Category Archives: Game Reviews

Video game reviews.

Review – Black Legend

Black Legend is a turn-based strategy roleplaying game (SRPG) from Belgian developer Warcave, where the systems are the highlight and offer enough to overcome a lot of design shortcomings.

There’s not much to the story but, in a nutshell, you’re looking to overcome an alchemist named Mephisto who has taken over the city of Grant along with his army of henchmen and enough dogs to give ‘101 Dalmations’ a run for its money, all made evil by the alchemist’s poisonous fog. You’re not doing this by choice, as you’ve transgressed against the Crown and have been pressed into service – an interesting enough start to the story, but that’s about as far as it goes.

You’ll run the somewhat bland-looking streets of Grant, slaying groups of enemies and unlocking doors to open shortcuts for the next time you’re coming through the area, as you undertake quests for the people in the Merchant section of town while working towards your goal of clearing the town of evil. There’s no in-game map, so expect to be lost more than a few times even with the multitude of signposts on the streets. My early annoyance at the vagueness of the city layout faded as I explored more and opened more shortcuts, and there’s a late-game transportation change that eliminates almost all the ‘I have to go WHERE?’ concerns.

For as much time as you’ll spend trying to find your way from the Harbour District to the Slums, you’ll spend far more time engrossed in the character class system. Starting with access to only the Mercenary class, players gain access to more of the game’s 15 classes – and the unlockable skills they can bring to the battlefield – by finding or purchasing new equipment. Each weapon offers different attacks, and using them fills an experience bar to unlock the attack permanently, provided you have a weapon in the relevant category equipped.

In most games a player will find the class they like and stick with it, but in Black Legend you’re far better off to swap through all the classes and gather up as many skills as you can because, in addition to a class’ normal array of skills, you can also bring in a handful from other classes. This allows you to create amalgamations that ramp up your power, essential if you want to beat the game’s harder difficulty levels.

Having that array of attacks available is key because of the game’s other combat mechanic, which applies a debuff in one of four colours: red, yellow, black, and white, to the enemy based on the attack. Enemies can have up to three of each debuff on them at a time, which can be ‘catalyzed’ by a melee or ranged attack to do extra damage – particularly useful in boss fights or higher difficulty playthroughs.

With a group of four characters in your party, there’s really no end to the combination of skills you can bring to the battlefield – plus the benefits offered by equippable trinkets and usable items. I leaned towards having a duo of heavily armoured warriors able to dish out multi-hit attacks while also able to counter enemy attacks, supported by a ranged user who was my go-to for catalyzing attacks, and a mixed healing/assassin class who jumped in as needed.

What I Loved:

  • Great character class depth
  • Unlocking skills to create a merged super class
  • Strategic combat

What I Liked:

  • Interesting city design, after the initial ‘where do I go’ frustration
  • Tons of weapons and armour to find

What I Disliked:

  • Some bugs, though mostly squashed by pre-release patches
  • Bland graphics
  • Story doesn’t really go anywhere

What I Hated

  • Nothing

The Final Word: Black Legend isn’t an SRPG that I’ll be talking about the graphics, the story, or the enemies in years to come, but the class and combat systems are something I’ll remember forever.

Black Legend is available March 25th on PC, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Xbox version reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2

Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 builds on the bones of the 2019 original, putting gamers behind the wheel of even more of the utterly ridiculous big-tired behemoths of the track and letting them loose in all-new open world environments.

In-arena racing, destruction, and trick events won’t wow you, but they’re fun enough in short bursts even with controls that never feel quite right. The twin-stick controls, where the left analog stick turns the front wheels and the right stick turns the rear wheels, allows for true all-wheel steering so you can do those ‘on a dime’ spins the big trucks are known for, but it makes them incredibly prone to rolling over and leaves you at the mercy of a computer-controlled camera.

The game does include an RPG-like leveling up system, where trucks will earn experience used to level up the chassis, engine, suspension, tires, etc… to help improve all aspects of their handling. Even with that, I found it hard to get to a point where I’d say I was comfortable throwing one of these 1,400+ hp monsters into a drift around a corner or that I could hit the ground after a big jump without anticipating the near-inevitable rollover.

The career mode is lengthy, but events get repetitive quickly enough that all but true monster truck fanatics are going to want to space it out a bit by playing a few and then doing something else. There are a lot of races and a whole lot of trucks to take them on with – the full roster is just shy of 40 of the big metal monsters – so expect this to take some time to wrap up no matter how you choose to tackle it.

Where the game really comes into its own is in the five open world environments, which you can explore either alone or with friends in same-screen or online play. Jumping into these Monster Jam Worlds and bombing around with a friend is a lot of fun, and home to some of the more unusual physics bugs when vehicle collision physics don’t quite work out the way you’d expect.

What I Loved:

  • Open world environments are a great add
  • Multiplayer is a blast

What I Liked:

  • Lengthy career mode offers replay value
  • RPG system offers progression even in small play doses

What I Disliked:

  • So-so visuals
  • Events get repetitive quickly
  • Fighting the camera

What I Hated:

  • Nothing

The Final Word: Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is fun in short bursts and monster truck fans will love it, but it’s not the big step forward I’d hoped for.

Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and PS4. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review: On the Road – Truck Simulator

Truck simulators are common – and almost disturbingly popular – on PC, with Euro Truck Simulator probably the best known of the bunch, but it’s not a genre that’s really caught on with console gamers. A distressing lack of polish means On The Road – Truck Simulator is unlikely to be that breakout title, but it’s not all bad…

For starters, this truck sim really nails most of the audio. Jamming through the gears is great and the engine noise is certainly serviceable, but there are a lot of smaller sounds that add to the experience. The way the brakes squeal that little bit as you ease off them is perfect, for example, as is the pfft of the air brake and the little rumble of the cab shake as you roll the power on.

I also really liked how you could customize your seat position, pushing forward or backwards to get the field of view you wanted, and raising/lowering the seat to see more of the road or the instrument panel. Getting the seat ‘right’ is a tough thing in a real vehicle, and it’s just as difficult here.

You’ll want to get the seat right, because you can spend hours on these roads just cruising from location to location. This is a reasonable replica of Germany, though it only includes just over a dozen locations that you’ll visit to pick up and deliver cargo, with thousands of kilometers worth of virtual highway to drive.

Unfortunately, that’s the end of the things I really liked here. There’s a lot of ‘well, this is ok’ stuff here – from the thousands of kilometers of German roadways that you can drive to the feel of the big rigs you’ll be powering down them, expanding your company with new trucks, drivers, and routes  – but also a lot of ‘this could be a whole lot better’ disappointment.

Mirrors, for example, are an essential part of your driving experience…but they don’t work in On The Road. I thought it was a bug at first and restarted the game, but they never changed off a flat gray texture. It’s possible this is still just a bug, as the game has quite a few right now, the funniest of which is the way vehicles spawning in the distance drop down to the road like they just jumped off a ramp you can’t quite see.

The lack of mirrors makes cornering far harder than it needs to be, and though you can ameliorate this a bit using the third-person camera perspective that does entail fighting with camera controls that should be a whole lot smoother than they are. Getting the camera angle right can take longer than parking the trailer should have.

Adding to the frustration are obstacles like shrubbery or light poles that a big rig with a fully loaded trailer should – and have, in real life – be able to just knock over. In On The Road, however, those lightweight obstacles will stop you dead in your tracks leaving you prey to every other driver on the road, who apparently think nothing of smashing headlong into the rear end of a trailer loaded with hogs heading to market.

All this, and the game freezes up or crashes far too often for my liking…

What I Loved

  • Some great – and subtle – truck audio

What I Liked

  • A version of Germany that’s reasonable condensed
  • Truck feels ‘ok’ to drive
  • Expanding your trucking empire, hiring drivers, and managing routes

What I Disliked

  • Low-end graphics for environments – especially buildings and trees
  • Tons of pop-in couples with low draw distance to hurt visuals even more
  • Simplistic menus, with no explanations
  • Collision physics
  • Routine game freezes or crashes

What I Hated

  • Non-working mirrors

The Final Word

I think transport sims can be as popular on consoles as they are on PC, but On The Road The Truck Simulator isn’t the breakout game the genre needs to make that happen.

On The Road The Truck Simulator is available now for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and is playable on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles via backwards compatibility. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Disjunction

Disjunction is set in 2048, but it feels like a throwback to the 90’s with a pixel art style, enemy ‘vision cones’, and old-school difficulty that’s straight out of the SEGA Genesis days.

Jumping into three characters over the course of the game, starting with Frank, then the hulking Joe, then finally the SMG-wielding Spider, players will explore a cyberpunk version of New York to unravel their individual stories that – as fate would have it – happen to intertwine. Each character has unique abilities that they bring to the streets of the Big Apple, along with an RPG-lite skill tree that can augment those abilities.

Frank, for example, can fire shock projectiles, provide cover for himself with a smoke grenade, and – if it’s all gone wrong – can even heal himself. The downside to that last ability is that he must stand still to do it, but a quick skill upgrade later and players can heal Frank’s wounds while on the move. It might not seem like much, but in a game that’s so dependent on keeping out of camera and enemy vision cones, movement is critical.

Levels have a checkpoint somewhere within them, but they can save your progress only once. I occasionally found it better to kill myself off to restart the run through the level or from the last checkpoint instead of saving hard-fought progress that would have left me in a bad spot moving forward because I had, for example, burned through all my ammo. In true Metal Gear Solid fashion, moving the corpses (or, theoretically, the unconscious bodies) of enemies out of the line of sight of other enemies, sentry drones, or constantly scanning cameras is essential – but easily forgotten.

Mission difficulty starts low but ramps up quickly. As a result, it can be tempting to say to hell with stealth and shoot your way through the last few guards in the way of your objective – but this is reflected in your post-mission conversations. Kill a few guards and you’ll hear complaints about the bloodbath you left behind and it does change some aspects of the game, but it’s up to you whether that criticism bothers you, much less changes your behaviour.

I swear those guys were dead when I got here…

I had fun sneaking and blasting my way through the story despite it being a bit cliched, and a lot of that is down to the excellent conversations. Frank dealing with Sybil at the game’s outset, for example, has a great back-and-forth, especially if you leave a few bodies behind, that feels very authentic. Jumping over to Joe for the next set of levels brings a totally different conversation style – including the option to be the strong silent type if you’d like.

All too often different characters in a game with multiple protagonists are written with all of them using the same sense of humour, the same slang, and responding with the same emotional tone – but there’s none of that here and I really appreciated that.

What I Loved:

  • Great art style
  • Unforgiving stealth mechanics yield incredibly tense moments
  • Loved the writing, especially the dialogue

What I Liked:

  • Each character brings new playstyle potential
  • Single-use checkpoints add some strategy to your saves
  • Solid soundtrack

What I Disliked:

  • Some cheap ‘oh you’re spotted’ moments
  • Minor technical issues – day one patch should sort them out

What I Hated:

  • Nothing

The Final Word: Disjunction is surprisingly deep, with enough gameplay evolution to keep things interesting and great writing to drive the desire to see more of the story. Well worth a look.

Disjunction is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Godfall

As I’m still stuck without a PS5 I passed along review code for Godfall, a melee-centric loot game, over to Brock McLaughlin to see what he thought of it. Here’s what he had to say about Gearbox’s latest game:

Upon googling the game Godfall you will see the first question people ask is “How bad is Godfall?”. Well I am here to answer that question for you.

It is bad but not that bad. I’m more confused than anything playing it. If this had come out on the PS2 in 2003 people would hail it the best action game since Legacy of Kain. Unfortunately, it came out in 2020 and has all the workings of a game you haven’t played in years.

I’ll admit right out the gate I liked what I saw. The game looked gorgeous on the PS5 and there is some really cool level design. Each level or realm as they are called here are incredibly interesting to look at. I really felt like the world was alive, and no matter how repetitive the game got the level design was still a league of its own.

On the surface I should love looter mechanics. I like collecting cool armour and feeling like a badass. Unfortunately the grind here for good armour is incredibly lackluster. At first I dug the combat and the enemies, but then quickly realized this was the game was. Kill respawning enemies. Walk 5 feet. Kill some more. Do a puzzle, which is simply opening a chest and then fight more enemies. If you like mundane tasks then this game is for you. It’s actually the ultimate game for listening to podcasts since you can ignore what’s on the screen and just smash your fingers on the controller.

Besides the graphics something I did quite like is the skill tree. You purchase one skill and the ones adjacent to it open up more skills. Each skill did actually make the game a bit better. You can always reset the tree as you like as well so you can find your best playstyle.

You also have the choice of weapons. You can choose from a longsword which is very balanced and good for all types of players to a war hammer that is slow but powerful. Each of the different weapons does feel different and takes some getting used to. Is this groundbreaking no, but I’m trying to find some good here.

When I play games, I like to have a story. Even if it’s barebones at least it gives the game purpose. There is no story here. I mean there are some random cut scenes with dialogue and characters but it does not amount to anything. This is just a game that exists to waste your time.

When this game inevitably becomes a free game for PS Plus users then I ‘d say it’s worth an hour or two of your time. It’s got wicked graphics, a few hours of fun, a good skill tree and neat costumes to help you fill the void. If however you have to pay for it, well then I’d say move right along because there’s plenty of other offerings out there.

What I Loved:

  • Easy to download and uninstall
  • The graphics
  • Great level art

What I Liked:

  • Good variety in weapons
  • Skill tree

What I Disliked:

  • How much it felt like a PS2 game
  • The level design
  • The grind
  • The repetition
  • The campaign

What I Hated:

  • Pretty much everything else

The Final Word: I see why they called it Godfall and not Goodfall.

Played on the PS5 using code provided by the publisher. Godfall  is rated M for Mature and not recommended for younger players.

Review – Chronos: Before the Ashes

The low-detail style of Chronos: Before the Ashes, likely a holdover of its origins on VR platforms, gives it a charming look akin to Absolver or Ashen, but can make the environments a nightmare to navigate.

Chronos: Before the Ashes started life as a virtual reality (VR) title back in 2016 and has now been retooled and re-released as a third-person perspective action title on Playstation and Xbox platforms. A VR game translated into a console title doesn’t sound like an ideal marriage of ideas, but what caught my interest here was that Chronos ties into one of my favourite games from last year – Remnant: From the Ashes.

Chronos fits as a prequel of sorts to Remnant, and though fans will recognize objects and enemies that tie the two together there’s no need to have played one to enjoy the other. Where Remnant was a shooter, this is a melee-focused action adventure with a unique progression system.

As the name indicates, Chronos is all about the passage of time. One day a year you can challenge the Labyrinth to try and puzzle out its layout and take down the enemies within it. When you fail – and you will, several times – you age a year and try again. During your gameplay you’ll level up in a very traditional manner, earning experience to plug into one of four key stats: Agility, Arcane, Strength, and Vitality, and every decade you earn a new permanent perk. Additionally, like with real life, it’s easier to gain Agility and Strength early on, but harder as you get older – so those stats cost more…unless you have the ‘agility of someone half your age’ perk.

There are elements of Souls-style games here, as well as Resident Evil-style ‘combine items to unlock new areas’ but – in keeping with the VR origins of the game – the areas you can explore are fairly small and bland, making navigating a nightmare at times. As a Souls-like, with a world that connects back to itself as you open more routes, this is a sizable negative. There are some interesting areas though, with one standout being an exploration of a bookshelf as a miniature version of yourself (shrunk using a magic mirror) to find a key you can use when you return to normal size.

Fortunately, this isn’t the hardest Souls-like out there. The combat is – again perhaps due to starting its life in VR – pretty forgiving. You have light/heavy attacks, dodge, block, and parry in your arsenal, though parrying didn’t seem as helpful as dodging, which allows your next attack to do more damage if you pull off a perfect evade.

You’ll need to master the combat for some of the boss fights, but as with a lot of Souls-like games it’s not the end boss that is the hardest for most people, but one somewhere in the middle. For me it was the Reina Pan fight, as I was still working on patience and placement. By the time I hit the end boss, I more or less knew exactly what I was doing and took it down with in one attempt.

Chronos: Before the Ashes is an interesting addition to the library for fans of Remnant, and the aging mechanic is unique. I don’t think this will satisfy Dark Souls fans looking for a challenge, but it’s a great intro to the systems and mechanics of those games for people who don’t want that level of frustration in their life.

What I Loved:

  • Aging a year every run, and the negatives that brings with it
  • Interesting lore

What I Liked:

  • Some inventive mission design
  • Satisfying combat that doesn’t get frustrating
  • A few interesting puzzles to solve
  • Visuals remind me of Absolver or Ashen, low detail but still charming

What I Disliked:

  • Fighting with the camera to see targets
  • A lot of too-simple puzzles

What I Hated:

  • Low-detail environments make for poor navigation

Chronos: Before the Ashes is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC for $29.99 Canadian. Backwards compatible on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Suzerain

After the politics-and-pandemic-filled 2020 that we’ve all gone through, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Suzerain – a text-based political adventure game, set in fictional country Sordland, where you take on the role of newly elected President Rayne.

And while yes, this IS another dip into politics to end out 2020, Suzerain wound up winning me over with a combination of a ridiculously deep well of lore and solid writing that not only fleshed out the country and people, but also humanized the difficult decisions that needed to be made.

It’s easy enough to give a player options and tell them to decide. In Suzerain, those options are given life not by a wealth of information – though that’s also available to the players via in-game briefings, news clippings, and the codex that collates them all for later perusal – but by actual interaction. In one encounter I visited a school for a ceremony and, after seeing how they were being taught, had to make decisions about the education system. It’s one thing to have made election promises on a stage, it’s another to have to follow through – or not – with those promises after seeing the actual conditions and meeting those involved.

You’ll have to make tough and sometimes uncomfortable decisions in Suzerain, and it’s interesting to see how quickly turning your back on election promises can seem justified for a ‘bigger purpose’ goal. You’ll have to make – or deny – backroom deals if you want to accomplish change for Sordland, and exactly what kind of President you’ll be gets tested quickly and often. How many of your promises are you willing to break to keep others? Will you put country above all else, or do you support your wife and family when they need you?

Pulling Sordland out of an economic recession and recover from an oppressive government that still has its supporters – both civilian and elected – isn’t an easy task, and there are many routes to what you could call victory. The strategic side of Suzerain isn’t played out on a battlefield, but in backroom deals and public speeches as you play sides against one another long enough to enact real change.

Suzerain allows you to play the way you want, though going extreme in any political direction is going to make things harder on yourself. In one playthrough I fixed the economy but wound up murdered in a military coup that I probably should have seen coming. In another, I had the economy recovering nicely and had pushed through the bulk of my campaign promises to reform the country into a true democracy with a top-flight education system…and then didn’t get re-elected.

Maybe they went with the former reality star instead…

If you want action, look elsewhere, but if you want a heavy helping of Machiavellian political dealings, Suzerain is exactly what you’re looking for.

What I Loved:

  • Stellar background lore cements Sordland as a real place
  • Great supporting cast of characters
  • Forced me to make some tough decisions
  • Top-notch storytelling

What I Liked:

  • Moves along quickly – a ton of text, but doesn’t overstay its welcome
  • Replayability is high thanks to sheer number of decisions needed

What I Disliked:

  • Hit by progress-stopping bugs (no new missions showed up) twice – the issue has now patched

What I Hated:

  • Sleazy backroom politics. It’s so much like real life…

Suzerain is available now on PC and Mac for $13.99 CAD. Reviewed on PC using code provided for review.

Observer: System Redux Review

The decrepit setting of Observer’s futuristic cyberpunk ghetto was already strong, but
better textures and lighting in Observer: System Redux really take it to a new level.

Bloober Team, a Polish game developer, has been around for 12 years and put out several games in a variety of genres, but it wasn’t until they switched to horror that they really found their groove. Layers of Fear was a creepy delight, followed up by strong releases in Observer – read that review here – then Layers of Fear 2, and finally their interpretation of Blair Witch.

The team is currently working on The Medium, planned to launch with the Xbox Series line of consoles but now delayed into early 2021, so they tapped Anshar Studios to remaster Observer for next-gen consoles as Observer: System Redux. Anshar provided art remastering and gameplay improvements, along with some new content for the port to PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, along with a PC version.

The timing on this release seems almost too on point, as the plot features a KPD detective – voiced by the late Rutger Hauer – who is in the opening stages of investigating his son’s call for help when the building is locked down by a plague called Nanophage. The remaster offers up new side cases that flesh out the plot a bit, helping show a bit more of the backstory of the world and what it’s like to be one of Poland’s ‘Class C’ citizens.

While the original nailed the aesthetic of a cyberpunk future’s ghetto, the next-gen version also offers raytracing, animation improvements, and some tweaks to the somewhat underwhelming stealth sections that really help make them more playable and fun.

What I Loved:

  • A strong visual upgrade on an already great looking game
  • Top-notch voice acting
  • Great audio overall
  • Great world building and lore background

What I Liked:

  • Some great tension builds towards the ‘scare’ moments
  • New animations and side story content!

What I Disliked:

  • A little too reliant on jump scares for my taste

What I Hated:

  • Nothing

Observer: System Redux is available now on PS5, Xbox Series consoles, and PC. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – The Falconeer

The Falconeer continually reminds me of Sea Of Thieves, and it’s not just the stylized graphics or environments dominated by water – it’s something about the pace of the game.

This is a game I can fire up when I’m stressed after a bad day and just soar around the skies taking it all in. The game’s art style, like Sea of Thieves, just has something in it that works for me. The bright colours, the rolling waves, the gorgeous skies – it’s soothing to turn the HUD off and just take a low flight over the ocean, seeing whales jump out of the water and other random events, and not worry about anything for a bit.

When you’re decompressed and ready for more, the game offers up a combat system that’s reminiscent of Crimson Skies – only on the back of a giant falcon. Whatever bird you’re riding – the game offers up a few with different stats – has an energy bar that can be used to gain altitude, fly faster, do tight turns, or pull off evasive barrel rolls. When depleted that bar can be refilled by diving, which creates a balancing act between using it for gaining height and having enough left to use for your defensive moves.

There are also some environmental objects to keep an eye out for, including waterspouts that will give your bird a free ride to the upper atmosphere, lightning storms to recharge your guns, and jet streams that help you transit the long distances between settlements faster.

The story – a sprawling tale that will have you questioning what’s really going on in this world – is told over several chapters, and there are some difficulty spikes that will necessitate grinding out some side missions for money to upgrade both your bird, using potions that add abilities like more health or faster regeneration, or your weaponry. Early on there’s some skill check battles that will make sure you know how to dodge incoming fire or keep a lock on your enemy as you battle in a WWII style furball of tightly-circling combatants, but for the most part it’s simply a matter of ‘my guns are doing enough damage, I need new guns’ damage checks.

Falconeer’s story throws you through several factions as you switch falconeers at key points to give you some perspective on the other cultures at play in the world. It’s an interesting approach that allows for some of the twists and betrayals to really hit home for those who are paying attention and not simply waiting until they can go fly again.

For as fun as combat is, and I didn’t namecheck the legendary Crimson Skies without good reason, I had just as much fun in The Falconeer simply roaming the skies taking it all in. This is a world with personality, and I still want to see what else it has to offer.

I played on both the Xbox One X and Xbox Series X, and while the new console has a decided edge in load times it was a great experience on both. The game offers up 4K resolution at 60 fps on the Series X, and upscaled 4K at 60 fps on the One X. The Series X also offers up an upscaled 4K at 120 fps mode that is incredibly smooth if you have the monitor or TV to take advantage of it.

What I Loved:

  • Great dogfights
  • Gorgeous environments
  • Super relaxing feel to the non-combat moments
  • Rock-solid performance
  • Great photo mode

What I liked:

  • ‘play at your own pace’ style allows players to explore when they want, for as long as they want
  • Bird/weapon upgrades are kept simple – no need to read pages of stats to figure things out
  • A game you can jump back into just to explore
  • Story beats that really work thanks to seeing every side of the conflict

What I Disliked:

  • Difficulty spikes that force you to grind out cash
  • Could have used more mission variety

What I Hated:

  • Nothing

The Falconeer is available now on Xbox consoles and PC for $38.99 Canadian. Reviewed on Xbox One X and Xbox Series X using code provided for review.

Review – Watch Dogs: Legion

I didn’t really understand the full impact of Ubisoft Toronto’s ‘Play As Anyone’ tagline for Watch Dogs: Legion until I was an hour or so into the London-based open-world stealth-heavy action title, playing on hard difficulty with permadeath turned on.

Permadeath is an option in Legion, but unlike other games it’s not the end of the world if you make some poor choices and lose your character in a hail of gunfire. Instead losing an operative means picking up where you left off with another of DedSec’s recruits – if you have any left. Lose all your recruits and it’s game over, so pick them smartly but don’t be too selective…

This ‘Play As Anyone’ approach serves a couple of purposes in Legion. First off, you’re going to be playing a bunch of characters that you’d likely never have created yourself. I spent much of the first few hours as Klaudia Kowalczyk, for example, a middle-aged woman with a red spiked mohawk who made up for her lack of mobility with a silenced pistol, the ability to hack access keys from unlimited distance, and a bit of cloaking tech I invested in that made her functionally invisible for short stretches.

Each operative you recruit has a selection of random traits from an extensive list of possibilities, but not all of them are positives. Maybe you find an MMA fighter who does double damage with melee attacks, but he’s a celebrity so he’s randomly recognized. Or maybe he’s not great at stealth thanks to the ‘flatulence’ trait, or got unlucky and wound up tagged with the ‘randomly dies’ trait… Some of these combinations don’t make a lot of sense, like why does an office worker have an AK-47 and the ability to automatically steal money from people he takes down, but if you want to make up your own backstory to fill that in I’m sure there’s room to explain it.

Secondly, you’re going to see emergent gameplay from this – like when Klaudia wound up in arrested and I had to send in Elia Healy to rescue her. I had recruited Elia solely for the comedy value of her ability to summon flying cargo drones, which can be ridden to avoid ground traffic and shortcut your way to some objectives. After all, why sneak, hack, and shoot my way through multiple floors of a building to rescue Klaudia when I can – and did – just land the drone on the roof and go down one floor to free her.

This also works against you, however. Infiltrating a building I was using an agent who was gifted with speed hacking skills – only they didn’t do him much good against a riot drone that spotted him. The replacement I sent to do the job didn’t have the skills to take the same path, so I had to plan out a new attack – not every mission can be ‘solved’ with the cargo drone approach.

Check out the first 15 minutes of the game on Xbox One X.

Aside from the drones, the gameplay is familiar to those who’ve played past Watch Dogs games and if you enjoyed those, you’ll have a good time with Legion. The stealth elements are great, having been refined over the past titles, and the combat is equally satisfying.

The story is better than those past games, with characters that are more fleshed-out and a plot that seems pulled out of current headlines. A political crisis, a pandemic, anti-government and anti-police protests – there are a lot of references that, though this is set in London, could be straight out of the US.

This is a version of London that, though I’ve never been there, seems close to reality, but condensed. Some areas I recognized from movies or TV shows, and the game offers you the chance to check it all out at your leisure thanks to an ‘autodrive’ mechanic in all the cars that lets you set a destination and have the vehicle drive you there. While this impressively obeys all the rules of the road along the way I did find myself wishing someone had the ability to hack the autodrive into a ‘drive it like you stole it’ mode, however…

What I Loved:

  • Stealth-based action is a ton of fun
  • Prepping for a building infiltration using hacked cameras to find enemies
  • ‘Play As Anyone’ far more than just a marketing tagline
  • Great recreation of London

What I Liked:

  • Solid shooting controls
  • Impressive recreation of London
  • Good story that doesn’t drag on
  • A ton of tech gadgets to unlock and play with

What I Disliked:

  • Driving controls need work
  • Hard to find drone assailants during firefights

What I Hated:

  • Autodrive is such a granny driver

The Final Word: Congrats to Ubisoft Toronto for proving ‘Play As Anyone’ is more than just a tagline. Watch Dogs: Legion sticks you in the shoes of characters you’d never have chosen otherwise, and it works more often than it doesn’t.


Watch Dogs: Legion is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Available at launch for PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. Reviewed on Xbox One X using code provided by the publisher.