Thymesia Review - Hunter Homage

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A lot of games have drawn inspiration from the works of From Software, with varying degrees of success. While many developers look to emulate that high degree of challenge that comes from the likes of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro, they often miss the fact that it's From's thoughtful, tight gameplay and deliberate encounter design that makes these games fun, not just a punishing difficulty. Thymesia, a 3D action game that draws heavy influence from some specific From titles, manages to strike that balance successfully, creating a Souls-like that taps into the same rewarding moments provided by its biggest inspirations.

Thymesia draws most obviously from two of From Software's games: the aggressive, horror-inspired Bloodborne, and the fast-paced, duel-focused Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. And to be sure, developer Overborder Studio owes a lot to its inspirations. Like Bloodborne, Thymesia is about a lone warrior wandering into a plague-stricken world where everyone infected has turned into a maddened, bloodthirsty killer. It has a similar atmosphere to Bloodborne and even its protagonist, Corvus, looks a bit like a Yarnham Hunter--more accurately, Hunter of Hunters Eileen the Crow.

Like most Souls games, Thymesia drops you into the middle of a weird situation without much explanation and leaves you to figure out what you're facing as you explore its world and kill the people you find there. It all takes place in a kingdom called Hermes, which is apparently located in the canopy of an enormous tree. The world has been beset by a plague that infects people and animals, mutating them and turning them into monsters. Until now, Hermes managed to deal with the plague through the study and use of alchemy, but something has gone wrong, Hermes has succumbed, and nobody knows what to do.

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Digimon Survive Review - Digital Devolution

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Digimon has never been shy to delve into storylines and topics that society too often wishes to ignore--the first episode of the 1999 anime literally begins with the main character monologuing about climate change and how it's destroying the planet. Most of the stories in the series explore these topics within the scope of being trapped within a fantasy world inhabited by cute monsters. It's here where the characters must come to terms with the irresponsibility of finding solace in the black-and-white morality of their new reality--an alluring alternative to the nuanced wants and needs of the real world. Pushing on this notion a bit further to dip its toes into the horrifying realities of physical and verbal abuse, terminal illness, psychotic breaks, and weaponizing relationships, Digimon Survive tells one of the darkest tales that the franchise has ever covered. All told, it amounts to a deeply compelling visual novel that's driven by likable characters and an intriguing mystery but that aspect of it is too often interrupted by boring tactical combat.

In Digimon Survive, you play as middle-schooler Takuma, who is attending a camp over spring break alongside friends Minoru and Aoi and acquaintances Saki, Ryo, and Shuuji. Upon learning that the camp is close to a temple famous for its legend about a festival in which human children were sacrificed to beast gods, the six investigate, and they're soon joined by local brother and sister duo Kaito and Mio. The misadventure ultimately results in the kids becoming lost in a world inhabited by the so-called beast gods known as Digimon.

If you're not careful, your choices will result in your friends' deaths.

If you're not careful, your choices will result in your friends' deaths.

It's a familiar setup for a Digimon story (or any isekai story, really), and Digimon Survive spends way too long laying the groundwork with meandering dialogue and unnecessary character backstory. The game dangles the foreshadowing that these kids are about to be trapped in another world, but then spends hours getting there, and then leaves the group confused as to what's happened to them for a while after. It's frustrating to see three separate people theorizing that maybe the group is now no longer on Earth when you as the player arrived at that conclusion hours prior and just want the actual adventure to kick off.

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Cult of the Lamb Review - A Cult Classic

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Nine times out of 10, being a lamb led to the slaughter is not the best position to find yourself in. That tenth time, however, is while playing Massive Monster's Cult of the Lamb, a delightfully demented roguelike that combines fast-paced dungeoneering, bold art, dark topics, and real-time simulation elements to create a one-of-a-kind experience. It couples two popular genres and smartly avoids their potential pitfalls while showcasing the best things they bring to the table. Take all this and add a simple but engaging narrative, and you've got a cult classic game well-worth playing.

Cult of the Lamb begins at our poor, titular lamb's end. After walking down a narrow stone corridor, you are greeted by robed cultists and The Old Gods: four monstrous beings to whom the inhabitants of this strange land are (mostly) loyal. As it turns out, this little lamb is the last of its kind, having managed to evade death while the rest of its fluffy friends were culled. The Old Gods reveal this was due to a prophecy that a lamb would be the one who would lead to their undoing, destroying the Old Faith and unleashing the one thing they fear most: The One Who Waits. The Gods instruct their followers to dispatch you quickly, but little do they know this is precisely what the prophecy demands.

Upon being killed, you meet with The One Who Waits, an all-powerful god who we learn was betrayed and imprisoned by the other four. After your meeting, he makes you an offer: start a cult in his name, and he will both bring you back to life and gift unto you his former powers via the Red Crown. After you accept, you are sent back to the world of the living, where you meet with The One Who Waits' former cult leader, Ratau, who leads you to the site of your up-and-coming commune. From this point, the game divides into two main sections: exploring dungeons and managing your cult, both of which are closely tied to one another.

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Hard West 2 Review - Bouncing Back

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Hard West 2 is aptly named. Its default difficulty setting is called Hard, too, and with good reason. Enemies are punishing and your squad's capacity to battle against overwhelming odds is tested relentlessly over the course of several dozen hours of turn-based tactical combat. It's a game about choosing the exact right moments to use their unique skills and working them in tandem to tee up devastating chain reaction combos. It's tough, sure, but this demonic rendition of the American Frontier, where grotesque locomotives warp to alternate dimensions and blood rituals summon the walking dead, supplies you with the necessary creative tools to stand your ground, and rising to the challenge proves immensely satisfying.

There's more to Hard West 2 than turn-based tactical combat, but not much more. The primary focus is a series of missions, usually with some choices about which mission to tackle next. In these, you command a posse of four gunslingers, taking turns to shoot, use supernatural skills, and advance from cover to cover. Along the way, as you traverse the overworld map on horseback, you'll meet characters and accept quests from them to hunt down wanted criminals, investigate murders, recover livestock, fight waves of outlaws and demons, rob a bank, and most importantly, track down the man who stole your souls in a rigged game of poker aboard his steam train from Hell.

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Two Point Campus Review - Old School

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There's a familiarity and comfort to Two Point Campus' early hours, from the whimsical claymation style of its characters to its distinctly British humor and jaunty music. It might trade doctors and patients for teachers and students, but if you played Two Point Hospital, you'll feel right at home in Two Point Studios' latest business management sim.

As the hours roll by and you graduate to different college campuses, however, Two Point Campus begins to carve out an identity that's all its own. Two Point Hospital was a relatively safe spiritual successor to Theme Hospital, essentially recreating the '90s classic with modern technology and amenities. Two Point Campus maintains that same reverence for its roots, but it also embraces its fresh new setting in a way that captures more of the magic that made Theme Hospital so beloved.

You take on the role of a campus administrator, charged with building and maintaining various schools throughout Two Point County. This means you'll be managing both the micro and macro aspects of your college empire, whether you're designing the internal and external layout of each building, hiring staff, or researching new technologies to improve various facets of your school. All of this is in service of keeping your students happy and ensuring they're given the tools they need to not only graduate with good grades, but also enjoy themselves and learn a few lessons about life along the way.

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