Category Archives: Game Review

PERSONA 5 is the game of 2017

You'll never see it coming...

It took me two and a half months to finish Persona 5.

Few games have welled within me such a depth of feeling as Persona 4, all the way back in 2009. When Persona 5 released in North America this April, it had been eight years since its precursor had left its mark on me. I was ready for a new experience.

And so as the jazzy opening theme to the game greeted me through the speakers of my television, I grinned. Here it was again: a massive, sprawling RPG that dared to be different, soundtracked not with baroque orchestrations but with ebullient jazz; taking place not in an elaborate medieval fantasy world, but in modern Tokyo; drawn not in garish, gritty Unreal renders, but in a modest cel-shaded style that oozes personality; a game dripping with inspiration from and reference to Jungian psychology. Finally: Persona is back.

I played it for three hours that night. Then I stopped. I didn’t play it again until that weekend, when I played for a single four-hour session. Then I stopped, again.

This was how I played Persona 5: in fits and starts. To a certain extent, I was following the advice of the game itself, the loading screen adorned with an image of the protagonist’s face above the words “Take Your Time,” assembled with disconnected cut-out letters as if a threat in a ransom note. But more, it was because Persona 5 is simply overwhelming. Whenever I would put the controller down, I would involuntarily sigh, as if some heavy burden is easing off my shoulders.

It’s one of the best video games I’ve ever played.

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Review: “The Last of Us – Left Behind”

LastofUs_THUMBThe Last of Us is the greatest game ever made. I stand by that statement as much today as I did in June, when I made that statement for the first time. I’ve replayed the game two or three times since, and it hasn’t lost an ounce of impact. It’s powerful. On Friday, the first – and reportedly, only – piece of single-player DLC was released for the game. A short campaign where you play as Ellie, “Left Behind” is an addition in the best sense of the word: it does not detract, change, or in any way weaken what came before. It is simply more.

Actually, allow me to retract that. It’s not “simply” more – it’s quite complicatedly more. While this is the same game to be sure – it has the same pulse-pounding stealth gameplay and is every bit as intense as the base game – this is a decidedly different beast on a narrative front. It, too, has things to say about survival, but where “Left Behind” distinguishes itself from the base game is in its bizarre but welcome sense of joy and optimism in a world that seems so devoid of it.

“Left Behind” is a beautiful piece of DLC, representing the macrocosm of the base game in microcosm.

[Standard spoiler warning applies. There will be spoilers for both The Last of Us and “Left Behind” beneath the cut.]

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Review: “BioShock Infinite”

bioshock-infinite-logo

On Monday evening – March 25th, 2013 – several friends and I sat glued to our monitors, watching as the clock ticked away, down and down to midnight, March 26th. Five and a half years earlier, our monitors and television sets were graced with a work of art that has been widely acclaimed and acknowledged as one of the best video games of all time: BioShock. BioShock was an intriguing and meditative game that placed its setting front and center, a sprawling underwater city called Rapture, and explored the nature of society and economy as the player explored its broken down halls. After an adequate but ultimately uninspired direct sequel (made by a different creative team), a new game had been announced about two and a half years after the first. This game – which would become BioShock Infinite – promised a new setting, a new main character, and a brand new story unrelated to the first. It was more of a spiritual successor than anything else. From the very first trailer for this game, I – and most of my friends who had played the original – were hooked.

This was three years ago. For three years, during which the game was delayed three separate times and teased relentlessly for the last year or so, we waited. And after three years of waiting, on Monday evening, we were finally about to get our hands on what looked sure to be the best game of 2013. The clock ticked down increasingly slowly, leading us to make typically geeky remarks about us approaching a large mass and the resultant time dilation (I’m perhaps irrationally proud of my pun, “we’re approaching the point of infinite curvature and time is slowing down exponentially”). But eventually, midnight arrived, and we were finally able to play this game.

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