Gnosia takes the rules of a social game and turns it into a single-player science-fiction experience. Each loop will present you with more questions and slowly feed you answers to what is a compelling and unique narrative. The game is fueled by an amazing cast of insane characters and over-the-top mechanics that make it fun no matter how long you play.
Maquette is a beautiful game with a compelling narrative that is a perfect weekend experience. Across its four-hour runtime, I was able to feel emotionally invested in this relationship as I begged to see it through until the end. The puzzles hinder progression, but the lack of interaction with the environment limits any additional playthroughs or unique playing experiences.
Forward To The Sky on Nintendo Switch is not worth the price of admission. It’s almost comically bad and requires a lot more refinement than the Switch release provided. Everything is just dull, from the story to the platforming and combat; I don’t think I was ever really having fun. The moments of challenge in the platforming piqued my competitive nature, but it was only due to the game’s unresponsive controls and unpredictable camera angles.
Natsuki Chronicles is a great shmup that was clearly developed by shmup fans. The game has a refinement to it that eases any pain points someone might have had with other titles in the genre. The accessibility of the systems and constant rewards creates a challenging but approachable experience. The only setback is a few hard-to-spot enemies and a frame drops, but you’ll probably be having too much fun to notice.
HuniePop 2: Double Date isn’t meant to be a serious story, but it is a serious match-three puzzle game. The gameplay systems are strategic and punishing as they force players to play multiple rounds to gain currency for items that will make the girls strong enough to reach the ever-increasing goal. Evidently, threesomes are a marathon and not a sprint, but at least you’re trying to save the world, right? Wait, I might have forgotten why I was even on this island in the first place.
Little Nightmares II is easily going to be one of the best games of 2021. Its horror themes weigh on the player throughout the entirety of the adventure to a climax that will leave you breathless. Pacing through the various puzzles creates a nice balance of linear game design and subtle exploration. It's a game that anyone can get through if they can stand to be scared a little, but the trial-and-error approach makes it an easy recommendation to gamers of all skill levels.
Gal Gun Returns is good for fans of the series to experience where it all began. The extra modes, refined gameplay elements, and voiced audio make it a welcomed remaster release. However, the dated design may have you more interested in playing the other entries or wishing for a completely new title in the series. Those who invest in unlocking everything across multiple playthroughs are in for a crazy experience but don’t expect to get into euphoria after just one round.
Nioh 2 on PC is the same great and challenging experience. It’s packed with content that spans a lengthy timeline of nightmares making this release a must for anyone who held out on the PS4 version or who can’t get enough. The graphical options only make a great game better, but even after 120 hours, I still don’t understand anything about this plot.
To enjoy Sword of the Necromancer requires you to be invested in the narrative, but to do that, you’ll have to get through gameplay that lacks many refinements that a roguelike needs. The system of bringing monsters back alive to fight for you is limited because you have to manage only four slots of items, which often shadows the game’s most unique systems. As charming as this game looks, it doesn’t ever become a challenging adventure or an interesting experience.
The Medium provides the best classic survival horror experience through modern gameplay systems that I have played in quite some time. It does this all without relying on action and gore but instead builds its excellence through atmosphere, environments, and narrative. There’s some refinement that could help the overall experience, but this is a gripping adventure whether you’re in reality or the spiritual plane.