler itself). The guardians rallied to the Last City and protected it from alien threats, raising the Tower that guardians now call home. In the beginning of Destiny 2, the Tower and the Traveler are under assault. The opening cutscene shows a Cabal group called the Red Legion, led by one Dominus Ghaul (Gary), attacking everything we call home. Our vaults are destroyed, the Tower is in ruins, and our dear Light-granting Traveler is put into a cage that restricts its ability to grant us our abilities. In Destiny 2, guardians will take up the fight to restore our Traveler and get our Light back.

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But where will the guardians go? In Bungie’s Gameplay Reveal yesterday, there were clips of guardians gathering in a new social area called The Farm. This may well be the site of our resistance. If it’s not, at least it’s the site of our long awaited soccer matches.

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Destinations: During our time in Destiny 2, guardians will spend their time on four new destinations. The first new destination is the European Dead Zone. This is the biggest map that Bungie has created. It’s on Earth and might draw some similarities to the Cosmodrome we know and love, but new adventures await to be explored. More on that after the other destinations.

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Stop number 2 is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Zavala, the Titan Vanguard, has gone to this moon to recover and reflect on the loss of the Tower and the scattering of the guardians. This destination is most notable because of the lack of landmass. That’s right, Titan is a methane ocean. Guardians will explore the sinking remains of a human utopia that once flourished during the Golden Age of the Traveler.

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Next we have Io, the innermost moon of Jupiter. This is the last place that the Traveler stopped on its way to Earth, and as such is touted as a sacred place for guardians – especially Warlocks. Ikora Rey has come to this ruinous planet filled with mythology, and it is here that we’ll traverse the sulphuric yellow landscape to find her.

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The last new destination is Nessus, a Vex overrun planet that has gorgeous green skies and bright flora to complement. This machine world is inspired by canyons and Brazilian landscapes, and it is this destination where the beloved Caide-6 will be found.

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Exploration: Are we still going to be patrolling these destinations? Yes, but hear me out. Gone are the days of launching to orbit, landing on a destination, and looking for the nearest patrol beacon. Bungie is working hard to make exploration more meaningful, interesting, and worthy of our time. Each new destination is huge and has a lot to discover. In the Gameplay Reveal, there were mentions of treasure maps, villages with people to meet and quests to receive, new public events, lost sectors, and a whole lot more. Also, each destination will have a dedicated map where I imagine you’ll be able to mark quests and waypoints. When you’re ready for a change of scenery,  guardians will be able to hop from one destination to another without having to go to orbit, eliminating some of the precious loading time that we’re accustomed to.

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Guardians: So what’s new about us? Well, the first major point is that at least one subclass for each class has been redone. Now introducing: the Dawnblade. Warlocks in Destiny 1 have the solar subclass Sunsinger. This subclass is used mainly for its ability to revive oneself, but the actual power of the super was lost. Bungie has changed that with the new Dawnblade class. Upon super activation, guardians will don angelic wings of fire that allow them to soar above the battlefield while wielding a flaming, projectile-launching sword. Yeah, it looks as cool as it sounds.

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For those who will actually miss the shared ability cooldown aura, there is still hope to be found. Guardians now have a third ability slot, in addition to the grenade and melee abilities, that is universal across any subclass changes. Warlocks, for example, can use the ability slot to buff attack power or to heal (it appears that these are AoE and will also affect others). Hopefully there will still be some mechanic for Warlocks to revive themselves because I really feel like that was one of the unique Warlock factors that separated them from the rest.

For Titans, the Defender class has been reworked. Titan guardians will now be able to deploy the Sentinel class. Upon super activation, Sentinels will equip a shield humming with void energy. This shield can be used to bash enemies’ faces in, or whipped a la Captain America across great distances to, you guess it, bash enemies’ faces in. It’s what Titans are good at. I’m not sure where we’ll see the nice Armor/Blessing/Weapons of Light buffs that the Defender provided, though they might be found in the Warlock’s third ability slot, but Titans can use their universal third ability to provide a cover barrier to hide behind. 

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Hunters will now have the Arcstrider class. This is a rework of the Bladedancer, but, of the new sublcasses shown in the Gameplay Reveal, it’s the one that seems the most similar to its original. If you liked the Bladedancer, don’t worry! Arcstriders will now focus on an arc charged staff instead of a knife. This allows bigger hits, cooler combos, and more Kung Fu inspired movement and attack. The hunters’ third ability will allow them to Shadestep, now available to all classes for being in that skill slot. Hopefully this will be a welcome addition to the Hunter repertoire. It certainly looks like it will be very unique.

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Gameplay: That’s all well and good, but what about our loot, man? Things in this department have changed a little as well. Intellect, Discipline, and Strength stats were absent in the playable demo after the reveal, and gone are the days of the Primary, Special, and Heavy weapons. Instead, guardians will be met with the Kinetic, Energy, and Power slots to fill with weapons. This may have both pros and cons. Here’s why: Kinetic and Energy weapons can be filled by the same types of weapons. This means that guardians who want a scout rifle for distance play and a handcannon for close range damage equipped at the same time will finally have that dream realized. You can slot one in the Kinetic field and the other in the Energy field. The Power slot, then, allows guardians to equip the guns that are the usual go-tos for big damage: sniper rifles, rocket launchers, swords, etc.

While I’m very excited about being able to switch between two weapons that are essentially primaries for general use, I’m concerned about losing the variety of loadout choices that a distinct special and heavy weapon provided. I’m not sure how it’ll work out, and maybe I’ll love how it plays, but I’m worried about not having a versatile setup with a rocket launcher and a sniper rifle. This might be remedied by some of the new gun options, though, as there will now be gatling-like guns, grenade launchers, submachine guns, and probably more to come. We’ll just have to see how it all rolls out.

Clans and Guided Games: No matter what happens, it’s not going to stop guardians assembling from all over the planet. After all, Destiny is a social game. In my experience, Destiny is at its prime when enjoyed with other people. Memories come flooding back to me of betas, launch parties, a late night of flawless raider runs, the Iron Banner, and all other content tackled with friends I’ve known for years and new friends I’ve met in game. The strength and appeal of Destiny’s social aspect is evidenced by the fact that I’ll be playing Destiny 2 on PS4, despite having an Xbox One and a PC that it would look beautiful on, because I have real life friends to play with and talk about Destiny with when we meet outside the game.

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So, for the solo players out there, how are you going to be able to benefit from this? Bungie has introduced Guided Games. Because they know that Destiny is best experienced with other guardians with whom you can laugh and banter, Bungie is developing an easier way to pair existing groups with solo players. The LFG works for now, but Bungie’s vision is a lot more seamless. Established groups can, and will, create clans so they can rally under a unified title, banner, and slogan (all of which will be customizable and viewable in game). When these clans need one more player for the raid, or if two clansmen are attempting the nightfall and need a third to fill their ranks, they can initiate a guided game. Solo players who are looking to complete the same content can then view all clans in need of another player. By reading the clans’ mission statements, the solo players can choose a clan that best suits them and hopefully have an enjoyable experience – all without the LFG. The goal of this is that solo players meet clans and have a good time, potentially becoming a member of the clan themselves and making friends in the process. I think this a brilliant move on Bungie’s part and I’m excited to see more people enjoying the more difficult content that I know and love.

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Solo players aren’t the only people benefitting from this relationship, though. Clans will now have a progression system. Everyone in the clan will contribute to the clan’s experience levels by doing any content that Destiny 2 has. This means that it benefits clans to have a larger roster, as more members means more cumulative experience. Clans can level up and will have benefits based on levels, though it’s unclear what those rewards might be.

Group Content: To get those rewards, and to get some sweet, sweet loot, guardians will need to complete group content. Just like its predecessor, Destiny 2 will launch with all new strikes and a new raid. The biggest change coming to group content is found in the Crucible, where guardians assemble to duke it out against each other.

The Crucible in Destiny 1 is typically 6v6, with some 3v3 game modes. In Destiny 2, however, Crucible matches will be reduced to 4v4. This will make matches feel more involved and important. Teams must unite and play together to win and those victories will feel more personal than they do now. One new game mode, Countdown, has been showcased. There will most likely be more modes to come, but for now Countdown is a familiar game mode where two teams contend with bombs and objectives. One team fights to plant bombs and destroy objectives while the other team defends objectives and dismantles bombs. Teammates can be revived upon death, which we’ve seen in modes like Salvage.

PC Release: These new crucible changes raise the question of whether or not Destiny 2 will be available on the competitive home of video games: the PC. We’ve seen Overwatch, Gears of War 4, MOBAs, and many other competitive games thrive in the PC environment. This is usually because using a mouse to aim is inherently more accurate than a joystick with aim assist. So, will Destiny 2 be available on PC? Yes. Will it see any kind of competitive league outside of the already established Trials of Osiris? Maybe! Destiny 2 will be available on the PC exclusively through Blizzard Entertainment. Many people are disappointed that it’s not being run through Valve’s Steam (Steam is one of the largest gaming platforms on PC), but Blizzard is a great company and I think that they’ll do a fine job. Plus, potential Destiny crossovers into other Blizzard games are exciting and Blizzard is already involved in competitive leagues for four of its games. This could be good news for those who wish to see Destiny 2 in a competitive sphere.

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Unfortunately, Destiny 2 will (as of now) not be ready for release on PC when it releases for consoles on September 8. The good news is that when Destiny 2 is available on PC, it’ll bring with it 4K resolutions and an uncapped framerate. If you’ve got a rig that’ll run it, Destiny 2 will look amazing. Destiny 2 will, however, have some PlayStation exclusive content; Destiny 1 had PS exclusive crucible maps, strikes, weapons, and armor exclusive for limited runs before releasing on Xbox (not all content made it to Xbox). PC players will probably be in the same boat as Xbox here, so it’s something to consider.
What’s Next? Why am I giving all this information to you if the game doesn’t release for months? Well, you might not have to wait that long. If you pre-order the game on the platform of your choosing, there will be a beta this summer. Destiny 1 has had an incredible run and, from the looks of it, Bungie is really listening to feedback to make Destiny 2 vastly better. I’ll be playing from beta all the way into the foreseeable future because I love Destiny and the universe Bungie has made. Hopefully I’ll see you in the beta. If not, then I’ll see you on September 8. Eyes up, guardian.

Live Stream:


edit: Updated information about the third ability slot available to each class

New Gamers: Why It’s Okay To Play on Easy

Before I get this piece started, I have to address the elephant in the room: endeavoring to join the gaming community can be a very intimidating and daunting experience to newcomers. Why is that?

There are multiple factors at play here: there doesn’t seem to be a very effective format for mentoring or coaching newcomers, the “git gud” and elitist mentalities, the grouping of all skill levels, and the taboo of playing on Easy mode. I’ll get to the last one, but first I want to address the others.

Given the nature of gaming, I’m not sure that it would even be a viable option to have a coach teaching you how to play. This lack of education creates the idea that anyone who is skilled at video games is self-taught. This is troubling for newcomers who already feel that they’re behind the curve by starting later in life. Not only is this teaching experience missing, it often seems that the community isn’t even willing to participate where they can. This is evidenced by the rising popularity of “sherpas”, or skilled gamers willing to help new players with difficult levels. The success of sherpa-ing shows that there is a demand for it, but the supply is scarce. And while this community help is great, it often results in a new player being carried through a level instead of that same new player building the skill to do it alone. But for single player games and those unable to find a mentor, they’re often met by the community with a cold shoulder and a “git gud”.

This solution to a newcomer’s problem is now an internet meme, but it’s also destructive. Imagine playing a difficult game where you’re stuck on a boss or a demanding encounter, so you turn to the internet gaming community for some genuine help. Instead, you receive some off hand remark about how you don’t deserve to play the game unless you’re already good at it. Queue the paradox. Gamers don’t live in a Boolean world of people who are good and people who aren’t. There are new players of every age wanting to have fun and sometimes get help, often just to be shot down. There’s nothing wrong with being in the learning stage; the gaming community needs to be a lot more accepting and helpful toward these people.

Another barricade in the newcomer’s experience can be that they’re pitted against people of all ages and all skill levels. I can’t think of any other activity where the newest participant is immediately thrown in with the veterans. This makes multiplayer games incredibly scary for those who aren’t as skilled. The brave new souls who are courageous enough to venture into the battlegrounds of multiplayer are usually met with being kicked off of teams or being yelled at enough for poor performance that they leave on their own anyway. Again, the paradox of not being good enough to play but not being able to play enough to be good is relevant.

When all of this toxicity seeps in and the newcomer is left with no other options, they’re tempted with a taboo that may further ostracize them: playing a game on the Easy difficulty. Why is this taboo? It doesn’t make any sense. I think it goes along with the “git gud” mentality above, but that’s exactly what newcomers are trying to do. There’s no reason to ridicule them for starting on Easy.

When you’re a beginner, you start at the bottom: crawl before you walk, Tee Ball before Baseball, D-DU-UDU before complex strum patterns, addition before multi-variable calculus. This is how we learn as humans. It doesn’t make any sense, then, that a new video game player be expected to immediately play a game that’s completely alien to them on a Normal difficulty. That subverts the natural learning process.

There exists a stigma associated with the Easy difficulty. Playing on Easy isn’t viewed as validly playing or completing the game and you should be ashamed for even thinking about it. This mentality is complete garbage. There’s nothing wrong with being completely unfamiliar with a genre riddled with unique mechanics. If you’ve never played a third-person game, let alone one that involves stealth, crafting, and resource management, there’s going to be a learning curve.

The first time I remember setting out on an epic video game journey all by myself was after watching my older brother play through the PS1 Final Fantasy games. I loved the cutscenes and the stories and I wanted to experience the grand sense of magic that came with it. I set off alone with high hopes only to be met with boss fights I wasn’t prepared for and couldn’t get past. I quit each one out of frustration. But in the process, I noticed that I got further in FF 9 than I did in FF 8. And I got further in 8 than I did in 7. I was learning how to play RPGs. Eventually I’d come back and 100% each of those games (minus the card games I didn’t care a ton for), but it took multiple failures and the completion of other games through my career to build the skill to tackle the challenge of epic RPGs and learn how they work.

Now, as a veteran gamer, I’m able to tackle pretty much any game thrown at me and complete it. When I think about new gamers, though, I can’t help but remember the frustration I felt at being stuck in games and giving up. It very well could have ruined my gaming career. Looking back at that, I was one of the lucky ones. I realize now that there are probably many people out there who try to break through into the video game world only to be met with so much frustration and difficulty that they quit and never return. I’d rather see somebody playing on Easy and falling in love with the epic worlds and stories while building the skills to get to Normal than see someone start out over their heads, get to a frustrating part of a game, and quit. Some of those people don’t come back, and as someone who understands how important and wonderful video games can be, it truly makes me sad.

It’s okay to play on Easy. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by the community that’s so far ahead of you and so much better than you. It’s not okay to miss out on something you might love because you’re afraid of what a toxic internet community might think of you if they find out you aren’t already a master. You’re new. You’re building skills. You need to start at the level that is appropriate for you, and that just might be Easy. Don’t let anybody keep you from discovering a passion for video games. There are countless worlds and stories for you to experience, save, and fall in love with. So please, from a veteran gamer to a first timer, don’t give up.

And please, internet gaming community, try a little harder to realize that everyone out there is trying to enjoy the games just like you are.

Prey (2017) | Review

Background Info: Prey is a first-person action-adventure game that was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It’s a reboot of the 2006 game that shares the same name. Players control Morgan Yu, whether male or female, while investigating the mysteries surrounding the Talos I spacestation.


Corporate controlled space operates about as predictably as you’d expect: classified research that’s above your pay grade, money and power driven experimentation, and the promise that you can become all that you want to be through new products that have undisclosed origins. When I woke up in Morgan’s apartment to a voice message telling me that I needed to get ready for some testing before being sent to space, I was pretty excited. Jumping out of bed, I put on my space suit and ran into the living room to explore. I checked my emails, scavenged some items from the kitchen, and I was on my way.

Little did I know that one of the best first-hour game experiences was ahead. Arkane Studios got the atmosphere so right. My excitement to go to space was augmented by beautiful music and a gorgeous scenery view from a helicopter. This eagerness appropriately soured when, during the tests, the scientist observing me was obviously disappointed in what I thought was a stellar performance. Throw in some heavy philosophical questions for the final test, and I was beginning to feel like something was off.

Avoiding spoilers, the story takes off from there. Talos I is scary, eerie, and grippingly mysterious during the first hour. For me, this was pretty much as good as it got. Continuing through the main story, I found a pretty typical narrative that was very similar to other games out there: science experiments that would change the world gone wrong, an alien (Typhon, here) breakout in the aftermath, conspiracy, and secrecy. Once the sensation of the first hour’s turn of events wore off, Talos I lost it’s spooky feel and just seemed mostly empty. It didn’t feel quite as empty each time I encountered a new enemy, but, until the end, nothing about the story brought back the feeling I was looking for. The post credit cut scene returned me to that sense of wonder found in the opening hour, and I loved the idea, but it felt like two good ends of a story with an empty middle.

Luckily, the rest of the game provides a big enough distraction that I didn’t really find myself too upset about the story. One of the best things about Prey is that every single area of the game is immediately accessible – depending on which skills you choose to upgrade. There were doors blocked by big tape decks that I could move if I upgraded my strength skill, but then I wouldn’t be able to hack certain computers, door codes, or safes. It really felt like the world was changing directly because of the actions I performed and the skills I chose. There are multiple ways around traps and through doors, and it all depends on what you choose to upgrade. Neuromods, the basis of the story and the item used to obtain skills, can be found all over Talos I, so you usually don’t have to wait too long for the next upgrade.

This makes the exploration invigorating. If you come across a safe that might have a weapon or a neuromod but don’t have the code, you can hack it. If you don’t have a high enough hacking ability, you’ll have to read every book and pick up every note to try to find the code. This is, after all, a game heavily influenced by the “every book can be read and every item can be taken” mentality of the western RPG genre. Prey does this exceptionally well. It’s very rewarding to unlock secrets because you correctly used your skills in a creative way to get through whatever is blocking you. I found myself spending hours away from the main story so I could visit every room in Talos I and discover the little story that unfolded there. Sometimes these individual back stories caught my interest more than the main story, but usually I was just exploring because it was fun to test myself and solve the puzzle that would allow me to get to the next area and pick up everything.

This attempt at looting Talos I and claiming loot for myself was more tense when there were Typhon around. Again, adopting the principle of “play[ing] your way”, combat can either be tackled head on or avoided completely through stealth. But, if you’re wanting to collect every item and check every corner, combat is unavoidable.You eventually amass an arsenal of weapons to deal with these annoyances, each unique and effective against a different type of enemy. Once you acquire a story related item, you can also obtain Typhon abilities and use those. The combat in Prey is good, but its success relies on affording you multiple options for killing enemies, not on anything novel.

That being said, Prey can sometimes be unforgiving. A combat system that’s good enough to get by is troubled by fast moving, disappearing, and prop-hunt-style cloning enemies with attacks that wear down your health and suit strength (yeah, you have to manage two different bars relating to health with different items, plus a third bar for abilities later). This led to multiple encounters that resulted in death, especially early in the game and during escapades that took me to areas that I probably didn’t need to be in yet. I didn’t really feel that the combat was lacking, but I also didn’t feel like it added anything special to the gaming world.

Apart from all of that, my time on Talos I has been pleasant. The level designs are well thought out and the graphics are pretty good. This experience is only sparingly interrupted when the camera will stutter while running and jumping. I haven’t found any major annoyances beyond that.

Prey is a stunning game that fundamentally gets exploration and skill leveling right. It’s very fulfilling to spend hours playing your own way to solve puzzles, unlock backstory, and find weapons and upgrades. Combat can be fun, but it doesn’t add anything too original to what already exists. The story starts off incredibly strong and ends with a bang, but a space station crisis is hardly new and I found myself missing the first hour feelings throughout the majority of the game. Luckily, Prey does most of the other things well.

80/100

Infinite Materials | Prey

Update: This infinite materials trick has been fixed along with other known bugs in patch 1.2.

In Bethesda’s Prey, skill upgrades come via items called neuromods. Neuromods can be found in various offices and lab coat pockets of the deceased on Talos I, but they can also be crafted once a fabrication plan is found. This crafting system also allows medkits, ammo, and other useful items to be created. Needless to say, having an infinite amount of the materials required to craft seems pretty handy. But how do you do it?

It’s actually pretty simple. Collect enough recyclable material throughout Talos I (you’ll probably have enough from looting garbage cans and dead enemies) that you can net at least a x1.00 stack for each material when the trash is recycled. Now, take those stacks of recycled materials and put them back into the recycler. Here’s the important part: before starting the recycle process, split each of the material stacks into 4 equal stacks. For example, if you put a x1.00 stack of materials into the recycler, you should split it into 4 x0.25 stacks. Once this is done for each of the material stacks, hit start and you’ll double what you put in. Rinse and repeat.

Now that you’ve got a near bottomless supply of materials, you can use the fabricator to create as many neuromods, medkits, and shotgun shells as you desire. Beware: this will make the game easier. Bethesda has yet to patch this trick or suggest that it’s a mistake, but if it’s unintentional, expect a patch in the future. If you want the opportunity to stroll through Talos I as a god, take advantage of this trick now. Otherwise you might have to do it the old-fashioned way.

ReCore: Review

Background Info: ReCore is a 3rd person action-adventure platformer by the creators of Metroid Prime that was published by Microsoft Studios as a Play Anywhere title. It released in September of 2016. You play as the main protagonist, Joule Adams, on a mission to prep an alien planet for human civilization.


When you first wake up on Far Eden with your K-9 corebot Mack, the desert planet that greets you is full of promise. Fortunately, exploring this vast new setting is one of the most entertaining things that ReCore has to offer. This exploration is slowed by random enemy encounters. Luckily, combat is better in dungeons and during the story. Along the way, you’ll acquire a couple other corebot companions that can be upgraded, customized, and swapped out to help with combat and exploration. And with all this at your disposal, you’ll save the world. Or you’ll just explore. A lot.

Armature Studio, Comcept, and Asobo Studio bring a wonderful and enjoyable platforming experience to the table. Far Eden is a vast desert planet, full of rocky nooks and crannies that beg to be explored. To incentivize this, there are loot caches, permanent health upgrades, audio logs that give background story info, and optional dungeons to discover. Joule’s movement is very responsive and is augmented by mechanical boosters that allow her to double jump and dash. The later corebots you receive also provide different ways to traverse the terrain.

These exploration mechanics shine during the optional dungeons. By far the most memorable parts of the game, I was amazed at how each dungeon I explored was unique and exciting. Walking into a room full of suspended bridges and rolling electric balls of death really tested my ability to platform. Each dungeon also has three objectives – time, an item-carrying enemy, and color attuned switches – that can be completed to unlock extra loot at the end. I found myself rerunning dungeons multiple times to complete all of the challenges. Most dungeon run times are just a few minutes, so repetition isn’t a pitfall here.

The platforming and exploration outside of dungeons is only bogged down when it becomes mandatory – more on that later – and by how big the areas are. You’re in a desert, so much of the map is open sand. There are plenty of places to explore, but each felt like its own little island with a sea of sand in between. A more fluid and connected approach would have been welcome.

Combat in ReCore has its highs and lows. You’re equipped with an automatic rifle that has 4 color attunements. Matching the attunement to the enemy’s core will increase the damage dealt. Each attunement has a status effect it can inflict with a charged shot. Being an energy rifle, there is no reloading or running out of ammo; instead, all four attunements share an ammo pool that recharges when you aren’t shooting. Basic combat on a mouse and keyboard consists of holding down right click to lock-on to an enemy and holding left click to shoot while avoiding damage. Your corebots can use special abilities when they have the energy for it, and enemies have segmented health bars to provide a combo multiplier.

The combat itself never seemed too difficult, but as the game went on fights got more and more hectic. With so much going on, sometimes it became frustrating when you couldn’t see your corebot being carried away or the status effect shots about to hit you. Getting hit usually means that you have to button mash, waggle, or dash away the status effect, but when battles become hectic it often means you’re left vulnerable to all the other things about to hit you. In theory this works well because it means that one of the best parts of the game – platforming – is required to dodge attacks, but when you’re pretty much required to lock onto an enemy to do consistent damage, keeping track of where everything is in the room around you gets tiresome.

This is can be even more irritating if, like me, you run into bugs. I played ReCore on Windows 10, so I don’t know if the Xbox One version was a victim of the same faults, but I ran into a few bugs that made the game completely unplayable until resetting. Once, during a crucial boss fight, my mouse cursor appeared and was no longer center-locked with my reticle. This made it so I could accidentally open the task bar if I needed to look down and hovered over it. In addition, I couldn’t turn continuously. If I moved my mouse far enough in any direction, it would get to the edge of my monitor and stop, which also halted any turning motion. This happened twice until I exited the game and restarted it.

Another time, during a story dungeon, my corebot ceased movement and froze in place. He wouldn’t do anything. When combat is heavily aided by a corebot’s abilities, having a corebot that isn’t frozen is crucial. This only happened once, and I’m grateful is wasn’t in an area that required me to use that corebot for traversal, but it still required restarting the game to fix.

Lastly (of the most memorable bugs), there was a time early in the game where I exited a cutscene to a world devoid of any non-ground level structures. Again, this required restarting the game because, to continue the story, I needed ramps and platforms to get up and around to a hidden section of a building where a door was waiting to be unlocked. These were glaring bugs in an otherwise beautiful and seamless game.

Speaking of the graphics and performance, ReCore did admirably. The world of Far Eden looked incredible, though sometimes the rocks lost texture in the out of bounds areas. There are impressive small details like how dashing while on the ground would create a permanent wake in the sand. I even wrote a word with the wakes to see if they were permanent or if the game could only keep a few. Joule and the corebots look great, with freckles and paint details creating a realistic scene. I never noticed any performance issues beyond the bugs mentioned above.

The visuals during gameplay were just as good as during cutscenes, which isn’t something that’s often true. It made it easy to feel that the story transcended the cutscenes and bled into gameplay seamlessly. Though somewhat predictable and not the most original, the story was unique enough to keep me wanting to know exactly what happened. No spoilers here, but being alone on a planet where everything has gone wrong certainly breeds curiosity. I loved the idea of the story, but it left me wishing that I had seen more of it. Despite this, it keeps a pretty good pace until the end when – as I alluded earlier – unlocking the next step requires you to go collect enough of an item to advance. Then, once you clear that section of the final dungeon, you have to go collect some more.

ReCore really shines in the moments of intense platforming: racing the clock, looking for hidden switches for extra loot, climbing massive structures, scavenging for health upgrades, and zipping around Far Eden with the help of corebots. The combat tries to keep up, but open world encounters just limit your freedom of exploration. Boss and dungeon encounters were fun, though sometimes they were too hectic in the name of difficulty. The story is engaging, but it slows down and loses its immersive grasp when it requires you to go collect items in order to progress. If you can avoid the game breaking bugs, Far Eden offers a beautiful setting for platformers, jumping puzzlers, and shooters alike, though you’ll find the best content in the optional dungeons.

65/100