Kendrick Lamar – “Damn” [ALBUM REVIEW]

It’s always unfortunate when an artist has to follow an epochal album. Considering Kid A in the wake of OK Computer was never fair. Pink Floyd‘s awful Final Cut was doomed after The Wall. Placing Kendrick Lamar‘s previous album, To Pimp a Butterflyin such a legendary ballpark is obvious to anyone who’s heard the record without blinkers. As a result, Lamar’s fresh follow-up was always going to find itself trapped under expectations and heft. Released five days ago, Damn has more written about it in comparison to its predecessor than its own merits.

This is natural.…   [continue reading]

The Last Guardian [FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

The Last Guardian
Final Impressions

Concept
8/10

The conceptual thrust behind The Last Guardian had me somewhat confused when I first reviewed it.  After a more complete experience it’s clear that my assumptions were right.  For example, the main themes permeating both its story and gameplay are teamwork and friendship.  To expertly explore those thoughts, Trico is a uniquely realised AI mechanic, which anchors the whole thing.  Bringing him to life must have been a daunting prospect in an age where artificial intelligence is so widely weak.  That they took to the task with such flair and determination is laudable in itself, and the end result is entirely one of a kind.  …   [continue reading]

Final Fantasy XV [FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

Hear the writers discuss this subject (and the whole Final Fantasy series) on the Secret Cave Podcast!

My first impressions of Final Fantasy XV came after a mere four hours of toe-dipping.  As a result it was quite naive, occasionally singing praises where it shouldn’t.  Conversely, there were many criticisms that weren’t exactly fair.  There’s much to comment on with this release, and the mix of emotions it can bring about in players is stark.  An equal portion of you is likely to utterly despise it as the side of you that loves it.  With both its successes and its mistakes, it constantly provokes a strong response.  …   [continue reading]

The Last Guardian [FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

The Last Guardian
First Impressions

Concept
7/10

From its opening notes, it’s tough to discern exactly what the designers’ intentions were.  However, the game is clearly about teamwork and forming bonds.  Its unique approach of interacting with a very independent beast is compelling in the extreme.  Beyond that, it seems a slow and contemplative puzzle-platformer.  Under that lens, The Last Guardian is far from unique – even from the creators who made it.  While the ideas at play here are interesting and engaging, it’s admittedly a little thin on the ground.  Its minimalism sometimes undermines it, while also being a credit to its approach.  …   [continue reading]

Blade Runner 2049 [TRAILER REACTIONS]

Hear the writers discuss this subject on the Secret Cave Podcast!

I am absolutely the right person at Secret Cave to write this.  That’s something I believe both Bens would yield to, well aware of my lifelong love for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.  It’s been my favourite film since I was around sixteen years old.  Even before that it was ever-present in my upbringing.  A favourite of both my Dad and Brother, I knew its opening crawl well from a young age.  The very idea of a sequel to that masterpiece was frightening, but it’s now something I can’t deny or avoid.  …   [continue reading]

The Deadly Tower of Monsters [FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

The Deadly Tower of Monsters
First Impressions

Concept
7/10

This is a game full of little innovative ideas in both its gameplay and approach to storytelling.  They mostly keep its more pedestrian elements afloat, which are generally well implemented anyway.  It lulls you into thinking it’s less original than it actually is, before smashing you with a surprising number of inventive twists.  Quite an old-school approach throughout is lent a nostalgic feel rather than a stale one.

Gameplay
7/10

Quickly building on elements we’ve seen numerous times before, the bare bones of this game are fundamentals we are all well aware of.  …   [continue reading]

Journey [FIRST&FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

Hear the writers discuss this subject on the Secret Cave Podcast!

Journey
First Impressions

(all ratings are out of 10)

Concept
8

Video games as art is nothing new, but thatgamecompany‘s concept of building games around the emotions they want the player to feel is fascinating and unique.  The idea behind Journey and what it brings to the table represents a genuine step forward that too many young designers seem frightened of.  There are many more steps to take, but without Journey the whole process would surely have been slower.

British fellow consumes media and regurgitates back what you should think about it.
…   [continue reading]

DOOM [FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

DOOM
Final Impressions

(all ratings are out of 10)

Concept
5

It’s not a particularly interesting idea to throw another Doom sequel at us, and it doesn’t even twist it that much on its head to make it a re-boot.  The idea of violent first-person shooting has an appeal, but a limited one.

British fellow consumes media and regurgitates back what you should think about it.
…   [continue reading]