Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Sore Thumbs




Rising Star Games

PlayStation 3

Three years ago, Xbox 360 owners were treated to/punished with “Deadly Premonition,” a game which has since won the notable distinction of being the Guinness World Record holder for “Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game.” It was a budget-priced Xbox 360 game that looked worse than a budget-priced original Xbox game, the camera and controls were agonizingly uncooperative and the much-hyped “open world” (unprecedented in a survival horror title) was filled mostly with empty space, making it a time-consuming chore to trek to your next objective. But as painful as it was to progress, many gamers found themselves oddly compelled by the bizarre, “Twin Peaks”-on-crack storyline: a murder mystery filled with kooky suspects, seen through the eyes of an investigator with a strange tendency to talk to his imaginary friend. And though it’s not uncommon for the narrative quirks of Japanese games to confound Western sensibilities, “Deadly Premonition” eventually justified its weirdness with a series of mind-blowing twists.

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The term “Director’s Cut” added to this re-release is a bit misleading. Despite the addition of a few bookend cut-scenes, the story in entirely unchanged. The gameplay, however, has been given a much-needed overhaul. Camera control has been given over to the player, and its default position is further from the character, allowing you to see oncoming assailants before you’ve succumbed to them. An HD makeover has upgraded the graphics from horrendous to merely bad, and the multiple difficulty options have vanished, presumably defaulting to the “Easy” setting, ensuring that the combat, while still annoying, never quite becomes infuriating. The overall result is only slightly more playable, which is probably the most that fans of “Deadly Premonition” would want. At this point, the game has become a cult classic, so somehow, its worst parts only add to its charm.


soulbox‘SOUL SACRIFICE’    (M)


Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation Vita

In “Soul Sacrifice,” an evil sorcerer’s doomed prisoner reads a journal filled with monstrous encounters, with each chapter serving as the basis for the game’s levels. These bite-sized missions, which involve the hacking and slashing of a few moderate-sized beasts or a single enormous one, are just the right length for gaming on the go. The narrative eventually becomes incomprehensible, and after a few levels, slain creatures begin to reappear with different color palettes, but those who enjoy deep character customization and “Monster Hunter”-style melee will still find plenty to enjoy here.


thomasbox‘THOMAS WAS ALONE’    (E)


Curve Studios

PlayStation Network

This is probably the most moving story about simple geometric shapes you’ll ever experience. Thomas is an artificial intelligence embodied by a square, who just achieved consciousness. Consequently, he feels lonely. So he sets out on a plat-forming adventure to meet other newly self-aware polygons, all of which you must alternately control in order to solve a series of fun but easy puzzles. The various shapes you encounter have different abilities (such as the ability to float or function as a trampoline) as well as different motivations, which are described in a matter-of-fact tone by the game’s frequently hilarious narrator. CV

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