Review
13 Comments
9.5

Divinity: Original Sin review: next to godliness

Divinity: Original Sin is a testament to what an experienced developer can do when freed from the demands of a publisher and left to create precisely the game it wants. Belgian developer Larian Studios has been building on its Divinity franchise for over a decade, since 2002's poorly-named Divine Divinity. For Original Sin, the team pitched an incredibly successful Kickstarter, billing it as the Divinity game they had always wanted to make but never had the publisher support. It's one thing to make lofty promises in a Kickstarter campaign and another thing entirely to actually deliver on them. Divinity: Original Sin delivers in almost every conceivable way. It's a turn-based RPG with all the scope and depth that captured my heart as a kid but with the polish and smart, self-aware...
1502 Comments
8.0

The Last of Us review update: Remastered on PS4

The Last of Us was already one of the most visually impressive games of the last generation, so the necessity of "remastering" it for next-gen hardware is arguable. The results, however, are not. The Last of Us Remastered is a lovingly curated package. In addition to a graphically improved version of the core game that looks better, runs smoother and loads faster, Remastered contains a number of bonuses — most notably, the excellent Left Behind single-player DLC. While I would have loved an option to slot Left Behind into its place in the timeline while playing through the game, just having it included at all is a blessing. While this is a great package for anyone who hasn't played The Last of Us yet, it also includes some nice elements for people who are already hardcore fans. A...
Review
63 Comments
6.0

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 4 review: existential crisis

Everyone you know and love will one day die. It's true for all of us, but Telltale's Walking Dead series — now nearing the end of its second season — has always done an especially powerful job of putting mortality at the forefront. In "Amid the Ruins," Season 2's fourth episode, that tension at the heart of the series is as loud and clear as it's ever been. Every moment of hope is contrasted by a devastating setback. Longtime companions fall before the episode is done, and protagonist Clementine finds herself in increasingly dire situations. This formula has done Telltale well in the past, but something is off in "Amid the Ruins." The normally brilliant characterization and writing of the series is less consistent. The plodding arc of the episode feels as exhausted and hopeless as...
Review
37 Comments
8.5

Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King review: return of the king

Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King blends the old, the new and the even newer to form a mixture that fits perfectly alongside the levels that made the core game so damned good. The first of three downloadable content packs for From Software's action role-playing game grounds players in history by paying homage to the intertwined level design of its forebears. Crown of the Sunken King revisits the past but retains the refined play style of the sequel; it feels about as comfortable as a Souls game can alongside a level of challenge you can't get anywhere else. Most importantly, it introduces a new, puzzle-based exploration formula with great success. Crown of the Sunken King is an indispensable expansion to the Souls franchise. And despite some problems balancing difficulty, it...
Review
27 Comments
8.0

The Wolf Among Us episode five: Cry Wolf review: bark at the moon

We're trying something new with episodic reviews on Polygon. What follows of something of a hybrid between recap and review and, as such, should not be read by anybody worried about spoilers. You've been warned. The trick to enjoying The Wolf Among Us is letting go of expectation. After completing Cry Wolf, the final episode of this (first? only?) season of Telltale's take on Fables, I was left with a feeling I've become well acquainted with while reviewing this series: Stunned, confused and more than a little delighted. The first expectation that Cry Wolf turned on its head was that this was a whodunnit, a story of the reformed Big Bad Wolf Bigby finding out who was killing off citizens of Fabletown. Since this secret sub-borough of New York City is home to storybook...
Review
27 Comments
8.0

Valiant Hearts review: medal of honor

In Valiant Hearts, the minutia of war is devastating. This adventure game's motion comic style and jaunty animation look fairly cheery. But Valiant Hearts is both an emotional gut punch and a valuable history lesson. A history lesson that resonated for me, thanks to the undercurrent of real-life details about the war effort. My knowledge of World War I was limited going in, mostly gleaned from dusty, bored afternoon sessions in high school history class, or a half-forgotten viewing of All Quiet on the Western Front. But Valiant Hearts effectively made the drama and heartbreak of the war matter to me. Valiant Hearts opens with an animated sequence depicting the spark that ignited World War I — the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The focus shifts to a French family...
Review
90 Comments
7.0

Wildstar review: infinity and beyond

Above all else, Wildstar's greatest obsession is keeping players busy. It has a unique tone compared to its competition, but Wildstar is also very much an amalgam. It's a collection of gameplay and content that may as well have been pulled from a bucket labeled "what fans of the genre expect" — that genre being massively multiplayer online role-playing games in the post-World of Warcraft era. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The familiarity can be inviting, especially when it allows for more challenging gameplay faster than other massively multiplayer games. Wildstar sets itself apart with the sheer amount of content available. Each of the game's massive zones is flooded with quests and challenges, constantly pushing players in new directions. It never let me slow down long...
Review
31 Comments
4.5

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark review: scrap metal

Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark demonstrates how easy it is to ruin a good thing. Publisher Activision previously entrusted developer High Moon Studios with the Transformers license, which resulted in the excellent Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (and we'll just pretend the mediocrity of the Transformers: Dark of the Moon game didn't happen). The Cybertron games demonstrated a grasp of just about everything that made the idea of a Transformers game exciting — blasting and smashing giant robots with a variety of cleverly-executed weapons in third person, and all the while, shifting between vehicle and robot forms at will. By combining a good balance of risk vs. reward, proper incentives for experimentation, and good level design with a...
Review
92 Comments
9.0

Guacamelee review update: Super Turbo Championship Edition

Whenever I see a developer adding new content to a game that was already fantastic, I start to worry. Would I like more Guacamelee? Of course, especially considering how short the original game was. But what if they screw it up? If you share those fears, allow them to wash away in the light of this excellent addition to DrinkBox Studios' colorful action-platformer. Super Turbo Championship Edition adds two new levels that have been carefully inserted into the game so as to seem like they belonged there all along. It also provides new backstory with further insight into some of the game's characters, new enemies that test your skills even more and a second currency to collect, which is then used to unlock costumes that tweak your character's abilities. On top of the additional content,...
Review
17 Comments
7.5

Munin review: nevermore

Munin is as harsh and beautiful as the mythical Nordic landscapes that serve as its setting. This abstract world is full of references to Norse gods and monsters. From underworlds filled with pale green ghouls and dark corners to volcanic caves, breathtaking fjords and Valhalla-like mountain landscapes — everything about Munin's look screams rustic, unforgiving beauty. That theme translates into the deceptively simple puzzle-platformer's gameplay. Munin is hard in the best way. It's difficult to parse at first, but it rewards experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking. It's cleverly designed so that the solutions always feel as if they are in your grasp, even when they are dozens of steps away. Munin opens with a cryptic passage about Odin's raven (the eponymous protagonist)...
Review
54 Comments
5.0

EA Sports UFC review: losing ground

EA Sports UFC marks a new chapter for publisher Electronic Arts and the UFC. This is EA's second mixed martial arts title, after the appropriately titled EA Sports MMA, which debuted as now-defunct publisher THQ released yearly installments of its own UFC series. With the death of THQ, UFC and EA made a new deal. EA Sports UFC is the result. Players who enjoyed EA's Fight Night series may find much familiar about UFC's physics-based combat and teeth-rattling emphasis on realistically rendered damage to the human body. But where Fight Night and even THQ's UFC titles found varied success, with controls that were accessible to normal human beings, this new UFC's intense physicality is often overshadowed by a complicated, impenetrably opaque input scheme. UFC's physicality is...
Review
54 Comments
9.0

Shovel Knight review: rewrite history

Shovel Knight is inspired by the past in all the right ways — but it's far from stuck in it. Countless games have attempted to exploit our nostalgia for the 8 and 16-bit golden age, but none have cherry-picked the era's best attributes as judiciously as Shovel Knight. It's the stuff our childhood dreams were made of, assuming you dreamt of combining your favorite platformers from the '80s and early '90s into a single, streamlined package. The magic of Shovel Knight is how it accomplishes that recombination without becoming derivative. The all-too-common praise for these sorts of modern-retro projects is lauding them as "the best NES game never made." Shovel Knight is, by leaps and bounds, the most authentic retro game ever made, and might actually be deserving of that designation. ...
Review
8 Comments
7.0

The Last Tinker review: rainbow connection

The Last Tinker: City of Colors is just about the opposite of what I normally look for in a PC game. It's a character platformer with a mascot-worthy star who looks straight out of the PlayStation 2's Jak & Daxter games. It's a game that really requires a controller to play correctly. And it's colorful and relaxing and all sorts of other warm adjectives that rarely cross my mind when I hunch over a mouse and keyboard. For however much I might love wrangling with intense tactics or losing hours of my life to a complex game, The Last Tinker provided a breath of fresh air I didn't even realize that I wanted. It's more of a palate cleanser than a main course, but it's still satisfying and filling in its own right. The Last Tinker casts you in the role of Koru, a stylish resident...
Review
37 Comments
8.0

1001 Spikes review: die and die again

Death comes to us all. In 1001 Spikes, perhaps with a bit more frequency. The 8-bit era was a notoriously punishing time for gamers. Checkpoints and recharging shields were but twinkles in the eyes of would-be developers. Bottomless pits, severely limited lives and insta-kill traps ruled, yielding some of the most difficult games ever made. 1001 Spikes pays homage to those games, while also bringing some modern sensibilities to make the experience not, well, torturous. It's this balance of new and old that actually makes 1001 Spikes an impressive feat, especially for those that love a platforming challenge. 1001 Spikes stars Aban Hawkins, an Indiana Jones wannabe on a quest to prove to his father that he's not a total waste of humanity. The game is set across pretty typical...
Review
37 Comments
7.5

Tomodachi Life review: semi charmed

Tomodachi Life is tailor-made for people who used to put their friends' names into Oregon Trail, just to see what kind of horrors they could subject them to. There's a strange kind of power in games like that; like XCOM, with its nameable soldiers, or The Sims' customizable families. Exerting virtual control over your real-life friends can be a joyous thing, especially when the scenarios you're forcing them into are utterly bizarre. And if you take one thing away from this review, let it be this: Tomodachi Life is, hands down, one of the most bizarre games ever released. It's not just the situations your Miis will find themselves in — daily rap battles, ensemble musical theater performances, occult worship of inanimate objects — it's the very structure of Tomodachi Life that's...
Review
22 Comments
8.0

Always Sometimes Monsters review: working class hero

Always Sometimes Monsters wears its heart proudly on its sleeve. This 2D open-world game is wildly ambitious in its narrative goals — it comments on everything the developers take issue with in the modern world. Playing Always Sometimes Monsters at times feels like talking to an enthusiastic — and generally bright — friend who tries a little too hard to convince you of something you already believe. It has a lot to say, and most of what it says has value, though it's not terribly subtle. Always Sometimes Monsters dropped me into the 16-bit shoes of my chosen protagonist — a young writer struggling to finish her first novel, pay rent and deal with heartbreak. At the beginning, my bigoted landlord — who referred to my Asian female character "little China girl" — kicked me out on the...
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