- Xenoblade Chronicles
- Pokemon Emerald
As its own scenario, its own experiment, it’s own idea of how to raise tension and adrenaline. Outpacing giants on horseback, tricking monsters off ledges or into traps, and weaving through the woods and mountains and deserts and piecing together what once was, is just as magical as it ever was. Bluepoint found one of the most unique atmospheres of isolation in exploration in gaming, and managed to keep it intact as they rebuilt Shadow of the Colossus; by mountain, by forest, by titanic hulking beast.
The jump to the Switch isn’t perfect, and does in fact damage the experience in some small ways. But ways regardless, Superbeat Xonic is still a damn fine rhythm game to take with you on the go, wherever you might need to scream in frustration at a dance synth track with an anime girl on the cover.
Episode 3 doesn’t fail at what it’s trying to do, but what it’s trying to do is starting to get a little dull.
LawBreakers is good. But it doesn’t feel polished to the level that frequent online shooter players have come to expect. It’s character design philosophy is often at odds with the design of its levels and game modes, and while that doesn’t completely bite away at the fun, it does do damage to what is otherwise a technically well-conceived package.
Pyre’s storytelling, fantasy-sports action RPG combat, grand sense of journeymanship and exquisite soundtrack all harmonize into a classical fable of a game that begs replays upon completion. I saved the Moonstruck girl with no name first of all, and saw the effect her absence left on each and every exile thereafter. Next time through, she’s going to stick around until the bitter end. Pyre is a thousand-stranded story. It ends in essentially the same place no matter what, but it hits the mark a lot of choice-based games miss. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.
Nintendo managed to rebalance the game without having to make any changes to main weapons that would trip up veteran players of the first game. Stages are similarly tweaked, often a bit more close-quarters before. In service of one of my biggest letdowns from the first game, Splatoon 2‘s single-player mechanics even show up in some multiplayer maps.
Watching resources flourish, trades get made between the colony and those in space, and winters get survived through is all satisfying. But it’s satisfying in the way that a 10-hour work day is. It’s satisfying; because you feel like you’ve accomplished something, but not because you’ve actually enjoyed the journey there. You’re satisfied because it’s over, more than anything.
Maybe a bit closer to home, it’s the game equivalent of getting one of those acoustic guitars that’s all plastic on the back. It’s serviceable for giving your hands something to do, but try to take that thing on a gig and you’re just going to get laughed at.