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Sore Thumbs




Klei Entertainment

PlayStation 4

The title of this game offers some good — if somewhat limited — advice. A more useful title would’ve been “Don’t Starve, or Get Caught After Dark Without a Light Source, or Go Insane, or Get Too Close to the Damn Frogs!” Unfortunately, you’ll have to learn these lessons through trial and error instead. You portray Wilson, a scientist who’s been whisked away into the desolate wilderness with nothing but that titular advice. There’s no tutorial, no explanation of your controls, no listed objectives and no checkpoints, so if you die, you lose all your progress and start again from scratch. You’ll likely die the first night, and night falls every few minutes. “Don’t Starve” rewards experimentation (and occasionally punishes you for it). Everything you find is either useful or dangerous (and often both, depending on how you approach it). For example, starting a forest fire can be deadly…or a spectacularly handy source of nighttime illumination.

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The randomly generated landscape has an amusingly sinister, Tim Burton-esque, hand drawn storybook aesthetic. There are forests and beaches and boulders—all of which can eventually be utilized in the game’s robust but unpredictable crafting system. And there are a number of gauges in your HUD you’ll want to keep an eye on, measuring health, hunger and sanity. In many ways, “Don’t Starve” is a prettier, less forgiving version of “Minecraft.” The first few in-game days, you’ll be struggling to build rudimentary tools, but after a couple in-game months, you’ll be crafting décor for your nighttime stronghold. However, this isn’t a game for everyone. The days fly by, and staying alive requires constant busywork. Some might find the initial difficulty level impenetrable. Others won’t be able to endure the frustration of succumbing to a single mistake and having to start over. But anyone looking for a challenging and mysterious survival experience will definitely find it here. Just remember to stay away from the frogs.





PlayStation 3

Even with its HD makeover, the arrival on home console of this formerly portable installment in the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise only serves to emphasize its deficits. There are moments when the visuals look almost as lush as those of its console brethren, but once you engage in the game’s endless fetch quests or unintentionally free run into a shadowy abyss thanks to buggy controls, you’ll remember that “Liberation” isn’t quite up to the series’ standards. Nevertheless, it offers its bayou-set chapter of the story to “Assassin’s Creed” completists who didn’t get to play it on PS Vita.


dokibox‘DOKI-DOKI UNIVERSE’    (E10+)


Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation Network

“Doki-Doki” Universe puts you in the iron shoes of a robot tasked with making pretty much everyone in the universe happy, lest he find himself made obsolete and sold for scrap. To accomplish your goal, you’ll amass a ridiculously large inventory of unusual items and fly from planet to planet, attempting to sort out who needs what to be happy. In between, you’ll answer questions from personality tests to determine what kind of a person you are, and all of it is presented with visuals that appear to have been drawn by a first-grader. Though initially charming, it all becomes dull and repetitive really fast. CV

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Summer Stir (June 2023)