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PSN Flash Sale

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Playstation, every now and again, will run special sales on select games in their store. They decided to do another one, and it ends tomorrow! Go check out the games they have on sale in case there are any that you want to pick up! Should also be noted that all the games and game add-ons are under $10. While most of these are indie titles or semi-obscure, there are a few gems out there that I’ve listed below that might be of some interest in checking out.

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  • Bully – $8.99
  • The Golf Club 2 – $5.99
  • Steep – $9.89
  • Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition – $7.49
  • Inside – $6.99
  • The Crew – $9.89
  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin – $9.99
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – $6.74
  • OceanHorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas – $7.49
  • Outlast 2 – $7.49
  • Oxenfree – $6.99
  • Tacoma – $4.99
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition – $5.99
  • Watch Dogs – $9.89
  • DragonBall Xenoverse – $9.99
  • Layers of Fear – $4.99

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I should also note that there were a few games that I had already purchased prior to this sale going live and therefore, the sale price wasn’t available to me. I have listed a couple of them below that I think are worth checking out.

  • Broken Age
  • Furi
  • Grim Fandango: Remastered
  • Just Cause 3
  • Limbo
  • Life is Strange: Complete First Season
  • Mafia 3
  • Soma
  • Super Meat Boy
  • TrackMania Turbo

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Windscape Review – Fable Threw

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Well, E3 came and went.

 

Everyone did their usual schtick, it was as predictable as ever. Nintendo supposedly saved the conference with a Breath of The Wild sequel, Bethesda did their usual hokey act with an unbearably thin line-up. Devolver were unfunny once again, and Xbox came with their usual confidence and non-stop barrage of game trailers. To stay on Xbox for a moment however, there was no mention of a new Fable, which was rumored for months beforehand. Ah well, at least we have games like Windscape to fill the hole it left behind.

 

This is the err… The debut? The newest title? It’s a new game from German developer Magic Sandbox, who… I think is a one-person team, by the name of Dennis Witte? He launched Windscape in Steam Early Access last year, and after various bits of feedback, the full version released with publishing by Headup Games, a German company known for all sorts of oddities behind their belt. The Bridge Constructor titles, Earth AtlantisSlime-San— Y’know, those types of oddities under their belt.

 

An in-engine screenshot of Windscape, showcasing a small crop field within a lush garden.

 

You play as… damn, I think her name’s Tia? Her name is only uttered once, as far as I’m aware, by someone who isn’t even related to her. Whatever her name is, she’s been given an insurmountable fetch quest to achieve, which inexplicably turns into a journey to save the world halfway through, and honestly, I couldn’t tell you when the switch-up happened. The islands of the world are all floating and breaking apart from one another, and Tia is somehow going to be the one to stop all of this.

 

Y’know what Windscape is immediately reminiscent of? Fable. Ho-yes, that mention in the opening paragraph wasn’t just for kicks, this game feels like it was cut from the same cloth that Peter Molyneux himself declared would be the comfiest cloth in the world. Everything from Lionhead’s mutilated baby is present: the vibrant life attempted in each town, an unbelievably strong Germanic influence (In this case, that’s intentional), and sloppy combat.

 

In truth, after reading a short interview about the developer (AKA the only piece of information outside of a press kit I could actually verify), it turns out that Dennis Witte is inspired more by The Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana. He says that it’s exceptionally easy to lose yourself in a world of wonder crafted like the two examples above, which is why he chose to make Windscape a hand-crafted world, as opposed to a procedurally-generated one.

 

Once you read into the small interview, which inexplicably derails into an on-the-spot evaluation of loot boxes and the PS5, you immediately realize what kind of game Windscape is trying to be: A non-RPG. With the goal of it not being a stats-driven experience, Witte has attempted to create this meeting of the minds between a peaceful journey through unkempt lands, and all out warfare between different factions.

 

The result? Tepid failure.

 

An in-game screenshot of Windscape, showcasing the protagonist talking with a man angered with their presence.

 

I apologize for breaking the facade so suddenly, but the reality of it is that Windscape fails at both being escapism from your everyday life and an immersive experience. Let the records show that …

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E3 Show Floor First Impressions

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This past week, I had the pleasure of being on the show floor of E3 and experiencing a vast array of content for the first time ever. Without wasting your time, these are all the titles I experienced, including a little first impression for each:

 

Biomutant Cover Art

 

BIOMUTANT

Developer: Experiment 101

Publisher: THQ Nordic

 

I remember first seeing Biomutant in 2017, and my interest was piqued. The furry main character and the opportunity to explore with him through a detailed open world had me wanting more. I keep a list of games handy on my phone complete with titles I’m excited for and their respective release windows. Biomutant was once a part of that list, but it slowly faded to the background of my attention. Getting to play it at E3 was good for me, because now I know I can spend my money elsewhere.

 

The game suffers greatly from its uninspired combat, the dry narration, an unintuitive user interface, etc. The main boss fight has a few neat concepts integrated into it, but overall, it was simply bland. The boss itself is unmemorable. The most memorable part is being eaten by it and having to crawl your way out, but this is such a short part of the fight. This can sum up just about any enemy encounter from what I played as well. Quite mediocre.

 

Borderlands 3 Cover Art

 

BORDERLANDS 3

Developer: Gearbox Software

Publisher 2K Games

 

Ho-ly crap! Easily my most anticipated game of 2019, and the demo at E3 did it a lot of favors. I played as Zane, and boy, was I impressed with the extra polish that went into this. Borderlands 3 serves as the sequel to end all sequels (well, until Borderlands 4 comes out). At the end of the day, a good sequel takes the crap out of the previous game and builds upon the quality that’s left. Gearbox gets this so well. Borderlands 3 is Borderlands 2 with a more friendly UI, sliding (!), some amazing brand-new weapons, more variety and freedom with your action skills, and some killer boss battles. In all these ways, Borderlands 3 really serves as the antithesis to Biomutant. September 13… September 13… September 13…

 

Luigi entering hotel

 

LUIGI’S MANSION 3

Developer: Next Level Games

Publisher: Nintendo

 

This was my first time getting hands-on with a Luigi’s Mansion game, and it’ll probably be my last, but not for the reasons you may think. At the end of the day, the game is exceptionally polished. The game has tons of secrets and ways to explore. The addition of Gooigi not only gives another dimension to gameplay, but it gives a great portal to a friend through co-op play. The aggressiveness of the ghosts at times makes for an interesting challenge. The levels are thoughtfully designed with plenty of visual clues to help you solve puzzles, navigate the hotel, and find secrets. Unfortunately, the button layout makes no damn sense! This was a pain in the ass to play for just twenty minutes. While trying to use your flashlight to stun ghosts, you have to try and rotate your character using the right stick. This takes both hands. However, the ghosts move (duh), so you must …

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Xenon Racer Review – Gas Drawls

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Ridge Racer was a thing at one point.

 

Never played it before, because I was an F-Zero and Forza man, goddamnit, but Ridge Racer mostly being a PlayStation exclusive was always something I envied, even if it was overshadowed by WipeOut most of the time. Then once I got my hands on Ridge Racer 6, all of that envy was replaced with confusion. What happened to this supposedly great racer I wanted? What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, it’s a vague segue into Xenon Racer.

 

This is the sophomore title from Italian studio 3DClouds, who burst onto the scene last year with All-Star Fruit Racing, which I haven’t played, mostly due to the seemingly shady price-changing tactics that may have been the result of controversial developer PQube. I digress, but Xenon Racer is instead published by underrated Dutch publisher Soedesco, who has been behind the publishing of various overlooked gems. Once again, I digress, but is Xenon Racer going to be joining said list?

 

An in-engine screenshot of Xenon Racer, showing off a mostly-green track toy speeding past tarmac.

 

The year is 2030. A new era of vehicular racing is about to arrive, in the form of flying vehicles, and with it a promising future of high-octane action. How do we celebrate such an exciting concept? Why, by using road-based vehicles instead, in a send-off before the world turns to flying cars. No, really, that’s the plot.

 

It’s exceptionally odd for the premise to be a set up for immense disappointment. I mean, forget blue-balling your audience right from the bat, this is a chastity belt with wheels on it. Still, none of that matters if the gameplay is solid, and it is… most of the time.

 

In typical fashion, you use the triggers to accelerate. If you can keep up with this complex diatribe of information, then you can surely continue with this fact: Drifting gains fuel. Fuel towards what? A meter that allows you to boost up to a maximum of 3 at a time. Also dotted around the many, many tracks, are glowing squares which can also fill up 1/3rd of your boost bar.

 

An in-engine screenshot of Xenon Racer, showcasing a wide track toy racing car driving through sunlit forests.

 

The boost lasts for quite a while, an average of 6-8 seconds depending on your cars stats, and in truth, it does lead to some quite meticulous racing. You don’t completely lose control of your vehicle once you begin to reach blistering speeds of, err… usually 240MPH, so drifting while boosting across lethal hairpins and meanders is intense, it’s cool, and it’s packed with flair.

 

To jump back for a second however, the maximum speed you will reach in these races is a bit of a shame. It’s 2030, the cars we’re driving look and feel like monstrous drifting tanks, the tracks are unbelievably wide and look like they span tens of miles, yet we don’t even break 240MPH? Come on, man, when ultra-track toys from 2005 show your curvy cars up, that’s just embarrassing.

 

That being said, a lot of the car designs are cool to look at, and to watch unravel on the tracks. 3DClouds’ artists must have graduated from the Square Enix School of Visual Design, because every car has hilariously stupid proportions and insane dimensions. They’re all THICC …

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Nintendo Direct E3 2019 Review

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Well, that certainly spiced things up. At the end of a rather unexciting E3, Nintendo decided it was a good time to go all out this year, and boy did they bring the heat. In under an hour, Nintendo announced plenty of surprises and updates fans have been hungering for nearly a year. Let’s review what they had to show us and judge how they performed.

Dragon Quest Makes Its Way to Super Smash Ultimate

As promised from the SSBU Invitational, Nintendo had news on the next Super Smash Bros DLC fighter. It was revealed to be a collection of the Dragon Quest heroes! While I have no knowledge of the DQ series myself, fans appreciated the sudden promotional content for DQ11, which will have its remaster on Switch this falls. As an outsider to the series, neat! Hope fans enjoy it!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 Gets The Spotlight

We finally got another home console Luigi’s Mansion game and this entry looks pretty dang ambitious. The main setting takes place in a towering haunted hotel with each room representing a different atmosphere and setting. Some rooms contain unique ghosts and storylines. Luigi’s vacuum arsenal has also been expanded upon, allowing room for some additional strategy during gameplay. Co-operative play with the gelatinous “Gooigi”, a green, gummy-bear like Luigi partner, in addition to an extra game mode is well suited for a party. While no date has been given, you can expect this to be an October release to coincide with the spooky Halloween season, like how PlayStation’s MediEvil remake is launching close to the holiday.

Panzer Dragoon is Resurrected Exclusively on Switch

This really took me off guard since we haven’t got a Panzer Dragoon game since the OG Xbox days. Panzer Dragoon has been revived by Nintendo with a remake of the original built from the ground up. With stunning visuals, orchestral music, and faithful gameplay, fans of the series will relive the enjoyment they had all the way back in 1995. You know what’s even more exciting? It’s coming later this year! Winter to be precise!

No More Heroes III Has Been Confirmed

Travis Touchdown is back with the third mainline No More Heroes game. This time the series is taking a far more science-fiction, futuristic approach and is hitting store shelves on April 2020. Here’s hoping Touchdown withstands the daunting Cyberpunk 2077 launching in the same time frame.

Astral Chain and Daemon X Machina Have Release Dates

The two obscure-but-cool-looking Japanese games have release dates, and both of them are rather soon. Astral Chain, the cyberpunk-inspired action game from PlatinumGames is arriving on August 30th, while Daemon X Machina has a September 13th release. Man, September is getting very crowded now. I hope it doesn’t get more popula—

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is Arriving in September

Well, that certainly doesn’t make things any better. Regardless, Link’s Awakening still looks adorable and even more footage has been unveiled. Details on a collector’s edition has also been revealed, with an amiibo figure coinciding with the game’s release. Players have the ability to create their own dungeons and complete challenges and earn rewards while beating them. Of course, the entire campaign is included in this remake in beautiful HD …

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Breath of the Wild Sequel -E3 2019

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Nintendo’s “one last thing to show us” was an absolute shocker. Starting with a creepy atmosphere and familiar cel-shading, we eventually saw Link and Zelda’s Breath of the Wild models come into view. Much of the imagery was unclear, but it seems the enemy won’t be calamity ganon again, but some creature that takes its power and lays siege on the now-peaceful Hyrule. Zelda’s inclusion in the trailer hopefully hints at her having a greater role in the story a la Skyward Sword, but only time will tell. Naturally since this is the first we’ve heard of the game, there was no gameplay or release window. Regardless, we here at Sick Critic are all incredibly excited.

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Excitement and Concerns

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It’s amazing how much a simple, fourteen-minute gameplay trailer can tell you about the latest upcoming title. Everybody is excited to have a legitimate Star Wars campaign to play through, and we’ll be examining what should be tickling our Star Wars bones and what should actually have us concerned about the upcoming title, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order by Respawn Entertainment. Despite some potential backlash from a few of my editors, I think the best way to analyze the trailer is to break it into parts and put large headings above each section I want to talk about.

 

Main Character, Cal Kestis

 

NARRATIVE

As far as the placement of this in the Star Wars universe goes, the game is considered canon and takes place during and directly following the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The infamous “Order 66” occurs as one of the events in the game, to give you a better idea. For the true Star Wars nerds out there, we’ll go even further. The game is set around the year 19 Before the Battle of Yavin (BBY). How far the game’s story will branch outside of that year is unknown. You play as Cal Kestis, a padawan spared during the purge of the Jedi upon the execution of Order 66. You follow him through a coming-of-age story as he becomes a true Jedi Knight and aims to take back the galaxy.

From what we saw in the gameplay trailer, the actual story doesn’t get many additions. We do see Saw Gerrera leading a group of rebels into an imperial sap refinery on Kashyyyk, the home planet of the wookiees. Here, wookiees have been enslaved by the Empire and forced to do manual labor. Based on the Star Wars timeline, it’s highly likely that Gerrera’s group is part of the Partisans, a rebel militia formed by Gerrera around the same time as Order 66. During this time, the Partisans are working closely with the Alliance to fight off the Galactic Empire.

Other than this, there aren’t any details beyond what we already know about the game. However, from a critical standpoint, we get a decent look at the dialogue we can expect. It all seems a little clunky. Both the acting and the dialogue writing seem painfully average considering the potential that this game has. Should we just accept that all the dialogue is going to be terrible? Of course not, but what we saw today was less than impressive. We’ve come to expect more from the acting in our games these days, and while the dialogue certainly won’t be a deal breaker, it’s concerning how plastic it feels. Simple lines like, “Yeah, better do this by the books,” and “You just wanted to turn that cutter on,” fall flat. Hopefully the dialogue is better in the important cutscenes throughout the game.

 

 

SOUND DESIGN

Holy crap! If there’s one thing that’s important to anything Star Wars, it’s sound. The sounds of blasters, lightsabers, droids, and TIE fighters are so unique, and what we saw from EA today captures it all perfectly. The only sounds I personally found a bit iffy are the lightsaber being activated and deactivated. They don’t quite do it …

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Black Paradox Review – Another Toothpick

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Steredenn really was this lightning in a bottle, huh?

 

Around 2015, shoot ’em ups were in a comatose state, almost extinct, before French developer Pixelnest proved that the old girl still had Bullet Hell-life in her. It seemed like simple maths, adding the sh’m’up mechanics in an easy-to-understand rouge-lite core, and with that done, it’d only make sense for imitators to show up. One of these said imitators is Black Paradox.

 

This is the debut title from Italian developers Fantastico Studio, an 8-person strong team who released Black Paradox last month. They have another game in the works, or rather two; Landflix Odyssey, a platformer attempting to meld genres together in an A Hat In Time-kinda way, and Hex, something which… I don’t know, might exist at some point.

 

 

You play as a nerd in an alternate universe where DMC Deloreans are considered space-worthy, even with wide open Gullwing doors. Several other enemies in similar retro-neon aesthetic vehicles terrorize the galaxies, known only as the “Hellraisers”, and it’s up to you to destroy the seven lieutenants that run the joint. What you are NOT is the infamous “Black Paradox” that the game bangs on about, but that’s just the initial disappointment sinking in.

 

Gameplay is Steredenn. No, seriously, it’s just Steredenn with the most painfully generic Blood Dragon-esque graphics over it. You run through procedurally generated waves of enemies, there’s a massive ship that will give you exactly one weapon to test each level, and after you defeat one of the small handful of bosses, you obtain one of two small upgrades to choose from.

 

Gather enough energy and kick enough ass to the admittedly head-boppin’ soundtrack, and you will be able to activate your ultra move, the “Black Paradox”. This is essentially a parallel version of yourself in a black DMC Delorean, except they will have a random weapon each time you activate it. It’s the equivalent of plugging in a dodgy second controller which can only fire for a small amount of time before it disconnects again. It doesn’t offer devastating damage, even if it obtains one of the more overpowered weapons, it’s just a weird glitch that you’re honestly never thankful for.

 

 

When it comes to the gunplay and the shoot ’em up mechanics of Black Paradox, the controls are hampered by momentum. You don’t immediately stop when you let go of movement, meaning that you’re going to take shots more often than actual lack of skill. Despite slightly loose controls not sounding like much of an offense, it’s this continuous lack of tight focus on mechanics which serves to be Black Paradox‘s downfall.

 

Traditional sh’m’up law states that if a weapon is or looks more powerful and heavy-hitting than the usual bullet weapons, then it should slow you down. It’s so you’re not over-powered, and it’s a fair balance between a wide spread or high damage, along with a slightly capped speed. Here, Fantastico pay no real attention to this rule, and instead slap on one or two weapons that would work objectively better with a high speed, like the pathetic “Darts Punk”, which is a delayed cluster launcher …

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What to Expect from E3 2019 Show Floor

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There are a surprising number of people who hear “E3” and immediately point towards Nintendo revealing new gameplay of their latest title, Square Enix not showing gameplay of their next delayed game, or Xbox showing new “exclusive world premieres” on a big screen, but these are simply press conferences. The true E3 happens after these stages have packed up and made way for: two show floors full of anxious nerds trying to get their hands on the newest games. A week from now, thousands of people will wait in long lines outside of booths put up by game publishers to experience this. I’m glad to say that I will be the Sick Critic representative at the Electronics Entertainment Expo in 2019. As such, it’s only fitting for me to share my thoughts on what we’ll see next week. Whether you go to E3 or not this year, these are games you’ll be hearing increasingly more about once the crowd that is there has first-hand experience with them:

 

Doom Eternal Helmet

 

BETHESDA

 

Prediction: Probably one of the most anticipated games this year is DOOM: Eternal. The game serves as a direct sequel to DOOM, which was released in 2016, a title heavily commended for its chaotic weapon play and refreshing take on the classic franchise. The game even released on the Switch in November of 2017, giving the title a new resurgence with a brand-new audience. With the franchise’s new-found popularity amongst the younger crowd, DOOM: Eternal will serve as the centerpiece for Bethesda this year.

 

Prediction: July 26 will see the release of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and Bethesda is going to be showing it off to fans of the series at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Another series with roots in the twentieth century, Wolfenstein found its own home in the current console generation when Wolfenstein: The New Order released in 2014. Most recently, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was ported to Switch and made an appearance at E3 2018 in its new handheld form. These games follow B.J. Blazkowicz in an alternate reality where Germany came out of World War II victorious. This new title takes a different angle on the current Wolfenstein canon by following Blazkowicz’s daughters Jessica and Sophia as they search for their father twenty years after the events of The New Colossus. This game should be the Robin to DOOM: Eternal‘s Batman.

 

Prediction: It’s not entirely far fetched to think that with Wolfenstein: Youngblood being there, Bethesda could squeeze in Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot. My reasoning here is two-fold: 1) they both release on the same day as part of the same series, so if one is there, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t both be there; 2) the game is set in virtual reality, and E3 is a hotbed for anything VR these days. Will I check it out? No, probably not. Will it be there? Possibly.

 

Fact: Bethesda has no plans for Starfield this year. I’m a little bummed. I said in an article back when Bethesda announced their press conference date that this would be a sure thing, and I was intrigued by it. Guess we’ll just have to sit with our hands in our pockets …

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Capsule of Curiousities: Vin Diesel Edition

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Inside the all-encompassing laboratory for capitalist media experimentation, no prospect holds a futuristic glint quite like the ability for a celebrity to upload their likeness in full to the digital realm, the chance for a figure to embolden a B-list IP with their ever marketable presence despite how superfluous it is to the playing experience. This meeting of the self-promoting minds can manifest in two forms; either the orthodox route of transmedia, allowing a developer to adapt a film franchise for the benefit of every involved property, or an actor merely lending their identity to a singular game elevating interest in the IP single-handedly. In Spring 2009, Vin Diesel went on a multi-pronged licensing tear reviving the Riddick IP in the form of a remaster and an expansion, and lending his authority to Midway’s Wheelman, an arguable death knell for Midway as well as a borderline asset flip of their prior attempt to make Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson the face of SpyHunter.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and its sequel-spansion Assault on Dark Athena retained the stark brutality of its prequel film Pitch Black, a tendency which The Chronicles of Riddick film strangely betrayed in favor of George Lucas-esque space operatics. Tonally, it manages to be one of the most faithful translations of film franchise to video game ever, in a manner that actually outperforms the movie trilogy. In the opposite direction, Wheelman was a defanged GTA clone without a single defining characteristic. It tumbled out of its faltering studio as an open world anachronism, in the vein of 2006’s Driver: Parallel Lines more than GTA IV. Doomed to the same fate as SpyHunter: Nowhere to Run, the threat of a filmed sequel fell to the wayside, as Midway went bankrupt and co-publisher Ubisoft abandoned the property entirely. It may not be the best batting average for Mr. Diesel, but it is the sort of brazen swing for the fence made all the more bizarre ten years down the line in an industry that prides itself on being a serious form.

 

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

Chronicles of Riddick prison brawl

It is a series of miracles that The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay, made to coincide with the film’s release and five years old by the time of its remaster not only holds up the best amongst the Vin Diesel’s slyly self-aggrandizing output of games, but is also the best use of the Riddick IP period. A shockingly multi-faceted first-person action-adventure given its perpetual location on a space prison of nebulous dimensions, Butcher Bay is a methodic journey through the dregs of a futuristic society that is absorbing in its claustrophobia, yet surprisingly expansive in its gameplay. The story is largely extraneous, preceding the entire Riddick trilogy but merely preoccupying itself with a floor-by-floor prison escape connected by bouts of mass murder (a largely refreshing decision when compared to the nigh-incomprehensible lore of the accompanying film).

It is instead distinguished by the noble attempts to have Butcher Bay approximate a living environment packed densely with seedy souls. Butcher Bay is hardly an open-world title- much of its interstitial gameplay resides in hubworlds that adhere to the austere prison setting, …

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