Mike de Leon
Even if you explore the island, gather plenty of clues, the trail feels unique every time thanks to the open-ended approach and using facts to fit your truth of the events in Paradise Killer. The game's conclusion is the clear highlight of the game. Although I enjoyed venturing across a massive open-world, it became frustrating returning to areas thanks to how the fast travel system is structured.
Yakuza 4 shines, even if Kiryu plays less of a role than he is used to. The additional characters provide a unique spin on the traditional Yakuza formula, and more importantly, I enjoyed playing all of them. I'd say that Kiryu is the weakest part about the game, as he feels shoehorned into the game just because he is synonymous with the franchise.
I thoroughly enjoyed the visual style of Skellboy with everything resembling thick cardboard cutouts. The concept of using 2D with a 3D world is fantastic, but the execution falls flat. The combat is cumbersome, the music is highly repetitive, and the performance on Switch is not that great.
I had fun discovering all of the possible drinks to serve in Coffee Talk. The struggles and desires of each customer felt real. Although everyone's race is based on fantasy tropes, the issues surrounding them are grounded in the real world. You may listen to two young lovers caught between their family's desire for them to only marry within their respectful race, a struggling but talented writer, and more.
Overall, once you get used to the nuances of the user interface, and managing your money, Fishing Planet is the best fishing simulation game out there. It has an extensive collection of fishing equipment, species of fish, and locations. The steep learning curve can be a deterrent, but fishing is all about having patience and fortitude.
Robo Instructus welcomes existing programmers and newcomers alike, but I wouldn't consider it a casual experience. It takes a lot of patience and endurance to get through some of the more complex levels. The difficulty can spike quite early on, which may dissuade people from completing the game, especially if you are new to coding. With that said, the thrill of seeing all your work and code flow together to complete levels is exciting. There are multiple ways to get through each of the puzzles, so if you get stuck, you may want to try and think of a new approach.
Overall if you are looking for more in-depth fishing, then you might need to look elsewhere. Dovetails Games' Fishing Sim World came up short in creating that tense reeling experience, but it scores points with its variety of maps and beautifully rendered locales. The predefined equipment makes it easy for new players to start fishing without learning any of the smaller details that fishing entails at a more advanced level. There is an online multiplayer mode, letting you fish freely in a relaxing setting or set a goal, such as seeing who can land the biggest catch.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection is a trial of patience, not only when vying to complete levels without dying, but attempting to get past certain puzzles that can quickly raise the death counter to double digits. Even so, the inclusion of persisting corpses makes the game more accessible, something that I am very thankful for. Honestly, I'd probably never be able to finish the game any other way.
Samir Rebib's journey of seeing his childhood creation come to life has to be a dream come true, and even though Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom has its problems, this indie action RPG is a lot of fun. Dungeons are quite expansive, featuring unique boss encounters that go beyond simply mashing buttons. They also serve to help flesh out the relationships between the characters, but it's just a shame there aren't more of them.
Yooka-Laylee is exactly the type of game that Playtonic Games set out to create when they initially launched the Kickstarter for the game. It is in every sense of the word a spiritual; successor to the Banjo-Kazooie franchise. It's a true return to the collect-a-thon games that were great back on the Nintendo 64, but many of the game's core mechanics feel archaic on today's platforms.
theHunter: Call of the Wild is a patient man's game. It can take upwards of 30 minutes from the time you start tracking your prey to the time you claim your trophy. Even then, there is no guarantee that you will kill your target, let alone even find it. I started the game without a background in hunting, but I was able to get by with the educational tutorial popups. One of the few things that put me off was the pace of "sprinting." If you haven't unlocked the outposts then getting from one point to another in such a huge map can take a long time. There is also online multiplayer for up to eight players.
Although Rocketbirds 2: Evolution feels different than the previous game, I enjoyed the majority of the changes to the game. With Hardboiled Chicken being a throwback to classic platforming adventure games, Evolution feels like a modern take on the series. While I thought the cel shading in the previous games was visually better, Rocketbirds 2 still has a very clean visual aesthetic. The puzzles can feel repetitive at times, but I thought the run-and-gun style of gameplay works for this room based still of platforming.
Time Machine VR is an enjoyable trip back in time, however, I didn't feel the need to complete any exploration after finishing the story. It's an intriguing way to teach people about these creatures without opening a textbook, but the "game" side of it needs to be more fleshed out.
Proton Pulse Plus adds some intriguing concepts to the brick breaking genre, but your enjoyment of the game will depend on how much you enjoy these types of games. There are 50 levels spread across three worlds, a throwback soundtrack and bright and colorful visuals. The Move controllers don't really add to the experience since I've had nothing but issues keeping them synced in-game, but I never felt tired or strained using the HMD to move the paddle around.
Road Not Taken is a game that you should not take lightly. It is a challenging puzzle game with big cuddly scary teddy bears, little white rabbits and scary Witches. It is hours of fun and frustration. Thanks to the shrines, you are able to stop at any point and come back later to pick up where you left off.
A few games have had the ability to offer a bittersweet tone and to provide a theme that shows the stark reality of war offset by moments of humanity. The visual display of the game is creatively done and the soundtrack is splendidly made, transporting you into the environment on the first note. The game is a gem, probably one of the best games of the year.
Overall, the game will keep you captivated for hours with trying to figure out the proper way of approaching your town. The heavy involvement of the seasons and weather in the game in the initial part of the game was challenging and sometimes frustrating. Understanding the AI of your citizens was over complex and without out the help of the people in the Banished forums I would have not figured things out. The game is beautifully crafted, and the rewarding gameplay makes you know the citizens of your town without the need to micromanage them.