Nicole Tanner

Nicole Tanner

Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she’s a mom, she’s passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.

playstation 4

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: PlayStation 4

Posted by | Feature, PlayStation 4 | No Comments

Great for All Ages

amplitude harmonix

Amplitude
Amplitude is a gorgeous game that shows you what music games used to look like. You’ll find that at its roots the gameplay isn’t terribly different from modern music games. That makes it a satisfying musical game experience without the costs of decking out your home with plastic peripherals.

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

castles-screen1

Castles
If you like puzzles games, specifically match-3 games, you should give Castles a try. It takes that gameplay mechanic and kicks it up a notch making it more difficult than your standard match-3 game. But that’s a good thing. I’ve never wanted to sit and play Candy Crush as long as I wanted to play Castles.  It’s frantic gameplay made for a vastly enjoyable experience.

catlateral-damage-snarky-cat

Catlateral Damage
Catlateral Damage is a fun and humorous take on what it means to be a cat. The gameplay is easy to pick up, but achieving the goals for each level can be more challenging than you might expect. If you’re a cat person, or even if you’re not, you’ll probably find Catlateral Damage to be a nice way to spend a few hours, and a good game to enjoy with your kids.

Dragon Quest Builders

Dragon Quest Builders
Dragon Quest Builders combines the imaginative world of Dragon Quest with addictive and fun mechanics that will keep you playing for hours. If you’re a fan of Minecraft, Dragon Quest, or if you’re just looking for a bit of fun on your Playstation 4, Dragon Quest Builders is a sure-fire way to have a great time.

fifa 17

FIFA 17
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.

four sided fantasy

Four-Sided Fantasy
Four Sided Fantasy is not for the faint of heart. This game is hard. Even when you think you’ve got it, there will be a a new challenge. The developers have said that one of their inspirations was Portal. I love Portal. I played a ton of Portal, but this game is way more difficult than Portal, at least for me. But I love that it’s difficult. There are times when I want a game I can easily move through, but other times I want to be challenged. This game is a great challenge.

kerbal space program vehicle assembly

Kerbal Space Program
The soft music and cheery Kerbals help keep you calm, even when one minor mistake causes catastrophic results. As complex as the science gets, Kerbal Space Program desperately wants you to succeed. For once you’re not racing toward galactic conquest or defending against alien invaders. You’re reveling in the simple joy of applied learning and scientific discovery. For Science!

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

madden nfl 17 ea majors

Madden NFL 17
Madden NFL 17 is the best game in the series for over a decade. This is a must buy for NFL fans that may have stopped buying the annual release.

kyrie-irving-nba-2k17

NBA 2K17
This is an absolute must buy for any NBA fans. I also strongly believe that anyone looking for a unique take on the RPG genre should look into this one too.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 trouble in zombopolis: part one

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.

ratchet and clank

Ratchet and Clank
Ratchet and Clank is a fantastic game. The franchise has remained so popular over the years for good reason.  Its wacky universe and ageless appeal make it one of the best franchises for all types of players. If you loved the games back in the day, you will love this PlayStation 4 outing. If you’ve never played a Ratchet and Clank game, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. It’s unbelievably fun.

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators
Skylanders: Imaginators is the first in the series that really feels comfortable in its own skin. The overland map and loot overhaul to support the new Imaginators are fantastic additions. Though I do worry about how this full makeover will be supported in future games. For now, Imaginators is the best Skylanders game yet.

song of the deep

Song of the Deep
Song of the Deep isn’t the deepest Metroidvania I’ve played, nor even my favorite underwater game (look up Aquaria). The game makes up for its light, simple combat with fun, varied puzzle designs and a beautiful world to explore. Song of the Deep has a satisfying challenge curve that remains fun for its 10+ hours, and the grand story will keep you invested in Merryn throughout her journey.

Unravel EA Access

Unravel
Unravel is beautiful. While its story isn’t spelled out very clearly, there is a strong sense of family and love that connects each scene. I think it would be a really nice game for a parent and child to share because of the lovely settings and warm atmosphere. Plus, if you get really into it, you can try making your own Yarny as an art project.

World of Final Fantasy

World of Final Fantasy
World of Final Fantasy is one huge, charming dose of nostalgia for anyone who has ever wiled away the hours in a Final Fantasy game. Have I mentioned it’s cute? We’re talking freaking adorable. If Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s too serious a choice for you and your kids, pick up World of Final Fantasy for an entry in the series that’s likely just as enjoyable.

Great for Older Players

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

battlefield 1 logo

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd of recent science fiction based shooters. It is a must own for anyone who enjoys the genre, but has been hungry to put down the laser rifles and charge into the war zones of the past.

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock: The Collection
What is there to say about this one? It’s and HD compilation of all of the BioShock games, as well as all of the related single-player DLC. If you were a fan of the originals, this is a great way to experience them. If you haven’t played them, they are well worth picking up.

call-of-duty-infinite-warfare-screenshot-06-jpg-optimal

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pure fun. Fans of the series should buy this one right away. You will not be disappointed. Everyone else should, at least, look into buying this game as its price drops because the single-player campaign is excellent.

firewatch

Firewatch
In summary, I loved this game. I don’t usually consider replaying something the minute I put it down, but I’d like to spend more time with Firewatch. It’s worth every minute.

overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.

titanfall-2-screen

Titanfall 2
Fans of the original Titanfall should grab this game as soon as possible. It is an upgrade in almost every way. Otherwise, I would only buy it if you were interested in playing the multiplayer. The single player campaign is a lot of fun, but it is really short. That makes it hard to justify a full price game.

uncharted 4

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
I love Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It’s got everything I love about games wrapped up in one beautiful experience. The story is one of the best I’ve ever encountered in a game, with believable characters who have strengths and weaknesses. The action adventure gameplay is well-executed and balanced. I never felt like I was doing too much of one thing. I really can’t say enough about how great this game.  If you’ve got a PlayStation 4, go out and buy (or download) this game immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

watch_dogs_2_screenshots

Watch Dogs 2
I came into Watch Dogs 2 with a skeptical mind because I’ve been burned by Ubisoft hype before. Fortunately, all of my concerns faded away quickly as I was whisked away to a virtual San Francisco to live the life of a hacker vigilante. I may be finished with the game, but it has definitely left its mark on me. Watch Dogs 2 is, unquestionably, one of the best games I have played in a very long time.

 

xbox one

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: Xbox One

Posted by | Feature, Xbox One | No Comments

Great for All Ages

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

castles-screen1

Castles
If you like puzzles games, specifically match-3 games, you should give Castles a try. It takes that gameplay mechanic and kicks it up a notch making it more difficult than your standard match-3 game. But that’s a good thing. I’ve never wanted to sit and play Candy Crush as long as I wanted to play Castles.  It’s frantic gameplay made for a vastly enjoyable experience.

fifa 17

FIFA 17
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

madden nfl 17 ea majors

Madden NFL 17
Madden NFL 17 is the best game in the series for over a decade. This is a must buy for NFL fans that may have stopped buying the annual release.

kyrie-irving-nba-2k17

NBA 2K17
This is an absolute must buy for any NBA fans. I also strongly believe that anyone looking for a unique take on the RPG genre should look into this one too.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 trouble in zombopolis: part one

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators
Skylanders: Imaginators is the first in the series that really feels comfortable in its own skin. The overland map and loot overhaul to support the new Imaginators are fantastic additions. Though I do worry about how this full makeover will be supported in future games. For now, Imaginators is the best Skylanders game yet.

song of the deep

Song of the Deep
Song of the Deep isn’t the deepest Metroidvania I’ve played, nor even my favorite underwater game (look up Aquaria). The game makes up for its light, simple combat with fun, varied puzzle designs and a beautiful world to explore. Song of the Deep has a satisfying challenge curve that remains fun for its 10+ hours, and the grand story will keep you invested in Merryn throughout her journey.

Unravel EA Access

Unravel
Unravel is beautiful. While its story isn’t spelled out very clearly, there is a strong sense of family and love that connects each scene. I think it would be a really nice game for a parent and child to share because of the lovely settings and warm atmosphere. Plus, if you get really into it, you can try making your own Yarny as an art project.

Great for Older Players

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

battlefield 1 logo

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd of recent science fiction based shooters. It is a must own for anyone who enjoys the genre, but has been hungry to put down the laser rifles and charge into the war zones of the past.

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock: The Collection
What is there to say about this one? It’s and HD compilation of all of the BioShock games, as well as all of the related single-player DLC. If you were a fan of the originals, this is a great way to experience them. If you haven’t played them, they are well worth picking up.

call-of-duty-infinite-warfare-screenshot-06-jpg-optimal

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pure fun. Fans of the series should buy this one right away. You will not be disappointed. Everyone else should, at least, look into buying this game as its price drops because the single-player campaign is excellent.

gears of war 4

Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 is an example of a game doing one thing and doing it extremely well. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that’s more polished than this one. The depth of the story was surprising to me and is actually more interesting than you’re standard sci-fi fare. Straight-up shooters aren’t really my thing, but I enjoyed playing the game. If you’re a big fan of shooters, then you’ll definitely want to give the game your attention.

overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.

oxenfree

Oxenfree
Oxenfree was a really enjoyable game to play. It stood on the edge of horror without falling in, yet maintained its suspense far better than most horror games do. Oxenfree is many things: charming, eerie, poignant, and, most importantly, worth your time.

titanfall-2-screen

Titanfall 2
Fans of the original Titanfall should grab this game as soon as possible. It is an upgrade in almost every way. Otherwise, I would only buy it if you were interested in playing the multiplayer. The single player campaign is a lot of fun, but it is really short. That makes it hard to justify a full price game.

turing-test-feature

The Turing Test
The Turing Test is great execution of first-person puzzling. The rate of difficulty rose at a good pace and the puzzles were not only complex, they were satisfying to complete. I really enjoyed the game despite the fact that I couldn’t get comparisons to Portal out of my head.  But then, there are a lot worse games to emulate than Portal.

watch_dogs_2_screenshots

Watch Dogs 2
I came into Watch Dogs 2 with a skeptical mind because I’ve been burned by Ubisoft hype before. Fortunately, all of my concerns faded away quickly as I was whisked away to a virtual San Francisco to live the life of a hacker vigilante. I may be finished with the game, but it has definitely left its mark on me. Watch Dogs 2 is, unquestionably, one of the best games I have played in a very long time.

wii u

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Wii U

Posted by | Feature, Wii U | No Comments

Great for All Ages

twilight princess epona

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Twilight Princess HD doesn’t do much to change its original subject matter, but it doesn’t need to do much. This game is a classic for good reason. It plays like the cool, older sibling of Ocarina of Time in the best ways possible. Sometimes it’s a little weird, sometimes it’s a little slow, but overall it’s fun, satisfying, thoughtful, and gorgeous. If you love puzzles and spooky fantasy adventures, add Twilight Princess HD to your list.

 

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

 

paper_mario_colour_splash_wiiu

Paper Mario: Color Splash
Paper Mario: Color Splash is one of the best titles now available for the Wii U. Not only is the story engaging and the gameplay just plain fun, the creative paper aesthetic of the characters and backgrounds are almost mind-boggling.

 

pokken tournament

Pokkén Tournament
While Pokkén Tournament lacks the advanced features and expanded campaign stories of most modern fighting games, it succeeds on transitioning fun pokémon characters into a fighting game formula. Numerous aesthetic unlockables and a leveling system help make each fight matter. And the training modes are some of the best I’ve seen. Pokémon fans wanting to play an easy to pick up brawler will delight in seeing beloved pokémon on the big screen.

 

Skylanders Imaginators

Skylanders Imaginators
Skylanders: Imaginators is the first in the series that really feels comfortable in its own skin. The overland map and loot overhaul to support the new Imaginators are fantastic additions. Though I do worry about how this full makeover will be supported in future games. For now, Imaginators is the best Skylanders game yet.

 

Star Fox Zero

Star Fox Zero
This is a game that tries some very weird, very new stuff with its controls and with its level formatting, and honestly using the nostalgia of the Star Fox franchise is probably the only way that such designs could have made it to market. And I’m glad it’s here. Star Fox Zero feels both smooth as a pearl and rough around the edges in a way that is extremely Nintendo.

 

 

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: PC

Posted by | Feature, PC | No Comments

Great for All Ages

 

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

burly men at sea

Burly Men at Sea
It’s the perfect type of game to simply relax with. The dialogue and the sense of humor were great. The burly men, themselves are pretty entertaining, but some of the other characters were even more so. My favorite was the grim reaper. Burly Men at Sea is funny, fun and short. Typically short games aren’t well-liked, but the length is perfect for what it is. It’s easy to pick up, play through making different choices and put down again. The art style fits perfectly with the whimsical charm of the game, and the whole package makes for a really great gaming experience.

civilization v

Civilization VI
Civilization VI is the perfect next step in the series. It’s got a great amount of changes that improve the gameplay, while still feeling like the same game at its heart. This is a must-buy for existing Civ fans. If you’ve been wanting to dip your toe into the turn-based strategy genre, you can’t really find anything better. Just be prepared to tell yourself, “just one more turn” over and over and over.

epistory

Epistory: Typing Chronicles
It’s a captivating indie RPG that uses all the right tools to create an enjoyable experience. The fact that your typing skills will gradually improve is just a bonus to enjoying a nice story and a beautiful world. If only Kiki had ridden a giant paper fox.

fifa 17

FIFA 17
FIFA 17 is a gorgeous game that includes all of the football action that fans of the sport would expect. This is a must own for fans.

flat kingdom

Flat Kingdom
The wide variety of different types of platforming, the fun art style and the solid mechanics make it a worthwhile play. Additionally, there are a decent amount of collectibles and bonus quests to keep the completionist occupied for at least a little while.

 

four sided fantasy

Four-Sided Fantasy
Four Sided Fantasy is not for the faint of heart. This game is hard. Even when you think you’ve got it, there will be a a new challenge. The developers have said that one of their inspirations was Portal. I love Portal. I played a ton of Portal, but this game is way more difficult than Portal, at least for me. But I love that it’s difficult. There are times when I want a game I can easily move through, but other times I want to be challenged. This game is a great challenge.

 

hearthstone

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
This game has been out for awhile, but it’s got a thriving community that continues to grow.

industry manager

Industry Manager – Future Technologies
Industry Manager – Future Technologies was really fun. It still seems weird saying that. I enjoyed the ability to micromanage every detail of the company I created. I got lost and had to stop myself, or I would have played much, much, longer. If you like games like Sim City or Civilization, you’ll probably enjoy this. It has the same type of complex gameplay, but in a new way.

karma incarnation 1

Karma Incarnation 1
Karma is a journey through a gorgeous world. The psychedelic visuals and interesting character designs make it stand out in the crowd of point-and-click adventure games. Even with the frustration some of the puzzles muster, it’s still an experience worth taking a look at.

kerbal space program vehicle assembly

Kerbal Space Program
The soft music and cheery Kerbals help keep you calm, even when one minor mistake causes catastrophic results. As complex as the science gets, Kerbal Space Program desperately wants you to succeed. For once you’re not racing toward galactic conquest or defending against alien invaders. You’re reveling in the simple joy of applied learning and scientific discovery. For Science!

lego star wars: the force awakens

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Besides the main gameplay there are gazillions of characters, vehicles and other collectibles to find through out the game. That’s the same tried and true formula that has been working in LEGO games for more than 10 years. At the end of the day it is a LEGO game and it’s Star Wars. That’s all you really need to know.

planet coaster

Planet Coaster
Planet Coaster includes all the amenities you remember from the theme park genre – guest AI, advanced coaster construction, thematic pieces and scenery, and being able to ride everything – and then improves them all with a very user-friendly interface and seamless sharing integration. The gameplay is more intuitive than ever without losing any of the key features that make the genre so compelling. Planet Coaster is absolutely the RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 you’ve been waiting for.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 trouble in zombopolis: part one

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Overall, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is a ton of fun, just like the first one was. The tagline for the game is “Bigger. Badder. Bigger.” I usually find taglines like these to be a little bit too much bragging, but in this case, the tagline is completely fitting.

Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall is captivating and challenging. If you’re a fan of puzzle platformers like Ori and the Blind Forest and Unravel, you’ll likely find this game to be a similarly enjoyable way to spend a few evenings.

song of the deep

Song of the Deep
Song of the Deep isn’t the deepest Metroidvania I’ve played, nor even my favorite underwater game (look up Aquaria). The game makes up for its light, simple combat with fun, varied puzzle designs and a beautiful world to explore. Song of the Deep has a satisfying challenge curve that remains fun for its 10+ hours, and the grand story will keep you invested in Merryn throughout her journey.

stardew valley

Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is like a love letter to 90s RPGs. I could easily see myself playing Stardew Valley for months to come as I rotate my seasonal crops, upgrade my gigantic farm, and start a family. Even if you’re not a fan of the farming genre, Stardew Valley will make you one.

Unravel EA Access

Unravel
Unravel is beautiful. While its story isn’t spelled out very clearly, there is a strong sense of family and love that connects each scene. I think it would be a really nice game for a parent and child to share because of the lovely settings and warm atmosphere. Plus, if you get really into it, you can try making your own Yarny as an art project.

 

Great for Older Gamers

1979

1979 Revolution: Black Friday
1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a game that gives you an enjoyable story with plenty of twists and lots of great characters. But perhaps the best aspect of the game is the potential it holds for using a game to teach real history to its players. I’m hoping iNK Stories can take me somewhere else in the future.

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

battlefield 1 logo

Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd of recent science fiction based shooters. It is a must own for anyone who enjoys the genre, but has been hungry to put down the laser rifles and charge into the war zones of the past.

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock: The Collection
What is there to say about this one? It’s and HD compilation of all of the BioShock games, as well as all of the related single-player DLC. If you were a fan of the originals, this is a great way to experience them. If you haven’t played them, they are well worth picking up.

call-of-duty-infinite-warfare-screenshot-06-jpg-optimal

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pure fun. Fans of the series should buy this one right away. You will not be disappointed. Everyone else should, at least, look into buying this game as its price drops because the single-player campaign is excellent.

event [0]

Event[0]
Event [0] is not only really fun to play, it’s also so different from anything else out there right now. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with Kaizen, especially the non-sequiters that had nothing to do with my progress. I could’ve sat at my desk and chatted with him all day. The game has a wonderful sense of humor and breathes new life into all of the HAL 9000-like plots floating around the game world right now. Event [0] rises above the rest with original gameplay that kept me enthralled and wanting to come back for more. I highly recommend it.

firewatch

Firewatch
In summary, I loved this game. I don’t usually consider replaying something the minute I put it down, but I’d like to spend more time with Firewatch. It’s worth every minute.

gears of war 4

Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 is an example of a game doing one thing and doing it extremely well. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a shooter that’s more polished than this one. The depth of the story was surprising to me and is actually more interesting than you’re standard sci-fi fare. Straight-up shooters aren’t really my thing, but I enjoyed playing the game. If you’re a big fan of shooters, then you’ll definitely want to give the game your attention.

overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch is an amazing game and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library. This is especially true if you’re a fan of competitive shooters. This game is going to be a big deal for a very long time and it will definitely be worth it to jump on the bus with the rest of us.

oxenfree

Oxenfree
Oxenfree was a really enjoyable game to play. It stood on the edge of horror without falling in, yet maintained its suspense far better than most horror games do. Oxenfree is many things: charming, eerie, poignant, and, most importantly, worth your time.

titanfall-2-screen

Titanfall 2
Fans of the original Titanfall should grab this game as soon as possible. It is an upgrade in almost every way. Otherwise, I would only buy it if you were interested in playing the multiplayer. The single player campaign is a lot of fun, but it is really short. That makes it hard to justify a full price game.

turing-test-feature

The Turing Test
The Turing Test is great execution of first-person puzzling. The rate of difficulty rose at a good pace and the puzzles were not only complex, they were satisfying to complete. I really enjoyed the game despite the fact that I couldn’t get comparisons to Portal out of my head.  But then, there are a lot worse games to emulate than Portal.

watch_dogs_2_screenshots

Watch Dogs 2
I came into Watch Dogs 2 with a skeptical mind because I’ve been burned by Ubisoft hype before. Fortunately, all of my concerns faded away quickly as I was whisked away to a virtual San Francisco to live the life of a hacker vigilante. I may be finished with the game, but it has definitely left its mark on me. Watch Dogs 2 is, unquestionably, one of the best games I have played in a very long time.

world-of-warcraft-legion-review

World of Warcraft Legion
World of Warcraft has been around for a long time, but with the release of Legion, a new expansion pack, the game has been revitalized and might be attractive to lapsed players as well as new ones.

xcom 2

XCOM 2
Despite some technical difficulties, XCOM 2 is a dream come true for turn-based strategy fans. Thanks to the new resistance angle I felt far more invested in the story of rebellion. Expanded customization options helped me love and cry over my beloved soldiers more than ever. As a sequel it improves on every aspect while keeping the soul of the franchise intact.

 

mobile games

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Mobile

Posted by | Feature, Mobile | No Comments

Great for All Ages

NOTE: Some of these games are free to download and play, but buying items can help with gameplay. Because of this, a gift card for the app store is a great present.

armello

Armello
Armello is a complex, but really good digital board game. I found it satisfying to simply play against AI characters, but multiplayer was fun too. There’s no chat, so you don’t have deal with any objectionable behavior from other players. The developers recently released an expansion pack that adds more characters that you can play as. I really liked this game and very much recommend it for someone whose looking for a strategic board game experience, but can’t get the friends together to have one. Though you could all play Armello together from any location.

burly men at sea

Burly Men at Sea
It’s the perfect type of game to simply relax with. The dialogue and the sense of humor were great. The burly men, themselves are pretty entertaining, but some of the other characters were even more so. My favorite was the grim reaper. Burly Men at Sea is funny, fun and short. Typically short games aren’t well-liked, but the length is perfect for what it is. It’s easy to pick up, play through making different choices and put down again. The art style fits perfectly with the whimsical charm of the game, and the whole package makes for a really great gaming experience.

hearthstone

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
This game has been out for awhile, but it’s got a thriving community that continues to grow.

pokémon go

Pokémon GO
If you haven’t heard of this one, then you’ve really been out of touch. This game brings Pokemon into the real world and is a huge sensation.

RYB4

RYB
The bright colors, clean lines and uncomplicated rules make RYB not only a fun, relaxing challenge for adults, but also a great tool to introduce children to logic.

skylanders

Skylanders Battlecast
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Skylanders Battlecast. It shamelessly rips most of its gameplay from Hearthstone – but that’s a great game to rip from. There’s just enough added gameplay, like the Skylander swapping and random energy, to create a satisfyingly replayable experience.

Great for Older Gamers

1979

1979 Revolution: Black Friday
1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a game that gives you an enjoyable story with plenty of twists and lots of great characters. But perhaps the best aspect of the game is the potential it holds for using a game to teach real history to its players. I’m hoping iNK Stories can take me somewhere else in the future.

batman

Batman: The Telltale Series
This is a classic episodic story done in Telltale’s tried and true method. Not all of the episodes have been released yet, but the one’s that have are great.

3ds

Pixelkin 2016 Holiday Guide: 3DS

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Games for All Ages

fire emblem fates

Fire Emblem Fates
The tactical gameplay remains satisfying and fun thanks to the increased emphasis on relationships and battle pairings. Matching your diverse soldiers together is surprisingly captivating. Not to mention the agony of choosing whom to marry yourself! Fire Emblem Fates is a worthy sequel to Awakening and a must play for tactical strategy fans.

mario & luigi: paper jam

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
The story is a typical Mario story, but I found its humor charming. As I have loved this series since the beginning, I had a lot of fun with it.

Mario Party Star Rush

Mario Party Star Rush
Mario Party Star Rush is a fun family game to pick up if you’re already a fan of the Mario Party franchise. If it’s the first time you and the kids are playing a Mario Party together, however, be ready for some cries of, “That’s not fair!” when you steal their coins or knock them off a platform. But in no time they’ll be giggling maniacally as they do it right back to you.

pokémon sun and moon

Pokémon Sun and Moon
Some games are just a given as far as great gifts go. The latest iterations of the amazingly popular and long-running Pokémon were released this year. If you’ve got a Pokémon fan in your family, this one is no-brainer. If you buy both versions, all the better.