I haven't been so deeply affected by a game as I have Sumire in a very, very long time. This is an artful experience with a valuable core message; don't take anything for granted. Sumire has a literal day to achieve what she needs to. Metaphorically we all only have one "day" on this planet, and we shouldn't waste it. You may be driven to tears playing Sumire, but that's not a message you'll soon forget. Not with the powerful way this game presents it.
I might constantly rail against the industry's obsession with content, but that's because I firmly believe that artistic quality comes from any artwork being only as big as it needs to convey the full weight of its themes and ideas. Most games are far too long for that, trying to spread too little thematic depth over too much gameplay. This is a rare example of things being the other way around. There's so much potential here that the developers should have done a lot more with it. It's genuinely good fun while it lasts, and that's why I'm scoring it this high. Just don't expect to get more than an hour or two of game, with another hour or so for finding the best locations for topless photo sessions with this game's large... levels.
With that being said, Maid of Sker is still hugely entertaining, especially for people that are aware of the literary traditions that it's tapping into. As an aesthetic, it's probably a little nuanced and subtle for its own good (let's face it, the video game sector isn't big on rewarding nuance and subtlety), but it's great and distinctive. It's just disappointing that the development team struggled so hard in their efforts to make a compelling game to go with it.
The reality is that if you're going to make an arena score-attack game featuring zombies, you're going to need to do something really different at this point. Undead Battle Royale doesn't get there. It's not even close. There's nothing outwardly wrong with it, but there are so many other games you could be playing instead, and every second that you spend in this game you will most definitely be thinking that exact thing.
There's nothing outwardly wrong with Arcaea. The presentation is beautiful, there are some foot-tapping tracks in there, and there's certainly a generous amount of content to enjoy. It's just way too late to the party for something that isn't meaningfully different to its peers. The music's enjoyable, but not stand-out, the gameplay is too-familiar and while it does have a lot of pretty girls and that is a very nice thing, is not going to help it become a memorable, standout example of a genre that the Switch is already over-subscribed with.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne was one of the first games I ever reviewed as a game critic, back on the PlayStation 2. I was mesmerised by it then, because I found it to be a deeply challenging, but also deeply rewarding JRPG, and its dark, genuinely adult theme wasn't so common for JRPGs back then. 18-odd years later, my interest in games has shifted slightly, and I'd like to think my capabilities and depth as a critic has matured. However, this game continues to compel me. It is thought-provoking, deeply creative, and a genuinely serious JRPG. Oddly enough, one of the qualities that drew me to the original has drawn me back to the remaster: we still don't get so many of those.
Rise Eterna is not terrible by any means. It's a perfectly playable effort to emulate Fire Emblem. But it's also incredibly shallow, lacks character and meaningful narrative, and misfires in several critical areas with the gameplay. On the other hand, since Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are showing no haste in announcing a new Fire Emblem, I guess we've got to take what we can get.
I'd love to encourage more developers to leverage 1-bit aesthetics. The high contrast and level of detail that can be worked into the art, using modern technology, makes for a distinctive and highly appealing art direction. However, it's still got to be playable. A fast-paced strategy game that is almost impossible to follow because everything is so tiny on the screen, coupled with high levels of contrast that end up encouraging eye strain, is just not on. Death Crown would be brilliant on PC, where you can see everything that's going on (I imagine). This lazy and ill-conceived port to the Nintendo Switch is almost worthless, sadly.
Space Commander: War and Trade isn't bad. If there's one thing that can be said about mobile games, it's that developers are hugely incentivised to make sure players enjoy what they're looking at, and there's no possibility of being frustrated by the gameplay. The core mechanical elements are rock-solid, and transfer over to the Switch well. The game's biggest problem is the setting. Space should be an exotic location filled with adventure and discovery. That entire experience in Space Commander is truncated to the point that it loses that essential quality, leaving the overall experience feeling quite hollow.