Banishers: Ghosts Of New Eden Review - Ghostbusters

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It can't be a coincidence that Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is launching just a day before Valentine's Day. As its title suggests, the latest game from Life is Strange developer Don't Nod is brimming with ghost hunting and spooky happenings. Yet, at its core, it's also a surprisingly tender love story about life, death, and sacrifice. This isn't the most well-trodden path for an action-RPG, and that's just one of a few key areas where Banishers is atypical for its genre. Between outbursts of stiff, run-of-the-mill action, it's the quieter moments where the game comes into its own. Like Vampyr, one of the studio's previous games, delving into various characters' lives and making tough choices with far-reaching consequences are what make the game memorable.

Banishers begins with dual protagonists Antea Duarte and Red Mac Raith arriving on the sandy shores of the fictional island of New Eden, Massachusetts. It's 1695, and the pair of eponymous banishers are hired spirit hunters entrusted with dispelling the ghosts and specters that still linger in our plane of existence, trapped between the living and the afterlife. New Eden, you see, has been afflicted with a malevolent curse. Hauntings are frequent, the weather is perpetually cold and dreary, crops are dying, livestock has perished, and the island's settlers are in desperate need of help. With so many lingering effects, this is no simple curse, and while attempting to banish a particularly powerful spirit, Antea is tragically killed as Red is plunged into the freezing depths of the ocean and left for dead.

Upon waking up on the opposite side of the island, the grief-stricken Red is soon reunited with his fallen lover. Antea is now one of the ghostly apparitions she would previously hunt, forcing her to wrestle with the fact that she's become the one thing she hates. From this point on, you can swap between both characters on the fly. You're then thrust into making the first of many choices you'll have to consider as you're asked to swear an important oath. Will you accept Antea's fate and ascend her soul, letting her move on to the afterlife, or sacrifice the living in order to resurrect her? Initially, I picked the former, for as much as I wanted to revive Antea, killing the settlers who asked for help never sat right with me. Morally speaking, it also seemed like a pretty clear-cut choice. Then I started meeting New Eden's denizens, gradually delving into their lives and uncovering their darkest secrets, and my stance started to change.

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Ultros Review - Toil And Soil

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With an increasing number of them to choose from, it has become even more challenging for new metroidvania games to stand out. Those that have in recent memory all managed to establish either a distinct and enticing look to them, such as Hollow Knight, or refined a set of familiar mechanics that reinvigorates the entire formula again like last month's Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown. Ultros aspires to be spoken about in the company of these games and earns that right through an exciting blend of satisfying platforming and slick, fast combat, but also the ways in which it breaks away from the traditional mold of the metroidvania formula. It's these elements that make it truly stand out, even if some of its experimentation with form and format doesn't stick the landing.

You awake aboard a ship floating in space, unaware of how or why you're aboard, before quickly coming into contact with a variety of other alien species all carving out their own versions of idyllic life aboard the craft. A ghostly apparition that guides you through the opening moments of the game explains that there's a security measure in place to keep an all-powerful deity from escaping its sarcophagus, the very ship you've found yourself aboard, and that you'll need to sever the connection of eight beings to the system to ultimately be free. It's not long after that Ultros establishes itself as a pseudo-roguelite, with a time-looping mechanic underpinning your progression and exploration throughout the entire adventure.

These roguelite elements don't function how you might expect them to based on genre staples, however. For example, when you die, you're sent back to your last save point instead of restarting in a new loop, which firmly reminds you that Ultros is first and foremost a metroidvania at its core. Initially, a new loop is only started after you perform pivotal actions around the world, and only after you return to a central hub where the entire world is reset again. You do still have a significant portion of your progress reset, including all of your upgrades and inventory items, as well as losing your primary weapon and utility robot that stores all your other permanent mechanical upgrades. Having the latter two revoked each new loop is initially jarring as not being able to attack or double jump at the start of a loop feels foreign after a few hours utilizing both, but it does serve a purpose if you want to explore Ultros' world with a more passive approach, opening up alternative avenues to investigate if you manage to figure out how to get around. It quickly becomes trivial to reacquire these vital pieces of gear, too, with each new loop offering shorter routes to them that let you get going again quickly and avoiding a sense of frustration after making important story progress.

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Helldivers 2 - Before You Buy

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Helldivers 2 - Before You BuyHelldivers 2 (PC, PS5) is a co-op third person shooter with a fun twist. How is it? Let's talk. Subscribe for more: ▼ Buy Helldivers 2: Watch more 'Before You Buy':

Granblue Fantasy: Relink Review - Smooth Sky Sailing

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Cygames has been building the Granblue Fantasy series for a decade, first with a mobile gacha-style action-RPG, then with spin-offs ranging from an anime series to a pair of 2D fighting games. Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a return to those RPG roots that attempts to retell the original story to a new audience. For the most part, the game succeeds by trimming the tale into a lean, roughly 20-hour experience, but the transition is not without its stumbles.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink follows The Captain--either Gran (male) or Djeeta (female), depending on your choice--who is the leader of a group of skybound adventurers looking for the island of Estalucia. Captain is linked via life force to Lyria, a girl with the ability to commune with Primal Beasts, who are essentially the gods of the world.

The two travel with a band of warriors, each with backstories that can be explored throughout the game. There are five constant companions: Katalina is Lyria's sworn protector, Io is the resident mage, Rackam helms the Grandcypher airship, Eugen is a former mercenary turned good guy, and Rosetta is the mysterious femme fatale. You can add more members to the party, but while they can spice up battle plans through new party compositions, they don't have as much impact on the overall story as the core group.

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Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League Review - Loot World Order

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The tightrope to walk when writing a review is assessing a game for what it is, not what you wished it would be. Though some wished Rocksteady would make a game more like its Batman Arkham series, it's not fair to critique Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League for being something other than that. Instead, one must examine it for what it is: a game-as-a-service looter shooter applied to an all-star roster of DC Comics heroes and villains. You zip about a city, shoot aliens, get gear, and repeat. And, as it turns out, that game isn't very good.

In Suicide Squad, teams of one to four players step into the boots of DC Comics' wise-cracking villains Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, and Captain Boomerang. Designed in a similar vein as Crystal Dynamics' Avengers and WB Montreal's Gotham Knights, Suicide Squad is an open-world game littered with proper nouns like Afflictions, Boosts, and Shield Harvesting, buried in colorful resources, and intensely focused on having players chase better and better loot such as guns, shields, and melee weapons as it (and the all-important endgame) goes on. The intent is to keep players invested for months to come, and the game isn't shy about that.

Suicide Squad's premise--in which the titular foursome must battle the typical good guys as they've been taken over by Brainiac--would've made a hell of a comic book, and though it should work as a game just as seamlessly given how well superhero fare can translate to games, it sometimes struggles to do so given how it bizarrely moves past would-be major events with the spectacle of an office party.

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