- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Portal 2
- Mega Man X
Much of what has changed about Super Mario RPG for the remake beyond the visuals is behind the scenes. The pace is brisker, and my hour count (even after beating the big optional boss) came in lower than the average playtime of the original. The game has been tweaked only slightly to add some new mechanics and make the adventure even more welcoming than it already was. The result is an experience that only shows its age slightly and rewards longtime fans and newcomers alike.
The best thing about Separate Ways is having the opportunity to revisit the Resident Evil 4 remake again in shortened summary form. Some additions exist, like getting to see more of Ada dealing and working with Albert Wesker, which is only teased in the main game. Learning more about their relationship is fun for longtime Resident Evil fans, and I also enjoyed spending more time with Luis, who continues to be improved over his original characterization. Separate Ways isn’t wholly unique, however. Ada has many of the same combat scenarios as Leon, and while getting to see memorable moments from a new perspective is fun, it doesn’t reexamine the story or action in an impactful way. The DLC functions as a fun extension of the main game but isn’t one to play in lieu of the primary adventure. But any excuse to play more Resident Evil 4 remake is one I am eager to attach my grappling hook to and fly toward.
Sea of Stars is a stellar throwback that appeals to fans like me who love 16-bit RPGs, but it also functions as an excellent entry point. Annoyances that hindered early games that inspired Sea of Stars are nowhere to be seen. Simple actions like moving around the world feel great, the story picks up quickly, and farming experience is effectively unnecessary. It all leads to a smooth, consistently thrilling adventure with fun combat, all in a gorgeous and inviting world.
Remnant II is most successful as a tour through a series of disparate dimensions, each contending with their own battles against the villainous Root plaguing their world. The gunplay is solid, the co-op with up to two other players works great, and the lore is fascinating (if you want to dig deep). Remnant II’s plot, characters, and progression are where it falls short, but I like its third-person shooter take on mechanics and ideas borrowed from the Souls games.
The entirety of Viewfinder, including completing its optional puzzles, only takes a few hours, but its brevity is a strength. The game has no unnecessary fat where you use familiar solutions to solve slight variations of puzzles you’ve already completed. Every level feels like it is trying out a new idea based on the core concept making it a consistently novel experience throughout.
Nearly every encounter, whether puzzle, traversal, or combat, must be reconsidered. It makes you think in new ways. I didn’t get the same goosebumps exploring Hyrule as I did in the past, but I did experience new emotions both on a granular level from solving individual puzzles and on a larger scale by going back to one of my favorite video game locations. They say you can never go home again, but I adored returning to Hyrule with all new tools.
Tchia drips with joyful, explorative fun. The idea of letting players loose in an interactive sandbox is a goal that has been chased by developers since video games began. Few truly give you the freedom to frolic in a virtual playground, and though Tchia is not without its shortcomings, it’s a rare instance where the temptation to just play in the digital world is rewarding at just about every turn. The tone, the music, and Tchia’s abilities all come together to create something that is simply fun, and it all takes place in a setting that demands to be explored.
It’s one of the few PlayStation VR2 games that takes advantage of the hardware’s eye tracking and it works great. I personally encountered issues playing with a webcam in the past, but I never encountered a single issue on PlayStation VR2. It also doesn’t require initial calibration. It just works immediately, and continues to work, letting you focus wholly on Benjamin Brynn’s story. Beyond the blinking, though, being able to look around the environments makes everything feel more impactful and real. The structure of the game, where you as the player character are sitting in one place as you move through life, is perfectly suited to VR. It’s also not a long experience, so the nausea potential is very low. You should play Before Your Eyes if you can on whatever platform you can, but if PlayStation VR2 is an option, then that is absolutely the route you should take. Plus, no one will be able to see you cry if you’re wearing a headset.
Horizon Call of the Mountain is a good showcase piece for PlayStation VR2. It is the game to use if you want to show off your new technology to friends and family. There is even an unlockable mode perfect for this, which is a passive journey on a canoe through a robot-infested jungle. What holds the game back tremendously, though, is Call of the Mountain's overreliance on climbing. The smaller parts of the game, fighting robots, making items, and looking around, are highlights. Pulling yourself up a mountain isn’t, and that’s where you spend most of the approximately six hour experience.
One of the best things going for Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is its length. Making your way to the last level and defeating the final boss only takes a few hours. In this way, it knows exactly what it is: a brief but enjoyable nostalgic experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. By the time you start feeling like you’ve completed a full retro meal, credits are right around the corner and I appreciate it for that. Moonrider’s adventure likely won’t linger with you, but I don’t regret playing the short, familiar, and satisfying experience.
For the ongoing Final Fantasy VII re-examination, which Square Enix has officially dubbed the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core feels like required reading. Its place in the larger story is important and will likely grow in significance moving forward, but making your way through those story moments sometimes feels like a school assignment. Reunion is a well-executed remake of the 2007 game that delivers fun combat alongside a stilted story with an interesting and narratively important final act. If you plan on starting or continuing the Final Fantasy VII Remake journey, make sure to do your homework.
Somerville is held back by technical shortcomings, but is full of impressive moments worth experiencing with the lights turned low and and your headphones up high. The father’s adventure lingers in my mind as I reflect on what happened, and those memories do ultimately outweigh the technical shortcomings. I hope time will provide improvements to bring the game to where it deserves to be, which is high in the sky alongside the ships of the invading forces.
God of War Ragnarök feels a lot like God of War (2018), which is a compliment considering how fantastic that game is. Sony Santa Monica was right to not break what wasn’t broken and it has expertly continued the story threads that were left hanging from the previous game.
To dive deeper would reveal important story beats, none of which stand out as being a major highlight, but I enjoyed learning more about Rose, revisiting locations from Village with a new perspective (both literally and figuratively), and getting more context on her role in the universe. Considering her potential importance in the future, I assume Shadows of Rose will be an experience worth having played, but I wouldn’t go quite as far as calling it required reading. For something more abstract and focused on horror within the world of Resident Evil, Shadows of Rose is worth exploring.