The Oberlin Review

New Pokémon “Sun”, “Moon” Evoke Nostalgia with Improved Gameplay, Setting

Avi Vogel, Staff Writer

December 9, 2016

Filed under ARTS, Visual Art

There’s something about video games that ties gamers to their childhood. Although games are constantly evolving to keep up with the times, there are some with a rare ability to harken back to their predecessors. For many, the Pokémon series sits on a pedestal of nostalgia; an old go-to that exemplifies what they love about games. Pokémon Sun and Moon, the two newest entries simultaneously released Nov. 18 by developer Game Freak, bring the most innovation to the series since Pokémon Gold and Silver while retaining the series’ playability and its nostalgic appeal. Creature-collecting games with light role-playing elements, the experience focuses on leveling up Pokémon and building a well-rounded team that can ...

“Owlboy” Glides with Beautiful World, Emotional Narrative

“Owlboy” Glides with Beautiful World, Emotional Narrative

November 18, 2016

Learning from failure is what makes a hero. This idea is ingrained in Owlboy, an independent platformer game released Nov. 1 by D-Pad Studio. Using a hi-bit pixel-art style, Owlboy follows Otus — a young owl in training — on his adventures through the world. It begins innocuously, with Otus chasing a villain called Troublemaker through the town of Vellie, but quickly picks up from there. Owlboy is visually stunning. The pixelated character sprites are wonderfully articulated, giving both cen...

Oxenfree’s Nostalgic Ghost Story Avoids Cliché

Oxenfree’s Nostalgic Ghost Story Avoids Cliché

November 4, 2016

Oxenfree is a difficult game to classify. Night School Studio’s most recent title, consisting mostly of wandering around and interacting with both people and the environment as the story slowly unravels, doesn’t fall squarely into any one genre. You play as Alex, a high schooler who is bringing her new stepbrother Jonas to an island party. When only five people show up and Alex’s antique radio starts finding strange signals, things quickly take a turn for the supernatural. This ostensibly trope-fille...

Variable State’s Debut Provokes Thought, Confusion

Variable State’s Debut Provokes Thought, Confusion

October 7, 2016

Virginia, the first project released by independent developer Variable State, follows the journey of Anne Tarver, a young FBI agent fresh out of school, and a more experienced agent named Maria Halperin in their investigation of the disappearance of a young boy in the small town of Kingdom, VA. The vagueness of this premise is an intentional part of the game’s design. The best way to approach Virginia is with as few expectations as possible. The narrative is complex and nearly wordless other than the...

Overwatch Quenches Summer’s Game Drought

Overwatch Quenches Summer’s Game Drought

September 23, 2016

Over the past few months, the gaming industry has been in the throes of what is widely referred to as the “summer game drought,” a period defined by the release of few to no big-budget games between May and August. This year, though, many gamers didn’t seem to care about the dearth of content, as Overwatch dropped on May 24 and had all of them engrossed. Polished to a sheen, this game released to rave reviews, was embraced equally by the competitive E-sports and casual crowds and, in the w...

“Inside” Takes Players on Minimalist Journey

“Inside” Takes Players on Minimalist Journey

September 9, 2016

In the middle of a dark forest, guided forward only by sparse patches of light, a little boy makes his way toward an uncertain goal. In this beautiful minimalist world, his way is sometimes barred by puzzles — none difficult enough to ever pose a significant barrier. In that sense, Inside is simple in its depiction of its protagonist’s journey through a bleak world; it consists of moving forward and overcoming obstacles. But to fault the game for being so straightforward would be to ignore i...

‘Ori’ a Gorgeous Platforming Odyssey

Avi Vogel, Columnist

May 6, 2016

Filed under ARTS

A lush forest sways in the breeze like a moving painting. A gentle creature called Naru finds a small ball of light on the ground that uncurls into an adorable animal of light. The following minutes are spent watching Ori, the light creature, and her surrogate mother Naru growing closer, exploring the forest and living a simple life. It’s a heartwarming story. I instantly grew attached to these characters — right as their lives came crashing down around them. This is the opening sequence of Ori and the Blind Forest, originally released in March 2015 and now being re-released as a “Definitive Edition” on Xbox One and PC this month. The game, which received critical acclaim and widespread adoration — with...

In “Clash Royale”, Fun Prevails Despite Freemium Model

Avi Vogel, Columnist

April 22, 2016

Filed under ARTS, Visual Art

There are 10 seconds left in the match. My opponent and I each have one tower left. Mine has a little over 100 hit-points, and there’s a swarm of little skeletons coming my way. My opponent’s base has 200 hit-points. There’s no way to get any of my units there in time. I deploy a unit to reveal my next card. Drawing “fireball,” I quickly throw the projectile at the opposing tower. With mere seconds to spare, the tower goes down right before my opponent topples mine. For my struggle, I get a couple more trophies. But I don’t mind. It was a good use of three minutes of my time. This is the rhythm of Clash Royale, a real-time strategy-tower defense hybrid mobile game for Android and iOS devices and develope...

Game’s Visuals Marred by Clumsy Controls

Avi Vogel, Columnist

April 8, 2016

Filed under ARTS

Walking up a set of stairs embedded into a mountain, the environment changes. Pink skies and green-blue grass shift to light blue air and snow-covered ground. Before I enter the new area, I move myself around the edges of the mountaintop, seeing what secrets I can find. As I saunter toward the lip of the cliff, the camera pans forward and reveals the massive decaying head of a titan, its lifeless hand clinging to the ledge. I sit still, forgetting the controller in my hand, the music and visuals dragging me into the world. Then, I walk through the door, start the next fight and die because an attack that looks like it shouldn’t connect does. I start the dungeon over. That, in a nutshell, has been my entire experience...

‘SUPERHOT’ a Minimalist Take on Shooter Genre

‘SUPERHOT’ a Minimalist Take on Shooter Genre

March 11, 2016

I pop into a level. First things first — get to the enemy at the end of the hall. I weave through a hail of bullets, swinging my sword to cut through the occasional one I can’t avoid. I throw my sword at the enemy, shattering his polygonal frame and causing his gun to fly towards me. I snatch it from mid air and crack off two shots, perfectly aimed at the enemies still behind me. Out of ammo, I throw the handgun against the final katana-wielding enemy before he can slice me. The gun shatters...

In Devil Daggers, Survival a Simple but Daunting Task

Avi Vogel, Columnist

February 26, 2016

Filed under ARTS

They’re chasing me. I turn around to fire off a quick spread shot of daggers with a single click of my mouse, vaporizing three of the dozens of giant floating skulls. The bright orange of my projectiles illuminates just enough space for me to see the hovering red gem just offstage. But just as I start running toward it, a hoarse laughter echoes from behind and a twin-horned skull takes me out. The screen goes dark. I look at the time. The counter reads 65.4782 seconds — not bad, but I can do better. I tap the R key and promise myself: just one more run. This is the essence of Devil Daggers, a first-person shooter that came out last week for PC. You control a hand, which may or may not be attached to ...

‘That Dragon, Cancer’ a Powerful Exploration of Grief

Avi Vogel, Columnist

February 12, 2016

Filed under ARTS

Editor’s Note: This article contains references to cancer and death. You may have noticed that each of my columns has followed roughly the same formula: I include an image from that week’s game, introduce the game’s genre and gameplay, survey its pros and cons and offer a final opinion on the game as an entire package. But I can’t do that this week. Not with this game. That Dragon, Cancer is a story and an experience made by people who have been impacted by a certain sort of emotional trauma, intended for those who might not have been through such an experience. It is an independent “game” released by a small team, including Ryan and Amy Green. Ryan and Amy are married and had a son named Joel, who w...

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