Nier: Automata Review

by Matthew Thompson

In Nier: Automata, you’ll play as several different androids as they wage war against robotic foes. You fight on behalf of the humans. The robots, for alien invaders. This is the jumping off point for a moving narrative with a philosophical bent. While the story focuses on beings of artificial intelligence, it really utilizes them to explore various topics related to human nature. Love, the meaning of life, the concept of family and the fear of death are just some of the weighty subjects Automata tackles. The result is a journey that is often touching, occasionally uncomfortable and always thought-provoking Continue reading


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

by Matthew Thompson

There are few series in gaming that I love as much as The Legend of Zelda. I’m particularly fond of the 3D entries. The fact that we only get one of these every five or so years makes the already anticipated release of a new Zelda into a true gaming event. The latest in the storied franchise came out alongside Nintendo’s newest console the Switch to the ravest of reviews this past March. While I can’t say Breath of the Wild lived up to the overwhelming amounts of hype that surrounded its release, it is a fantastic game – one of my personal favorites in a series not exactly short on superlative outings – and a bold reinvention for the 30-plus year old franchise Continue reading

Nintendo Switch Hardware Review

by Matthew Thompson

The Nintendo Switch looks to offer new possibilities for the gaming public. Is it a true portable/home console hybrid offering gamers the best of both worlds? Or is it a jack of all two trades, master of none? After two weeks with Nintendo’s latest, I’m here with my initial impressions on what the hardware has to offer Continue reading

Five Thoughts on Far Cry Primal

by Matthew Thompson

In place of reviews which I have grown to not particularly enjoy writing, I am going to try out a new recurring feature called Five Thoughts. Here I will simply focus on a handful of things that stood out to me about a game as a way to give some impressions, but without feeling my usual need to cover everything in an exhaustive fashion like I do in reviews. For my initial attempt at this new type of post, I will be talking about the first major new retail release of 2016 I managed to complete, Far Cry Primal. Here it goes Continue reading

Gaming Mini-Reviews: Wii U Edition

by Matthew Thompson

My newest pair of mini-reviews looks at two Wii U games related to Nintendo’s biggest franchises: the Zelda/Dynasty Warriors crossover Hyrule Warriors and the famed Italian plumber’s latest mainline entry, Super Mario 3D World Continue reading

Gaming Mini-Reviews: Platinum Games Edition

by Matthew Thompson

Platinum Games is the current king of pure action gaming and October saw the release of their two latest titles. After putting them both through their paces over the last few weeks, I am here with a mini-review for each Continue reading

Gaming Mini-Reviews: FPS Face-Off Edition

by Matthew Thompson

I personally deemed my first set of gaming mini-reviews a success! And now I am back with more. This time I review two first-person shooters I played recently on the PlayStation 4, both of which managed to defy my expectations Continue reading

Gaming Mini-Reviews: Nintendo Platformer Edition

by Matthew Thompson

In an effort to get my thoughts on more games up on the site, I’m going to be trying out a new format. Inspired by my recent TV Pilot Mini-Reviews which I thought turned out well, I will write up some shorter game reviews and bundle a few together for one post. Looking back through what I played earlier this year there were quite a few games I didn’t get the chance to talk about. Three of these were Nintendo platformers which seemed to be a perfect group to test things out on. So here are my thoughts on platformers from three classic Nintendo series that came out over the last couple of years Continue reading

Dustforce: Sweeping Your Way to SS Grades

by Matthew Thompson (images courtesy of Hitbox Team via their website)

Dustforce 1

It’s great how video games can make something fun out of seemingly mundane activities. I wouldn’t normally decide to sweep the kitchen floor or dust the mantle when I’m looking to liven up a boring afternoon. And yet the past few days, I’ve been having a blast cleaning up the dusty old libraries and gunk-covered labs of Hitbox Team’s Dustforce.

Dustforce puts you in control of one of four janitors with the goal of ridding the world of its dust problems. These maintenance workers have some slight differences in speed and jumping ability, but all have the kind of acrobatic skills you’d expect to see from one of gaming’s more typical protagonists: the ninja. You’ll be running along ceilings, bouncing off walls and slashing up baddies as you try and make it through the game’s tricky 2D platforming levels. Except your weapon is a broom or vacuum and your greatest foe might be a dusty old book or a filth-dumping trashcan.

Dustforce features multiple area themes including caves, streets and a mansion. I believe the above is from the "Snap your Vita in half" world.

Dustforce features multiple area themes including caves, streets and a mansion. I believe the above is from the “Snap your Vita in half” world.

Merely making it through levels isn’t your main goal either. You want to leave the level spotless and do so with style. Along with having your time tracked, you are graded on two criteria: completion and finesse. Completion has you attempting to clear away every speck of dirt in the level while finesse means keeping your combo building by never going too long without sweeping something up or striking one of the game’s dust monsters. If you want to achieve that coveted SS grade you’ll need to clean up the level completely while never losing your combo. What it ends up feeling like is Super Meat Boy meets Devil May Cry or N+ meets Resogun. And like some of those games, you’ll find yourself restarting levels often trying to achieve that perfect run.

The game is no pushover either. It took me a couple days to really get the hang of the controls and they still feel a bit finnicky at times. And despite my better grasp of said controls, some spots are kicking me around all the same. Just finding all the levels in Dustworld’s hubs can be hard and practice is definitely needed if you want to get enough keys to unlock the toughest challenges. The good news is each world has levels of various difficulties so you can cut your teeth and up those grades on easier areas before tackling some of the more sadistic ones that await you as you delve deeper into each world.

Some levels are more combat-driven and task you with clearing all the enemies. You'll have to avoid getting hit to snag that S grade.

Some levels are more combat-driven and task you with clearing all the enemies. You’ll have to avoid getting hit to snag that S grade.

This is a gameplay-focused 2D platformer, so those looking for snazzy presentation or some kind of compelling narrative will have to look elsewhere. Dustforce sports a simple, but effective look that I think is quite sharp and I really enjoyed the music. It gives a off a calming vibe which was a good way to prevent me from heaving my Vita across the room during the game’s more difficult segments. I did experience some framerate issues in a couple levels so far which definitely can hinder things a bit.

I’ve only spent a few days messing around with Dustforce, so I wouldn’t quite call this a review (I have not tried the game’s multiplayer either). It’s really too early to say exactly how much I like it (though quite a bit at the moment) and even tougher to wholly recommend since it seems like an acquired taste. I’d at the very least recommend trying the demo if this sounds like your kind of game. Between its challenging 2D platforming and that “just one more run” reaction it elicits from me, it really is right in my wheelhouse. And if the first few days are any indication, this is a game that will continue to grow on me as my skills improve. And games that reward your practice like that are always a good thing in my book.