For those who do understand their 4X genre, however, At The Gates will come across as a breath of fresh air. It's a ground-up rethink on how the genre can work, and what the 4X might look like as applied to the many cultures and civilizations out there that didn't have the imperialist intent that most 4X titles assume. For that, it's one of the most interesting strategy games I've played in years.
Intense, creative from start to finish, and paced beautifully, The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is yet another feather in the NIS cap. This developer/ publisher understands the Grimm aesthetic and structure better than anyone else out there.
Song of Memories does have an excellent combat system and lite JRPG mechanics. It also has its moments where it's genuinely amusing, and the contrast between the monster story and the fan service-rich romance is... eclectic. It's a difficult game to really pin down, but for those that can let the oddity of it all wash over them, it can also be an surprisingly difficult game to put down.
Thea: The Awakening is good. Very, very good, and where something like Civilization is hard to play in short bursts, Thea is an ideal title for train trips and the like. I have no idea how the team has handled the sequel (currently in Early Access on Steam), but with this first one, there is a superb foundation here for what could become one truly special franchise.
For those who have played and loved any of the tabletop games over the years that have been based on Lovecraft’s mythos – the tabletop miniatures game that Cthulhu Tactics itself is based on, for example, or Arkham Horror, or the legendary Call of Cthulhu pen-and-paper RPG, Cthulhu Tactics does a remarkable job of capturing that same aesthetic and sense of overwhelming challenge. This game is well and truly worth a look.
For Christie nuts, The Raven is one of the better attempts to do her style of detective mystery that Christie herself wasn't involved in. It's well performed and convincing, and the age of the game is hardly a concern because, dated as it looks at times, the appeal of this one has to do more about the cerebral. It's all about the storytelling, in other words, and that side of things is spot on.
All being said, The Shrouded Isle is so razor-focused on its darkly original theme that it comes across as quite brave. This isn’t a necessarily uplifting or relaxing game. Nor is it particularly rewarding. It is, however, genuinely clever with how it works within an established genre, and it’s uncompromising in its vision. We need more games that are willing to do that.