Vampire The Masquerade: Swansong Review - That Sinking Feeling

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Swansong is a role-playing game that delivers the entirety of its drama through dialogue–there is no combat to speak of. Critical scenes between characters are resolved within conversational set-pieces called "confrontations." RPGs can exist without traditional battles--just look at Disco Elysium, for example--but the dialogue now thrust center-stage needs to sing, or at least harmonize with a deep skill system. Swansong, sadly, delivers neither. Its writing is pedestrian, often incoherent, and its supporting systems are underutilized, adding little flavor to distinguish the three playable characters.

You play as three vampires--Emem, Galeb, and Leysha--summoned to a crisis meeting at Boston's vampire HQ, after a party to mark an alliance with the Hartford Chantry (a sect of blood sorcerers) ends in a bloodbath, and not the good kind. The local vampire prince instructs the trio to uncover what happened and eventually sends them on a series of overlapping missions of revenge. Missions are tailored to each vampire's specific abilities, and you'll play as each character in turn. For the first half of the game, you'll decide the order in which to tackle the missions, giving you some choice to pursue the storyline that's of most interest. But over the second half, a more linear approach takes over, and you find yourself shunted from one character's mission to the next, each ending on something of a cliffhanger.

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Evil Dead: The Game Review - Somewhat Groovy

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Horror fans are living in a golden age. It seems like a few major horror franchises are adapted into games every year, most often in the asymmetrical multiplayer genre. Casting a group of friends as hapless survivors against another player hunting them as a supernatural foe is a great idea on paper every time, even as end results can dramatically vary. Evil Dead: The Game doesn't stray far from this foundational premise. However, it smartly leans on its B-movie hijinx to deliver fans something worthy of being in their horror game rotation, even if it doesn't have the soul to swallow all of their time single-handedly.

While Evil Dead: The Game is its official title, you could rightly call it Fan Service: The Game instead. Drawing from the original three movies and the Starz series--sorry, reboot fans--Evil Dead beams with pride and fandom from its developers, collecting all manner of weapons, Easter eggs, locations, and corny one-liners that made the series famous. Original actors are brought back in most cases, including the all-important Bruce Campbell, whose many versions of Ash Williams make up a good portion of the character roster.

Wandering across the game's several large maps can feel like a museum tour through one of horror's cult-favorite franchises. The audio and visuals lend themselves to this glowing first impression, too. Music straight from the series and faithful character models--including the nauseatingly detailed Deadites--makes Evil Dead: The Game feel as lovingly crafted as the movies.

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Salt And Sacrifice Review - Mage Hunter

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After the success of 2016's Salt and Sanctuary, indie developer Ska Studios could've rested on its laurels when designing a sequel to the 2D Souls-like. Instead, the two-person studio has done the opposite, pulling from an amalgamation of influences to create a game that differs vastly from its predecessor. Salt and Sacrifice isn't just another 2D Souls-like; it still retains many of the genre's fundamentals, yet its allusions to Metroidvania and, crucially, Monster Hunter, are much more pronounced. While it does feature satisfying combat and progression, many of its risks don't always pay off and this curious concoction falls just short of realizing its full potential.

Salt and Sacrifice casts you as a condemned prisoner in a kingdom corrupted by malignant magic. Monstrous creatures now roam the lands, with the source of all this defilement tracing back to the nefarious Mages who now stalk each region. Given the option of either execution or a life of Mage-hunting, you choose the latter, becoming a Marked Inquisitor sent to track down these dangerous Mages and devour their hearts to ensure the kingdom survives. After creating a character and getting routinely demolished by an overpowered boss in true Souls-like fashion, you awaken in Pardoner's Vale, a hub area where you can converse with various NPCs, level up your character class, craft and upgrade new weapons and armor, and pet an adorable cat with antlers.

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EVIL DEAD: The Game - Before You Buy

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EVIL DEAD: The Game - Before You BuyEvil Dead: The Game (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S/One) is an asymmetric multiplayer game based on the famous horror movie franchise. How is it? Let's talk. Subscribe for more: ▼▼ Buy Evil Dead: *PC resolution fix (use at own risk) Watch more 'Before You Buy': #EVILDEAD

Trek to Yomi - Before You Buy

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Trek to Yomi - Before You BuyTrek to Yomi (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S/One) is a brief samurai experience that is unique and frustrating. Let's talk about it! Subscribe for more: ▼▼ Buy Trek to Yomi: Watch more 'Before You Buy': #TrektoYomi