By Ronald Gordon
Hello and welcome once again to the Roundup! An entire article dedicated to gathering up stories inside and outside the Circle to give them a boost. Over the weekend, I had the chance to go to one of the first NYC-hosted gaming events revolving around Minecraft and how it can be used in education. The event was hosted on the USS Intrepid with many groups backing it such as the Mayor’s Office of Media and Education, Microsoft, the NYCDOE, and many other partners. But enough about me and my escapades, this week we’ve got reviews from our Interns, some words on Starfield and Diablo IV, Outer Terror, Capcom’s revival of old games, and so much more!
To start us off we have Harold’s review of Starfield, which he traveled all the way to LA to see first hand! “As I sat high above the action in the cheap seats at the Nova Theater, I was kind of stunned to witness the sheer variety within the outer space world that is Starfield.” His thoughts begin with him being blown away by what was shown in the announcement, “When Bethesda gave me a world exclusive for The Washington Post for the game’s premier announcement, it was clear making this brand-new thing from scratch would be a difficult undertaking. In fact, the deadline for release was extended to September 6, 2023. Yet it was only when I saw the vastness of play and of the world that I realized it was more than a game, more than an adventure.” Knowing Bethesda’s previous works to be massive when it comes to exploration and adventure, I’m not surprised to hear Harold’s description of Starfield and how huge it is estimated to be once it actually releases. I’m more surprised that it’s still set to come out in 2023, and while my fingers are crossed I’m also holding my tongue in case of anything. Also, Harold enjoyed Diablo IV enough to say “This Game Will Have You Battling Monsters In Hell, And Loving It” in the title of his article on Observer. Give it a read if you’re interested in what the future of Diablo looks like.
Moving onto Interns we have Khloe’s review of Outer Terror, a horde shooter with a nice bit of horror that blends roguelike aspects into its gameplay. Horror and Roguelikes aren’t often paired together, but when they are they lend themselves to interesting ways of play. “Each level is exciting and distinct in its own right,” says Khloe, “whether you’re juggling a starvation mechanism in a chilly tundra one minute or trying to find your way out of a maze the next. Seeing the evil crowds emerge from the fog as your last minutes tick away (and you are only half-convinced you are on the right track to your destination) causes your heart to race with adrenaline.” Khloe’s words show just how compelling the concept can be when handled correctly, giving Outer Terror the hype it properly deserves thanks to its thrilling gameplay. “Outer Terror is not the sort of game that will hold your hand and guide you step by step. There is no going back once you accept, which is part of the thrill.”
Next, Jatin Gundara brings a review of Advanced Wars Reboot Camp, and how it fueled his addiction to strategy games. While the jump from Sid Meier’s Civilization might’ve been a little strange, Jatin found plenty of fun to be had with the new Advanced Wars remakes: “While I generally enjoy games with a little more substance (like Civilization), I found that Advance Wars was easy to pick up and play without too much investment. The accessibility factor on the Switch truly allowed me to enjoy it wherever and whenever I wanted.” Respectable remakes of the original Advanced Wars games brings players both old and new to the franchise, showing players like Jatin that strategy games can come in all shapes, sizes, and art styles as well.
Starting off our news from Members is Giovanni Colantonio, who talks about 33 Immortals and how familiar it looks. “When something as phenomenal as Hades comes around, you can be sure that it’s going to inspire a generation of games. Now three years removed from Hades‘ 1.0 release, we’re already seeing that with 33 Immortals. Developed by Spiritfarer studio Thunder Lotus, 33 Immortals is a top-down hack-and-slash game built around mythology. The twist on that formula is that it features 33-player co-op, but it’s not hard to trace the inspiration.” Allowing for 33 players to work together must be a task and a half, but taking on aspects of other games such as Hades’ branching narrative makes 33 Immortals sound like a dream of a game! “As mentioned, the most interesting part would come after the hands-on demo, when I asked the team about 33 Immortals’ narrative. The game is a loose adaptation of the Divine Comedy, where each player is trying to escape from their eternal punishment…The Thunder Lotus team says players will fight bosses like Lucifer, Adam and Eve, and, yes, God himself.”
Jordan Minor, who will soon publish his own book, talks about Capcom’s recent moves to revive certain games, and what sort of good that can hopefully do for underappreciated franchises. “Considering that the company published two five-star masterpieces (the Resident Evil 4 remake and Street Fighter 6) back to back, it could afford to coast a bit. However, Capcom took the opportunity to shed more light on upcoming releases. Curiously, two of those games, Exoprimal and Path of the Goddess, appear to be spiritual successors to past Capcom hits.” Reflecting on Capcom’s Dino Crisis and Onimusha/Okami, Jordan comes to the conclusion that paying homage to them through examples like Exoprimal and Path of the Goddess might just be the best way to make old games good again. “Capcom has never been afraid of double dipping. After all, this is the company with two hit zombie franchises: Dead Rising and Resident Evil. In addition, Capcom also frequently re-releases its old games, which is a fine way to preserve classic games. When gamers can’t decide if they prefer new experiences or familiar faces, maybe Capcom has it right by splitting the difference.”
Yet another Fair Game Writing challenge has come and gone, with more talented writers from around the country taking the leap and sending in their heartfelt poems and reviews about games. Supported by the NYVGCC, Games For Change’s Fair Game Writing Challenge gives students from all over the nation a chance to win big by writing what’s in their hearts. I’d just like to give a big Congratulations to the lucky winners, seeing the variety of games they all wrote about and how they portrayed their feelings through poems is a sight to behold. I highly suggest checking out the site and seeing the entry winners for yourself.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle Member & Mentor. He was the first of our writers – or any intern anywhere – to complete an internship at Rockstar Games.