Amy Kay Purcell
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.
Pode is breathtakingly beautiful, and a must have for any lover of puzzle games.
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.
Minit is a tiny gem of an indie title, easy to overlook but not to be missed. It's overflowing with secrets to be found, mysteries to be solved, and adventures to be had 60 seconds at a time. The bite-sized nature only adds to the charms and addictive nature of this 1-bit action-adventure game. With the small price tag of $9.99, it's more than worth a minute of your time.
Detective Pikachu is a surprisingly charming Telltale-like game filled with humor, twists, and a sassy electric rodent. More than a mish-mash of minigames, it's a shockingly solid title with first-class voice acting.
A beautiful game which features a host of challenging boss battles require tactical thinking, useful characters, and a big world to explore, Earthlock delivers a solid experience which scratches the turn-based RPG itch. Its fourteen hours of game play swells thanks to a ton of side quests, hidden bosses, and lots of things to craft and collect, and is a true indie delight for any fan of the genre.
The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya is a pretty little romance game which does everything adequately, but not exceptionally. It's a little light on content, some of the bachelor's stories aren't terribly interesting or engaging, and it would really benefit from some additional background and character art, but benefits from beautiful splash art and a stronger female protagonist than the last Yoshiwara title.
Knockout League is an extraordinary VR experience. It's tough, it's exciting, and it's incredibly rewarding. It delivers exciting, demanding gameplay and requires observation, timing, and endurance. Great mechanics paired with over-the-top characters will leave you entertained even as you're pummeled into blacking out. This is a must have for anyone who likes to box or who would benefit from using a videogame to supplement or motivate their workout routine.
The Way of Kings, Escape the Shattered Plains is a treat, allowing fans to experience the world of Sanderson's Stormlight Archives first hand. It will likely be a little less enjoyable for those unfamiliar with the books, but holds no fewer secrets for those imaginative enough to poke, grab, and fill with Stormlight.
Crossing Souls is a delightfully nostalgic romp, balancing original content and nods to the past. Featuring diverse gameplay levels which touch on most every aspect of 80's retro gaming, enough challenge to be rewarding, and a surprisingly touching story, this is a must have for anyone who grew up shouting "Goonies never say die!"
Sprint Vector is unlike anything else on the VR market. The Fluid Locomotion System allows for high speed virtual movement without motion sickness for most people, and the game's ubeat, irreverent tone encourages both casual and competitive play. It does seem to be hit or miss, and sadly seems to lack that addictive quality for most people. Meanwhile, my competitive friends and platformer fans can't seem to get enough of it, and it's just physically demanding enough to provide a bit of a workout to boot.
Shooty Fruity is a strange, delightful VR game which combines the stress of simulation with the catharsis of a shooter. Rounds are short, frantic five-minute affairs which will test your ability to multitask, identify a threat, prioritize, and your aim. A hilariously fun and challenging title, Shooty Fruity is just as much fun for the VR fanatic as it is for the casual player.
Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon aren't bad games, but they are victims of their own hype, which they fail to to live up to. While the plot has changed, these alterations are minor, thrown together, and ultimately do harm to the experience. Despite the addition of two new mini games, a few new features, and a different post-game, they are simply not as enjoyable as their Sun and Moon predecessors.