The Xbox One is a formidable console. It’s got a heap of excellent exclusives, and its interface is getting better and better as Microsoft improves upon it.
I didn’t want to live in a world where the sequel to Grow Home was the slightest bit disappointing, but even goofy little climbing robots can’t always get what they want. Grow Up is built around the same tactile hand-over-hand climbing mechanic that made Grow Home one of 2015’s best little games, and this sequel makes a valiant attempt to blow out Grow Home’s bite-size experience with a big old world map and more things to do. It’s still satisfying to claw your way up a giant beanstalk and collect every last crystal in sight, but some new mechanics that don’t play to the game’s strengths and disappointing performance on console make Grow Up harder to love than it should be.
No Man’s Sky feels like it’s been in the public consciousness for an eternity. In reality, it’s closer to two-and-a-half years. All that build-up, all those weighty expectations, all of it began a little over half a US Presidential term ago at, of all places, the 2013 VGX Awards. Remember that show? If you do, it’s probably because of what a disaster it was. But somewhere in there, tucked amid Joel McHale’s active disdain for his hosting role and a bunch of ill-fitting Odd Future interview segments, maybe you remember Sean Murray of Hello Games unveiling his studio’s latest creation, an impossibly huge-sounding space exploration game called No Man’s Sky. Maybe you remember him nervously shifting as Geoff Keighley grilled him on the details of the game, looking down at his shoes as he described his vision of the ultimate “You see that mountain? You can go there” game, a procedurally generated universe of over 18 quintillion planets, all explorable from pole to pole. Maybe you remember even McHale himself, so detached and sarcastic throughout the show, letting out a brief eruption of genuine-feeling incredulity at the scope of what Murray’s small team was trying to accomplish.
The nuts and bolts of the latest Deus Ex game probably won’t surprise you at this point. It has the things you expect from this kind of action/stealth role-playing hybrid, like skill trees that make you better at hiding from enemies, or abilities that let you speech-check your way through encounters that might otherwise turn violent. It also wraps its story in the familiar trappings of conspiracy, name-dropping “the Illuminati” like that’s something you could just say with a straight face in 2016. Or 2029, as the case may be. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a sharp, exciting action-adventure game that feels good and tells a decent, if somewhat shallow tale.