More bite-sized review bits? Sure, why not?
Onechanbara ZII Chaos (PS4, $49.99) – Budget game developer Tamsoft gets its sexy ladies onto the PS4 in a game that’s going to be loved and hated by gamers for a few reasons. While it has a super smooth 60fps frame rate, the cheesy music rocks somewhat firecely and the action is nearly non-stop (and supremely gory), it’s easy to see the easily ticked off whiny westerners losing their minds over the skimpy costumes and all-out fan service on display. Bikini, schoolgirl outfit and other fantasy femme tropes get trotted out (and that optional Banana Split pack bonus costume is too racy to show here), but the ladies are far from the helpless princess stereotype at all. Aya, Saki and the rest of the crew have been zombie killing for about a decade since their introduction on the PlayStation 2 and later Xbox 360 and Wii Onechanbara titles, so this one’s just their best looking adventure to date. While the game seems a tad on the short side, the reply value comes from unlocking outfits and having at stages again so you can better your score jut like arcade games of old. Then again, every Onechanbara game is pretty much the same: kill plenty of zombies before they kill your gal of choice and have a BIG grin on your face while doing so. Score: B (80%)
Cults & Daggers (PC, $29.99) – Developer Chaphat (mostly Rod Humble) cooked up one of 2015’s subtle surprises in the form of a unique and deep turn-based strategy game set in the time between the death of the Buddha and the birth of Christ. Create your own religion and guide (well, dispatch) your followers around to spread your good (or not so good) word by many means necessary. The game isn’t making the case for any actual religion over another and shouldn’t be seen as any sort of poke at whatever one believes (or doesn’t believe) in at all. With all the assassinations, rumor spreading, spying, disciple recruitment and other activities you can pull off during the dozens of hours of play here, the game ends up being smarter than its intentionally simple looks and some of its intended audience. That said, the beauty of it all slides up on you almost immediately if sly tactical play with long term results are your sort of thing. This one’s a game for readers and thinkers alike, coming as more than welcome in this age of too many casual games one can play without even coming close to a “losing” scenario. Come join this cult and get ready for months of plotting and scheming for the greater good (or evil). Score: B+ (85%)
DiRT Rally (PC, $44.99) – Codemasters dropped this one on rally fans earlier this year and pretty much brought the rally game back from the casual ditch it had been sliding into with the console DiRT games and other off-road games made for less skilled gamers. Demanding on every level from the PC required to run it on the best settings to the amount of patience and skill needed to complete the simplest race event, the game has become something of a phenomenon among a bunch of players who post videos of their best and worst runs. This one will probably never hit a console unless there’s a miracle, so your best bet if you’re a fan of the sport itching for a great and challenging time in the mud, dust, snow or whatever other weather or terrain a rally runs on is to pony up for a decent gaming rig or be a spectator on YouTube or other channels that run gameplay endlessly. Score: A (95%)