The Gardens Between was one of my favorite Switch games of 2019, and with its mobile release, it is now one of my favorite mobile titles. The Voxel agents have done a great job of optimizing sound, controls, and graphics, making the gameplay and story just as solid, if not a tiny bit better, on a cellphone than it was on the Switch.
My Time at Portia is a visually beautiful, charming game rich in story, lore, and personality; everything about it is made better by the jump to a portable console. While this version lacks voice acting and rumble integration, the portability and surprisingly decent load times make this a great way to discover all that Portia has to offer.
LongStory is a charming and innocent LGBTQ+ dating sim focused on conversations and relationships rather than just getting lucky. It's a little over the top, a little dramatic, and a little silly, just like middle school itself, and allows you to date almost every character in the game, or go the asexual route. It's a little heavy-handed at times, but otherwise a great way to pass time.
Legrand Legacy is a pretty but otherwise generic RPG. It's beautifully hand-drawn world gets lost beneath mountains of dialogue and a plot so weighed down by tropes that it barely stays afloat. It's a passable to good title, but none of its elements come together to create anything new, exciting, inspiring, or terribly memorable.
The First Tree tells an incredibly personal and melancholy story about the loss of a loved through the eyes of a fox within a dream world. Wandering through beautiful, abstract worlds, you learn the narrator's story as the fox searches for her missing kits. It has a surprising number of platformer elements, given the nature of the game, but doesn't distract from the beautiful story within this short exploration game.
Nairi: Tower of Shirin is a witty, cute, and quirky point-and-click adventure. Silly and slightly morbid, Nairi shines with unique characters, hand-drawn artwork, and challenging but fair puzzles. It is held back slightly by some confusing navigation, a few bugs, and the inability to save your progress, but this charming little gem is a must-play for fans of the genre.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix is a great port, so long as you keep it in handheld mode. Combining RPG storytelling with frantic cell phone game tapping, this funky, high-fashion game is still a surprisingly unique experience, but the Joy-con controls are simply not up to par. With a killer sound track, a surprisingly complex plot, and a whole lot to do after the credits roll, this DS title has more than stood the test of time.
Exorder is a very pretty little game which feels like a puzzle game masquerading as a turn-based strategy title. Controls are simple to a fault, and moving around the map left me frustrated every single battle. While the game has a great style, the bright colors and fun designs are made just a little more dull by the bland voice acting you'll be listening to before and after each battle.
Armello is a great addition to the Switch library, delivering a tabletop experience on the go. Beautiful to look at, this title boasts deep, engrossing mechanics for those who are willing to stick it out through the rather steep learning curve. While you won't be able to hop onto the couch and engage in local multiplayer with your friends, Armello helps make up for this with solid AI and an online multiplayer option.
Creed: Rise to Glory is an exhausting, sweaty, thrilling brawler title. It requires observation, reaction, and no small bit of stamina, as you read your opponent, dodge blows, create openings, and swing your way to victory. The story mode may be a little short and fragmented, but the PvP mode, allowing you to step into the ring with real people, more than makes up for it. It's brutal, it's highly responsive, making it the best VR boxing title, and one of the most addictive VR experiences I've encountered thus far.
The Gardens Between is a masterpiece of minimalist storytelling, weaving a wordless tale of friendship and time. By drawing upon a few, nearly-universal childhood events, it allows the player to fill in the story with their own emotions and memories, creating a shockingly moving, personal experience. Featuring a gorgeous, surrealist style and challenging but fair puzzles, this is a must-have title for anyone who enjoys puzzle games.
Little Dragon's Café is a causal sim/exploration game which is simply overflowing with charm. It's easy to get drawn in by the game's forgiving gameplay, great music, heartwarming stories, and dramatic day-night changes, and hard to put down, given all there is to do post-game. While its sim mechanics aren't especially deep, LDC provides a delightful way to escape the woes of the real world alongside your own, adorable pet dragon.
Octopath Traveler is an all around enjoyable, nostalgic romp with some nice modern touches. While enjoyment of the storytelling will likely vary from character to character and from player to player, this retro-modern title is filled with sidequests, great music, slightly-hidden team banter, and a gorgeous new approach to pixel art, and is a must-play for any lover of old school JRPGs.
Office Quest is a fun, light-hearted little romp rich in style. Great aesthetic, entertaining animations, and challenging puzzles make this title stand out, even if some puzzles are more vexing than others, and I didn't feel that the platforming mini-games fit into the overall game. It's a great little game, regardless of if you play it on PC or your mobile device of choice.
Shape of the World is a feast of color, sound, and design. It manages to be both serene and occasionally challenging, wondrous and abstract, and has surprising depth, considering that your only goals are to wander around and collect natural trinkets as you go. It's a perfect game for those who want to get lost in a minimalist wonderland of imagination.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is as long and as the title, and can be challenging to get into, due to dated UI and lots and lots of text to read. The story is interesting, if not slow, offers multiple endings, and more than 300 demons for you to collect, fuse, and fight alongside. A solid, if not slightly clunky title built for the retrogamer crowd.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole captures the very best of South Park. The creators have woven irreverent and offensive humor seamlessly into an outrageous and entertaining RPG adventure. By making the leap to the Switch, the Coon and Friends can now be played on the go, but at the cost of slower load times. Even so, this is a raunchy superhero epic no fan should miss.
Ash of Gods is an ambitious game of massive proportions. Beautiful artwork, smooth animations, and a stunning soundtrack set the tone for this melancholy tale. The setting and lore can be overwhelming, especially during the first playthrough, but it's sure to capture fans of epic fantasy seeking to lose themselves in a huge world full of secrets, curses, and curious characters.
Burly Men at Sea is a lesson in simple elegance and whimsical storytelling. Almost more of an experience than a game, it's intended to be enjoyed, soaked in, rather than beaten. This short yet fantastic tittle is a fantastic addition to the Switch lineup, and a must-play for everyone's inner child.