It’s easy to feel like every single mid-to-late-game map in Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is soul-crushingly awful, but in reality, only around half of them are. That’s still far too much gameplay that’s held back by busywork, especially since the explosion of status effects that most often bogs down Fell Seal‘s gameplay can cause the bad maps to last 2-4 times longer than the good ones, but there are glimmers of potential that shine through all the way through to the end. It’s just hard to give the game credit for the things it does right when the things it does wrong are so egregious.
I really liked this game at first, but only while operating under the assumption that everything would be polished up; Infected Shelter‘s release state is so repetitive and RNG-dependent that less than 1% of people have reached its ending. I’m part of that .9% percent, and it’s hard to recommend this anymore.
I used to think that I was missing something by not playing Devil May Cry games. Beloved series are usually beloved for an obvious reason, after all. If Devil May Cry 5 is any indication of what can be expected from earlier games, though, consider me thoroughly disabused of that notion.
The randomization is a blessing and a curse. Early on, the ever-changing world map allows for a real sense of discovery as you relearn where everything is, but it doesn’t take long before you begin to recognize how empty and featureless areas tend to be as a result.
Objects can be picked up and dropped at vast distances while retaining the size that they are in your hand, allowing you to shrink and grow anything you can pick up. Many mechanics only show up for short sequences before being replaced by something even stranger, too, allowing Superliminal to surprise you constantly all the way to its ending.
The fact that I chose to finish it anyway says a lot. For one thing, it proves that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is more than just a spiritual successor to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. After all, I’ve never played that game (nor any other Castlevania in any meaningful amount). It also speaks to how excellent the mechanics are when the pacing holds up, because there are hourlong sections where you have no idea where to go or what to do but wander in search of something you missed.
Feeling railroaded and wanting to have something to show for my troubles, I shrug and press the button, wiping out an entire town with the kind of insouciance you’d expect from someone throwing away a food wrapper; no one who lived in the town was particularly memorable, and the party member who initially protested never brings it up again, so it’s hard to care. The Outer Worlds tries to replicate the magic of Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas, but it suffers from many problems and moments like this that become increasingly prevalent until the illusion is shattered and you realize that it’s just a hollow pretender.
Disco Elysium describes itself as a “groundbreaking open-world role-playing game,” which is a slightly misleading way of describing a game that feels like the gamebook lovechild of Planescape: Torment and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Its similarity to those classics is its greatest strength, though, keeping it afloat amid an endless tide of irrelevant factoids and a twin pair of mysteries that slowly build up the intrigue, only to fizzle out at the very end in a bizarrely unsatisfying way.
It’s difficult to put into words just how much profanity I’ve lobbed in this game’s direction while playing, and some of the criticisms my rage-addled past self brought up are real examples of Driven Out playing unfairly. At the same time, it occupies that enjoyably bizarre realm of “so difficult that it doesn’t seem difficult in hindsight.” Many of Driven Out‘s fights are downright fantastic and don’t suffer from any problems, and it’s during these that it shines. Low points are also common, however, thanks to some awkward animations that disable your ability to block for uncomfortable spans and a bevy of minor frustrations that create some very strange difficulty spikes.
Indivisible doesn’t have a great first couple of hours, oscillating between its serious and playful tones so quickly that both are meaningless. The game’s early boss fights are also horribly gimmicky thanks to a tendency to shoehorn awkward real-time sequences into the turn-based combat. Still, Indivisible finds its footing 5+ hours in and maintains a solid stride all the way to the final boss fight, which is one of the worst final encounters I can recall seeing in a game.