TSA’s Top 100 of 2013 Recap: 95-91 – Dark, Final Fantasy and Iron Sky

Aah, that’s the goodness. A nice recap to give some closure to last year’s list of our most anticipated games of 2013. Today I bring you vampires, new gods, and people who should really be firing their stylists. Enjoy!

95. Dark

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I do so hate to disappoint Blair, but I guess it is Dark that’s let him down, not me. “Hopefully this game, which is coming to Xbox 360 and PC next year, will do a vampire standalone adventure right,” dearest Blair wrote back in December. Sadly, it was not to be: Dark released on Xbox 360 and PC earlier this month, and received largely middling-to-poor reviews (sitting on a Metascore of around 40 across both platforms).

A quick recap: Dark is a cel-shaded stealth game about vampires, but unfortunately the style is about the only thing the game really managed to pull off. While we didn’t review it here at TSA, Eurogamer’s Dan Whitehead did, with my favourite extract being the following: “This is a game that features an actual screen prompt saying ‘Some enemies don’t move at all, but instead just stand there looking in one direction.’ It’s a design feature, you see.”

Sure, Dark was never going to be a AAA top-end bloodied stealth game, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had with quirky lower budget titles – you know the ones, where there’s a great core gameplay component, but the other elements are kind of iffy.

Unfortunately, in Dark, it’s all kind of iffy. “In its best moments, this is only ever a reminder of better games,” says Dan. “In its worst moments – of which there are far too many – Dark frustrates and irritates as only a clumsy stealth game can.” Damn. Sorry Blair.

94. Brain Training 3D

The 3DS entry in Nintendo’s Brain Training series (by which I mean ‘Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused?’) seems to have disappeared off the face of the Earth – or Europe at least.

[drop2]Released last year in Japan, and in February in the US, Devilish Brain Training sees a newly-terrifying Kawashima tasking players once again to solve puzzles, remember things better, and, most terrifyingly, do maths.

However, the title was delayed at the last minute ahead of its planned April launch here, and hasn’t been seen since.

I’m sure it’ll turn up (probably down the side of Reggie’s sofa), especially given the success of the series so far, but for now Kawashima’s freaky devil face is AWOL on European 3DS systems.

93. Ascend: New Gods Hand of Kul

Following the game’s unveiling at E3 2012, we’d heard next to nothing about Ascend: New Gods again until E3 this year, when the game was re-unveiled, this time with a new subtitle. Its still a free-to-play single-player RPG, or at least as free as it gets on Xbox Live Gold.

It also features something called “parallel multiplayer”, which sees you cross into other players games as you progress through yours, with the ability to help or hinder them as you wish.

Ascend: New Hands is currently in closed beta, and is due to launch on Xbox 360 later this year, with a PC version due some time later.

92. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning Returns, the third Final Fantasy XIII game, and roughly the seven hundredth entry in the world’s most redundantly named games franchise, is all about time. In fact, that thirteen in the title might actually be relevant this time round, as Returns sees heroine (and only playable character) Lightning given just that many days to save the world.

While Final Fantasy’s current-gen swansong may have been overshadowed by Square Enix’s next-gen blowout at E3, there still looks to be plenty to like about the game. Mixed up with the regular RPG play of the series is a dash of platforming along with a little bit of action and adventure (and apparently even stealth, but I don’t know how that is supposed to work when you look like some of the Lightning Returns characters do).

Unlike other RPGs, you won’t be spending thousands of hours on your first go through here – the game is specifically designed to instead encourage multiple playthroughs, with it not being possible to see everything in one 13-day run.

Recently delayed, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is now due out on PS3 and 360 on February 14th next year.

91. Iron Sky: Invasion

I have no idea how I managed to miss this one – a strategy space combat sim title based in the universe of last year’s bonkers moon-Nazi film Iron Sky (seriously, watch it, it may well be crap and cheesy, but it is ridiculous).

[drop]Oh wait, now I know how I missed it – “it is possible that Iron Sky: Invasion may be mildly interesting in the early stages, but not long after the fighting and mechanics that revolve around them turn out to be very flat,” says Eurogamer Italy’s Emiliano Baglioni, shortly before descending into Google Translated nonsense.

The fact that I had to go virtually all the way to Italy to even find a review pretty much says it all – Invasion takes the B-movie sensibilities of the movie, and runs them into the ground. My ears did perk up a little when I heard there were zeppelins in the game, but it sounds like the game falls down when it comes to balance, being either much too easy or much too hard, and violently switching between the two.

The final words go to Blair, circa last December: “This game is going to be terrible, isn’t it?” See, it all came together in the end, didn’t it?

That’s it for today – come back tomorrow for more, or I’m sending Kawashima after you.

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6 Comments

  1. Top article, Josh. Shite from start to finish (the games, not your writing prowess).

    I’ll stick with the current barnstormers and avoid this lot like the plague.

  2. Still pissed about the Lightning Returns delay. I will be dreaming of InFamous Second Son by the time this comes out… This might end up hurting the game a lot sales wise.

  3. Dark’s quality is a shame, especially since they took the time to add Oculus Rift support.

  4. Tried the demo for iron sky on steam it was ok but not £23 ok.

    The film is a weird one. Watch it you its abit like Marmite

  5. Ascend sounds very much like Demon Souls/Dark Souls.

  6. Ah yes, Lighting Returns, the game that we don’t need nor deserve. The game that the fans didn’t ask for. The game that features a character that nearly everyone(i think) does not like. The game… I’ll stop here as I’ll end up taking a few hours to do this comment otherwise. I wish Square would just call it a day with the 13 sub franchise as it’s not working. 13 is said to be the worst entry into the series and from what i’ve heard, 13-2 doesn’t improve on it. I’ve played 13 and it’s just one long corridor for 20-30 hours before it opens up. Doesn’t help that what footage is available shows that the game looks very poor. It looks like it’s still in Alpha or Beta. It is clearly not ready to be shown yet as it has left a very questionable impression on everyone.

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