Chris "Atom" DeAngelus
Alas, Concrete Genie is far less than the sum of its parts. A strong early game is lost by a bizarre late-game twist that undoes a lot of the charm. If it had just focused on the genies or had been about combat from the start, Concrete Genie would be a much more cohesive experience. Instead, the game has a lot of good moments but ends on a particularly dissatisfying note. There's still a lot to enjoy, but the flaws stand out as brightly as the strengths.
Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns might be a relic of a bygone time, but that isn't the same as being a bad game. Most of the modern match-three games owe something to the original, and it shows. It might not have Marvel characters or shiny graphics, but it's an accessible, enjoyable and fun puzzle game that is excellent to play for a few minutes at a time. For $15, you'll get more fun than you would in spending that same amount on microtransactions in other games.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a delightful remake of an excellent game. A lot of its strength is predicated on the fact that it was built on an already exceptional Zelda game, and if you have any nostalgia for the Game Boy version, you'll be charmed by this update. The game's only real flaws are its overall short length and the frustrating frame rate issues. If you're a Zelda fan, it's still absolutely worth checking out, and if the frame rate issues get patched, this title will be the best way to play the handheld classic.
All in all, Daemon x Machina is about the best that one can hope for from an Armored Core fill-in. It isn't quite as good as the highs of the tragically sleeping franchise, but it's on par with the average. If you like mecha, customization, and blowing up stuff, and you have a tolerance for the learning curve of the controls, then Daemon x Machina will keep you happy. At the end of the day, you get to pilot a giant robot and slash up enemies with a giant lightsaber, and who doesn't love that?
At the end of the day, Damascus Gear: Operation Osaka never extends beyond the realm of a fun time-waster. It's not bad if you're looking for a cheap, mech-focused, loot-heavy dungeon-crawler. If you love giant robots, then Operation Osaka is a fun way to spend $20. Beyond that, it's just another dungeon-crawler on a system that is awash with them.
All in all, Astral Chain is a solid and enjoyable action-RPG. It suffers from a lot of Platinum Games' most common problems, such as poor instructions for basic gameplay and an over-reliance on minigames, but the charm and enjoyment of the core game more than make up for that once you get past the rough opening. It's not quite up the highs of a Bayonetta or Nier Automata, but it's worth playing for fans of the company or those looking for a fun action-RPG on the Switch.
All in all, Final Fantasy VIII: Remastered is a solid port. The new character models look nice, and the additional features are all welcome. At its core, it's still Final Fantasy 8, and almost nothing has changed about it. If you were a fan of the original, you'll like the remaster, and if you weren't, then it's unlikely this will change your mind. This is likely the definitive version of the game, blurry backgrounds and all, and it's well worth picking up for anyone who's looking to experience FF8 for the first time.
Children of Morta is charming, engaging and fun. It's absolutely worth playing if you're a fan of the genre, and the Bergsons are one of the best family units in gaming. The world and characters draw you in, and the simple but engaging roguelike gameplay keeps you there. It doesn't break any molds, but it doesn't try to. Instead, the title focuses on offering what it has with a mirror polish. It has some problems and can feel repetitive at times, but any sense of weariness is lost the next time a beautiful cut scene begins.
All in all, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Episode 1 - Man of Medan is a worthy follow-up to Until Dawn. It hits a lot of the same notes, and it's clear the developers understood the group appeal of watching-slash-playing a cheesy horror film with friends. There are still some weak points, but Man of Medan shows a willingness to learn from the previous game's mistakes and leaves us curious to see the next part of the anthology.