Robert Wm. Gomez's

PC

My primary gaming device these days. Technically any computer can be called a "PC" but this category is specifically for Windows/MS-DOS based games.

Nex Machina on PC (9/10)

Nex Machina

Nex Machina is the (almost) official follow-up to Robotron: 2084 or, as I like to call it, the greatest arcade game ever created. If you watch the credits you will see the Eugene Jarvis was the creative consultant for the game. As far as I'm concerned that means this is Robotron: 2085 (we'll ignore Smash T.V. ... NOT canon!).

It's just as frantic and twitchy as ever, and the core game play remains the same: shoot everything that moves and save the humans. There is a far greater variety of enemies, boss battles, and the graphic effects are stellar. Improvements include lots of hidden collectibles, a variety of secondary weapons, the ability to dodge, and lots of differing level designs.

Layers of Fear on PC (4/10)

Layers of Dolls

Another walking simulator but this time with a horror theme. The whole point of this "game" is to make your way through an old haunted house and get hit with a jump scare every four minutes. At first this is very thrilling. After the fiftieth time, not so much. Technically there are about three puzzles in the game. Mostly you encounter a lock, look around the room, get hit with a jump scare, and then see the combination in the aftermath. On top of this, the story is lame and required too much effort searching around for notes and clues for me to care. Glad I didn't have to pay for this one.

The Witness on PC (9/10)

The Witness

The Witness is from the same developer who created the superb Braid. It feels like a cross between that game and Myst. Once again the game play centers around puzzle solving, but instead of time manipulation, you are solving mazes. I know what your thinking, "Mazes? Are you kidding me. Ever since the 'Twisty maze of passages, all alike' mazes have been the bane of every video gamer's existence." At first I thought the same thing. The first dozen puzzles are so easy that I assumed this was just going to be another boring walking simulator with challenges thrown in just to extend the experience a few more minutes. But then you encounter the next set of mazes which sprinkle in a few new rules (which you have to discover on your own) and things start to get more challenging. Get a little further, then you have an epiphany and realize not everything is what it seems. Perspective and your place in the 3-D environment start to matter. At that point I was sold and fully immersed myself in the world (this would make an incredible VR game).

A Story About My Uncle on PC (7/10)

They was shootin' lazers!!!!

A Story About My Uncle is a game based entirely around a single game mechanic, a grappling beam. Players shoot a beam at a distant surface, they are pulled towards the target, and then they must use inertia and timing to fling themselves towards their goal. That's about it. We've seen this before in just about every Zelda game, so this is nowhere near as revolutionary as the one-mechanic behind the extraordinary Portal.  Still, when it clicks, swinging across a map and carefully timing your shots can be thrilling.

Serious Sam 2 on PC (6/10)

Serious Sam 2

The original Serious Sam became an unexpected hit when it received the approval of Old Man Murray. While other games were trying to be dark and mature, Serious Sam reveled in pure, goofy run-and-gun action. It was like Duke Nukem if it was made by a backwoods folk artist. This sequel is somewhat of a technological upgrade, but the art design still looks like the work of someone just learning how to use 3-D Studio Max, and that is the game's charm. The enemies range from run-of-the-mill space marines to exploding clowns to giant cigar smoking mechanical T-rexes.

Far Cry 4 on PC (8/10)

Far Cry Kill Kill Kill!

All these Ubisoft open-world games (Assassins  CreedWatch Dogs, etc.) follow the same basic formula. Main story which you can take your time completing, lots of side activities and missions, and collectible stuff that gets you nothing in the end. Each is enjoyable up to a point, but then they wear out their welcome and become tedium. But despite the flaws, I genuinely enjoy the Far Cry games. I am a sucker for the FPS/stealth mix in which you can approach any conflict from a large number of paths. Each outpost I conquer without tripping the alarms feels like a real achievement.

Jotun on PC (3/10)

Jotun is all about drawings

The only thing this game has going for it is its art direction. There's some wonderful hand-drawn characters and evocative music. However, like a Doublefine game, this one is all style and no substance. The highlight is supposed to be the various boss battles in which you spend a ton of time chopping at these giant character's heels. Every swing of your axe removes about 1% of the enemy's health. It's just an exercise in tedium. The controls are sluggish and un-responsive . It's like fighting in a bowl of molasses.

Alien: Isolation on PC (8/10)

Alien: Isolation

The first few hours of Alien: Isolation are some of the most nerve-racking gaming I have ever experienced. It's a stealth game in which you are mostly defenseless and must hide to survive. There's no sneaking up behind enemies and stabbing them in the back. The enemies aren't just some dopey guards walking in a set pattern that you are trying to avoid. It's one of the most menacing monsters in cinema history. One wrong turn or overly loud noise and you are facing its dripping double jaws in seconds.

Vanquish on PC (7/10)

Vanquish

Vanquish is a third-person action game that has little to offer in terms of plot or characters. Its story feels like every other Japanese console game. Devil May Cry 4 comes to mind, and if you liked that game, you have a problem. The dialogue is all painfully cliché and tries very hard to be hip with nerdy allusions to action movie lines and bad-ass hero shots. Pretty cringe inducing.

But all this is moot. This game is really about its fast-paced game-play and mechanics. While certainly not revolutionary, the ability to skid around the map at hyper-speed is fun and challenging. Add on top of that a little bullet-time and you have an enjoyable but mindless way to pass a few hours.

Unavowed on PC (8/10)

Unavowed

At this point I think we can all basically agree that every game that Wadjet Eye releases is going to be worth buying right away. This is Dave Gilbert's first game as lead designer since Blackwell Epiphany. There is overlap with the Blackwell universe, but it is definitely a departure from those games.

Possibly taking a lead from Telltale, there seems to be a more deliberate attempt to make your choices affect the story. This manifests itself first in that you choose one of three origin stories for your player character. Then, throughout the game, each chapter ends with you deciding the fate of an adversary. The consequences of your decisions don't really ripple throughout the game. They mostly affect the end-game sequence. Still, it's a worthy attempt at adding a little variety to the experience.

Planescape: Torment [Enhanced Edition] on PC (6/10)

Hot Isometric Action

I think with this I have finally played through all of the original Infinity Engine RPG games. Icewind Dale I & II are still my favorites of the bunch. Those were about building up characters and skillfully fighting though areas. Torment is all about story, story, story. Normally that's a good thing, but when that story is told via an endless scroll of text and dialogue trees is gets really tedious.

Watch Dogs on PC (6/10)

Fake Chicago

Ubisoft only knows how to make these open world games with paper-thin story lines and lots of side challenges that don't amount to much. I had already played the sequel (which I got for free) before I had played Watch Dogs (which I also got for free). Apparently, if you wait long enough, all Ubisoft games will eventually be free. I knew what to expect going into this: lots of "hacking" which consists of vaguely Pipe Dreams style puzzles or, more often, just holding down the "Q" key. My main reason for not passing on this was the prospect of exploring a virtual Chicago. Turns out in Montreal they think Chicago is surrounded by rolling hills and filled with exploding steam pipes.

Destiny 2 on PC (6/10)

Destiny 2

I've been playing this off and on for the past few months. This is supposedly designed as a multiplayer experience and have been playing it as such. The campaign is not at all interesting narratively. It has something to do with a bad guy with a space hare lip controlling an orb thing that grants powers to the good guys. I lost interest in the first cut-scene.