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Our 35 Most Anticipated Games of 2018 (Part 1)

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2017 was such an incredible year for video games that chances are, most gamers will be playing catch up with all the great titles they didn’t have a chance to play well into 2018. And if you are one of those gamers and you have a large backlog of games, you best get started soon because 2018 looks to be another banner year for the industry.

We here at Goomba Stomp have gone ahead with our yearly tradition of providing you with a list of our most anticipated games. Last year, almost every game we chose wound up somewhere in our list of the best games of the year. Hopefully, the majority of these picks will equally impress us, if not, exceed our expectations.

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Anthem 

Microsoft debuted the first gameplay footage of Anthem at E3 2017, showing off BioWare’s brand new title from Drew Karpyshyn, a BioWare veteran who has worked as a designer and writer on multiple projects including Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. The game looks set to be a large scale world shooter in the vein of Destiny (albeit from a third-person perspective) and takes place in a futuristic, hostile alien world where humanity resides in a city guarded by a giant wall to help protect themselves from outside threats. Players take the role of a Freelancer; a heroic group that act as humanity’s guardians and scouts beyond the wall in suits of armour, known as Javelins. In other words, it seems like a cross between Attack on Titan, Destiny and Star Wars rolled into one. A non-RPG is certainly a departure from BioWare’s usual development territory but given Karpyshyn’s track record, I’m assuming the game will still have a decent narrative. It’ll be interesting to see what the developer can bring to this genre given their background in storytelling, but one thing is for sure, Anthem is an important game both for EA and BioWare and an opportunity to restore its faltering reputation after a disappointing 2017. (Ricky D)

Arena of Valor

The Switch already has a library teeming with quality content that spans all sorts of genres. However, they haven’t really experimented with free-to-play games, especially MOBAs. Arena of Valor looks to change all of this, as it arrives on the Switch sometime this year. The game has already exploded in China, becoming one of the most popular games in that region. It’s normally played on a phone or tablet, however, the Switch will mark its console debut. The transitions make sense, as the portable nature of the system makes it seem fairly close to its mobile counterparts.

As far as the game itself goes, it’s a fairly run of the mill MOBA. Players select a hero from a varied roster of archetypes likes ranged carries and tanks. The standard 5v5 mode is bound to be one of the most popular among the list, however, there are also 1v1 and 3v3 game types. It plays very similarly to games like League of Legends and Dota 2, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The game currently uses touch controls on mobile, so it will be interesting to see how the game plays on the Switch. Will it use the physical buttons or only the touchscreen? Will it be playable in TV mode?

If you’re interested in the game, it’s already out on mobile devices in the states. The game has a surprising amount of depth to it, and it’s clear the developers are trying to make this the next big MOBA. Hopefully, Switch players will be just as excited. (Zack Rezak)

A Way Out

A Way Out quickly shot up to my list of most anticipated games for one simple reason: This narrative-driven adventure from the team behind the acclaimed Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, is a co-op-only experience. That is, you can’t play it unless you have a partner for the entire journey and as someone who loves playing video games with other people, it’s a no brainer that I pick it up. Even more, Electronic Arts — which is publishing A Way Out under its EA Originals program — will offer a free “friends pass” trial for the game. In other words, only one of you will have to buy the game. (Ricky D)

Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu’s release date vanished somewhere below the murky waters of 2017, but the promise of a new Lovecraftian RPG based on the famous pen and paper game by Chaosium makes the wait feel worthwhile. Cyanide Studio’s Call of Cthulhu will be hurling us into the dark and dripping mysteries of Lovecraft’s work as a detective: grappling with investigative mechanics to uncover the truths and horrors that surround us, stealthing past enemies, and wrestling with our own dwindling sanity. As you unravel the circumstances of Sarah Hawkin’s death, your own perception of reality will be tested with mind-bending sequences, intriguing puzzles, and the presence of monsters beyond your comprehension. Images of the game show a world that captures the atmosphere of Lovecraft perfectly, and with a narrative team strong enough to back it up Call of Cthulhu will be competing as one of the best psychological horrors of the year. (Helen Jones)

Concrete Genie

One of the more pleasant surprises during a disappointing Sony conference at last year’s Paris Games Week was the reveal of Concrete Genie – a puzzler/action-platformer that gently explores themes of bullying and childhood through gorgeous hand-drawn art that stands out in contrast to its depressing urban environment. According to PixelOpus (a Sony-owned studio that works out of San Mateo, California), Concrete Genie follows a bullied teenager named Ash, who escapes his troubles by painting spectacular living landscapes and mischievous creatures throughout his abandoned hometown of Denska. As he masters this magical paint, he discovers it can purify Denska’s polluted walls. Using the DualShock 4’s motion sensor, players can create stunning landscapes and strange creatures on the walls of the city which then turns into living artwork helping Ash overcome the heartaches of adolescence and paint his hometown back to life. (Ricky D)

Crackdown 3

Crackdown 3 had all but been wiped from my memory until the end of last year. Announced almost three years ago at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, Crackdown 3 came as a welcome surprise given how poorly the second entry in the series was received. However, after this announcement, and a trickle of information out of Gamescom the following year, Crackdown all but dropped off the face of the earth. While this didn’t bode well for the title, developer Reagent Games promised us a 2017 release, now all we have to do is wait with bated breath. From the look of things, Crackdown 3 is bringing the series back to what made it great in the first place. The complicated zombie nonsense of the second game has been done away with, and once again the player is back to a cleaning of the gang-ridden streets of a futuristic, unnamed city. By far the most exciting part about a Crackdown game is its level of destruction. With the use of Microsoft’s new Azure engine, Crackdown 3 will feature fully destructible environments and a wide array of vibrant weapons and devastating powers unleashed by the player’s character. If all goes according to plan, Crackdown 3 will be one game you won’t want to sleep on in 2017. (Carston Carasella)

Dandara

Dandara has potentially some of the most interesting lore of any upcoming indie. Named after and featuring a character loosely based on the historical Afro-Brazilian warrior, Dandara is said to incorporate numerous references to her life as well as life in Brazil in general. The game’s surrealist art design, fluid animations, and ethereal OST succeed in creating a distinctly foreboding atmosphere that I personally can’t wait to experience. In terms of presentation, there really aren’t too many games that feel like Dandara.

There’ve been a wealth of quality Metroidvanias in recent years, and Dandara looks to continue that trend. Instead of the typical platforming that’s usually built into Metroidvania exploration, however, Dandara has a unique twist: she can only move by jumping from floor to ceiling on surfaces covered in salt. Though the reasoning for the salt has yet to be explained, this gameplay mechanic allows for surprisingly fast traversal and combat in skilled hands. In the brief snippets of gameplay shown so far we’ve already seen electrified platforms, spear-toting enemies, and massive bosses. If you’re a fan of Metroidvanias or want to try something different, you might want to keep an eye out for Dandara in February. (Brent Middleton)

Days Gone

Days Gone appeared as somewhat of an anomaly at Sony’s E3 press conference last year. The open-world action game will be the first I.P. created by Sony Bend since Syphon Filter in 1999 and seemed to come completely out of left field for most of us watching. While little is known about the story of Days Gone, the gameplay seems to be akin to the likes of The Last of Us, with the player utilizing much of the environment to accomplish their objectives. The world of Days Gone appears to be one of deadly tranquility, as nature has taken back much of the world, and humanity struggles to survive. The main enemy of the game appears to be a variety of zombie-like creatures called Freakers. Days Gone will feature a day/night cycle that has a direct effect on these creatures. During the day the Freakers are slow and weak but at night their movement and strength increase. The most intriguing aspect of the game for me is how vehicles will play into the narrative. While a variety of transportation has been confirmed, the most prominent is the use of motorcycles. This looks to play heavily into the story, as the main character Deacon St. John, a one-time bounty hunter, appears to have once been part of a biker gang. While the post-apocalyptic genre is beginning to get a bit overused in almost all forms of media, I’m still excited to see what Sony Bend has up their sleeve, and how consumers will take to a second PlayStation exclusive, post-pandemic based action game. (Carston Carasella)

Detroit: Become Human

From the minds behind two of the most character-driven video games and QTE heavy comes the next video game that will keep you up at night because you’ll be thinking about what could have been, Detroit: Become Human. Detroit is the next great game from Quantic Dreams and it’s been on my radar since the release of the Tech Demo six years ago that would be the origin of one of the main characters. As we get more information and new gameplay of the three protagonists and their radically different storylines that involve androids, humans, and figuring it all out…Quantic Dreams might have another hit on their hands as the missions become more dangerous and real. Another futuristic science fiction noir game never hurt anyone either. Detroit: Become Human not only looks fantastic, hopefully it’s another story and character-driven drama that puts us in impossible scenarios that’ll haunt us once we put the game down and long after. (Terrence Sage)

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Dragon Ball Z is one of, if not the, quintessential shounen anime. It’s a beloved franchise all around the world, and its fans range anywhere from 5 to 75. Video game spin-offs are nothing new for Dragon Ball, but there nothing quite like Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco has is joint-developing the game with Arc System Works, the undisputed kings of stylish fighting games. This is the company behind games Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, and FighterZ has shaped up to be on par, if not beyond, those two.

The cast of characters in the Dragon Ball universe is huge, and ASW have boiled their roster down to a select few. Plenty of popular characters obviously made the cut: Goku, Gohan, all the major villains, but plenty of goofy side characters have also made the cut such as Nappa and Captain Ginyu. The more I see about the game, the more I can’t wait to play it. The soundtrack, the visuals, and gameplay are flashy and hectic, and a perfect match for same explosive combat the series has in its manga and anime.

Dragon Ball FighterZ drops at the end of January, and I can’t think of a better way to start off the year than with a solid and fun fighter. (Taylor Smith)

Dreams

The long-awaited next game from Media Molecule titled Dreams, allows players to customize and control characters that are used to solve puzzles by manipulating items and objects across the game’s segmented levels. It’s somewhat hard to explain but for the unfamiliar, Media Molecule is best known for LittleBigPlanet, and Dreams is likewise, a game about creating. It’s a wildly ambitious project full of imagination and featuring a narrator in a coffin and a bear armed with a hammer. What else could you want? Check out the trailer below to get a better sense of how ingenious this game looks. (Ricky D)

Dynasty Warriors 9

I am an unapologetic fan of the Warriors games. They are what I consider to be the simplest and purest form a game can take. There’s substance and story to them, but their main appeal is the sense of joy coming from mashing buttons and seeing KO and combo counts increase, watching characters use flashy moves, and having an oversized roster of various fighters to choose from. Koei Tecmo has continually found minor ways to change up the series formula with each game, but Dynasty Warriors 9’s large-scale maps have to be one of my favorite changes in a while. There’s depth and height to every stage, with the development team saying its closer to an open-world experience than past titles. Warriors games are experiences where I can turn my brain off for a bit, where I can sit back and just enjoy the escape that a game is supposed to provide without having to dig much past the surface. If Dynasty Warriors 9 is going to give me more to toy with, then I cannot wait till it comes out in February. (Taylor Smith)

Eitr

The past few years have given a rise to the popularity of dungeon-crawling Roguelikes and Soulslikes, all attempting to capture a sort of atmosphere of death, despair and insurmountable odds, set to tough-as-nails gameplay.

Eneme Entertainment’s Eitr is one such game (with a seemingly long-ish development history, now confirmed to be set for a 2018 release by Devolver Digital). Yet, Eitr set itself apart with its focus on nuanced, yet streamlined, combat and a Norse-inspired fantasy setting that invoke the best of both of its major inspiration: the infernal hellscape of Diablo and the diseased dark medieval fantasy of Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls 1.

Visually, what is striking about Eitr are the satisfyingly evil looking crypts full of both RPG/tabletop gaming tropes and plagues, and the Nordic, cold eeriness to it all is not something we have seen properly explored in this genre, or in gaming in general.
The genre Eitr will find itself in upon release is full of comparisons and not-so-subtle attempts at re-creating elements of existing games. Here’s hoping that Eitr can elevate itself beyond just that. (Maxwell N)

FE

A year ago, Electronic Arts announced: Fe, an action-adventure game in which the player controls Fe, a fox-like creature within a dusky forest that is highly responsive to the songs of the creatures and plants within it. It was presented as the first of “EA Originals”, a new segment of EA’s publishing aimed to help indie developers with financing and publishing and the first trailer made a strong impression, with many critics drawing comparisons to Microsoft’s Ori and the Blind Forest for its story, characters and setting as well as Journey and Shadow of the Colossus for its “hands-off” approach to gameplay. Those comparisons aside, what interests me most about Fe is that the Swedish-based studio, Zoink Games said they tried to capture the exploration mechanics of games in the Metroid and Zelda series, my personal two favorite video game franchise of all time. (Ricky D)

God of War
By the time the God of War series had racked up three prequels to sit alongside the main trilogy, protagonist Kratos still hadn’t managed to develop much of a personality beyond being an angry dude in desperate need of a spray tan. Imagine our surprise, then, when God of War for PS4 was announced, seemingly less focused on the perennially pissed off Spartan solving all of his problems via mayhem and dismemberment in comically over the top fashion, and more leaning towards a Last of Us style journey with a young companion – albeit one with lots of mayhem and dismemberment for old time’s sake. An older, bearded Kratos, now transported into Norse mythology, has to escort a kid who may or may not be his son through all manner of hell on Earth, hopefully giving the aging antihero some room to do more as a character than shout and kill things. And for those of you with a thirst for blood, the action still looks brutal. We haven’t been this excited for a God of War game since, well, ever. (John Cal McCormick)

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Warhorse Studios’ debut open-world, RPG title is not a cookie-cutter fantasy as a first glance might suggest. In fact, it falls neatly into the historical fiction realm. Sans magics, elves, and dragons, Kingdom Come: Deliverance authentically captures early 1400s Bohemia and what it would have been like to live during the Dark Ages—one period of turmoil of the Holy Roman Empire era. The story is set some time after Emperor Charles IV dies. His son, Wenceslas IV, a naive, self-indulgent, and unambitious man (as the developer describe him) inherits the throne and falls into a power struggle with his half-brother and King of Hungary, Sigismund the Red Fox.

Players will assume the role of Henry, the son of a blacksmith. His simple life comes to an end when a raid ordered by Sigismund destroys his entire village. From there, he finds himself fighting against Sigismund’s invasion, hoping to restore power to Wenceslas and peace to Bohemia.

Since this is a game that takes place in a real period of history, Warhorse Studios made a commitment to accuracy. From visiting real locations and buildings still standing from the time period, to their mocap work on cutscenes, the developers took full advantage of their location in Prague and dug deep into all the little details of the Czech Republic’s history. Many of the structures in the game are real, and other things like the armor are period correct. They even worked with experienced swordsmen to capture real, historical European sword fighting.

And if all that isn’t enough, the RPG elements allow players to dig into the game according to their play style, all while building a reputation for themselves that affects how NPCs react to them. Become strong in battle, and word will get around that you are someone to be feared. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a unique and incredible departure from medieval fantasy into realism—and a much needed one, at that. The game will release on February 13, 2018, for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. (Joanna Nelius)

Kingdom Hearts 3

It’s been a long road to the release of Kingdom Hearts III. With Kingdom Hearts II dropping all the way back in March of 2006, it’s been over a decade since players have been greeted with a full-on game in the series. While there has been no shortage of spin-offs or side stories in the interim, fans could be forgiven for being a little impatient after 12 years.

The good news is that there does seem to have been some sizable work put in on the title, even if Square-Enix’s announcement last year that we will see the game “before 2020” isn’t exactly encouraging.

Still, with a highly enhanced battle system, several confirmed worlds, and the promise of being the final leg of Sora’s story in the KH universe, fans have plenty to be excited for in regard to the latest game in the series. Will 2018 finally be the year? Here’s hoping. (Mike Worby)

Kirby Star Allies

Many of Nintendo’s franchises fade in and out of the limelight, but Kirby is as much a mainstay as Mario or Zelda. Kirby Star Allies is the thirty-first game in the long-running franchise and its ninth release since 2014. While experimental handheld titles of recent years varied in quality, the core side-scrolling entries like Kirby: Triple Deluxe surprised players with their refinement and reinvention of the standard Kirby formula. This bodes well for Kirby Star Allies, the first proper side-scrolling Kirby since 2016’s superb Kirby: Planet Robobot.

Nintendo hasn’t shown much footage of Kirby Star Allies since its announcement at E3 2017, but the trailer from last September’s Nintendo Direct depicts the most traditional console Kirby game in over fifteen years. But that’s not to say the jovial blowhard doesn’t have any tricks up his proverbial sleeve. As the first Kirby game on Switch, Star Allies leverages the platform’s built-in multiplayer capability by resurrecting Kirby Super Star’s AI/co-op ally system. On top of this focus on cooperative play, the power combination system from The Crystal Shards and Squeak Squad hint at an especially malleable play experience that could boost replayability. The new puzzly stages and gym rat King Dedede are further icing on this rosy cake. (Kyle Rentschler)

PART TWO

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Turtturt

    January 8, 2018 at 11:21 am

    “Last year, almost every game we chose wound up somewhere on our list of the best games of the year.”

    30% of the games you listed last year didn’t even come out, and another fairly sizeable chunk ended up being huge disappointments. Please do some fact checking on your own articles, lol.

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Games

The Best New Nintendo Characters of 2019

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Best Nintendo Characters

There are just too many Nintendo characters to choose this year…

When we first started tracking our favourite new Nintendo characters back in 2015, it was during the Wii U era and unfortunately, there weren’t many to choose from since Nintendo wasn’t releasing many games at the time. The opposite can be said for 2019 and now our staff has an even bigger problem which is deciding who to add to this list and who to leave out— which isn’t an easy task if only because Fire Emblem Three Houses features over fifty amazing characters to choose from. We considered including the entire roster, to be honest— back in 2018 our list of best new Nintendo characters included everyone from ARMS, but after much debate, we decided to instead, choose just a few characters from Three Houses.

What follows is a list (in alphabetical order) of the best new characters introduced to the Nintendo universe this past year — and yes Fire Emblem: Three Houses is heavily represented this

Bede Pokemon Sword and Shield

Bede (Pokémon Sword and Shield)

I’ll be honest, when I first saw Bede I questioned why one of my rivals was a granny in a pink coat. Turns out I’m an old man myself and my bias was showing, as Bede isn’t a granny but a young lad that was endorsed by the Chairman to compete in the Champions Cup.

Bede is one of the very few characters in Pokémon Sword and Shield that undergoes some development. He starts out as an arrogant, self-obsessed jerk and ends the game as an arrogant, self-obsessed jerk, just with the experiences of being thrown out of the Champions Cup after undergoing a brutal perfidy by the Chairman and his assistant. He later becomes the understudy for Gym Leader Opal, but his transition from a Champions Cup hopeful to a trainer with purpose is one of few elements of story that Pokémon Sword and Shield offers. (James Baker)

Bernadetta (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

Bernadetta is an incredibly shy Black Eagles student who tends to stay in her dorm room whenever she can. She’s reclusive, anti-social and incredibly awkward, and I can say without any doubt that I’ve never related to a character so much before. Bernadetta is a noble teenager of House Varley who was treated terribly by her father as a child. To train her to be an obedient wife, he would tie her up and force her to be still and silent for hours. He also ensured that she didn’t have any companions, having the only friend that she ever had -a commoner boy- beaten almost to death. This instilled a fear of social interaction within Bernadetta. She assumes that she is constantly making errors, afraid to make friends in case they reject her or end up hurt and views herself as generally useless. I myself have suffered similar self-esteem issues (though not due to being tied to a chair for hours!) and I could genuinely relate to some of Bernadetta’s struggles. Her skittish nature and her awkwardness can be pretty funny- such as in various support conversations with the other students where she will freeze, scream or just up and run away from them- but as they progress they can become heart-warming.

Watching Bernadetta slowly open up to the students that she was once too terrified to even talk to is great to see. Finding her outside of her room whilst exploring Garreg Mach is also a lovely surprise. If interest is taken in leveling up her supports, the growth in confidence from her throughout is astonishing. What I really love is that it is realistic growth. As I said, I saw myself in Bernadetta a lot. I know that with these kinds of issues, you can’t move faster than one step at a time. This slow but steady growth is portrayed excellently with Bernadetta. Even if you get her to the maximum support with everyone possible, she still has her moments of fear and dread. She still has days where she wanted to be reclusive in her room. But, just as in real life, it’s okay to have those days. Her growth continues throughout and I remember feeling immensely proud of her after the time-skip due to her newfound battle confidence. She was no longer pleading to go home in her voice lines but instead cheering herself on when she was doing well. Though her shyness is often played for laughs, Bernadetta is a character who can show those with similar issues that it’s alright to take your time when it comes to overcoming your fears. One step at a time is more than enough and Bernadetta helped me realize that. Now if anyone needs me I’ll be locked in my room for the next 48 hours. (Antonia Haynes)

Claude (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

I can’t say enough about Claude von Riegan, the heir of the noble family that leads the Leicester Alliance and the fearless leader of the Golden Deer house. Of the three leaders of the three houses, Claude is by far the best. Don’t get me wrong, I love Edelgard and Dimitri, but Claude is the most charismatic of the bunch— he’s calm, cool and seemingly always in control. Yes, at first he may come across as lazy or irresponsible due to his nonchalant attitude, but we quickly learn he is far more astute than he lets on and always a few steps ahead of his peers. And unlike the other house leaders, Claude refrains from letting his personal feelings or his tragic past get in his way. In other words, there’s little drama to be found when spending time with Claude.

It helps of course that Claude is also strong, capable, intelligent, compassionate, quippy and downright handsome. I love his hair and his big green eyes but beyond his mysterious, sexy and charming demeanor is someone who deeply cares about the people around him. Claude’s support conversations are some of the most entertaining to watch and his voice acting is some of the most expressive in the game. Even Lorenz, who is arguably the most hated character in Three Houses, eventually falls for Claude’s charm –  and towards the end of the game, you can’t help but like Lorenz thanks to Claude who not only accepts him for who he is but helps Lorenz grow to become a powerful ally.

On the battlefield, Claude is an absolute beast. He specializes in the sword, bow and authority and can easily excel as a sniper, a deadly Swordmaster and/or an unstoppable Wyvern Lord. He’s a cunning strategist too, and he possesses a wealth of knowledge about his allies and enemies alike — and if that isn’t enough, Claude pretty much carries his team and leads them to victory in just about every battle.

But what I really love about Claude is that he’s a downright good person and unlike many of his peers, he does not relish in killing unless necessary. He also never once betrays any of his classmates and although he comes across as untrustworthy at the start, Claude ends up being the most loyal person in the entire game. Despite the school setting, Fire Emblem Three Houses is a story of war that tears people apart. Choices must be made. Ideals will be tested. Loyalty must be earned. People die and some kill—but despite the harsh realities of war, Claude never loses his way. He’s not just the best Golden Deer student there is, he’s also the best there was, and the best there ever will be. (Ricky D)

Cyril (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

Cyril is one of the most polarizing recruitable characters in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and for good reason. He’s an incredibly hard worker who’s always busy in one way or another, but he can also be rather short with slackers or anyone who tries to keep him from his duties. There’s no place for laziness in Cyril’s world and, though he can be admittedly harsh about it, it’s a refreshingly no-nonsense attitude that’s rarely seen in modern JRPGs.

His hardened personality makes sense in the context of Three Houses, too. The victim of war between Fódlan and Almyra, he was an orphan with nowhere to go until Lady Rhea found him and took him in at Garreg Mach Monastery. Ever since then he’s worked tirelessly to serve Rhea keep Garreg Mach in the best condition possible. Cyril’s rather tragic childhood instilled values similar to Leonie’s: take nothing for granted and only progress through honest hard work.

Of course, Cyril isn’t perfect; his devotion to Rhea can be troubling at times, and it’s clear that he lacks standard social queues (in his defense, though, he is only 14 pre-time skip). Ultimately, however, he excels at being someone you can always rely on to tell it like it is. From chiding Hilda for being a lazy bum to delivering the fantastically relatable line “Why do I gotta talk about stuff I don’t wanna talk about just because you’re bored, Ignatz?” Cyril speaks the truth so many other characters simply mutter under their breaths. His support conversations with Manuela are simply icing on the cake. (Brent Middleton)

Dimitri (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

It’s safe to say that the Blue Lions are juggernauts on the battlefield and have earned a reputation as the strongest house in Fire Emblem Three Houses. Leading these noble warriors who serve the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus is none other than Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, the only surviving royal of the Tragedy of Duscur. Of all the characters in Three Houses, Dimitri’s story of avenging his parent’s death is by far the most compelling. Dimitri suffers from survivor’s guilt and despite growing up to become a sincere young man, the prince just can’t shake the ghosts of his past. Of the three leaders of the three houses, Dimitri’s has by far the best character arc, albeit tragic— as he goes from humble and down to earth pupil to a ferocious one-eyed warrior hellbent on getting revenge on those who wronged him and his family. In combat, Dimitri has incredible strength, the highest of any student at max levels, and has excellent hp, strength, speed, dexterity, and defense. He’s no doubt a great warrior but his journey is dark and twisted making him someone you admire, sympathize with, and fear. While Claude may be my favourite character, Dimitri is a close second. He’s the center of some of the best cutscenes in the entire game, including this scene which is my personal favorite. (Ricky D)

Dorothea

Dorothea (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

Dorothea is the songstress of the Black Eagles House with a charming nature, desire for equality and a witty repertoire of quips. Despite her outwardly pleasant nature, it is what is underneath this charismatic exterior that makes her so endearing. As a commoner child, she was thrown out of her home alongside her mother by her father for not having a Crest. Her mother died and so she was left to fend for herself on the streets until she was recruited by an opera company.

As a commoner who was treated with such disdain, Dorothea would have every right to hold a burning grudge against the nobility. But she doesn’t. She holds a dislike to some of her fellow students but only the outwardly arrogant ones who flaunt their nobility such as Lorenz. She also has a dislike of Ferdinand but this is due to a misunderstanding when they were children and she was a street urchin. She has every right to be angry, bitter and callous. But she isn’t. She is reasonable, kind and caring. She usually gets the upper hand in most conversations that she has with her fellow students due to her street smarts, beauty, and intellect. But she is never arrogant about any of it.

Dorothea is flirtatious and flits from one suitor to the next, but this is only because of her crippling fear of being poor and on the streets again once her talent and beauty have faded. She longs for someone to have by her side as both a financial and emotional crutch which is honestly pretty realistic. Despite all her bravado, she is just a young woman with not quite as much self-esteem as you might think. She is a survivor but she is also desperate for love, security and a place to call home. Dorothea has worked her way out of poverty and she will do anything to ensure she doesn’t go back. The depth of her character is superb, with multiple layers to her personality unveiled in each support conversation. Loyal, strong-willed and compassionate, Dorothea is one of the best new Nintendo characters as well as one of the best Fire Emblem characters. (Antonia Haynes)

Felix Fire Emblem Three Houses

Felix (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

In a game loaded with interesting character contradictions, Felix may just be the most fascinating example of a person at odds with himself. While openly and brazenly despising the notions of idealism, knighthood, general likability, and sweets, this haughty swordsman is also a principled defender of the people, a fanatical trainer, a secret protector of his many childhood friends, and a possible fan of cake. The loss of his brother to honor has clearly cut him deep, but beneath the scarred facade of cynicism is a fierce, loyal compatriot who pretends he hates everything, but will die for those he loves.

More than anything, however, Felix is just plain entertaining in his resistance to connection. His standoffish demeanor and arrogance contrasts humorously with the more naive students (Bernadetta and Flayne), who remain oblivious to his insults while wrapped up in their own obsessions, and plays just as good (if not better) off those who call his over-the-top mean bluffs. Whether it’s Dorothea convincing him to drop the act and catch her opera, Ingrid (a reminder of his brother’s sacrifice) scolding him into remembering the amiable boy he used to be, or Lysithea convincing him to eat one of her baked creations, it’s both funny and poignant to watch this wounded young man’s pragmatic outlook be challenged by thrusts he can’t parry. (Patrick Murphy)

Ferdinand Fire Emblem Three Houses

Ferdinand (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

It’s easy to come to Fire Emblem: Three Houses with preconceived notions against the idea of a class of nobles who rule the populace while living in luxury paid for by the toil of their subjects, but damned if Ferdinand doesn’t almost make one want to believe that this system could work. Though his quaintly formal parlance at first comes off as cocky and elitist, and he is certainly is rife with ignorance when it comes to the lives of commoners, one quickly discovers that his belief in his overall purpose to serve and protect the population is completely sincere and utterly selfless. In short, Ferdinand might be the nicest, most honorable, most self-reflective character in the game.

He’s also one of the most endearing. Though his often complete obliviousness to his fellow students’ subtle digs at his idealism (Dorothea comparing him to a bee) provides plenty of comic fodder, and his lack of perspective causes hilariously goofy tripping over his own feet (‘helping’ Bernadetta), Ferdinand unceasingly continues to seek understanding of others in order to become a better person himself. And when tragedy strikes? He considers his own behavior and place in the world with such humility and rational analysis that it’s hard not to root for the guy to one day become the leader he so desires to be. Also, he apparently gives really good hugs. (Patrick Murphy)

Gooigi

Gooigi (Luigi’s Mansion 3)

Does a clone have a mind of its own? Is a facsimile anything more than that which it was copied from? Can a pile of animated snotty goop help a frightened plumber fight ghosts? These are the heavy-hitting questions that Gooigi inspires. It is true, technically Gooigi’s first appearance is in the updated 2018 version of Luigi’s Mansion for the 3DS, but it feels as if it’s here, in 2019’s Luigi’s Mansion 3 that Gooigi has become its own new and wonderful Nintendo character. Is Gooigi simply another ghost-busting trick created by Professor E. Gadd, or does he have a mind of his own? Is he Luigi devoid of all feeling, or is he Luigi bereft of all fear? In the moments when he liquifies through some doorway that Luigi could not go through, is he simply finding a secret treasure, or is he opening doors inside of Luigi himself? Such high-minded philosophy can be debated by sages for ages, but at the end of the haunted hotel, there’s a new fun character to play co-op Luigi games with who adds a unique twist to the gameplay mechanics. This new clone makes Luigi’s Mansion 3 even more fun than it was, to begin with, and that is a spooky goopy triumph. (Marty Allen)

Leonie (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

Leonie (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

There’s no student in Fire Emblem: Three Houses that has as direct a connection to Byleth’s family as Leonie. Though her obsession with the player’s father, Jeralt, might be off-putting to some, it all starts to make sense the deeper you dive into her support conversations.

Leonie was only a child when Jeralt visited her village as a traveling mercenary, but he left a major impression on her nonetheless. In the short time he was there he taught her combat techniques and basic strategies, and by the time he left Leonie was so inspired that she decided to devote herself to becoming a mercenary just like Jeralt. Not only is her admiration of him touching, but the fact that she dedicated her entire life to become stronger and capable enough to get into the Officer’s Academy is simply astounding. As one of the commoners in the Golden Deer house, she truly had to fight tooth and nail to gain her spot.

Outside of her impressive backstory, Leonie is simply a great role in her own right. She’s studious, a hard worker, is incredibly frugal, and she never takes her opportunities for granted. Though she comes off as a bit of a tomboy in the first half of the game, Leonie also has one of the better post-time skip designs of the bunch. More than anything, however, her honesty and reliability are never in question for a second. If there’s anyone in Golden Deer that I could legitimately rely on to have my back, it’d be Leonie (with Raphael as a close second, of course). (Brent Middleton)

Best Nintendo Characters

Marianne (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

There’s no character in Fire Emblem: Three Houses that needs a hug more than Marianne. She’s also a character that didn’t appeal to me on her own, but rather how she interacted with others. Her low self-esteem and tendency to put herself down results in some of the most depressing support conversations in the game, and even the franchise as a whole. A classic example of the hedgehog’s dilemma, Marianne avoids getting close to others to avoid hurting them. Yet unlike many other characters in other media that exhibit such a trope, keeping such as distance causes her visible anguish that deeply resonates with the player, much to the credit of her voice actress, Xanthe Huynh.

That makes watching her fellow classmates gradually bond with her and pull her out of her shell all the more beautiful. Lysithea getting mad at her for not speaking for herself, Raphael sincerely trying to understand her hobby, and Hilda teaching her to not let people walk all over her were all pivotal in getting Marianne to accept herself and that manifests in such a pure way in the second act of the story. She exemplifies the stutter-step process of overcoming depression or severe bullying and that’s certainly not something I thought to be explored in a Fire Emblem game. (Matthew Ponthier)

Marie (Astral Chain)

Marie (Astral Chain)

Marie is at the heart of the otherwise underwhelming cast of Astral Chain. She’s unique in that she doesn’t carry weapons and never appears in combat scenarios; instead, she works hard to maintain Neuron Headquarters and keep everyone around her in great spirits.

It’s easy to brush Marie off as a simple gag character. After all, she’s first encountered masquerading around as Lappy, the energetic puppy-like mascot of the Ark Police Force and honorary member of the welcoming committee. Her tour of HQ—while trying to maintain anonymity as Lappy—isn’t just hysterical, but highlights just how hard she tries to make things fun for the officers on duty. For as pristine and beautiful as Neuron HQ is, the world outside those walls is on the brink of collapse thanks to endless attacks from otherworldly beings; keeping morale high is no easy feat.

Aside from learning early on that she’s secretly been rescuing cats around the city, the most endearing glimpses at Marie’s character don’t come into focus until relatively late in the game via several Public Affairs Records. It’s clearer here than ever that she thinks of everyone at Neuron as family, and that she takes the utmost pride in her work to support everyone from the sidelines. Just when the fight to protect the Ark seems futile, Marie’s there to remind you just how important your work really is. (Brent Middleton)

Morty Luigi's Mansion 3

Morty (Luigi’s Mansion 3)

Between the original Luigi’s Mansion to Luigi’s Mansion 3, the series went from slightly creepy to downright goofy. Both concepts work extremely well for Luigi’s Mansion and nothing highlights the hilarity that the series can bring more than Morty and his ghoulish Godzilla production.

All the ghosts have bags of personality but none are less threatening than our humble film producer Morty. Indeed, after helping him film his tragic Godzilla film, Morty just gifts Luigi the elevator button and glides on his merry way to produce his film. Naturally, as a keen ghostbuster, you’ll interrupt his hard work and suck him up regardless of his generosity; besides, it’s the easiest boss battle in the history of gaming, this ghoul struggles less than your standard Goob.

Whether the player decides to attack Morty or not, he remains the friendliest ghost in Luigi’s Mansion. His passion for film comes before any flyer on the walls reminding the ghosts to find Luigi. His reason to exist is his film and it made for some of the most wholesome gameplay in Luigi’s Mansion 3. (James Baker)

Shamir Fire Emblem Three Houses

Shamir (Fire Emblem: Three Houses)

In a world with this much drama, it can be amazingly refreshing to run across a character who simply takes everything in calm, measured stride. Life happens, and Shamir is Three Houses‘ level-headed voice of reason, even when she can’t be bothered to utter a single syllable. This mercenary comes from another land, and often seems like a world apart; no one has less at stake in the events that take place, yet no one is as mysteriously compelling as this mercenary archer.

Sure, a few hints are dropped about the tragic fate of a former lover, and an amusing fear of bugs (which she still manages to be cool about) adds nice cracks to her otherwise uniformly steely armor, but so much is left to the imagination. What kind of life has she led until now? Why the distant demeanor? How did she become so skilled? The most telling and entertaining elements of Shamir’s character are garnered through her terse replies (especially the silent ones) to more bombastic characters, which at least indicate who she is, if not how she became so. Interactions with Raphael and Caspar also depict a person of such confidence and fairness that it’s no wonder why she is (sometimes to her annoyance) sought out as the wise teacher.

Battle-tested and pragmatic, Shamir establishes herself as someone who lives in the real world, is utterly reliable, and is a very welcome safe haven for those who need an occasional break from Three Houses‘ soap opera. (Patrick Murphy)

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Games

From ‘dnd’ to ‘Death Stranding’: Good Old Fashioned Boss Fights

If Death Stranding proves anything, and it does, it’s that there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned boss fight.

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Death Stranding Higgs Boss Fights

There’s nothing quite like a good boss fight. With the creation of dnd in 1975– a Dungeons & Dragons inspired RPG for the PLATO system– video games would be introduced to bosses. It’s hard to imagine the medium without bosses, those perpetual protectors of progress. For dnd, an incredibly primitive RPG, a boss allowed the game to feature these miniature climaxes — memorable events independent of the core gameplay loop. Bosses demand players pay attention or die, and beating one is a triumph in and of itself. Looking back, dnd’s concept of what a boss is amounts to little more than the average random battle, but video games could now build towards emotional highs like any other medium. 

A good boss can make or break a game, but they’re almost always a given. dnd essentially set an inherent basic of game design: video games have bosses. As the seventh generation of gaming ushered in more narrative driven and “cinematic” titles, however, boss design fundamentally changed. Where bosses had evolved from dnd to often serve as explicit rewards or a means to thoughtfully challenge a player’s grasp of the core mechanics, developers started to primarily embrace the “spectacle” of fighting a boss. 

Spectacle and boss fights naturally go hand in hand, though. After all, a boss is spectacle in nature. dnd’s spectacle is comparatively primitive, but it’s there and bosses do feel like events. Boss fights have always demanded our attention as an audience, isolating the world of a game into a singular objective. Some of the best bosses in gaming are almost pure spectacle: Baby Bowser in Yoshi’s Island, Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time, and Metal Gear REX in Metal Gear Solid. None of these bosses are particularly hard, but they make up for their lack of challenge with scale, scope, and gravitas. Spectacle. 

At the same time, they engage with the mechanics of the game even if they don’t outright challenge them. Of course, it would be disingenuous to go on without mentioning that all of these bosses appear near the end of their respective games. They’re easier and focus on spectacle as a means of rewarding the audience for coming so far. Anyone who’s played A Link to the Past in full will likely remember Moldorm as vividly as Ganon, but it’s the latter who fans will remember. Ganon is a spectacular duel to the death inside of a pyramid where the environment changes over the course of the fight. The former is just a good old fashioned boss fight. Who wants that?

As it turns out, a good chunk of AAA developers. BioWare director Casey Hudson infamously spoke out about boss fights after the release of Mass Effect 3, criticizing them for being “too video gamey.” While, contextually, Hudson’s comment refers to narratively convenient bosses specifically, it’s a sentiment that clearly rang true with developers throughout the late oughts & teens. This isn’t to say games with amazing bosses didn’t release over the course of the decade -– very far from it -– but boss design has changed, to the point where the Iggy Koopas and Revolver Ocelots of the world seem almost out of place. 

That’s just a consequence of consuming only AAA content, though. The indie scene has been thriving, and Japanese game development is the best it’s been in quite a while. In a generation where gaming is more mature and grounded than it’s ever been, the medium needed to end the decade with a reminder of video games in their purest form. Death Stranding is anything but, but its core philosophies play to the strengths of the medium with an evident passion. Death Stranding demands that audiences slow down and play by the game’s rules. 

In a generation where holding a player’s hand is the norm, this is a welcome breath of fresh air. It’s not only appropriately old-school, it’s a step back in the right direction. Like any facet of game design, bosses need to be thoughtfully considered. Being “too video gamey” can indeed be a bad thing depending on a titles tone, but swinging in the wrong direction and playing it too safe is never a good idea. Especially since Death Stranding proves mature, grounded AAA titles can absolutely still have the same over the top, pattern-based boss fights of yore — and comfortably, at that. 

“No BTs. No Voidouts. No bullshit. Just a good-old fashioned boss fight.”
– Higgs, Death Stranding (2019)

What’s interesting to note about Death Stranding’s boss fights is that they all play up the spectacle. Now, given the context that’s been established, that might seem like a step in the wrong direction, but any medium has to evolve with time. AAA developers haven’t historically used spectacle well, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Not every boss should be Ganon, but they should always be memorable. The problem with modern spectacle is that it doesn’t go beyond the surface level. It often carries little to no weight or context. Players are expected to care for the spectacle of the spectacle, but that’s simply not where the medium shines. Games are inherently about interconnectivity, and nothing demands more interconnection than a boss fight. 

From the moment players formally meet Higgs and he floods Port Knot City, it’s clear that Death Stranding’s boss fights are more Snake Eater than they are Peace Walker. They’re all incredibly meaty with tons of health, typical of a modern Hideo Kojima boss, but they’re not bullet sponges, and Sam’s limited inventory means that players will constantly be cycling through different weapons over the course of a fight. Couple this with bosses having identifiable patterns and Death Stranding’s boss loops end up being real highlights. 

As expected of a first boss, the Squid BT is on the simple side. At this point in the game, Sam really only has hematic grenades to fight back with. Anyone who hasn’t taken the time to learn how to use the grenades are now forced to do so as it becomes the only means of making progress. Since Higgs also ambushes Sam, players won’t be prepared for a fight on their first playthrough, forced to scavenge the flooded environment for gear. Most bosses strip Sam of his gear, but this approach only results in tense, well crafted battles that offer plenty of variety. Should Sam already have grenades on him, players can rush in to fight the Squid. Should they not, however, they’re going to have to search while staying alive. 

Starting with the next boss, the first fight against Cliff, Death Stranding begins allowing players to choose exactly how they approach a fight. Much like in Metal Gear, there’s no right or wrong way to tackle a boss. Where bosses in MGS2 onwards could be tackled lethally or non-lethally, Death Stranding’s bosses are more about action versus stealth. Both approaches are totally viable, and they lead into their own isolated boss loops. As Cliff Unger hunts Sam through World War I era trenches, players can stealth their way around him or just dive in guns blazing. 

It’s an incredibly tense battle, but it doesn’t let the spectacle of the situation outdo the actual fight. Cliff isn’t a set piece even if he looks it. He’s a genuine boss and players have to play well to beat him. Stealthing around to hit him from behind is safer, but it means players will be fighting Cliff for much longer, requiring more mental stamina. On the flip side, cutting to the chase and unloading the moment he rears his head will end the fight sooner, but only for players who know how to get in & out of combat fast. Otherwise, Cliff’s personal army will slaughter Sam. 

Cliff is fought twice more over the course of Death Stranding, and each encounter builds off the last. The World War I trenches provided plenty of cover for players regardless of which approach they chose, so naturally the second fight takes place in a World War II city. There’s still plenty of hiding spots, but Sam is now out in the open. Just as easily as Sam can see Cliff, so can he be seen. Getting to Cliff is harder in general. Stealthing towards him means taking advantage of any and all blind spots, no matter how brief. Starting a gunfight either requires some pre-established course of action or quick reflexes. 

Death Stranding

By the third and final fight, Sam is taking on Cliff in an open Vietnamese jungle. Stealthing through and fighting back are both harder, but players will have built up the proper skills over their past two fights to adequately stand a chance. The fights against Cliff are the most video gamey Death Stranding ever gets, with each one sharing the same definable patterns, but they’re ultimately a net positive for the game. Having to learn a pattern, finding a way to fight back, and reveling in the scope of a great boss fight makes Death Stranding better on a whole. 

Honestly, the final fight against Cliff isn’t going to be a challenge for most players, but it’ll still stand out as a highlight. Each boss fight is a playground in and of itself. If Sam’s not being transported to a secluded battlefield, areas will be flooded with tar so that they can be molded into proper boss arenas. Even Dark Souls, a modern series that rightfully prides itself on its bosses, often won’t give the same level of care toward boss arenas. Good bosses need good level design just as much as they need good patterns. 

Perhaps more important than anything else, Death Stranding’s boss fights are long. Even if players know what they’re doing, they still have to endure an endurance match of sorts. Boss fights aren’t just about overcoming a challenge, they’re about surviving and making progress. Cliff’s not particularly difficult, but one mistake can result in Sam getting torn into. The majority of BT boss fights will try to overwhelm the player in the second half, the final one even featuring a nasty one-hit-kill that can easily sneak up on players wading through tar. Bosses should feel like events, from how players can engage mechanically, to how they’re presented narratively. 

No discussion of Death Stranding’s good old fashioned boss fights would be complete without mentioning the boss fight: Higgs. After serving as the game’s main villain for dozens upon dozens of hours, Sam finally gets his chance to fight back in a three phase boss fight that could have (very) prematurely ended the game on a high. Unlike the fights against Cliff, Sam really does have nothinghere, no matter what. He’s stripped of his gear, his weapons, and even BB. “Stick versus rope. Gun versus strand.” It’s a great way not only to wrap up Higgs’ arc, but it also challenges a player’s mastery of the most basic mechanics. 

Death Stranding

Phase 1 of the fight requires players understand not only Sam’s hand to hand combat capabilities, but his ability to throw packages. Throw a package at Higgs, beat him up, rinse, repeat. All the while he’s hunting Sam in one of the most constricted boss arenas in the game. Popping up too early means taking a few shots courtesy of Higgs. Popping up too late means needing to find him all over again. 

Phase 2 puts Sam on the offensive, and expects players to fight back with his strand. Higgs needs to be countered, hog-tied, and then kicked into oblivion. On-screen button prompts make the ordeal easier than it would otherwise be, but it’s thrilling to fight a boss who requires players to pull off reflex-based inputs that go beyond the typical QTE flare. Players need to set themselves up accordingly to counter Higgs, actively taking him head on. 

By the time fighting game health bars pop up for the third phase, it’s fairly obvious Higgs’ boss fight is a love letter to the very concept of the boss fight. It’s over the top, almost nonsensical, but it has the right narrative and emotional context to stand out as one of the best moments in an already spectacular game. The fight against Higgs is a miniature climax in a massive story that spans half a hundred hours, and is about to keep on keeping on for half a dozen more. 

Death Stranding

When it really comes down to it, there’s no right or wrong way to conceive a boss fight. Those spectacle bosses have their place, and this generation has seen a lot of amazing ones. What’s important is that developers build and contextualize spectacle accordingly. Boss fights aren’t just an inherent part of gaming, they’re a tool that can make a title better. Opportunities to shine light on the core mechanics, or an interesting aspect of game design. Death Stranding’s penultimate mission essentially pits Sam against a boss gauntlet across the entire UCA, a last chance for players to really indulge in everything at their disposal before the grand finale. 

Death Stranding would still be good without its boss fights, but it certainly wouldn’t be great. Each one elevates the game, not only by presenting a visually memorable and mechanically engaging challenge, but by existing as natural consequences of the story. Each boss is contextualized properly with enough weight where each victory has a considerable amount of impact. Boss fights have come a long way since dnd, but they’re recognizable for what they are: a reminder that games are games, and the medium should be embracing those video gamey elements. It’s through this “video gameyness” that the most memorable titles are made. If Death Stranding proves anything, it’s that there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned boss fight.

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Game Reviews

‘Life is Strange 2’ Episode 5 Review – “Wolves”: A Worthy Send-off

The final episode of Life is Strange 2 may take a while to get going but it does offer a solid conclusion to the Diaz brothers’ journey.

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Life is Strange 2

Life is Strange 2 hasn’t made any bones about being a political game over the course of the last year. The 5th, and final episode, “Wolves”, doesn’t just continue with this message, it doubles down, and in a big way.

Set near the Arizona-Mexico border, “Wolves” follows the Diaz brothers on the final leg of their journey. Having escaped from the cult that held Daniel up as a messianic figure in the previous episode, Sean and Daniel are camping out in a sort of pop-up town filled with outsiders like themselves.

Life is Strange 2

The location provides Life is Strange 2 with its final breath of relaxation before the story enters its high tension endgame, and it’s a much needed reprieve. Unfortunately, it does seem to go on a bit longer than the player might like, and that makes things drag a smidge.

To give you some idea of how long you’ll be spending in the village, 4 of the 6 collectibles are found here. So, yes, this starting area is the main place you’ll be spending “Wolves” in. To be clear, the area isn’t bad per se. There’s a lot to see, a scavenger hunt to go on, and a few interesting characters to speak with, including a surprise cameo from the original game. The bummer of it all is that players will be feeling the time here more laboriously simply because there isn’t much of anything happening.

Life is Strange 2

In the 2nd or 3rd episode of this story it’s perfectly fine for an extended bit of down time. Episode 3, in particular, benefited greatly from allowing you to settle into the setting and get to know a diverse and likable new group of characters. However, by the 5th episode, players will be so eager to see how things are gonna settle up, they won’t be able to get out of this area fast enough.

On the upswing, once Sean and Daniel leave the village, the story moves at a pretty solid clip to the credits. As the key art and trailer for “Wolves” might suggest, the Diaz brothers do indeed challenge the border wall in the final leg of Life is Strange 2. Where things go from there, I won’t spoil, but rest assured that Daniel will absolutely go through the crisis as you’ve trained him to do.

By this I mean, you will see the final results of your choices throughout the game, and they’re pretty impressive. With 4 possible endings, and 3 possible variations on those endings, Life is Strange 2 can ultimately play out in a variety of ways. How yours plays out will, of course, depend on the choices you’ve made and how you’ve influenced your brother throughout your journey.

Either way, though, Life is Strange 2 closes off “Wolves” with an emotionally satisfying and generally fulfilling conclusion to your journey. It might be a necessary evil that the events can’t be intense the whole way through, being that this is not an action or combat-focused game, but the fact that things take so long to get going in the final episode is a bit of a problem.

Still, fans worried that Life is Strange 2 might fail to stick the landing can rest easy. “Wolves” might not be the best, or most satisfying, episode of the series but it does what it needs to do and it does it well, particularly in the back half.

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