- Pokémon Black Version 2
- The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
- Yoshi's Island
While the two games featured in this collection might feel a bit dated at times—mostly Rhapsody—there’s no denying that Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 3 is a wonderful and entertaining look back at where NIS’s journey into the world of SRPGs all began. Given that NIS is running through their old stockpile rather quickly I’m not really sure where they’ll go with Prinny Presents 4 (if there is one). Maybe we’ll get a new localization? Who knows. Either way, I’m looking forward to it!
Unless you’re a well-meaning-yet-misguided parent from the 80s who magically found themselves transported to the year 2022 (in which case there are other things I would be worrying about), you really have zero reason not to play this game. Cult of the Lamb is the evil-worshipping, cult-building, god-slaying video game with a perfect creepy-cute aesthetic that I never knew that I wanted—and I’m so incredibly glad that it exists.
Thymesia embodies the ever-rising popularity of the Soulslike genre incredibly well. As an indie Soulslike, it knows it can’t necessarily be as big and as bold as its source material, but it also doesn’t want to simply be written off as a sub-par copy of something that’s already been done. And the end result is something kinda-sorta in-between of those two things. I can appreciate Thymesia for what it does well—namely, its hauntingly beautiful visuals and fine-tuned combat basics—but its more creative endeavors felt more like the game trying to be different just for the sake of being different. I’m not sure that Thymesia is going to be at the forefront of its given genre, but it’s still a pestilence-ridden egg worth cracking open for those hungry for some new Soulslike action.
Soul Hackers 2 made some interesting decisions—some of which I don’t totally agree with. But, even with whatever grievances I might have, I can’t deny that the game was ultimately both incredibly fun and well put-together. Devil Summoner might not carry the same weight as other spinoff series within the MegaTen universe, but Soul Hackers 2 is one heck of a ride from start to finish.
Lost Epic didn’t quite live up to the standards that I had set for it when I had played it last year… but it was still good! Flaws aside, Lost Epic is an Metroidvania Souls-lite that’s every bit as charming as it is challenging. Sure, there’s still some work to be done here and there, but I’m confident they’ll get there in time.
The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle is truly a sight to behold. It’s great that we’ve finally gotten to venture to High Isle after all this time, and everything awaiting us there—both the wonderful and the terrifying—was all a joy to experience. The Legacy of the Bretons may not be entirely over just yet, but I think that ESO will be hard-pressed to release anything that would end up topping what this brand-new piece of Tamriel has given us.
The Legend of Bum-Bo is, first and foremost, a game for fans of The Binding of Isaac. But I don’t think that simply relegating it to that is fair. Despite its prequel status, The Legend of Bum-Bo is a unique, addictive, and extremely fun roguelike puzzle game oozing with Edmund McMillen’s signature bizarre charm. Sure, I’d recommend it to BoI fans, but I’d also recommend it to people who like engaging puzzle games. If you’ve never been exposed to McMillen’s work before, you might be a little surprised at first, but don’t worry—it stops being weird after a while.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is, quite honestly, everything that I could have asked for. Between the new and returning monsters, wonderful new hunting locales, and a delightful bevy of tweaks and additions, you really can’t consider Rise to be a complete game anymore without Sunbreak. It truly is an already great game’s even better half.
There’s really no getting around it, dood—Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 is another smash-hit. Er… I guess it’s more like two smash hits? I don’t know. I’m not here to talk about semantics. Basically, what I’m saying is that they did a good job with picking out these games. Both ZHP and Makai Kingdom were most definitely worthy of receiving another chance in the spotlight, and I’m very happy that that happened. Keep ’em coming, NIS!
Just in case I haven’t made it clear enough, Souldiers is absolutely a modern-day classic. It’s also in the running for my favorite game of 2022—it’s really just that good. Between its engaging level design, gorgeous visual appearance, addictive combat mechanics, and its class-based system giving it three times the replaybility… you really owe it to yourself to get this game if you consider yourself a Metroidvania fan.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong does wonderfully with creating an engaging atmosphere and has some legitimately creative ideas, but its overall execution still leaves much to be desired. I can appreciate an entirely combat-free RPG, but I think that you’re going to have to do more than occasionally let players unlock certain dialogue choices or bypass locks by leveling up specific skills. I’m not too worried, though. This series has been going on for a long time, and while this game may have Swansong in its title, I doubt it’s the last Vampire: The Masquerade game we’ll be seeing. And, hopefully, the next one will have just a little bit more polish.
This game’s impressive just by virtue of it being Massive Work Studios’ first. But it wouldn’t be fair to only give it credit for that reason. Dolmen is a fun, and exciting cosmic horror-themed soulslike whose unique (and successful!) inclusion of ranged combat helps it to stand out from its peers. If this is just the beginning of what Massive Work Studios have to offer, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us down the road!
Salt and Sacrifice isn’t just a great game, but a great sequel. It’s the result of building upon the things that worked so well in the first game, tweaking the things that might not have worked so well, and cleverly taking the occasional mechanical risk here and there in order to ensure that Salt and Sacrifice truly felt like its own game instead of just “Salt and Sanctuary 2.” It’s fun, frantic, and frustrating in all the right ways, and I’m incredibly happy with what Ska Studios has given us. Salt and Sanctuary was able to build such a large community around it and stick around for such a long time because of how high-quality it was at the time of its release. I’m sure that Salt and Sacrifice will manage to surpass those heights.
Re:Turn 2 – Runaway may not be perfect, but it ironed out enough of the bumps present within the original Re:Turn to keep me hopeful. Shortcomings aside I still really enjoy the series that Red Ego has been building for us, and I’m hoping that they’ll continue to improve with yet another return to the series in the future. If they do, I’m sure that it’ll be even better than what we’ve got, now!
Defend the Rook is a great example of what happens when you have a really solid foundation but ultimately don’t end up doing much with it. While I enjoyed my time with the game I couldn’t help but feel as though I was playing some kind of extended demo. Yeah, it was fun, but it got same-y really quickly. And that is definitely not good when it comes to roguelikes. Would I recommend Defend the Rook? I’m not sure, honestly. I guess I wouldn’t steer you away from it if you wanted to buy it, but, unless they start adding content (which they should because what they have is fun!), I don’t know that I’ll be chomping at the bit to suggest it to people that I talk to.
I’ve scrutinized Coromon pretty thoroughly, I’m not going to deny that. But I don’t think that my decision to do so was unfair. When you’re going to directly compare yourself to something that’s already been established, you open yourself up to the criticism, both positive and negative, that comes along with it. And, truly, there was a bit of both when it came to my outlook on Coromon. Was there a bit more negative than positive? Sure. I think that this game has a way to go (perhaps via means of a sequel) before I could truly say that I’m satisfied with it. But is the potential there? Yeah, absolutely. Between the gorgeous creature spritework and the way that the game simultaneously handles stat distribution and “shiny” hunting via the Potential system, there are some true moments of brilliance tucked away with in this game. And I’d like that brilliance to, *ahem*, shine bright. But it’s going to need some work to get to that stage. And only time will tell if it ever actually gets there.
Lost Ark is literally great enough to re-ignite my passion for MMORPGs after 15 years. That’s not a joke, and it’s not something that I’m just saying for the sake of this review. Because of that, I don’t know that I should be reviewing this game so much as I should be thanking it. I’m incredibly happy to have finally found an MMO that I can look forward to playing every day, and, if you’re willing to take my word at all, I think you’ll find that you’ll end up the same way once you sit down with this game for yourself.
For the most part, Marvelous sowed some pretty good SEEDs (hah, get it?). Obviously, I’m not completely satisfied with everything—the relationship mechanics are essentially a gamble, now, and we’re straight-up chugga-chugga-choo-chooin’ through certain loading zones, but there’s a reason that I played 130 hours of this game. At the end of the day, Rune Factory 5 is a fresh and enjoyable new entry to the series, and I really think that fans will come to love it just as much as they have every other title.
Crystal Clash, much like the battlefields on which it takes place, is very middle-of-the-road. It has some legitimately cool ideas, and I won’t even begin to pretend that I didn’t have fun with it, but, between its overly linear approach to deckbuilding, and its equally (albeit purposefully so, this time) linear approach to combat, I feel like this game still has some growing to do.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream is, without a doubt, one of the best games that GUST has put out in over a decade, and it's once again renewed my faith in what the company has in store for the Atelier series as a whole.