Heather Johnson Yu
The Magnificent Trufflepigs asks players to stop frantically trying to achieve arbitrary goals and instead reflect on why we’ve undertaken them in the first place. It employs an interesting and underutilized mechanic, only to completely change it up once the main character achieves some desperately needed personal growth. It may require a second playthrough to totally understand not only the big reveal but overarching message; luckily, it’s a three hour excursion (at most) across bucolic English countryside, so that extra time is time well spent. If you find yourself exhausted by constantly trying to check things off life’s list, you deserve a breather — grab a metal detector and take a walk with The Magnificent Trufflepigs.
Pecaminosa – A Pixel Noir Game hits all the right notes in both the pixel-art style and noir genre. It has fun fights, challenging bosses, interesting art, and even some entertaining mini-games to break the routine. It’s easy to recommend but difficult to master; expect more action and less mystery with this police action RPG. If you want something that feels new yet simultaneously possesses retro vibes, take a deep, long draft of Pecaminosa – A Pixel Noir Game.
With soothing music, calming visuals, addictive gameplay, and a unique tale that unfolds slowly, The Wild At Heart is incredibly easy to recommend. In fact, the only thing you will need to find real enjoyment with this gem is a controller and a good 20 hours to sink into it. There is so much charm and energy in this little puzzler, and I was so engaged in figuring out the whimsical world of the Deep Woods that I hardly noticed the time just whizzing by. If you’re the type that likes to play problem-solving games to relax, you absolutely need The Wild At Heart.
This dark depiction of Beauty and the Beast works, but only if you recognize what you’re getting into: a musical experience focusing on an abused psyche desperately trying to break free from known shackles, only to fly right into a cage that represents both prison and freedom.
I didn’t expect to be so utterly engrossed in The Invisible Hand, but I guess you could say I found myself pretty invested in it. The aesthetics are rough and the replay value isn’t totally there, but if you’ve been waiting for a stock market simulator, The Invisible Hand is absolutely it. If you want to experience the thrill of watching your gains blast off to the moon as you invest in extremely unethical things that have genuine consequences, look no further than The Invisible Hand.
Retrace: Memories of Death attempts to recreate a horror game along the same vein as Corpse Party or escape themes like Zero Escape, and to an extent it succeeds; at the same time, its repetitive nature with few hints in sight meant way too much backtracking with too little reward. There’s only so many times I can read through the exact same text, solve the exact same puzzles, and pick up the exact same items only to receive an end I’d already seen, forcing me to walk in circles in perpetuity, when even death’s sweet embrace can’t release me.
Little Kite’s powerful portrayal of domestic violence is going to stay with me for a long time. Although the imagery was intense and the music divine, the point and click mechanics were frustrating for the console — as is unfortunately par for the course when it comes to this hardware and genre combination.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a deeply beautiful, daringly emotional journey, tackling grief from a child’s point of view that still resonates strongly in adulthood. Clever wordplay spanning two different sections come together to create one touching story about an aspiring writer’s method of coping with the loss of a loved one. It may not be the most exciting game you’ve ever played, but it will be one of the more therapeutic ones. If you are looking for a lovely, healing game that will get you right in the feels, be sure to check out Lost Words: Beyond the Page.
If you thought Among Us needed more storyline, mechanics, and a single-player mode and you enjoy beautiful graphics with a compelling story, you absolutely must pick up Gnosia. The fate of the universe rests on your sleuthing skills, lest you become doomed to repeat history again and again and again and again and again
Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four is a complex deckbuilder game with simple presentation featuring RPG elements acting like a roguelike — all wrapped in a very pretty package. While it suffers from some balancing issues and more information on the battlefield would be welcome, there was a lot attempted here with plenty accomplished. It’s pretty criminal that a game that looks this good doesn’t feel truly ready for release yet; given a few more months, Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four should absolutely shine like the diamond in the rough it is.