Catherine: The Girl You Don’t Take Home To Mother

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It only took a few minutes of playing Catherine to know that I was going to enjoy it. On the surface, Catherine is a puzzle platformer with a grim premise: Climb a collapsing tower of blocks in a terrifying nightmare world or fall to your death below. Wrapped around this is a dating sim that forces you to weigh your (increasingly bleak) prospects with two competing women.

The result: A macabre game with pitch black humor and stylish animation that explores the morals of marriage, relationships, cheating, and gender politics. Oh, and death. There’s lots and lots of death. I simply love these types of games that take dark, violent gameplay and coat it with a nice layer of surreal humor. Think No More Heroes, and you’ll get what I mean.

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Battlefield 1: Nothing Is Quiet On The Western Front

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Tim mows down a trench full of soldiers from a zeppelin gunner’s nest. I blow up a plane mid-air using a tank shell. A horse gallops by at full trot, both it and its rider aflame.

These are just a handful of the “holy shit” moments Tim and I experienced within our first few hours of Battlefield 1. With the Civilization VI launch last Friday, I didn’t expect to touch a new AAA title anytime soon. Thankfully, Tim is a die hard Battlefield fan and picked it up for the XBox One, and I’m still coming down from our last game’s adrenaline rush.

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Civilization VI: O Brave New World!

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I’ll admit, I was worried Civilization VI might not turn out well. In a previous article, I wrote about my love affair with Civilization V (and my sincere disappointment with Beyond Earth). One of the reasons I was wary of Civ VI is because Civ V already does so many things perfectly: The cleverly-balanced combat, the struggle to outpace your opponent through a myriad of overlapping game systems, and an addicting sense of progress that’s interwoven perfectly with the actual historical advancement of the human race. Not to mention the charming faction leaders that were so noticeably absent from Beyond Earth.

It truly seemed to me like the series had nowhere to go but down. Sure, they could tweak a few mechanics, but would that feel enough like a new game? And if they abandoned the old mechanics entirely, would it no longer feel like a Civilization game? It turns out I was wrong on both parts, and Civilization VI is unfolding to be one hell of a game.

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Emily Is Away: You’re A Frigid Bitch, Emily

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Long before social media dominated our lives, we crafted our online personas through the glory of AOL Instant Messenger. We chose our buddy icons based on the latest movie releases, customized the our font to the most unreadable colors possible, and added our favorite song lyrics to our profiles (or if you were like me, added the most sarcastic comedian quotes you could find). Truly the early 2000’s were a magical time.

Emily is Away is a friend-zone simulator based around your AIM chats with a girl named Emily, your “best friend” as you prepare to graduate high school. The game takes place across five years, from your senior year to your final year in college. During each chat session, you’re presented with three different ways to respond that may change the course of your conversation or the actions you agree to take in real life (which happen off screen). In this way, it’s a lot like a “choose your own adventure” game that takes place across AIM.
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Achievement Hunter: My Quest To Nab All 286 Civilization V Achievements

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About three years ago I lamented on a Facebook status that I would have to spend the rest of my life playing Civilization V before I acquired every one of its 286 achievements. A friend shot back a challenge: “You’d better get started then, man.”

Now its the eve of Civilization VI‘s launch (Beyond Earth is for heathens), so it felt like a good time tally my progress. Just the other week I managed to pass the halfway mark with 154 achievements, a whopping 54% of the total. That’s 209 hours of gameplay as well. An honorable run, I’d have to say.

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Enduring Dark Souls’ “Return to Lordran” Day

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Dark Souls isn’t a game I ever thought I’d attempt to beat. My lack of free time means I don’t easily stomach frustration, and the Souls series’ brutal reputation basically kept me away for good. But after getting a taste for Bloodborne, I eventually consumed Demon’s Souls and, well, here I am. Dark Souls was the inevitable next step.

By fortunate coincidence, “Return to Lordran” day was scheduled for October 4. This annual event was initiated by the Dark Souls community as a way to rekindle the game’s online experience following the success of Global Restart Day earlier this year. Dark Souls has remained enduringly popular over the years, attracting a dedicated following that continues to discover new aspects of the game to this day. Many gamers consider Dark Souls to be one of the best games of all time. The game’s age, however, means that online participation has slowly dwindled over time, taking away a significant part of its experience. “Return to Lordran” was the community’s answer to that problem, bringing together veterans and newbies alike to relive the magic of launch day.

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Inside: Limbo++

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Two weeks ago I returned from work to find Tim Lee sitting on the couch playing Inside. Joining him on his merry adventure, we spent three nights powering through the main story plus the game’s hidden content. Thanks Tim. You saved me $20.

Inside is essentially a follow-up to Playdead’s previous indie darling Limbo, and the games are similar in most ways. You control a boy in search of some unspecified thing in a monochromatic, hostile world. It’s a side-scrolling puzzle platformer where, like Limbo, the world will try its best to kill you in whatever way possible. Limbo‘s gruesome deaths return here – along the way you’ll be tazed, shot, drowned, and mauled by dogs (among other things). You’ll even recognize a couple of familiar environments, such as the forest at the start of the game, and jumping across rooftops adorned with bold, neon letters.

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Valiant Hearts: Surprise, It’s Not An FPS About WWI

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It surprises me that World War I has largely escaped the capture of the public’s imagination. I can only name a handful of WWI movies, and there are even fewer games to speak of. Even my fourth grade teacher, a public official paid to educate children, wasn’t able to tell me how or why it got started. For most Americans, WWI is a gaping hole in history with a beginning and an end and a lot violence in the middle. Spoiler alert: The Allies won.

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Mario Retardy: The Mario Party Drinking Game

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For full rules, scroll down to bottom of page.

It’s no secret that drinking can lead to some bad decisions. Case in point: After several beer-soaked rounds of Jackbox over at Nick’s apartment on Saturday night (note: two Saturdays ago now – I’m late to posting), my friends once again convinced me to a round of the crassly-named “Mario Retardy” drinking game. Full disclosure: The last time I played this game I was so hungover that I had to call out of work.

Most of you are probably familiar with the Mario Party series by now, but if not, here’s a basic rundown: Four Mario characters compete against each other in a dice-based board game where the spaces you land have various effects. Your goal is to collect stars by making it to star spaces before your opponents. In between turns you play minigames for a chance to win coins that you can use to buy stars and other useful useless items.

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5 Games That Disappointed Me At E3 2016

I originally considered telling you my top picks for E3, but then I realized it would be a lot funnier to tell you everything I hated about it.

When it comes to E3, there’s a hard and fast rule that you should always follow: Expect to get hyped by trailers and severely let down by actual gameplay. I consider this a universal rule. In fact, just for fun Randall, Chris, and I went back one day to watch old E3 trailers and then compared them to the actual product that got delivered. What a hoot.

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