Hot Games of the Week Reviewed: February 2nd

Ever since enigmatic developer Jonathan Blow captivated gamers with his 2008 masterpiece, Braid, we’ve been waiting for his follow-up. That day finally arrives with The Witness, the mesmerizing first-person puzzle adventure. Lego fans don’t have to wait nearly as long for releases, with new games popping up every few months. Lego Marvel’s Avengers is the latest. There is also a Ghostbusters-themed expansion for Lego Dimensions to mess around with.
Meanwhile, 3DS owners have a new Final Fantasy RPG to wear out their handhelds. Final Fantasy Explorers, which offers four-player co-op, promises more than 100 hours of gameplay.

Final Fantasy Explorers

(3DS, $40, Everyone 10+)

As the Monster Hunter series and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes have shown, the 3DS is a solid system for co-op gaming, conducive to planned meetups and spontaneous gatherings with like-minded gamers looking for an edge. Final Fantasy leaps into the realm with Explorers, which takes plenty of cues from Monster Hunter in the way it lets you customize characters, armor and abilities as you venture out to take down monsters.
As in the Persona games, you can either beat down enemies or recruit them to fight on your side as summonable allies. Bowing to fan service, there are characters from various games throughout the series, such as Cloud of Final Fantasy VII fame and Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. The same is true with the rogues gallery, which also rounds up tons of baddies from the series. Packed with 200 quests, the game can easily stretch past 100 hours of play. Whether you’ll be interested enough to make it all the way through depends on how deep your Final Fantasy geekery runs. If you’ve played through and loved most Final Fantasy games, this is another to toss on the stack.
Order Final Fantasy Explorers here.

Lego Dimensons Ghostbusters Level Pack

(Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, $30)

One of the largest expansions to add to the already humongous open world of Lego Dimensions, the Ghostbusters level pack includes the minifigure of Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray in the movies. You also get a ghost trap, the Ecto-1 and the puzzle-laden level A Spook Central Adventure, in which you save New York City from the spirit-god Gozer.
Both the vehicle and the trap can be modified on the fly by rearranging the onscreen bricks to use different abilities, which you can also take into the main game. The level pack also unlocks the Ghostbusters Adventure World, a mini open-world area that lets you play as the Ghostbusters, trapping ghosts and racking up collectibles.
Order Lego Dimensions Ghostbusters Level Pack here.

Lego Marvel’s Avengers

(Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, 3DS, $60, Everyone 10+)

Nearly all game versions of movies suck, but TT Games has found the winning formula to reverse that trend with its umpteen Lego adaptations. The developer continues its unbroken streak of making games that simultaneously mock and sing the geeky praises of their subject material. Like the Lego Batman games, the scope goes far beyond the subject in the title. Lego Marvel’s Avengers tackles six of the most recent Marvel movies, rounding up dozens of characters, ranging from the well-known to those obscure enough to get comic book store owners Googling their backstories. There are more than 200 characters, half of which haven’t appeared in past Lego games.
The two mainline Avengers movies make up most of the core story, but there is also plenty of plot points from the Thor, Iron Man and Captain America films serving as plot points. A capable voice cast captures the flavor of each character, and the missions utilize the strengths of each character in clever and useful ways. Hulk, for instance, can jump across the map, Quicksilver can bolt over liquid and Captain America can whip his boomerang shield around corners to hit switches. An ideal pick-up for co-op players who like to bash bricks and solve puzzles together, Lego Marvel’s Avengers is as fun to assemble as it is to break apart.
Order Lego Marvel’s Avengers here.

The Witness

(PS4, $40, Everyone)

Reclusive developer Jonathan Blow not only lives up to expectations set by his 2008 opus Braid, but manages to obliterate them with a sprawling, brain-expanding puzzle adventure that combines the best elements of Portal with deep, thought-provoking “walking sims” such as The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Left alone on a dilapidated, vegetation-rich island without any instructions or prompts, you’re left to search out the haunting area to make sense of it all. Early on, you learn that the way to advance is to pull the world together by finding flat areas you can use to mark with lines, solving puzzles by using contextual clues to etch the right patterns.
Expect to spend much of your time with the game lost and frustrated and you’ll be able to embrace the overall experience and challenges to get the most out of the journey. You’re best off avoiding online walkthroughs and solving things yourself, because the order and methods you use to work your way through the game can vastly change your experience. The Witness has a way of making you fight for every inch, which only increases the satisfaction it gives you when you overcome rough patches. The story that unfolds as you work your way through has an arresting way of drawing you in, much like Braid, which in comparison to this is a crude caveman drawing. The Witness is pricey for a downloadable puzzler, but the dozens of hours of brilliant revelations packed within make it seem like a bargain. This is the first contender for 2016 game of the year.
Order The Witness here.

Get Off Your Couch For The Netsky And Chill North American Tour
Get Off Your Couch For The Netsky And Chill North American Tour
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