Tom Chick

Hover is as Jet Set Radio as you can get without the Cibo Matto

, | Game reviews

After the obligatory “press this button to do this, dummy” tutorial, Hover drops you into a bright city, stacked absurdly vertical and mildly bustling with activity. Have at it. No agenda. Just get out there. Feel free to tick off the list of activities in the corner of the screen. Or not. Your choice. Of course a game about anarchists skaterpunking sans skates through a plasticky neon dystopia would be this free form. You can run right up to the top or indulge your completionist neurosis in the starting area, which is far more cheerful than you’d expect for a place called “Garbage Village”. Everything in Hover is the opposite of grim. Continue reading →

Stars in Shadow finds its place in the sun

, | Game reviews

Sometimes you just want to blow spaceships up. I mean, sure, it’s fun to shuffle colonists between mines and farms, do a little diplomacy with a picture of an alien, pore over a tech tree’s fork in the road between neutronium beams or quantum fusion, make the adjustments to boost a -2Cr income to a +4Cr income, and decide which planet is going to build the Interstellar Moon Mall wonder of the universe. But when it’s all over, what you remember are the attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and the c-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. Continue reading →

Don’t sweat it with Domina

, | Game reviews

I’m not convinced Domina is an actual game. The AI basically plays it for me. I’m sitting in the shade watching. I click the occasional decision, and it might not even be a decision of much consequence. But that’s fine. I shouldn’t have to mess with meaningful decisions. I’m just some rich ancient Roman gladiator manager living a life of luxury and maybe corruption. Corruption seems to take effort, but I guess it can also happen when I get a multiple choice question. Do I a) accept the bribe or b) reject the bribe? I don’t really need 50 ducats or whatever they are, so I just clicked one of the options to get the screen out of the way. “Who can be bothered?” is the theme of the game. I’m guessing “domina” is Latin for “Who can be bothered?” Continue reading →

The Wire, season 1, episode 11: empathy whiplash

, | TV reviews

Hey, The Wire, I’m cool with some ambiguity about the characters I like. So McNulty’s an asshole, D’Angelo’s morally crippled, Bubs is a junkie, Prez is incompetent in the field, Daniels is supposedly “dirty”, and Omar is a cold-blooded murderer. All that’s cool. I can work with that. But once I’ve decided I don’t like characters, stop making me like them. Continue reading →

Your mission in Cryptark, should you choose to accept it…

, | Game reviews

You know that part in a heist movie where the heisters are poring over a map figuring out how to get into the bank vault? “What if we cut the power to the basement?” one of them suggests. “No, that won’t work,” another says, “because it will trigger the alarm system.” “Okay, then we’re going to have to shut down the alarm system from outside.” “But that will initiate a lockdown and we’ll be trapped.” “Hey,” says another, “what about this sewer line that runs under the bank?” They’ve found the way in! Time to see if they can pull it off.

That’s Cryptark. Continue reading →

Worst thing you’ll see all week: A Ghost Story

, | Movie reviews

If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to watch Rooney Mara eat pie for ten minutes, you’re in luck! Arty director David Lowery has returned from his stint making a movie in which things happen (the Pete’s Dragon remake) to bring us this eulogy to anything happening. A Ghost Story is literally a story about a ghost, which opens up a lot of possibilities. None of them are explored. Instead, everything and nothing happen, leaning mostly in the “nothing” direction. The minutes pass like years, the hour like a millennia, and yet there are still a few scenes to go. Then you don’t get to read a fortune cookie. Roll credits.

A Ghost Story is pretentious, ponderous, and curiously boxed into a very square aspect ratio with curved edges. I think it’s supposed to invoke the time someone made you watch slides of their vacation. The movie also invokes getting stuck in the kitchen at a party while some boorish hipster with overalls and pierced ears spools out his penny-ante nihilism. It invokes it by making it actually happen. The guys just goes on and on and for some reason the scene doesn’t cut. It’s enough to make you long for the pie-eating scene.

A Ghost Story is in limited release. Not limited enough.

Desync cyberpunches you in the cybergut and makes you come back for more

, | Game reviews

If you’re interested in big-budget score-based shootering, Epic re-released Bulletstorm this year. Remember Bulletstorm, which was like The Club, but with marketing? The re-release even has a new set of challenges to flex the gameplay a little. Knock yourself out. But if you’d rather emphasize “score-based” over “big budget” and “marketing”, Desync is your better bet. Continue reading →

Sumer time and the living ain’t easy, because someone else got to the goat pen first

, | Game reviews

I don’t normally play, much less review, early access games. There are far too many finished games I have yet to try. So why would I faff about with someone’s beta? Just let me know when you’re finished. I’ll wait. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy in the meantime.

Oh, look, what’s this? A review of an early access game called Sumer? What gives? Continue reading →

You’ll find Dynasty Feud at the deserted intersection of complicated and quick

, | Game reviews

Unfortunately, this game shares half a name with Duck Dynasty and half a name with Family Feud. And screenshots can’t do much to highlight what’s special about it. You’d look at it and think it’s wacky couch multiplayer no different than something like Move or Die. Chase each other around, jumping, punching, jumping, punching, jumping, punching.

This is what people do when they don’t have a Super Smash Bros. Continue reading →