This site reviews the first hour, and only the first hour, of video games. It gives a minute by minute look at what is potentially a deal breaker for many games. If a game isn't fun during the initial hour, why should we expect the last 10 to 50 hours to be any different? The First Hour updates every few days with a new game review. Please contact greg@firsthour.net for comments, game suggestions, or if you'd like to write for the site.

2012 Game of the Year Awards - Day Two

Game of the Year Awards

Game of the Year

Announcing the 2012 Game of the Year Awards from First Hour!

Day Two features Guilty Pleasure, Best Surprise, Worst Surprise, and Shame of the Year Awards!

2012 Game of the Year Awards - Day One

Game of the Year Awards

Game of the Year

Announcing the 2012 Game of the Year Awards from First Hour!

Day One features First Hour, Worst Hour, False Hour, Most Hours of the Year Awards!

Primordia

Full Review

Primordia CoverIt feels appropriate to end 2012 with a Wadjet Eye game, as this was the year I discovered, bought, and played nearly all of their games. Dave Gilbert has taken his Adventure Game Studio-developed titles from humble roots to full-on publisher in just six years, culminating with this year’s Blackwell Deception, Resonance, and Primordia; a tour de force in indie point and click adventure games. Wadjet Eye Games is the only publisher from whom I regularly preorder games from anymore, in an industry where they will often fall to half their price a few weeks later. But hey, what’s $10 between me and a few great games?

Primordia is their final offering of the year, and it is ambitious. As a robotic steampunk homage to games like Sam and Max, Primordia puts you in the distant future where humans are dead and a variety of robots are all that remains. Wadjet Eye Games tend to be uniquely evocative: the Blackwell series explores death, The Shivah examines religion, Resonance questions the power of technology, and Primordia scrutinizes progress and freedom. These can all be heavy topics, especially for a computer game, but Wadjet Eye always manages to make it about the characters.

For my final review of 2012, let us talk about Primordia, developed by Wormwood Studios and published by Wadjet Eye Games. Monday will feature our sixth annual Game of the Year Awards, so please have a safe and happy new year.

Devil's Attorney

Full Review

Devils Attorney CoverI used to love the Ace Attorney series, but fans in the United States have to face it: it’s been almost three years since the last American release and over five years since we actually got to play as Phoenix Wright, so we have to move on, and if you’re looking for your defense attorney fix, Devil’s Attorney may be it.

Released in October for Android and iOS, Devil’s Attorney stars an egotistical attorney who makes his buck defending the dregs of society in their exceedingly hilarious and bizarre crimes. The cases come rapid-fire and are played out like a turn-based battle - pretty much the opposite of what fans of Phoenix Wright have come to learn, love, and in turn, lose. The humor is what sustains the game through nearly 60 cases, and there are some really clever bits of writing.

As the year draws to a close, this may be one of our last reviews of 2012, be sure to return on December 31st for our 2012 Game of the Year Awards. I may personally have a surprise pick for my favorite of the year if one of the final games I’m playing stays awesome. Thanks for reading.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Full Review

new Super Mario Bros wii CoverMy oldest son is four years old now, I’ve been playing games with him since he was one. In some ways, gaming is a lot more accessible now: Wii Fit, touch gaming, and even the Kinect allow little kids and casual gamers to ease into things like never before. But on the other hand, give a toddler an Xbox 360 controllers with its nine buttons, two triggers, two thumbsticks, and a D-pad, and they’re more likely to send Batman sailing to an icy death.

So that’s how my Wii has been resurrected. Having collected dust for years, its wide array of kid friendly but adult awesome games is a godsend. We recently played through Donkey Kong Country Returns, and have now finished New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This is a newbie attractive game that features an especially excellent and forgiving cooperative mode. We can both play at the same time, and the punishment for death is rather limited.

But that’s not to say New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn’t challenging, and it certainly doesn’t lack in content or even replayability. Let’s take a deeper look at NSMBW, played completely through in cooperative mode with a four year old.

The Walking Dead: No Time Left

Full Review

the Walking Dead CoverThe finale to the first episodic season of The Walking Dead has arrived, and after the shocking conclusion to the fourth episode, it was apparent just how No Time Left would end. Of course, getting there is never straightforward in The Walking Dead universe.

This final review will be rather spoilerific after the cut, so there’s your first warning. It would be massively difficult to talk about the season as a whole without talking about the characters and their relationships, the real core to The Walking Dead. It’s funny: comparing it to my earlier episodic gaming experience, Tales of Monkey Island, and while I’m going to end up awarding them identical scores, it’s for completely different reasons and I feel totally different about each experience. My thoughts are also a lot more complicated when it comes to The Walking Dead.

So with that, let’s talk Lee, Clementine, and the end of the world.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

First Hour Review

Ratchet and Clank all 4 one CoverSince picking up copies of PC Gamer back in the mid 90s, I’ve only ever played a few game demos that actually made me want to buy the final product. The free demo should be the ultimate introduction to the game, the perfectly crafted first hour. But for whatever reason, being tossed into the middle of the game just doesn’t sit right with me. Whether it’s out of context cutscenes or repetitive gameplay, it doesn’t take me much to cross it off my list.

My only previous experience with the Ratchet & Clank series was a demo for one of the PS2 titles (it’s hard to nail down which one since they were released every 12 months like clockwork) which opened with what felt like a 20 minute cutscene. Unskippable cutscene. I didn’t even make it to the gameplay before the console was reset out of anger and annoyance. I don’t play a Ratchet & Clank demo to learn about its amazing storyline, I play for whatever shooting/platforming/clanking it has to offer.

So here I am with the first hour of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One for the PlayStation 3. Released late last year, it’s still the newest game in the series... no, wait. Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault was released last week. So now we’re playing an out-of-date version of a has-been series. Here we go.

The Walking Dead: Around Every Corner

Full Review

the Walking Dead CoverThe penultimate episode of the first season of The Walking Dead brings our group of survivors to the edge with seemingly no hope for a happy ending. While I’ve certainly enjoyed the previous three episodes quite a bit, I feel like everything has finally clicked for me in Around Every Corner. There’s a great sense of dread, urgency, and horror as you progress, and it successfully caps off the previous three hours with a heart-stopping finale.

Telltale Games wouldn’t have been my first choice for a Walking Dead game, as a popular graphic novel and the most successful show on cable television, the intellectual property owners should have had their pick of the litter when shopping their game. Could Call of Duty: Black Ops II have sold even more with a fully licensed Walking Dead zombie mode? Should the Dead Island developers been tapped? Capcom for their Dead Rising experience? Valve with Left 4 Dead? EA for their gobs of money?

But Telltale’s interactive drama experiment has been a huge success, at least critically. There are bound to be more Walking Dead games in the future, but this will certainly set the bar high. Here’s my review of episode four: Around Every Corner.

Eufloria

Indie Impression

Eufloria CoverOriginally known as Dyson during its prototype stage, Eufloria is self-described as a "space gardening RTS." What that means is not very clear without some description, but in essence, Eufloria is about growth and destruction. Building up your own spores of pollen to seed across the galaxy and wreack havoc on your enemies. Any tree not your color is marked for death and total domination is necessary for your own survival.

Well, that might sound cooler than it actually is, but Eufloria is our latest go-around at Indie Impressions. Developed by a trio of indie devs, Eufloria was released in 2009 for Windows and later released on Linux, OSX, iOS, Android, and PlayStation Network. Here is Steve and Greg's take on the game after playing a few hours.

The Walking Dead: Long Road Ahead

Full Review

the Walking Dead CoverIf there’s something that Telltale Games teaches its Walking Dead players in Long Road Ahead, it is that everyone is expendable. While I don’t know if everyone’s experience was like mine, I lost four major characters over the course of the episode. Zombies are dangerous in the world of The Walking Dead, but humans are a lot worse. To quote one of the characters, “I don’t believe in strength in numbers.”

I haven’t been quite as blown away by the episodes so far as the rest of the internet are, but I’ve certainly enjoyed them so far. The areas are generally small and there is little exploration or puzzle solving required. I’m reminded again of my original comparison of the game to Heavy Rain, but there was a greater sense of dread in Quantic Dream’s psychological epic than in this zombie-laden drama.

Long Road Ahead was released in late August and it was during this time that I was first exposed to the game through social channels, which is certainly not a surprise considering some of the hellish scenarios the episode puts its players through. While I feel episode three was an improvement over Starved for Help, I’m still looking for a bit more from the game than frantic quick time events.

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