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Frustrating

DEVELOPER Numantian Games’ They Are Billions is one of Steam’s Early Access success stories. Despite its humble beginnings, it has managed to make a name for itself in a genre that many consider long dormant. Presenting a mix of city-building, tower-defense and real-time-strategy elements in a post-apocalyptic setting, it pits a budding human colony against innumerable hordes of the undead in the late 22nd century. Its gameplay forces the last bastions of the human race to build and develop a base of operations on which they survive, and then thrive, against a seemingly never-ending tide of flesh-tearing, brain-eating zombies.

A gift that keeps on giving

RESIDENT EVIL was an instant hit when it came out in 1996. Its first on-screen text was cryptic, if awkwardly put together. “Enter the survival horror.” The words likewise spoke the truth, and to the point where they introduced a whole new genre in the industry. They set the tone on what the game wanted to do in a way no other release was hitherto able. It was less about breezing through enemies and more about rationing supplies and equipment. It was about grittily plodding on in a hostile, alien environment. It was about atmosphere and tension, about unsettling gamers with both anticipation and actual experience.

Warriors Orochi 4 is a fun ride

THOSE FAMILIAR with Koei Tecmo Games will undoubtedly not be shocked at the release of Warriors Orochi 4, a hack-and-slash video game that combines the Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors franchises and lets them loose in a world of myths and monsters.

A heck of a ride

PART brawlers, part Japanese dramas, and part open-world experiences, Sega’s Yakuza games have always been a ridiculous but compelling blend of action and adventure. While they initially seem like compilations of conflicted ideas from a fever dream, their interesting, over-the-top antics and enjoyable combat systems are truly anything. Their stories keep you invested, and their atmosphere, taken individually or collectively, is nothing short of engrossing. Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake of 2006’s Yakuza 2, follows pretty much the same formula. Featuring better graphics and sounds, enhanced gameplay, and new story elements, it does its best to keep the spirit of its source material while tacking on some of its own unique flair.

An easy recommend for all and sundry

MOST GAMERS are familiar with the modern dungeon crawler, with the likes of Diablo III, Torchlight II, and Path of Exile proving to be critical and commercial successes. That’s not to say that every release in the category follows the same formula; such notables as Class of Heroes, The Dark Spire, and The Lost Child are superb takes on turn-based exploration and fighting in elaborate milieus. They’re not for everyone, though; while compelling, they generally rely on the slow burn of an interesting story to keep players hooked, and their often-complicated battle systems can be a doozy to navigate through, especially for newcomers to the genre.

A wonderful blast from the past

WHEN producer Souhei Niikawa and principal programmer Yoshitsuna Kobayashi set out to make Disgaea: Hour of Darkness from scratch, they had no idea that it would stand the test of time. True, they were determined to meet the objectives set forth by publisher Nippon Ishi Software; they aimed to come up with a role-playing game that both adhered to popular mechanics and pushed the envelope in terms of execution. Even as they succeeded in doing so, however, they could not have envisioned an outcome that exceeded their highest expectations.

Time has not been kind

LONGTIME gamers remember Shenmue fondly for what it tried to achieve. The open-world adventure brawler was revolutionary in its ideas, trying its hardest to blend an engaging narrative, extensive exploration sprinkled with minigames of various types, quick time events, and combat sequences. Released back in 1999 as a Sega Dreamcast exclusive, it met with extremely positive praise, but somehow failed to parlay its critical acclaim into commercial appeal.

Not for everyone

THERE CAN be no denying that FromSoftware’s Dark Souls is brutal and difficult, often bordering on the sadistic in terms of its capacity to challenge players. That said, it’s beatable, and while its gameplay borders on the unforgiving, it succeeds in its objective. You get a massive sense of achievement in persevering through it and conquering the even-tougher-than-tough parts. It’s an acquired taste, a pain to get into, really. It’s also harder to put down once you’re hooked.

The best game in the series to date

IT’S NOT HARD to understand why Nihon Falcom and NIS America have moved to port Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana in the Nintendo Switch. Having seen the title generate positive reception upon its release on the PlayStation Vita in 2016, on the PS4 last year, and on the PC earlier this year, they understand its potential to reach a new set of gamers via the hybrid console. Their confidence is not unfounded, and not simply because they carry a lot of weight in the gaming industry. More importantly, their latest contribution to the Ys franchise has been praised as the best yet.

Managing your expectations in the zombie apocalypse

UNDEAD LABS’ State of Decay was a certified critical and commercial hit upon its release in 2013. Best described as a third-person sandbox-cum-survival game simulating a community in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, it tasked you with finding resources, interacting with other denizens, and clearing out zombies in an effort to survive. And, on the whole, it proved to be a compelling experience, its flaws notwithstanding.

Riding the rails

TYCOON GAMES aren’t for everyone, but it isn’t hard to understand why they have a loyal following. They’re flashy, and they’re capable of producing a surprising amount of fun and complexity. From Sim City to Zoo Tycoon to Roller Coaster Tycoon, the process of building something from scratch and seeing it thrive and prosper brings about catharsis. And, by the same token, Kalypso Media delivers.

A polished remake

IT’S BY DESIGN that Vanillaware is best known for stylistic two-dimensional action-adventure games. In an industry proliferated with 3D titles, the Japanese developer has made a conscious effort to trod the less-beaten path. And, to its credit, it has had much success in this regard; via a proprietary programming process, it enables its artists to render pixel sprites in such a way as to uniquely project depth. It’s why gamers instantly took to Odin Sphere for the PlayStation 2 in 2007, as well as Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Nintendo Wii in 2009.

Well worth its price tag

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong KOEI TECMO and Omega Force were on to something when they unveiled Attack on Titan in 2016....

Charming, stylish, and fun

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong WHEN IT COMES to video games, there’s a certain polish that Bandai Namco is able to give them...

Gameplay flourishes where the story languishes

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong NIPPON ICHI Software distinguishes itself from other developers by the style of its games. Displaying its strengths...

An acquired taste

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong FOR LONGTIME FANS of the fighting game genre, Ecole Software is a name they cannot but be...

Noir on steroids

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong AS THE BRAINS behind such groundbreaking titles as Killer7, Killer is Dead, and No More Heroes, video game...

Well worth its price

NIHON FALCOM is no stranger to Japanese role-playing games. Having been behind the successful Legend Of Heroes, Dragon Slayer, and Ys series, it was...

Lots of rhythm, a few blues

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong RIGHT OFF THE BAT, followers of DJMax Technika might see something familiar in Superbeat: Xonic. Little surprise,...

For a few hours of distraction

By Alexander O. Cuaycong BY WAY of background for the uninitiated: Project Shrine Maiden is a collection of manic-shooter video games published by Team Shanghai...

Last Recode: definitely worth its price tag

By Alexander O. Cuaycong IT’S difficult to pinpoint exactly how influential .hack (stylized in lower case and pronounced “dot hack”) has been as a series....

Options at a cost

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong SPORTS GAMES are an acquired taste, and even those who hold them in great affection tend to...

Death is inevitable, but so is progress

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong NEON CHROME is an interesting top-down shooter developed by 10tons, originally released in May 2016 on the...

Recommended for first-timers

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong AT FIRST GLANCE, it’s not wrong to think of L.A. Noire as a spin-off of Rockstar Games’...

For Mask of Truth, story is both its greatest asset and...

By Alexander O. Cuaycong FOR THE REVIEW of the prequel Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, please refer to this link: https://goo.gl/zmGgHu Released in Japan in September 2016...

More hit than miss

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong NIGHTS OF AZURE 2: Bride of the New Moon (NotA 2) is the sequel to the action...

Utterly ridiculous, and utterly satisfying

By Alexander O. Cuaycong SOUTH PARK: Stick of Truth was a game that was much, much better than first impressions conceded. While its graphics were...

Dangerous high school

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong IT’S TO SPIKE CHUNSOFT’s credit that Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony manages to bring uniqueness and originality out...

A game to sink your teeth into

By Alexander O. Cuaycong Total War: Warhammer II, the second offering in the Warhammer Trilogy of Creative Assembly and published by Sega, takes its lore...

Indie games on sale offer great value for money

By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong Game Review Darkest Dungeon Cooking Witch Death Road to Canada PC via Steam IT’S STEAM’S SUMMER SALE! Held every year during summer,...

Roaming China

Videogame Review Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 PlayStation 4 By Alexander O. Cuaycong and Anthony L. Cuaycong ROMANCE of the Three Kingdoms 13 (ROTK 13) is the latest...