One Piece: Romance Dawn is an attempt to fit a vast amount of story into a concise RPG, but the result is flimsy and underdeveloped. The turn-based battle is fun in a very average way, and the rest of the experience tempted me to put down my 3DS and just watch the One Piece anime instead. It’s not a complete disaster by any means, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to play a condensed version when the source material is readily available.
Happy Home Designer gets pretty much everything right when it comes to decorating, encouraging creativity, and exploring different styles. It's sometimes unsatisfying to work without a sense of progression, but taking away progression unlocks means there's no limits on the creativity you can express with Animal Crossing's huge range of options. There's no shortage of actual designing to do, and the series' charm prevents it from becoming just a series of soulless tasks. Plus, you won't have to worry about being in debt with a raccoon this time around.
Despite some cute details and a good idea here and there, Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is inconsistent at best and often just boring. Most levels are a little too slow, and a 10-or-so-hour game felt far longer — in a bad way. I liked seeing Chibi-Robo's adorable little victory dances and finding hidden collectibles, but even its best moments were few and far between. It was just enough to pass some time.
As an RPG, Yo-Kai Watch mostly fumbles its battle system and creates a relatively passive experience. However, I adored exploring every corner of its compelling world. The low difficulty ultimately works in its favor — I was always eager to move on to the next charming character or compelling idea. Yo-Kai Watch is a "kids' game" that doesn't talk down to or sugarcoat darker themes for kids, and I appreciated not being talked down to either.
Oxenfree is elegantly simple, using branching dialogue and a little something supernatural to develop three-dimensional characters and drive the coming-of-age story. There's not much else to it in terms of gameplay, which is absolutely a good thing, but pacing issues in its story can make it feel sluggish between conversations. Mostly, though, it's like walking through a stunning painting, listening to the idle chatter and revealing talks of (sometimes unnatural-sounding) teenagers.
True to its title, The Walking Dead: Michonne - Episode 1 is all about one character, somewhat to the detriment of the story and other characters. Michonne is so well done, though, from her impressive survival skills to the hollow look in her eyes, that she easily carries the entire episode. Even though I wasn't invested in the story, I did care about Michonne — everything she said, every walker she killed, and what will happen to her moving forward.
Michonne is undoubtedly a strong star, but the rest of the characters fall short as a supporting cast — they’re mostly backdrops and mirrors for Michonne to look into. It doesn’t hurt her character development, but it takes some of the emotion out of otherwise-powerful scenes that clearly affect Michonne deeply. Going into the third and final episode, those characters and the story overall have a chance to go in a more interesting direction, but for now, Michonne must carry it all.
There’s some charm to Lucky’s Tale’s simplicity. It’s not exciting, but it’s finely polished. Old-fashioned 3D platforming is still fun, especially some of the boss battles, which require more precise jumping and dodging than any of the more slowly paced levels. It’s just not remarkable, especially as a showcase for VR.
After two episodes, The Walking Dead: Michonne successfully developed its main character at the expense of the rest of its cast. In Episode 3, the trade-off doesn’t feel quite worth it — it’s so concerned with drawing explicit connections and tying every thread together that it isn’t that satisfying as an ending. A critical reveal redeems it somewhat, but once the episode begins to over explain that, too, the impact sadly fades.
Though it has a few unsettling, adrenaline-pumping moments, Here They Lie fails to deliver believable psychological horror. It definitely tries — it’s filled with the requisite creepy, gargling monster sounds and reality-bending that can contribute tension to scares — but it doesn’t blend its horror elements well enough to be consistently terrifying. Relying so heavily on overwrought surrealism and a few haunted house-style jumps to create tension rather than fostering any true discomfort (besides nausea) leaves it feeling flat.
After 20 years of slow but steady evolution, Pokemon gets a bit of a reinvention in Sun and Moon. An engrossing and rich new region makes the Alola journey — along with all the changes Sun and Moon make to the existing formula — enjoyable throughout the main adventure, and small interface and variety of upgrades along the way make a few of the things that stayed the same feel better than before.