Ghost Blade HD is a brilliant entry into the shoot-'em-up genre for both newcomers and veterans alike. It strikes the tricky balance of offering a reasonable challenge to anybody who picks it up, but makes sure that the difficulty never gets out of hand. The deep gameplay and strategy allows for a variety of playstyles, and while the two-player co-op is a let down, the score attack mode will leave you coming back for more after you've bested the main game.
Atelier Firis makes huge strides forward with its lively open world, but it also takes several steps backwards in other areas. Reintroducing the time limit forces you to play the game at breakneck speed, which means that much of the world is ignored until over 20 hours into the game. Once you break away from the time limit, however, you'll discover a brilliantly diverse world that you can get lost in for countless hours, where you'll be free to properly enjoy what is ultimately a solid, but neglected battle system.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection is a fun and unique entry into a genre that is practically as old as gaming. The use of corpses to help make things easier is executed well, although less skilled players may find themselves fatigued by the constant death. The game actively shakes things up with the obstacles it throws at you, and with a great soundtrack it's easy to recommend this game.
NBA Playgrounds is a good modern take on the old-school arcade basketball game genre. It brings enough new ideas to the court to keep things feeling fresh, but at heart, it still retains the charm and accessibility that made NBA Jam such a beloved franchise. There are a few kicks with the shooting mechanics and rebounding is less than ideal, but the gameplay is strong enough in other areas to ensure it's still an overall slam dunk.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a sound gameplay experience, but lets itself down in a number of other areas. The humour and dialogue fall incredibly flat and there's really no rapport developed between Skylar and Plux during the game. The game's also very short, and while this isn't a terrible effort by any stretch, it begs the question why you wouldn't just play Ratchet & Clank instead.
Portal Knights brings some interesting new wrinkles to the crafting genre that has become so popular recently. The increased focus on combat works well, particularly with the boss battles and having a clearly defined end goal is a great way of keeping you invested. Unfortunately, some of the other additions like the poorly thought out stats system and the reliance on random drops for creating crucial portals keeps the game from ever fully achieving knighthood.
Toby: The Secret Mine has plenty of great ideas that could make it a great game, but it quickly plummets down a mineshaft thanks to a number of missteps. It generally succeeds as a puzzle game, but the heavy focus on platforming doesn't work well and hampers the overall experience. By following the basic visual style and gameplay from such a highly regarded game like Limbo, The Secret Mine sets itself a standard it's never able to reach.
Leaving Lyndow has some promising aspects, but overall it's a frustrating experience. The puzzle sections are poorly thought out and mostly implemented to impede the player's progress and extend the running time for a little while longer, while the technical hiccups shatter your story immersion.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II improves over the original in some ways, but fails in many others. There are a number of great quality of life improvements here and two new classes are very welcome. Unfortunately, the meat of the game is the combat, and it's just not very interesting. It becomes a chore to trudge through enemies and there's not even the pull of an intriguing or interesting story to keep you motivated.
One Piece: Unlimited World Red - Deluxe Edition is exactly what a licensed game should be. It captures the essence of the One Piece franchise through its story, writing, and characters, while also providing gameplay that could stand on its own without the name attached to it. Ganbarion has struck a delicate balance of creating a game that works for both hardcore One Piece fans and players who have never heard of the series before.