James Paley


173 games reviewed
75.2 average score
75 median score
42.2% of games recommended
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90 / 100 - Persona 5 Royal
Mar 25, 2020

Persona 5 Royal is a fabulous RPG, one deserving the monarch’s spot atop the Atlus mountain of games.

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Jul 14, 2020

I can think of no better game to be the swan song for the PS4.

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90 / 100 - Disc Room
Oct 22, 2020

I had no real expectations for this game, and I still managed to be blindsided by what I discovered. Tough, tiny indie games often try to supplement their size with atmosphere, but the results are often mixed. Here, a small project from a smaller team has brewed a fabulous blend of mechanical finesse and atmospheric splendor. The game is crazy hard, and some of the puzzle elements are pretty obtuse, but I still loved it. If you’re not so impressed by the screenshots and the trailers, take my word for it: Disc Room is so much better than you’re expecting it to be.

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90 / 100 - Cyber Shadow
Feb 1, 2021

Tough, beautiful retro games might seem like they’re everywhere these days. You might be losing track of them all in the midst of this recent deluge. I promise Cyber Shadow is one of the good ones. A delicate balance is struck between challenge and accessibility, leaving you bloodied and eager for more. The art and the music is among the best you’ll see all year long. Finally, the mechanical guts of this game are perfectly tuned. While some players will be rebuked by certain NES-era sensibilities (like the knockback effect), the overall experience is practically sublime. If you’re looking for a Ninja Gaiden send-up that’s been dragged into the 21st century, look no further than Cyber Shadow.

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90 / 100 - Backbone
Jun 7, 2021

Between the clever mechanics, the compelling narrative, and the gorgeous pixel art, there’s a real fire lit beneath you from the very start. If you’re looking for a detective story with glistening fangs, glittering eyes, and sharpened hooks, Backbone will be perfect for you.

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Aug 28, 2017

With every successive stage the potential dangers grow, and new ones are always being added to the pile.

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88 / 100 - Okami HD
Dec 17, 2017

Traditional polygons and surface textures grow muddy and bland with every passing year, while Okami will shine bright for decades to come.

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Jul 25, 2019

If you’ve had a Fire Emblem-shaped hole in your heart till now, Fire Emblem: Three Houses will leave you breathless, sleepless, and eager for more. I know I’ll be lost in this new world for months to come.

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88 / 100 - Katana Zero
Apr 18, 2019

Katana Zero kicked me into a bloody pulp, but I’m compelled to continue regardless. If not for the challenge, then for my raw hunger to soak in every scrap of this exceptional story. Don’t sleep on this one, friends.

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88 / 100 - Concrete Genie
Oct 7, 2019

It’s a short, steel rail line, but one that leads directly to halcyon summers and lingering sorrow. In other words, I highly recommend Concrete Genie.

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