Short Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

cloverfield paradox 1

In a move that surprised millions, including myself, Netflix debuted a trailer for the next film in the Cloverfield anthology during last week’s Super Bowl LII. Titled The Cloverfield Paradox, the movie is a Netflix exclusive that released following the end of the big game. Each movie in the Cloverfield universe follows a new protagonist, in an entirely different setting and scenario from the one before it. Their only similarity is one thing – An alien, or aliens, have invaded Earth, and nobody knows how or why they have arrived. The first movie took place on the streets of New York City, the second almost entirely within an underground bunker, and the latest one is set mostly in outer space.

cloverfield paradox 2

The Cloverfield Paradox follows Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), an engineer aboard the Cloverfield Station, a massive space vessel housing a crew of several other engineers and researchers. Their goal is to solve the Earth’s energy crisis by using a particle accelerator aboard the ship, providing our planet with unlimited energy. In a move that spells out most of the movie’s plot at the beginning, an author back on Earth warns humanity that using the particle accelerator could rip open a portal to alternate dimensions, causing horrible creatures from other dimensions to enter ours. While I like the idea of alternate dimensions being the cause of the Cloverfield monster’s appearance in the first film, Paradox tells most of its story in a sloppy and uninteresting manner, while refusing to answer any questions that longtime fans have had.

cloverfield paradox 3

The first half of Cloverfield Paradox is the strongest part of its watch, giving light Event Horizon vibes (but in a good way!) Although it doesn’t dip its toe quite as far in the ‘body horror’ subgenre, it kept me especially curious to see where the plot will go. Unfortunately, the movie shies away from this setup about halfway through and relies on tired tropes to fill the rest of its runtime. Betrayals, bad jokes, and 3D-printed handguns (seriously, a handgun somehow found its way into this movie) make up the worst parts. The world building and possibilities that the Cloverfield universe allows are the most interesting part of these movies, and it’s a shame that Paradox fails to expand on the premise in a satisfying way. As loosely connected to the first film as 10 Cloverfield Lane was, it at least provided a tight narrative to compliment a fascinating backdrop, giving fans a renewed level of excitement for what was to come. Here, Paradox mostly feels like a tired, run-of-the-mill science fiction tale with the Cloverfield name stuck on the front to bolster views. And I hate to sound so negative, but don’t even get me started on the ending stinger. Hopefully the next movie in the Cloverfield franchise can satisfy long-time fans and newcomers alike.

 

Rating: 2/5

Advertisements

Review: MONSTER HUNTER WORLD

MONSTER HUNTER WORLD

Platform Played: PS4 Pro

# Hours Played (so far): 66

Monster Hunter World is a massive game. It doesn’t have quite as much content as some of the previous entries, such as Generations, but there is still a lot to discover. I’ve played over 60 hours of this game, and can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. The addicting gameplay loop found in previous Monster Hunter games is fully intact, but in an exciting new entry (finally) on home consoles.

MHW 2

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the 3DS was my entry point to the long-running hunting series. Playing the demo when I got my ‘New’ 3DS XL was a great moment because I instantly knew that I’d be hooked. The game had satisfying combat, a great variety of weapons to suit any playstyle, and the visuals were great for what the 3DS has to offer. I poured over 200 hours into the game, raising my hunter rank and having a blast the entire time. Monster Hunter Generations released a few years later and, while I did end up playing a lot of it, I didn’t find the game quite as addicting as 4U.

DVXvG8wWAAAEw90

When Capcom announced Monster Hunter World last year, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A brand new, console-focused Monster Hunter game that had the best bits from the handheld games but with shiny new graphics? Sign me up! The initial trailer may have worried some veterans of the series, but I thought it looked phenomenal from the start. Finally getting my hands on the game, my expectations were blown out of the water. Monster Hunter World has, so far, turned out to be even better than I anticipated. Each of the weapons work similarly to previous games, offering a wide degree of control. Melee attackers, ranged fighters, and support players are all welcome, and each play an important part of any hunt. Every critical strike on a monster feels satisfying, offering a solid crunch noise and brand-new damage numbers to add to the feeling of dishing out major damage. I was initially wary of the damage numbers, thinking they looked too game-y, but they provide great feedback for each of your hits on a monster, as well as give you an idea on where the right place to hit a monster is located.

MHW 1

Despite there being only a handful of maps to explore, each area is massive. They feature no loading screens in between areas, which is a very welcome change from previous titles. This opens up a new layer of strategy to monster hunting – no longer can you run out of the arena at any point to catch your breath during a fight. You have to carefully choose when to retreat, otherwise a monster can simply chase you down into different areas. This change gives each map a better flow, removing any abrupt loading screens in favor of large new zones to explore. More importantly, each map feels interesting enough to explore, with plenty of hidden items to gather to improve your hunter’s arsenal.

MHW 4

The game is downright gorgeous, offering plenty of unique forests, deserts, and varied locations to discover. I usually hesitate to call a game world ‘alive’ because most of the time in video games, it can be easy to spot subtle nuances that break the immersion. But here, using the word alive may be the best way to describe most of the maps in Monster Hunter World. Each map really feels like a full ecosystem with its own unique inhabitants that wander the game world as you track down your prey. There are often multiple monsters that wander during a hunt, and if they come into contact with each other, they may initiate a turf war where they’ll inflict damage on each other. These conflicts have been among my favorite parts of the new game – watching giant beasts go one-on-one against each other, even for just a few seconds, is an exciting shake-up to the fight. When hunts for a target monster can take upwards of 30 minutes, it’s a nice change of pace to see your target fighting another monster. All of the environmental interactions to help take down your foes are also a great addition, such as offering vantage points to climb atop a monster’s back, or heavy rocks that can be broken from the ceiling to deal heavy damage to a target.

MHW 3

Veterans of the series will immediately pick up on most of Monster Hunter World’s familiar mechanics, and there are plenty of tutorials to help new players find their way through. I have heard a number of people complain about the obtuse nature of certain parts of the game’s design, and while these complaints are certainly understandable, this Monster Hunter is more accessible than ever to newcomers of the franchise. Most of the old systems from the past are intact and better than ever, thanks to numerous quality-of-life changes that have made hunting even easier. No longer are there breakable pickaxes, bug nets, or whetstones – all of these items can be accessed without spending any resources. These items are ones that every player will utilize a lot during their playtime, and their shift to infinite usage is very welcome. Even better are the numerous customizable options at every player’s disposal; everything from your shout-outs during a battle, location of items on your toolbar, and even a new radial menu that gives you access to even more items is here. These all culminate to give players the options that best suit their playstyle.

 

It’s really tough for me to imagine many ways that I’d improve Monster Hunter World. Additional monsters to hunt would be appreciated, but those are coming through free downloadable content in future updates. The frame rate can get a bit choppy during certain enemy encounters, but I found it stable for most of my playtime. The voice acting is also a bit hit or miss, and a few of the main story missions are downright unenjoyable, but the latter only accounts for a minor portion of the game. Overall, this is exactly what I’ve wanted from a Monster Hunter game for years, and it’s fantastic to see the game selling well. Monster Hunter may have finally broken out of its niche and found itself a bigger western crowd.

REVIEW: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Gold Edition

REVIEW: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Gold Edition

Version Played: PS4 Pro

Hours Played: 16+

Developer: Capcom

No Spoilers

RE7 6

Being a long-time fan of the Resident Evil series, I was skeptical of Resident Evil 7 when it was initially unveiled. Coming off of the disappointing Resident Evil 6, Capcom had a lot to make up for with fans, and the bets they placed on the next game sounded ambitious for the series. They claimed that the game would return to its survival-horror roots, with a focus on preserving ammunition and navigating tight corridors. Not to mention a new camera perspective, a forced first-person view, that seemed to riff on the success of then-recent horror games like Outlast or Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I’m happy to say that now having played through the entirety of Resident Evil 7 twice, the changes made to the series formula have paid off. RE7 feels like a game that appeals to long-running fans of the series, while welcoming newcomers into the fold.

RE7 3

The premise of Resident Evil 7 is simple and much smaller in scope than the previous two RE entries. There are no villains being blasted in the face with rocket launchers, for better or worse (in this case, probably for the better). While I had a blast playing Resident Evil 5 in co-operative mode with a friend, RE7 has a completely single-player-focused narrative. It requires zero knowledge of the prior games’ events, but includes small nods to the series past that Resident Evil veterans will appreciate.

RE7 1

You play as Ethan, a newcomer to the RE series, who enters a seemingly-abandoned home in search of his missing wife, Mia. Your goal is to survive the wrath of the Baker family, who try to kill Ethan every step of the way. These are among the most memorable cast of villains I’ve seen in a horror game, with Jack Baker being the star of the show. He poses an immense threat in every encounter, and provides some funny dialogue during battles, making him a likable villain and a force to be reckoned with. The slow mobility speed made me cautious of how boss battles would be balanced, but the addition of a block ability helps remove some of this worry. In fact, I think the addition of the block button is a vital component to the game’s success. Because the entire game takes place in first-person, navigating past enemies is more difficult than in previous entries, so blocking attacks is crucial to survival. Blocking slows movement speed, but the amount of damage taken from attacks is severely reduced. Knowing when to attack, block, reload, heal, and run is paramount to your survival. Resident Evil 7 hides ammunition and consumables in clever spots, effectively rationing the amount of offensive power the player has at their disposal. I was especially pleased to see enemy encounters and item locations change across the normal and hard difficulty levels, giving the second playthrough some new life.

RE7 7

I’ve never thought of the Resident Evil games as focused on horror and scares, but rather as survival games that take place in a creepy setting. There are some parts of RE7 that had me genuinely nervous to turn the next corner, especially in the beginning of the game when Ethan’s defensive options are extremely limited. The game is less scary as it progresses, but the beginning is truly terrifying, especially if you enter the experience with no prior knowledge of the game’s early events.

RE7 5

I think the only section of Resident Evil 7 that disappoints is a later chapter spent entirely on a boat. It’s a plodding, unexciting section that serves little story progression. While it does introduce a novel concept to the series in its later section, I think it could have been cut down and have still served its function. The final boss battle is a bit of a letdown, as it feels a bit rushed. The previous boss battles are solid enough that this doesn’t drag down the experience, but I was hoping to see more from the final confrontation.

RESIDENT EVIL 7 biohazard_20170128142228

Overall, Resident Evil 7 is the game that series fans, like myself, have been waiting for since RE4. It’s a tight, mostly focused survival-horror game that provides a compelling narrative and satisfying shooting elements. To top off the package, in the gold edition, all of the downloadable content is included. I’ve only played some of the bonus content so far, but the one that stood out to me most was “End of Zoe” in which you play as a different character from Ethan. I won’t be writing a review for that bonus game here, but let’s just say that it’s a drastic shift in tone from the main Resident Evil 7 experience, and surprisingly enough, it works well for what it does.

RE7 2

The main story of Resident Evil 7 has me excited for the future of this series. Where Resident Evil 6 disappointed me on many levels, RE7 has given me renewed interest in where Capcom will take the survival-horror games in the future. I hope they stick with the fixed first-person perspective, because it works surprisingly well with the game’s focus, but we’ll just have to wait and see where they take it from here.

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Man, this one took me a long time to write. It’s not even that long of a review, I just kept starting over from scratch across multiple days. It’s easy to lose focus of work when you’re off from school! I’ll be back in the full swing of things by January 16th, when the next semester starts. Anyway, I’m currently playing a bunch of Yakuza Kiwami and enjoying the game, even if it doesn’t quite match up to my love for Yakuza Zero. I’d love to write about Zero, so maybe I’ll do just that one of these days. Hope you’re all having a great start to the new year.

  • Matt

REVIEW: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (No Spoilers)

REVIEW: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (no spoilers)

Platform: PS4, X1, PC

Hours Played: 22+

Developer: Machine Games

Wolf 2 cover.jpg

Back in 2014, Machine Games surprised many people, including myself, with the clever writing and memorable characters that showed up in Wolfenstein: The New Order. Set Roth, Bombate, Caroline, Anya, and Max Hass made for great side characters to accompany our hero William J. Blazkowicz through his Nazi-killing adventure. Machine Games built a fascinating universe in the New Order, one where Nazi Germany won World War II and conquered the allied forces. I’ve always been a sucker for alternate history stories in media (for example: the Resistance games on PS3) and the intriguing premise hooked me immediately.

Wolf 2 bullshot

Gunplay and level traversal work similarly in Wolfenstein II to the previous game. You run forward, dual-wielding machine guns, blasting away Nazi’s and enjoying a cutscene at the end of each level. There are plenty of opportunities for stealth, but I only used it sparingly, instead opting to charge head-first into a firefight. Those are the parts where Wolfenstein II shines; when you can dual-wield your preferred weaponry and successfully take down enemies, the game feels great to play. Unfortunately, these instances aren’t quite as common as I’d hoped. Especially when compared to last year’s Bethesda shooter Doom, BJ Blazkowicz feels like a wet sponge when he takes hits from enemies, with little hit indication showing where the player is being shot from. For comparison’s sake, let’s look at any Call of Duty or Battlefield title. When the player is damaged, their screen violently shakes and red splatters appear on all edges of the screen, indicating that they’ve been hurt. It’s a clear indicator that, hey, you need to get to cover! Wolfenstein II doesn’t shake the screen violently to let you know you’ve been hurt, which is a good thing because I always disliked how violently Call of Duty handles it, but the feedback letting the player know they’ve taken damage isn’t strong enough. There were a few points in my playthrough of Wolfenstein II when I abruptly died upon entering a new combat zone, not realizing that enemies quickly chipped away at my health. This occurred even when I had full health and armor. The game didn’t describe what killed me or how, which made each area when it happened a bit frustrating. Even worse is when BJ can be hit-stunned by particular enemies, ensuring the player has no way out of an untimely death. This is why I’ve heard many others echo a similar statement: during your first playthrough of Wolfenstein II, play on a lower difficulty setting. The gameplay is at its most enjoyable when you’re successfully throwing hatches at enemies, dual-wielding machine guns and running through a level feeling like a goddamn badass. The lower difficulty ensures these instances of what often felt like unfair deaths are an outlier in an otherwise very satisfying shooter game.

Wolf 2 cast

Now, we reach my favorite part of the new Wolfenstein games, specifically the story and characters. Especially that second part, the characters; I can’t stress enough how great I think the cast of Wolfenstein II is, featuring plenty of memorable faces, each with an interesting personality that makes them unique. The cast’s performance is top-notch, rivaling the industry greats like Naughty Dog’s acting talent, making every cutscene an engaging watch. The game doesn’t explore the past of each character greatly, instead including optional conversations and events to occur when you’re exploring the new game’s hub area. Speaking of the hub area, I can’t say I like it as much as the resistance hideout from the New Order. The new hub is rather complex and easy to get lost in, and I only got a handle on its layout upon finishing the game. Even though it’s more interesting than the last hub area, I think the developers could have taken extra steps to differentiate each area, perhaps by colored walls or some such. BJ Blazkowicz himself is fleshed out further, providing a look at his childhood, and some horrific events that shaped the man he has become. Despite some initial worry about the tone of these flashbacks, I think they fit into the narrative nicely, giving the player even more reason to appreciate the monologues that BJ gives throughout the action-packed (but also appropriately quiet) story.

Wolf 2 cast 2

As it’s been widely reported, there are some absolutely crazy scenes that play out in Wolfenstein II. So crazy, in fact, that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a few of them since completing the game. The first that pops into mind is about halfway through the story, in an extended cutscene that *literally* caused my jaw to drop. It is so over-the-top, so absurd, that I think it’s one of my favorite moments of 2017. There’s even a tease to this scene earlier in the game, lightly foreshadowing the future event. It’s handled incredibly well, and I absolutely adore this insane moment’s inclusion. It’s tough to say anything else about the halfway point without spoiling anything, but I will say this: Machine Games have done an incredible job at differentiating their first person shooter from other shooters on the market, and this specific sequence reinforces that fact. There are some grisly moments throughout the story that hammer home the brutality of life, but there are enough scenes peppered with glimpses of hope and humor that even out the experience. 

Wolf 2 tree

In a surprising omission, there aren’t any boss fights in Wolfenstein II, which is a shame because there are a few battles from previous games that were very enjoyable. After all, this is a game series that is famous for one of the craziest boss battles from 90’s video games in the form of Mecha-Hitler. As you could probably guess by now, at no point in Wolfenstein II does BJ Blazkowicz fight Mecha-Hitler. However, the story moves in what we’ll call a satisfying direction, making me all the more excited for the eventual Wolfenstein III. I think the ending of this game ended abruptly, yet I’m still yearning to play more in the form of the game’s challenge modes. I will be waiting patiently for Machine Game’s next dive into the Wolfenstein universe, and you can bet I’ll be there day one to jump on their next thrill ride.

 

Score: 4 out of 5

 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I’m finishing up Stardew Valley for Switch at the moment, and I’d like to write a review for that game soon. It’s an extremely charming game that has helped stave off my hunger for more Animal Crossing (c’mon Nintendo, bring on that Switch AC!). Anyway, thank you for reading, and have a great week.

 

– Matt

REVIEW: Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Hours Played: 14+ (With many more to come) 

Odyssey 7

“Super Mario Odyssey” is a game that needs little introduction. Yet, there lies so many interesting ideas under the hood that simply calling it a Mario game is doing the title a disservice. Similar to this year’s release of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” Nintendo has again proven with “Super Mario Odyssey” that they are open to creative, fresh ideas, while providing an expansive open world and retaining the top-notch gameplay that the company is known for.

 

As soon as players hit the start button, a cinematic of Mario facing off against Bowser begins to play. The plot setup is hardly anything special, but this time around, Bowser isn’t just intent on kidnapping Princess Peach – he wants to marry her. Much to Mario’s dismay, Bowser escapes with the Princess by his side. Players will soon team up with the aptly-named Cappy, a ghost in the shape of a top hat, that takes on the form of Mario’s iconic hat and rests on the plumber’s head. This allows Mario to toss his hat like a disc to stun enemies, jump on the airborne hat to reach new heights, and even throw the hat at certain enemies that can be ‘captured’ as the game calls it. The ‘capture’ mechanic offers a wide variety of gameplay possibilities in “Super Mario Odyssey” as Cappy possesses an enemy or item and gives Mario full control of it. For example, throwing Cappy at a frog will turn Mario into that frog, complete with hilarious ‘ribbit’ sounds uttered by Mario while in that form. Another example of the capture mechanic involves capturing a Tyrannosaurus Rex, modeled in a similar way to how we view T-Rex’s in real life. This examples rests on the more bizarre end of the capture spectrum, and I adored every second of controlling the monstrous beast. The game oozes creativity and fun ideas, and it’s obvious the developers had a blast creating these bizarre new moves for Mario’s latest adventure.

Odyssey 6

With the wonderful new capture ability on display, one has to ask “what about the classic platforming gameplay that Mario is known for?” I’m happy to report that despite these exhaustive new options at Mario’s disposal, controlling the mustachioed plumber is, at its basic level, still as satisfying as ever. Players can expect the usual run, jump, long jump, and ground pound moves from previous 3D Mario games, but the inclusion of Cappy and hat-throwing introduces a wealth of new options to aid Mario’s locomotion. As mentioned earlier, Mario can throw Cappy forward, keep him spinning in the air, and then jump on the hat, propelling him further than he could normally reach. The ability to throw Cappy in a large, fast-moving circle around Mario is also available, and proves extremely useful for taking out surrounding foes. These aren’t the only new moves that Cappy provides, but they are the two that I found most useful, with most of them feeling satisfying to pull off. Unfortunately, a couple of extra abilities are locked behind the game’s infrequent motion controls. For an unknown reason, Nintendo felt the need to implement minor motion controls in “Super Mario Odyssey” which means performing the motion controls while playing in handheld mode is awkward and unreliable.Their use is infrequent, but it’s still worth pointing out, as the Switch controller offers more than enough buttons to which these motion-controlled abilities could instead be mapped to. It’s a problem that the game has created for itself, and it’s the only true blemish on an otherwise fantastic game.

Odyssey 2

Utilizing the new movement options at their disposal, Mario and Cappy make their way in pursuit of Bowser using the Odyssey, a ship that allows them to travel anywhere they please. The ship is powered by ‘Moons’, a new collectible that is scattered across the game world. There are literally hundreds of these moons to collect in “Super Mario Odyssey” and discovering each one is a joy. Many are hidden behind simple puzzles in tucked-away corners of the map, some are acquired by reaching difficult-to-reach areas, and others are relegated to rewards upon finishing a boss fight. Each one is as fun to unlock as the last, and just like in the latest Zelda game, exploring every nook and cranny of the game world may offer unexpected rewards. Nearly every in-game object can be interacted with, making each environment feel alive.

Odyssey 5

The most famous among the new levels in “Super Mario Odyssey” is the “Metro City Kingdom” home to “New Donk City”, a cityscape in the sky where regular people walk around, doing their everyday tasks, as Mario leaps around along sidewalks and atop buildings. At first glance, this environment feels extremely out of place. No other Mario game has integrated realistic-looking people alongside the whimsical nature of Mario and his jumping antics; yet somehow, the pairing in this game works wonderfully, thanks to Nintendo’s endless fountain of humor they incorporate into their games. Items such as coins populate the area for collecting, used for costumes that Mario can don during his adventure, and street signs reference previous Nintendo games. This kingdom provided the most enjoyment in all of my hours of playing, with some incredible music playing, to boot. The same can be said for the other kingdoms that the game offers; each one offers something different from the rest, and help make Mario’s journey feel like a true odyssey across the globe.

Odyssey 3

Without offering spoilers, I will say that the final battle in this game is an incredible way to end the adventure. There is a wealth of post-credits content to go through, including a not-so-discreet nostalgia trip, but the way these nods to the past are incorporated into the game’s story works flawlessly. In some ways, “Super Mario Odyssey” is a celebration of all things Mario. Plenty of references to his past adventures can be spotted, some more easily than others, and the game features the similar yet improved platforming gameplay that we’ve come to know and love. However, there are enough odd additions to the adventure that give it an identity wholly unique from previous 3D Mario games. The end credits of “Super Mario Odyssey” can be reached relatively quickly, perhaps within 8 or 9 hours, if not sooner, but the adventure continues well past that point. Over 800 moons are available to collect, and you can bet I’ll be on the case to collect the rest of them. This game had me smiling nearly the entire way through, and it provided exactly what I expected, and more. If you own a Nintendo Switch, chances are you already own this game or plan to play it. If you don’t own a Switch yet, “Super Mario Odyssey” is another great reason to pick one up for the holidays.

 

Hey folks! If it wasn’t obvious already, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the latest Mario game. I’ll be tackling Wolfenstein 2 next, and I’d like to write my thoughts on that game as well, once it’s finished. Have a great week, everyone.

  • Matt

REVIEW: Cuphead

REVIEW: CUPHEAD

Platform: PC/Steam/Xbox One

Developer: Studio MDHR

Hours Played to Finish: 7 ½

Cuphead start screen

“Cuphead” is a 2D run and gun video game that utilizes an art style which harkens back to cartoon animation from nearly 90 years ago. Mimicking 1930’s-era cartoons, (Looney Tunes, Mickey Mouse) “Cuphead” wears its inspiration on its sleeve; however, it provides enough reasons beyond its gorgeous visuals to warrant a purchase and see what this long-awaited indie game has to offer.

Cuphead drawing

Since its worldwide reveal in June 2014, “Cuphead” has garnered a respectable amount of press in video games media. Fans have been looking forward to playing the game for years, and with the impressive visual style nailed, it feels good to say that the game offers more than just pretty graphics. Running at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, direct control of the action feels good from the get-go. The player’s basic abilities are to jump, shoot, and air-dash to the goal. There are some unique abilities thrown into the mix, such as the ‘parry slap’ which offers a defensive maneuver against certain enemy projectiles, but for the most part, the gameplay sticks to traditional run-and-gun action. Purchasing new types of blasters at the in-game store offers some variety to experiment with different play styles, which is always appreciated. Holding the right bumper allows the player to remain still and fire in any pointed direction without moving, which is a very welcome mechanic in any 2D run-and-gun game, “Cuphead” included.

Cuphead cake boss

“Cuphead” is a punishing game, offering zero checkpoints in any of its levels, boss fights included. This will turn certain players away, but thankfully the game offers two different difficulty modes to play around with. There is also a co-operative element in the game, giving two players the ability to play together throughout the entire experience.

Cuphead wallpaper

The player controls the aptly-named Cuphead as he and his pal Mugman go on an adventure to collect souls for the Devil, in an effort to preserve their own souls from his control. It’s a wacky introduction that feels right at home with the classic cartoons that the game looks fondly upon. While the storytelling throughout the adventure is bare-bones, the framework is strong enough to keep the player motivated to press forward in the quest to save Cuphead and Mugman.

Cuphead medusa boss

The majority of levels in “Cuphead” are boss fights, with the remaining levels consisting of run-and-gun stages in the vein of classic Mega Man or Contra games. The boss fights are the best part of the game, showcasing hectic action that forces the player to rethink their strategy multiple times during a single battle. Boss fights progress in phases as they take damage, changing up their appearance and arsenal. For example, there is one level that has Cuphead chasing a runaway train overtaken by ghosts, with the giant boss ghost throwing his never-ending arsenal of eyeballs at the player as they jump out of harm’s way. When the boss ghost takes enough damage, he transforms into a large skeleton, forcing the player to adapt to the skeleton’s new battle tactics to win. It’s wacky, silly, and feels just right in the game’s world. That isn’t even the craziest boss fight in the game, but it’s one that stands out.

 

Unfortunately, the remaining levels that aren’t boss fights are a letdown. These levels involve the player running from point A to point B, defeating small enemies and sometimes facing mini-bosses along the way. Most of the environments these levels take place in feel uninspired, with forgettable enemies and some frustrating areas that become tedious due to a total lack of checkpoints. A lack of checkpoints doesn’t ruin the experience, but having a single mid-level save would be appreciated. While these levels aren’t necessarily bad, they pale in comparison to the stellar boss battles, and it’s obvious that these levels weren’t the development team’s primary focus. A soundtrack that will be described as passable is also present, feeling true to the time period that is being paid homage, but not offering a memorable tune that sticks after the finale.

Cuphead title banner

After numerous delays and years of extended development, the developers at Studio MDHR have managed to make “Cuphead” the game that they always wanted to create. It’s been said many times before, but the visual style that the game boasts is breathtaking and one of the most unique graphical styles that has been seen in many years. The platforming levels may be disappointing, but the experience as a whole oozes with personality and flavor. Offering dozens of stellar boss battles, a charming cast, and simply breathtaking visuals that rival the best looking games of this console generation, “Cuphead” isn’t an experience I’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

 

Thanks for reading, guys. I’m looking forward to writing more game reviews for my University, as it’ll help me gain a stronger writing style. Hope you all have a great week.

  • Matt

 

Update: Somewhat-Exciting News & Incoming Review

Cuphead title banner.png
Hey folks, Matt here. I just wanted to share a bit of news that I’m excited about. The University I currently attend has an online, student-run newspaper, and I’ll be contributing to it! My first review will be, you guessed it, a game review, and it’ll release there early next week, probably on Tuesday. My first review will be on Cuphead, the long-awaited PC and Xbox 2D platformer that was initially shown off fifteen years ago. Well, maybe it wasn’t quite fifteen years, maybe three years ago, but it feels like longer than that! Anyway, I’ll be publishing my review on here per usual, but I’ve also got it coming to a different website as well. This isn’t the first time I’ve written articles for an ‘official’ paper, as I used to write for my previous University’s student-managed newspaper – but this is still a fun venture that I’m excited to be part of. Reaching the goal takes one step at a time, and this is another step that will help me reach my dream job.

Anyway, look out for that Cuphead review on the horizon. I’ll upload it here next week on Tuesday night. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

  • Matt