Reviews
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Game Info:

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
Developed by: OhNoo Studio
Published by: OhNoo Studio
Released: March 4, 2015
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X
Genre: Adventure, horror
Number of players: 1 (offline)
Price: $11.99

Thank you, OhNoo Studios, for providing us a copy of this game to review!

The genre of “adventure game” tends to span a variety of literary genres as well. Humor tends to be one of the main ones, but horror tends to rank highly in terms of popularity as well. However, there aren't too many of them that also serve as a tribute to an artistic medium at the same time. Tormentum: Dark Sorrow manages to do this, successfully weaving an interesting story with an homage to horror artists. 

In the game, you control a mysterious, robed figure. He has no memory of who he is, but he's been taken to a grotesque prison because of apparent crimes in his life. First he needs to figure out how to escape by solving a variety of puzzles. After that, he needs to find a way to navigate a barren landscape in order to find a mysterious sculpture that he can remember. Along the way, he learns more about the hellish world he's found himself in. 

The hand-painted artwork in reminiscent of the styles of H. R. Giger (who inspired the appearance of the aliens in the “Aliens” franchise), Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński, or Joe Petagno and Derek Riggs (artists for the album covers of various heavy metal groups). The scenery features many skulls, skeletons, demonic-looking creatures, decaying, meaty tissues, or all of the above. In one instance, it looks like female figures are wearing breastplates with stylized nipples... or it could be partially nude statues. It's hard to tell, really. The artistic style is stunningly grotesque yet beautiful in its own right. It certainly isn't for everyone, though – I wouldn't recommend the game for children or young adults simply because of the imagery in the game. Fans of horror, Lovecraftian themes or the macabre would probably not be bothered by it, though. 

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
Highlights:

Strong Points: Interesting story; stylized artwork
Weak Points: Short; puzzles aren't terribly complex
Moral Warnings:  Artwork depicts frightening or horrific scenes; player can commit murder and other immoral actions; blood and gore; “d*mn” and “h*ll” are repeated often; some concepts and imagery are not Biblically-based

The scenery tends to have minimalistic animation to it. Creatures and objects tend to move a bit like paper puppets over a well-painted background. Items that can be clicked on tend to be illuminated by a glowing white ball, and the cursor changes from an arrow to a skeletal hand when moused over. This certainly eliminates the “pixel-clicker” problem that many adventure games wrestle with. The puzzles are not overly complex, and for some of the combination-type puzzles, significant clues to the answer can be found nearby – in a couple of cases, even in the same room the puzzle can be found. The character will take notes as he goes along, and the player can refer to that at any time to help solve the puzzles. The player also will be confronted by several choices as the game is played, and these choices are instrumental in determining which of the two game endings the player will receive.

The sound effects are minimal, and there is no voice acting in the game at all. The music does a good job with setting the mood for the game, but none of the tunes stand out as particularly memorable to me. Controls are done simply with the mouse pointer and a left-click, so there aren't any issues there at all. I did have the game lock up on me one time when I tried to back out of a scene after failing to solve a puzzle, but other than that, the game ran flawlessly, and even started up surprisingly quickly.

While the game definitely has some creepy, horrific elements to it, there aren't any jump-scares, chase scenes or other aspects that tend to be typical of horror games. Tormentum is more unsettling, rather than truly terrifying. However, there are other elements that may need to be considered, especially from a Christian perspective, but this ventures into spoiler territory. For those that don't want the ending to be spoiled, you may want to skip the next paragraph. 

 

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 52%
Violence - 2/10
Language - 6.5/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

+3 for depicting consequences of committing evil actions

It's already strongly implied as the game progresses that the cloaked figure is going through a sort of afterlife. It ultimately turns out to be a “second chance” to redeem himself from sins he committed in life. The final judge of the action – a “god figure,” as it were – turns out to be a woman with burning stars in her hair, embraced by two skeletal figures. Although it doesn't explicitly state that she serves as the god of the wasteland, she is the final judge of whether or not the hooded figure has redeemed himself. Additionally, there is only one correct path to receive the “good” ending. One moral error in the playthrough – even if it was accidental, or the player is misled by one of the other characters they will interact with – will automatically result in the “bad” ending, damning the figure's soul to Hell for an eternity of torment. It's possible that this could be excused for being a fantasy environment, but Christian themes of redemption and atonement are largely absent from the final judgment. Either live a perfect life, or suffer for eternity? Heavenly Father knows that mankind is flawed and could never receive redemption on their own, which is why He sent His son to offer forgiveness, and a guidepost to live our lives by. It makes me wonder if the game developers had in mind an alternative scenario for those faiths that do lack this atoning sacrifice – or maybe it's “just a game” and I'm reading too much into it.

In any case, the game can be played through in about four hours, and enough clues will be obtained by the end to determine how to get the other ending with a second playthrough. Since the puzzles remain unchanged the second time around, going through the game a second time can be even quicker. Every single Steam achievement could be obtained with three plays, and then there is little reason to play the game again, except for enjoying the sinister artwork.

Unfortunately, the game endings have an apparent tendency to reveal another glitch. On occasion, rather than showing the full ending – as well as unlocking the appropriate achievement – the game will loop an animation and ending song endlessly. This happened to me, and from what I've read, others also have experienced it. This happens most often when obtaining the “good” ending, but from what I've read on the forums, sometimes it happens during the “bad” ending as well. Reportedly a fix is in the works, but as of this writing, it still hasn't been implemented.

Tormentum: Dark Sorrow is an interesting, yet short, tribute to gothic art coupled with an intriguing, albeit not unfamiliar, storyline. It certainly isn't for everyone, though – and especially not a game for children. Caution is advised when playing this game or gifting it to others, but for those who aren't bothered by the creepy scenery, the $11.99 may be worth the price of admission.

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Game Info:

Parcel
Developed by: Polar Bunny Ltd.
Published by: Polar Bunny Ltd. and Frozenbyte, Ltd.
Released: April 22, 2015
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Genre: Puzzle, strategy
Number of players: 1-4 (local co-op)
Price: $9.99

Thank you, Frozenbyte, for sending us this game for review!

Delivering packages can be a deceptively simple job. Pick up the package, transport it to its destination, drop off the package. There are several companies that use this simple method to make a lot of money, and that isn't even counting pizza delivery or Chinese takeout.

However, those delivery companies probably didn't have to deal with the hazards that Block has to deal with – namely robotic spiders, killing laser beams, devious traps, and a motley assortment of oddball characters that work with him at Postpeople. 

This is the world of Parcel, a puzzle game that consists simply of transporting a box from point A to point B in a not-so-simple fashion. While transporting the box from puzzle to puzzle, the player will explore the world within the ruined company building of Postpeople, as well as entering virtual environments where multiple instances of the characters can be found in order to solve puzzles. The player also can learn about the worlds by collecting shimmering white “dataspheres,” which contain logs of people trapped within the virtual environments, or company executives and researchers who are wrestling with the ethical results of their inventions – more people prefer to be plugged into the digital worlds than living in “meatspace,” which has led to severe degradation in the real world.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Cute graphics; lots of thought-provoking, challenging puzzles; workshop content
Weak Points: Controls can't be changed; some controllers not supported
Moral Warnings: Robots can be destroyed

The player can control Block or one of his companions in order to try and solve the various puzzles in the game. Each of the companions has different powers – for example, Magna can use her magnets to attract the box and also is the only one who can destroy the spiderlike robots, and Porter can swap places with herself, the box, or one other character, three times per level. A big part of the strategic element is determining what powers to use, and when and where, in order to solve the puzzle. Some puzzles will need to be solved multiple times in order to obtain each objective.

The controls for the game are a bit problematic. The game offers controller support; although it recognizes my Logitech Precision controller, it doesn't respond the way it should when I press the buttons. More troubling is that there doesn't seem to be a way to remap the controller – or, for that matter, the keyboard. You are restricted to the controls as they're programmed into the game, and if they don't work for your playstyle, too bad. The game also doesn't recognize the existence of mice, even in the menu options. This could be an issue for multiplayer games, especially if no one has a controller that works with the game. Players can take turns on the keyboard, since swapping characters is done simply by pressing 1 through 4 on the keyboard – but having a “hotseat” format for a real-time strategy game is awkward, at best.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 90%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The pacing of the game is very slow – so much that it almost feels like a turn-based game. Some timing does need to be taken in order to position the characters or the box precisely, but errors in this often are merciful, and it is easy to restart the levels in case a particularly egregious mistake is made. The game also is incredibly long – as I write this, I've put 16 hours into the game, yet it indicates that I am still less than halfway through the game! If the in-game puzzles aren't enough, there also is the option to create your own levels, and to upload them to the Steam Workshop. You also can download other peoples' levels and try to play through those as well. There actually are two Steam achievements for doing both these activities. Uploading and downloading levels works smoothly, and adds a lot more variety to the game.

The graphics are quite colorful, almost friendly despite the bleak nature of the world. It's easy to see what is happening on the screen. On occasion, I found a bit of slowdown when too much activity is happening on my monitor, but this is fairly seldom. The music has a haunting, techno feel to it, but it gets repetitious before too long. The sound effects are minimal, but contribute nicely to the game. There is no voice acting in the game – but from what I've seen, none of the characters have anything to say, anyway.

There are very few moral worries in the game. Robots explode in a bright flash when crushed with the box (and, in the rare instances when a character is pushed into a laser beam, they also explode in a similar fashion – this typically indicates a “game over” and the level must be reset). Some of the dataspheres use the word “butt,” but there isn't anything stronger than that in the game.

To wrap it up, Parcel is a game that really delivers. It provides a challenging array of puzzles that can really take some time and thought to complete. At $9.99, the game provides a lot of entertainment for a respectable price. For puzzle fans, it's a nice package to add to any game library.

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boxart
Game Info:

Shelter 2 
Developed by: Might and Delight
Release Date: March 9, 2015
Available on: PC, Mac, Linux
Genre: Survival
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $14.99

Thank you Might and Delight for sending us this game to review!

Have you ever watched an animal documentary and felt bad about an animal's hunting or parenting mistake and felt that you could do a better job if you were in their place?  Perhaps I'm strange for doing so, but even if you have answered No to that question, Shelter 2 is still a unique game worth checking out.  In this game  you take on the role of a pregnant lynx named Inna.  She'll have four cubs (that you can rename) called Vavi, Kir, Solda, and Bova.  It's up to you to feed them constantly and to keep track of them while roaming the landscape and contending with fierce weather changes.      

There are two game modes, Normal and Survival.  Normal is challenging as it is with food scarcity in the winter time and keeping track of your babies.  In Survival mode predators are more common, hunting is more difficult with the automatic sneaking disabled, and stamina regenerating at a slower pace.  The sense of smell also consumes stamina and the cubs cannot automatically jump up cliffs in the harder difficulty mode.  There is a Steam achievement for keeping all of your cubs alive in Survival mode.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Beautiful storytelling, graphics, and music; excellent customer service
Weak Points: Short gameplay as you can beat this game in a couple of hours; sound once dropped for a few minutes
Moral Warnings: Blood splatters while catching prey 

The first time I played Shelter 2 I lost two of my cubs in the winter season.  In my last go around, I only lost one.  While I'm getting closer, I have yet to successfully rear them all into adulthood.  While the cubs don't have status meters over their heads, the ones that are well fed are slightly bigger than the rest.  Weak cubs will lay down and not move until they are fed or die from starvation.  When traveling long distance, make sure to look back occasionally to make sure that you have all of your offspring with you.  

The cubs are ALWAYS hungry, which is pretty similar to human children, actually.  The cubs will gladly eat moles, rabbits, eggs, frogs, birds and deer that you catch for them.  Out of that list I'm lucky if I can get my kids to eat eggs (I haven't tried feeding them deer, rabbit, mice, or frogs).  As the cubs get bigger they will catch some moles on their own.  Feeding yourself is possible but doesn't seem to be required unless you want a temporary stamina boost.  

Catching food requires keeping up with it and overtaking it.  Deer require you to jump to take them down.  Once the food is caught you can bring it to the cub of your choosing or wait for them to come to you.  Moles, birds, and frogs will only feed one cub, rabbits will feed two.  All of the cubs can dine on eggs and deer.  When walking near a stream you can drink from it to restore some stamina.  The cubs will drink and swim in the water (unintentionally).

Shelter 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 92%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The controls are pretty straightforward and this game supports both keyboard and gamepad controllers.  I used keyboard and mouse.  To run, I held down my shift key and jumping was done by pressing the space bar.  Right clicking on the mouse temporarily activates the smell sense for detecting prey.  To the see the game map you can press the M key.  To view your collectible status you can press the C key.

Besides constantly feeding your cubs, you can collect feathers, mushrooms, twigs, flowers and rocks.  If you can find all of them, you'll get Steam achievements.  There's much to see in Shelter 2 and the graphics style is really unique.  Each season is short and the landscape, including animals available, changes with each transition.  The background music is soothing and frightening depending on your circumstances.  When your family is in danger, it's bound to get your blood pumping.  

Speaking of blood, Shelter 2 does show some as the meals are caught and eaten by the lynx family.  If you don't mind the graphic circle of life being represented here, this game is relatively family friendly.  While Shelter 2 is not rated by the ESRB, the original game was rated E 10 for fantasy violence.

While I had no problems running the game, users with integrated Intel graphics may want to try the demo out before purchasing the game.  Might and Delight created a Mac demo for one of our reviewers (Sstavix) without him revealing the fact that we was a reviewer for our site. Sadly, this game was not able to run on his MacBook Pro, so I got to enjoy it in his stead.  Needless to say, the customer support at Might and Delight studios is fantastic!

I enjoyed my time being a mother lynx despite it being harder than raising human offspring.  The story is nicely told and playing through multiple generations is both rewarding and fun.    Shelter 2 is relatively short and can be beaten in two hours.  Even so,  there is plenty of replay-ability and DLC coming out for it this summer.  Cat and animal lovers should keep an eye out for this game.

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boxart
Game Info:

LYNE
Developed by: Thomas Bowker
Published by: Thomas Bowker
Released: March 17, 2014
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android
Genre: Puzzle
Number of players: 1
Price: $2.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

LYNE is a deceptively simple game to learn. If you've ever played “connect the dots,” you have an idea as to how to play this game. Or a rough idea, at least, because the game is a lot more challenging than it lets on at first.

The game consists of a series of shapes on a simple grid. The size of the puzzle varies based on the challenge. One to three colorful shapes will be on the grid, and you need to connect each shape with a single, continuous line. Each of the colored shapes may only be used once in the line, and the lines are only allowed to intersect through the gray, octagonal shapes. In addition, the octagons have a number of diamond-shaped holes which indicates how many lines need to pass through it. If all the shapes are connected, and all the holes filled, the puzzle is completed, and the challenge moves to the next puzzle.

LYNE
Highlights:

Strong Points: Simple to learn, some challenging puzzles
Weak Points: Repetitive
Moral Warnings: None!

There are a total of 26 sets, each with 25 puzzles. As each set is completed, you receive “triangles,” which unlock more sets. You also can receive triangles for completing daily challenges. In addition to the sets, accumulating triangles also unlocks different color pallets. Even if the 26 sets are completed, the daily challenges allow you to continue to play. For those that enjoy these puzzle challenges, LYNE has enough to keep players happy for quite some time.

The games can grow repetitive after too long. Fortunately, the game can be played in short segments. It can be a nice way to relax, especially after a tough day at work or a particularly frustrating challenge. 

LYNE
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The game doesn't have a soundtrack, but connecting the shapes leads to a pleasant, flute-like sound. It's a bit musical sounding that helps with the relaxed atmosphere. The graphics are colorful, and the variety of pallets makes it easy to find a color combination that is pleasing to use. 

There are a couple other reasons to consider the game. For starters, the price is only $2.99, which is a very attractive price for a simple game that can lead to hours of fun. Secondly, if purchased on Steam, there are achievements for each of the sets, which are identified by letter. A player who wants to use the “Achievement Showcase” on their Steam profile can use the letters on the achievements to spell out words. 

There aren't any issues to be worried about in terms of moral issues. The design of the game doesn't even allow for questionable content. 

The game is a fun and affordable puzzle game that enthusiasts will find entertaining for quite some time. The potential fun of the Steam achievements serves as an additional perk for the game. I recommend the game for any casual gamer or those who like intellectual challenges.

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Game Info:

Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars
Developed by: Revolution Software
Published by: Revolution Software
Released: March 24, 2009 (Wii), September 2, 2010 (Windows, OS X), June 18, 2013 (Linux)
Available on: Wii, Nintendo DS, iOS, Windows, Mac (reviewed), Android, Linux
Genre: Adventure
ESRB rating: T
Number of players: 1
Price: $4.99 (Steam)$5.00 on Leap Trade (Wii edition)

The Knights Templar was a religious order that existed in the twelfth and thirteenth century and into the early fourteenth, to be disbanded by Pope Clementine V in 1312. The organization not only included some of the most powerful military units of the Crusades, they also established the first banking institutions in the world. With their power, though, came rumors about their practices, and their disbanding and disappearance has led to hundred of legends about them since that time. The first Broken Sword game, called “Shadow of the Templars” is an adventure game that also focused on the history and rumors of the Knights Templar to create an entertaining narrative. 

The game initially came out in 1996, and was known as “Circle of Blood” in the United States. The game was praised for its storyline and innovative approach to the adventure game genre. In 2008, the game was remade as a “Director's Cut,” and released for the Wii and Nintendo DS, with updated graphics and an expanded storyline. The game eventually spread to other gaming platforms, including iOS and Android.

The game plays out much like most computer adventure games. The player takes the role of the French reporter Nico Collard or American tourist George Stobbard. At first the adventure hinges upon trying to learn the identity and motives of the “costume killer,” an assassin that puts on different costumes before slaying specific targets. As their investigation deepens, though, they uncover evidence of a greater conspiracy at work, and the machinations of a sinister organization trying to take over the world. 

Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great storyline, good music
Weak Points: Inconsistent graphic styles 
Moral Warnings: Language issues, violence, some blood

As with most adventure games, the player needs to click to indicate where their character is to walk. They can click on different portions of the screen – highlighted by throbbing blue circles – in order to interact with objects on the screen, to pick items up, or to speak with other people. The user interface is graphic-based. For example, if you want to talk to someone about a rubber clown's nose, you simply click on the clown's nose in your inventory to bring it into the conversation. If you want to try to use the items in your inventory with something on the screen, you drag it out of your satchel and onto the object in question. Most of the time, these interactions won't work, but every once in a while you'll discover something that helps to move the narrative forward. With the blue circles to indicate what you can interact with, it helps greatly to avoid the “pixel clicker” aspect that many adventure games unfortunately fall into. 

There are a few amusing puzzles at the beginning of the game, including some sliding block locks and clever cryptograms, and again toward the end. However, the bulk of the game is played from the perspective of George Stobbard and is typical for adventure games – wander around, talk to people, try to use objects in different ways, and figure out more clues. After such a strong start, it was disappointing to see the game fall into such mundane techniques. 

The voice acting is decent, but on occasion it's blatantly obvious that some of the lines in the conversation were recorded at different locations. This is especially disappointing when it happens when the scene doesn't change. The dialogue is written out so it's easy to read what everyone is saying, but there is no way to turn the closed captioning on for the cutscenes that take place periodically. 

Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 4/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

There aren't very many cutscenes, but those that exist do stand out – not because they're good, but because of how truly bad they are. Although I'm not normally one to criticize a game because of its poor graphics, those in the first Broken Sword are so dichotomous as to be jarring. The cutscenes look like low-budget Don Bluth knock-offs – these may be the ones that appeared in the game originally back in 1996, but it would have been nice to see these updated. The main gameplay has the slightly pixellated style that can be expected from a game in the 1990s, but engaging in dialogue will bring up animated portraits of the participants that are much sharper in appearance. It's nice to see the expressions on the faces as different topics are discussed. In addition to those, there also is a hidden series of comic-like panels that detail some of the history of Nico Collard and her deceased father. These are reminiscent of a style of  DC Comics. The opening and closing movies also use this style, unlike the other cutscenes that appear in the game. Although the artwork does convey the story and action well enough, the different styles almost seem to clash with each other, and if it wasn't for the similar hairstyles and clothing, it would be easy to confuse the characters from one art form to the next. 

The strongest aspect of the game, though, is the story. It's engaging and can keep the player interested in what's happening. Occasionally the narrative is interrupted by trying to figure out what to do next (hint – if you're stuck, try talking to people that you've already spoken with), but for the most part, the challenges aren't too difficult to solve. The game can be finished in 12-14 hours, which is a decent length for an adventure game.

The game can be violent at times – at least two characters die on-screen, and one of the animated cutscenes shows a person hit with a car. However, there is very little blood, and aside from ancient skeletons found in some of the ruins, nothing terribly gruesome. There is considerable foul language in the game, but nothing that would venture into R-rated territory. There is quite a bit of innuendo, though, and one character is patterned off stereotypical homosexuals in all but dialogue. There are some occult references, but it's ambiguous if there are any actual supernatural occurrences in the game itself. 

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars was considered to be one of the pioneers of the adventure game market, and helped to influence an interest in the Templars. The game is entertaining, but hasn't aged as well as I would have hoped. The game spawned several sequels though, two of which are available for modern systems (Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror, and Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse). For those wanting to know how the series started, or looking for a bit of nostalgic gameplay, the first game in the franchise will do nicely.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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