Chris "Atom" DeAngelus
Koi is a beautiful but shallow pool. The first impression is strong but as you go on into the game it quickly becomes clear there just isn't much below the surface. The puzzles, story and gameplay are "barely there" enough to work, but without much that develops from the basics. As an experience, it's enjoyable enough, if over a bit too quickly, but as a game, it's pretty lackluster and tough to justify the price tag. It's a shame since there's a lot of potential here, but Koi doesn't manage to realize it.
Empire of Sin has potential, and I look forward to revisiting it after six months of patches that will hopefully address some of these issues. As it stands today, the game is buggy, poorly balanced, and blatantly half-finished. The initial strong presentation quickly fades to frustration as playing correctly is a fool's errand and cheating the system is the only way to play. That might be appropriate for a Mafia game, but not for this title.
Knack is easily the low point of the PS4's launch. The game squanders its potential at every opportunity. What could have been an interesting mascot character for the PlayStation is instead the very definition of mediocrity. Boring combat, unimaginative platforming, and some flawed design decisions bring down Knack. Even with the extremely limited selection of launch titles, there's no reason to choose Knack over anything else. Those looking for a kid-friendly game would be much better off shelling out the extra money for Skylanders or Lego Marvel. There's nothing to recommend Knack, and it's destined to join the ever-growing pile of low-budget launch titles that nobody remembers.
In a few months, Necronator: Dead Wrong could be a solid addition to the Slay the Spire-inspired card builder roguelike genre. As it stands now, it doesn't have the polish or content to stand out. The visuals are nice, the humor is amusing, and there's a lot of potential here, but the game is still obviously in production. Considering the glut of similar games on the market, Necronator isn't worth picking up until it has all of its playable characters. I'd like to be more positive about it, but I can only judge the game as it is, not as it will be. In a few months, I hope that most of my complaints will be addressed, but until then, I'd recommend finding a more complete game to play.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes feels less like a passion project and more like an obligation to return to an old hit. It has some of the same style and punk feeling of the Wii original — but much less of it. Instead, it feels spread out far too thin, and the moments of tedium tend to outweigh the absurdity that made the previous game so enjoyable. There's some fun to be had here, and fans will probably be glad to get a chance to see Travis one more time, but it's certainly not the No More Heroes sequel they were waiting for. However, there are some hints that Travis Strikes Again is just a prelude to something more.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is the kind of game that is full of potential but needed a lot more development time. The final product is about one-third of the game that it needs to be. The lack of environments, weak combat and bizarre pace makes it difficult to recommend even to die-hard RPG fans. There are a lot of strong individual bits, but they don't gel into a cohesive whole. It might be worth a shot once it comes down in price and if you're aware of the flaws going in. Even fans of the franchise will find this to be a step backward.
Perhaps the biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that it doesn't stray much from the previous game's formula, and when it does, it actively detracts from the game. The boring Peter Parker segments and dealing with tedious street crimes seem like another step toward trying to make the game feel like Spider-Man without considering whether it would be any fun. The core gameplay hasn't changed much from the previous game, but every change feels like a step back — except perhaps the improved web-swinging. Add a nonsensical plot and lackluster graphics, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends up feeling anything but amazing. It's a game for die-hard Spidey fans only.
Overall, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is a completely mediocre game. That isn't to say it can't be fun or doesn't have strong moments, but somehow, none of what it does really stands out. It's interesting to see a long-running franchise finally get its chance to shine outside of its home country, but Xuan Yuan Sword 7 doesn't do enough to set it apart from the crowd. There are a lot of interesting ideas here, and I look forward to seeing what the next entry shows off.
Foreclosed is an interesting idea that doesn't lean hard enough into its premise to succeed. The neat comic book styling and intriguing "identity theft made law" neo-noir setting give a strong first impression, but the core gameplay is tedious enough that it becomes a chore to get through to reach the more interesting bits. In the end, it feels like it squanders its potential, especially when it all but begs comparisons to similar games that offer the same ideas but are executed better.