Granblue Fantasy: Relink showcases CyGames at their best. They don’t attempt to reinvent the action JRPG genre; instead, they focus on putting their unique twist on the formula. The result is a responsive and addictive experience for solo and online play. For those wanting the most, the online quests offer an almost endless supply of action. At the same time, the story campaign serves as a general introduction to the mechanics but remains equally epic. There’s room for improvement, though, and post-launch support will determine the lasting appeal of this experience, but for what it’s worth, the wait was worth it, and I’m excited for future growth in this series.
Anomaly Agent offers a succinct gaming experience, combining platforming and combat within a sci-fi narrative. As Agent 70, players address global anomalies, facing challenges that require both strategy and skill. The game balances its story, combat, and platforming elements effectively. However, repetitive boss fights and a simple upgrade system are questionable. Despite these issues, its design and mechanics make it a notable indie game, with enough depth to encourage replayability.
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs: The Thrilling Steamy Maze Kiwami delivers a competent yet familiar dungeon-crawling experience, blending light-hearted anime storytelling with engaging roguelike gameplay. While the narrative is enjoyable and predictably steeped in anime tropes, the game's real strength lies in its challenging gameplay and strategic depth, particularly in its item management system and the unique Resonance Hot Spring feature. However, the game's themes and visuals lack innovation, and the PC port disappoints with its limited options and subpar controller support. Despite its solid mechanics and charming narrative, the game struggles to distinguish itself in a genre filled with more compelling titles.
Trinity Fusion offers a fresh perspective in the roguelike genre, impressively blending elements from successful predecessors with its own unique twist. While the genre often faces skepticism, this game from Angry Mob Games manages to captivate with an addictive gameplay loop set in a narrative-driven multiverse. Players navigate different biomes with three versions of the protagonist, Maya, each possessing unique abilities and encouraging diverse playstyles. The game shines with its engaging combat system that combines rhythmic actions and strategic weapon choices, though it faces challenges in visual presentation and character animation. Despite some repetitive environments and occasional bugs, the game's rewarding upgrade system and varied enemy encounters keep the experience fresh.
Koumajou Remilia II: Stranger's Requiem offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for fans of bullet-hell action platformers. This remastered title on modern hardware maintains its tough gameplay, which may not appeal to everyone but certainly satisfies those looking for a demanding test of skill. The game's intricate stage design, coupled with the need for strategic combat and mastery of Sakuya's diverse abilities, including flying, provides a deep and engaging playthrough. Despite some frustration with enemy designs and a control scheme that takes time to get accustomed to, the game's quick checkpoint resets keep the action fast-paced and addictive. The pixel art and character illustrations add charm to the gothic setting, complemented by an immersive soundtrack. While the translation shows improvement, there's still room for refinement.
Ghostrunner 2 embodies the epitome of a well-executed sequel. It doesn’t overshadow its precursor; instead, it leverages the original as a foundation for expansion and enhancement. The world-building and character development represent a significant leap in quality, and the unwavering pace of action propels it into a class of its own. The introduction of new abilities, expanded non-linear level design, and refined movement mechanics render this game a must-play for those looking to hone their 3D platforming skills.
No one asked for Gargoyles Remastered, and I can see why. While the 16-bit gothic graphics are gorgeous, the gameplay does not hold up regardless of what style you’re playing in. The combat is dull, the platforming sections are frustratingly difficult due to bad controls, the bosses are laughable, and the experience is over before you know it. Although the added modes and rewind feature are cool, I’d say this is a Remastered release for the die-hards only and not a reason to play a game that you think you missed out on.
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection takes past feedback to deliver one of the best SAO gaming entries to date. However, while making improvements, some unusual gameplay choices were made that impact the overall experience, aiming for a more straightforward approach to please fans. It successfully allows all players to experience the conclusion of this epic campaign, but the linear quests and dated exploration may make it difficult to recommend as a modern action JRPG.
Forza Motorsport is a gorgeous racing experience across each and every lap. The title excels in rewarding players during every race, and the legendary amount of available cars and tracks at launch means there’s plenty to enjoy right from the starting line. The gameloop is addictive, with a more than generous layer of accessibility options to create formidable racers out of anyone. The real meat may be the multiplayer modes, but it never overshadows what is offered in the single-player career mode. Here’s to hoping the live-service model works for this release, with the launch state looking like a great starting point.
Assassin’s Creed Mirage encourages players to experience its story to the end, and it’s a journey you’ll be glad you embarked upon. The game features nostalgic set pieces reminiscent of early series entries but also introduces genuinely unique experiences that may shape future entries. While it can be enjoyed as a standalone Assassin’s Creed adventure, longtime fans will appreciate the connections to previous plot points and the thrilling gameplay moments.
Savant: Ascent REMIX is an experience that is brief but impactful. Although you can likely clear the game in a few hours, there are plenty of reasons to return for a higher score or try your hand at the unlockable Survival Mode. If anything, I wish the game was longer, but what’s here provides instant gamer satisfaction to anyone who plays through its approachable, yet, high challenge and minimal controls.
Super Bomberman R 2 doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from its predecessor or the series. There’s just nothing really here to justify a purchase with a campaign consisting of only three unimaginative levels, very limited power-ups, and a strange implication of online modes. The charm is still present when playing classic modes, but nothing that has been added moves the series in any significant direction.
Mugen Souls Z may be a product of its time, but the West has finally received the full experience. The story is downright insane in a brilliant way, but the gameplay has definitely not aged well. The added DLC and mini-game definitely make this a release for all niche JRPG enthusiasts, as your 10-year-long wait has paid off, and you can finally take these hilarious girls to the bathhouse.
Gunbrella delivers on tight and responsive bouts of action. Although it’s a challenging platformer, you can enjoy it from beginning to end across an evening as you hone your Gunbrella skills and get your revenge. What’s more enticing is the story and characters who bring up interesting topics that make you question certain aspects of your adventure. The price is definitely right for this game, and I’ll gladly jump back in because it is so damn fun.
Eternights is a true labor of love from a small team of developers that set out to create something for themselves. It just so happens that it’s also one of my favorite games of 2023. If you can look past the juvenile character moments and flimsy early plot devices, you’re in for an awesome experience that delivers quality action combat, hilarious character skits, and a very strong final Act. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget and one that doesn’t demand too much from players to play till the credits. The wait for this release was genuinely worth it, and I’m happy to see this ambitious project come together so brilliantly.
Starfield is a true space adventure that only Bethesda can deliver. It's an experience catered to the fans of large expansive RPG narratives, but this one takes it a step further to stretch across an entire universe. There are minor systems and menus that cause confusion, and the lack of real tutorials paired with a flimsy opening holds back the opening hours. Still, the experience is undeniably memorable, and the writing for NPCs makes up the best moments. Although the many systems can be overwhelming, this is a game full of discovery for all who play.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code delivers an excellently paced detective mystery through its clever writing and memorable cast of characters. It’s not afraid to go to some dark places and have fun at the same time within its narrative, but the balance of these themes is crafted in a way that keeps you hooked. The puzzles are all clever, and the gameloop never comes off as repetitive or straightforward. It’s an excellent experience that rivals all other releases in this genre.
Resident Evil 4 remains a divisive entry in the series as it caters to fans of survival horror and action within a well-crafted gaming experience. The updated narrative, by far, makes this a solid entry as it fills in plot holes and provides character growth that wasn't present before. The atmosphere and level design only enhance the enjoyment, but the popcorn action structure of the final area hurts the overall pacing. Still, this is undeniably a stellar remake of an already fantastic game.
Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries Of Honjo is a gripping and horrific adventure that branches outside of what genre fans would expect. It plays with your intuition and tests your deduction skills as you piece together each puzzle. Unfortunately, the narrative intermission brings gameplay to a crawl, but you'll want to stick through until the end to experience everything this twisted adventure offers.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is unlike any other action game. Its unique battle system encourages high-level character customization to make the action approachable no matter your history with the genre. It's terrifyingly brilliant as it tests your understanding of enemy attacks through a rhythm-based deflect feature making each encounter as enjoyable as it is difficult, especially in its online modes. Although messy enemy placement and cheesy maneuvers can slow the pacing, the Three Kingdoms story has never looked better.