Heather Johnson Yu
- Final Fantasy X
- Katamari Damacy
Slice of Sea is phenomenal in practically every regard and should be used as a case study for the genre going forward. The way it so brilliantly rewards observation and exploration in a manner that naturally calls to our childlike curiosity is a literal joy to experience. As I struggle to eloquently conclude this review, all I can think of is repeatedly shaking the shoulders of each reader and exclaiming “get this game, get this game, get this game!” Slice of Sea is absolutely one of my top five titles for 2021, and if you love this genre, I’m confident you’ll agree with me.
TOUHOU Spell Bubble blends the familiar Puzzle Bobble mechanics with cleverly fun rhythm gameplay set to the beat of Touhou Project’s absolute bangers. And with the new update’s inclusion of online functionality in both ranked and private modes, this already addicting multiplayer puzzler just got a whole lot more exciting. If you’re looking for that instantly enjoyable Puzzle Bobble fun with a fresh new rhythm feel, TOUHOU Spell Bubble is waiting to work its magic on you.
LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories has such a clever concept implemented in a unique way — who would have thought to make a game focused on a building’s past and present, its windows open for players to peek inside and see how love grows or wanes over time? Unfortunately, this labor of love was a little hard to understand, its stories only sometimes resonating through confusing feedback and cluttered scenes. If you’re here for puzzles, you may want to pass this one up (or at least give it a go on your PC); if you prefer sentimental stories above gameplay, then let love conquer all and give LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories a shot.
Hermitage: Strange Case Files is not your average visual novel, nor is it your average cosmic horror title. With relaxing-yet-energetic jazzy tunes that’ll have you sipping coffee and pondering the depths of the darkness that resides within the human mind, Hermitage: Strange Case Files feels oddly comfortable and confusing at the same time. It’s not that I didn’t want Hermitage: Strange Case Files to end — it got to a point where I genuinely didn’t think it would, its unexplained mysteries consuming all that’s left of me. If you’re looking for an interactive visual novel to get absolutely lost in (in every possible sense of that phrase), Hermitage: Strange Case Files has a literal bookstore to delve into.
Where Cards Fall has a uniquely interesting puzzle mechanic with a melancholy vibe that will please those who love to feel their way through a title. While the story is difficult to grasp, those who prefer puzzles over story won’t mind that too much, as the puzzles themselves are the driving force behind the game and more than make up for any perceived issues. If you’re looking for something familiar with a novel twist, play your cards right with Where Cards Fall.
Although Lawn Mowing Simulator might get a laugh or two in its concept alone, it’s a genuinely good simulation game that allows players to manage the landscaping business of their dreams. While it’s not as satisfying as PowerWash Simulator, it’s just as relaxing — if you enjoyed one, you’ll likely enjoy the other. If you want the satisfaction of a lawn well mowed but don’t actually want to get outside and mow a lawn (and that irony isn’t lost on you whatsoever), Lawn Mowing Simulator is begging you to take the wheel.
Evertried does a lot right — fans of roguelites who have played them all and want to explore something novel might enjoy this unique spin on turn-based tactical gameplay. It definitely instills that “one more turn” kind of feeling from the get-go, eagerly inviting players to die, die again. If Into The Breach was your cup of tea and you’re looking for something with that kind of flavor, Evertried is here to take you to new heights.
Don’t let Alchemist Simulator’s cozy aesthetics fool you — there’s no warm welcome here. Getting your bearings as a fledgling alchemist will take a lot of practice and patience, but once you do, it’s smooth sailing. In fact, some might even find it too smooth, as Alchemist Simulator’s repetitive nature makes it hard to learn but easy to master. A little more communication to the player would have gone a long way in the beginning, and some increased difficulty at the end would have captivated those looking for a challenge. Alchemist Simulator gets warm enough to melt lead, but unfortunately not hot enough to make gold.
The Big Con is a heart-warming coming of age story that will delight 90s kids, referential-humor enjoyers, and those with sticky fingers. Its relatable protagonist never loses her heart of gold, despite the horrible circumstances she finds herself in, which serves as a shining testament to the dev team’s ability to carefully craft a story using controversial mechanics. If you have $14.99 and 7 - 10 hours to spare, take a look at The Big Con -- it's bound to steal your heart.
If you were drawn to Subway Midnight’s art style and love novelty and/or spookycute games, you’re going to immediately love this one. Its unique, constantly-changing visual style is mind-bogglingly impressive, especially to those who can appreciate the sheer amount of work that went into it. If you’re looking for a spooky (but not scary) game to get completely sucked into, a ticket to ride on Subway Midnight only costs $9.99.