The Divine Beasts are solidly the weakest part of the campaign and the inventory is a little clumsy to manage. That all being said, the totality of this Musou game is soundly enjoyable. The confidence on display in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity echoes the earned success Nintendo has found after Breath of the Wild and the Switch. This is a refined and tight action-packed experience that delivers an excellent mix of Zelda lore and creatively ridiculous brawler gameplay.
Seven Knights - Time Wanderer lands close to being a good streamlined JRPG, but the threadbare exploration and passable battle system aren't enough to make it stand out among the crowd. If you're a fan of the Seven Knights universe, it's likely a must play, but if you don't have that affinity, there isn't much for you here.
The puzzles are awesome, the world is wild, and the story is engrossing. I only have the faintest critique for this game, as there are a few stretches where the story drags, but it's likely I felt that way because the Picross on display here is well-designed with some of the best usability features the puzzle style has ever seen. This is a great example of a peanut butter/chocolate-esque genre fusion that works better than the joke idea it seems like from afar.
It's a tightly packed shot of brilliance that manages the balancing act of spending just the right amount of time in an area and on an idea. I was left satisfied but still wanting more at the end of the adventure. The blend of soothing puzzle gameplay and optimistic story makes Carto both a top-shelf Switch indie and a welcome respite for this year.
The degree of customization and accessibility is fantastic. Sure, some technical issues might be plaguing the Switch version right now, but even with some speed bumps, the likes of Quiplash 3, The Devil and the Details, and Champ'd Up are likely to become new game night staples. Hopefully they won't have to be on Discord and Zoom for the rest of time.
But honestly? Petal Crash is excellent even just on the strength of that content. The Story Mode is strong in its relative simplicity, and the pre-designed puzzles are enjoyable even when they get delightfully maddening. Here's hoping that, like some of the '90s-era action puzzle games that inspired it, someone will take the concept of Petal Crash and add all sorts of online updates and doodads. That's really the only thing holding this back from being one of the best of its kind on Switch.
I loved my time with I Am Dead so much I wish there was a little bit more of it. Hanging with Morris and Sparky is a chill, relaxing time, even if there's an undercurrent of the sad afterlife coursing through the world. It might be that juxtaposition between the reality of death mixed with the playfulness of the world that makes I Am Dead so memorable and fun.
Heck, playing this locally with newcomers is a challenge unless you have someone on hand to explain the game in detail. Charterstone appears to be a fun game that I someday look forward to playing in physical board game form. Maybe then, I'll be able to revisit this digital incarnation with friends and enjoy it far more.
When everything clicks into place, Alwa's Legacy soars. The exploration is filled with brain-teasing challenges backed by a great chiptune soundtrack. Hiccups along the way, mostly due to some obtuse item uses, can bring the experience back to Earth, but thankfully, more often than not, this is a super fun game to make your way through.