What Obsidian has here is a reinvention of narrative gaming, however, and one that asks a question of the player everyone should at least attempt answering. Whether or not the question is too inscrutable doesn't really matter - it's how Andreas, and the player, responds. Pentiment is the kind of masterwork that Andreas chases early in the game, and it's equally as flawed, biased, subjective, and captivating as the pieces he's inspired by. Play it and decide for yourself whether it's worthy of that kind of comparison. That's the point.
Ultimately, however, Alina of the Arena is an absolute blast, and that's what counts most in a genre filled to the brim with games attempting to compete for the same niche audience. While it's unlikely to become the main deckbuilder distraction for players who frequent the genre, it's a great side quest, one that will take dozens of hours before growing old or stale. At just $14.99 USD, Alina of the Arena is well worth the price of admission.
For those who have somehow missed Persona 5 Royal and are still interested in trying the game, it's debatable whether the title's Switch debut is the right platform - there are better options depending on which qualities a player desires. For anyone who wants to be able to return to the beautiful, compelling, and introspective world of Persona 5 Royal at their leisure, however, there's no doubt that P5R on Switch is the best way to do so. Ease of access thanks to the Switch's handheld mode and a lovely port that leaves very little wanting make Persona 5 Royal on Switch an easy recommendation.
All of this is good, but NHL 23 is simply that - good. It's a fine effort in a fine series that has continuously failed to successfully capture the feeling of ice hockey in a way that is as satisfying as soccer simulators, but it's not going to move the needle for anyone who wasn't already interested. It feels like NHL 23 is about as far as EA can go with the current system of gameplay modes and mechanics - it might be good for the sport's video games if some from-the-ground-up rebuilds were attempted, much in the same vein as teams that tanked for Shane Wright last year.
That leaves NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition on Switch in a fascinating spot. It's both the worst version of the game (now that the PC version of NieR: Automata is better) and the best, depending on the audience. It's a matter of preference - visual fidelity or ease of access? - and at the heart of the matter, it's simply about how players want to engage in one of the best video games of the past decade. There's no wrong choice, but it's certainly appreciated that there are now so many to pick from.
Ultimately, SD Gundam Battle Alliance feels like the sort of game that will appeal to those who haven't picked up a Gundam game in a few years, but it's not going to move the needle for anyone else. Standard and unexciting combat is combined with some strange meta-narrative decisions that make this feel like a cute spin on some of the series' most iconic moments. The RPG elements of the game are also very limited, which means arcade-style fighters like Gundam Extreme Versus Maxiboost ON offers more exciting action. SD Gundam Battle Alliance is solid and will definitely be a hit with dedicated Gundam fans, but it's definitely not a reason to dive into the property for those who haven't done so before.
Overall, Across the Obelisk is a fun deckbuilding roguelite that doesn't measure up to the genre's greats. Its innovations aren't really that interesting and the rest is pretty standard, which isn't a knock against the game, since it executes on that vanilla approach well. It does mean that Across the Obelisk is less likely to suck players into dozens of hours of playthroughs, but it's worth a try for fans of the deckbuilding roguelite genre.
The collection's biggest strength, and the games' best selling points individually, all boil down to their wonderful cyberpunk storytelling. There isn't a weak link among the three, with each story feeling relevant today. The exploration of hopelessness in the face of technological power or the inequality among people born into different circumstances can, at times, be brutal, but Shadowrun is largely about those without agency reclaiming it for themselves and others - an inspirational story, especially now. For that reason alone, the games are well-worth engaging in - but the tactical combat is still a draw too, scratching the itch for challenging content with plenty of rewarding eureka moments for those willing to spend time within them. Shadowrun Trilogy: Console Edition is a worthy port and a thought-provoking collection, making it a high recommendation even in 2022.
While anyone who enjoys mystery games, visual novels, or the often bizarre story-telling quirks of Spike Chunsoft games will find a lot to love in AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative, it's really a game that shouldn't be missed by anyone. A combination of maddening puzzles with satisfying solutions, a story that is as weird as it is excellent, and characters who make memorable impressions sees nirvanA Initiative establish itself as a worthy sequel to one of the better sleeper hits of the past several years. AI: The Somnium Files - nirvanA Initiative works very hard to keep your eyes focused on it at all times, and the reward is a rollercoaster ride that's superb from start to finish.
Ultimately, however, Nintendo Switch Sports thrives in its gameplay, which is captivating despite its simplicity and remains a huge selling point for anyone interested in the title. It's easy to lose hours of a night to burgeoning competitive rivalries among friends in one specific game, and the motion controls get people active enough that it feels like a productive use of time on top of the entertainment. There's some valid criticisms to be made over the shallow game roster and even shallower character customization, but at its core, Nintendo Switch Sports is an absolute blast and is simple enough for anyone who wants to give it a try.
Ultimately, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim remains largely unchanged on Nintendo Switch minus the platform's strengths and weaknesses that exist independent of title. That's for the best, as 13 Sentinels remains one of the most intriguing releases in recent years and a game that's been slept on by a large number of people turned off by its anime or mecha-inspired origins. Underneath that coat is a resonant tale spanning generations and dealing with some interesting, innovative subject matter - and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim comes highly recommended to anyone as a result.
Actually deciding whether or not Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is worth it varies wildly depending on what a given consumer is looking for. As a remaster, it falls short of the high bar some other projects over the last few years have managed to meet. As a gaming experience absent its new bells and whistles, Chrono Cross remains a stunning title that still captivates as a JRPG over two decades since its release, while The Radical Dreamers remains an oddball text adventure that few but the most dedicated lore enthusiasts will find appealing. As a preservation project, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition is all but necessary. What players choose to do with that information is up to them.
Overall, Monark is a perfectly functional JRPG with a great combat system, some strong aesthetic designs, and a decent story. It's held back a bit by its school setting and a lack of exposition early, and could have benefited from embracing its darker themes more readily to help establish stakes in the opening chapters. Still, what's here is a fun game with an addictive combat system, and lessons learned in Monark could make the next effort from FURYU Corporation even more appealing.
Anyone who liked Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars will similarly find much to enjoy in Forsaken Maiden. Those who felt that Isle Dragon Roars was a little too monotonous in its early-going should still attempt Forsaken Maiden, since its biggest strength is a streamlined approach to the game's major selling points. Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden is a lovely second proof-of-concept for what is an excellent gameplay design approach, and hopefully it inspires some similar risk-taking in other JRPG designs in the future.