Spring is traditionally one of the driest seasons when it comes to new games, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Keeping in line with expectations, there weren’t a lot of new games in April, but there were some unexpected gems that rose to the top. These smaller games went toe-to-toe with a widely anticipated big-budget game, but as we’ve seen plenty of times in the past, multi-million dollar budgets don’t always guarantee greatness.
The game I’m referring to is Mortal Kombat X, but even though it’s a great fighting game, it’s definitely up against stiff competition, including a game that’s unusually light on presentation, but big on brain teasers. I’m talking about Box Boy on the 3DS, which admittedly doesn’t look like much from the outside, but its simple mechanics and puzzles expand gradually over time, testing your intellect just enough to consistently deliver a strong sense of satisfaction. We also felt really positive about Affordable Space Adventures, which makes great use of the Wii U’s gamepad to facilitate teamwork as you explore the beautiful and mysterious far-off reaches of deep space. Crypt of the Necrodancer took dungeon crawling to new depths, melding roguelike elements with mechanics from rhythm games, offering an experience unlike anything that we’ve played before. It’s got great dungeon and character design, making it more than an unusual or gimmicky experience. Lastly, though it technically came out in March, we reviewed Pillars of Eternity in April, so we ultimately decided that the impressive homage to Baldur’s Gate belonged on our short list of the best games of April.
There’s far more to Mortal Kombat X than just high production values.
The games on our list of candidates are proof that anytime of year can be a good time for games, even if there aren’t as many being released as we’re used to. As usual, it was difficult to chose the winner for game of the month when there are so many new games with great qualities, but the award ultimately goes to the comical, dark, and deceptively deep fighting game, Mortal Kombat X. Box Boy, Affordable Space Adventures, Crypt of the Necrodancer, and Pillars of Eternity are all great experiences, but none left the same impact on us as Mortal Kombat X did.
The core of the Mortal Kombat experience remains largely the same in Mortal Kombat X: you engage in violent bouts, replete with blood, moans of pain, and over-the-top finishing moves. Alongside some fresh faces, classic characters from the past return, true to form, with an extensive story mode that features over two hours of cutscenes detailing their struggles and that of their offspring. The series’ fighting system has never felt so fluid, and the added depth of character variations makes one character feel like three, giving you more to explore and learn, and more for your opponents to worry about. We’ve also never seen a Mortal Kombat game looks so good. Characters and environments appear more detailed than ever, and the series’ characteristic violence is presented in such a captivating and entertaining way, leaning on absurdity wherever possible to great effect. You cringe at the sight and sound of flesh tearing and bones breaking, but you can’t help but laugh when the act is punctuated with a timely quip. Mortal Kombat X is big, bad, and ugly, for all the right reasons.