Bahnsen Knights is something I’ve said I’ve wanted, I just wish it did it better. Short and cheap games seem like the ultimate cure for folks burned out by the current gaming landscape… but a single hour is perhaps too short, even most folks I know who appreciate shorter games would probably feel cheated, and that hour could definitely do with some improvements. They definitely tried and succeeded at having a unique and memorable voice, but this also means wearing its flaws on its sleeve. There’s some great scenes, and the aesthetics are absolutely on point, but at the end of the day I simply can’t find myself recommending this to anyone except those who’d look at the trailer and immediately know it’s their jam.
I came away from this with the impression that I really didn’t miss out on much. Turok 3 is a game that lost its identity, and it now comes as no surprise that the next game was a reboot where Turok was changed into a space marine. In trying so hard to be like the other big name franchises, it became little more than another copy and sadly faded into obscurity. That all said, it’s only just mediocre at its worst, and you still get to shoot grenades at dinosaurs, so at least it has that going for it.
In short, fans of atmospheric horror owe it to themselves to pick this up. This is absolutely one of the best horror games I’ve played, and while there are a few little issues here and there, this isn’t even the end of development. There’s a more tailored scenario gameplay mode already on the horizon for a later update, and I expect things will only go up from there.
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is one of those games I wish got made more often. Rather than spending dozens of hours simply being ok, it chooses to spend what little time it has being fantastic. It’s the kind of game that sticks with you for ages after you’ve put it down. I know that contrasts with what I just said about wanting more, but at the end of the day I think it’s far better to be left wanting more than to have a forgettable time.
Overall I would say it all depends on your perspective. Some people like the bottle episodes more than the season finales after all. If you prefer hanging out and getting to know people with a splash of sci-fi dystopian-ish intrigue to give them something to talk about, this will be right up your alley. If you’re here primarily for the sci-fi dystopia and seeing the characters bond over their shared struggle is just a bonus, you’ll probably find it a bit lacking. Still, at the end of the day, if my main criticism is simply that I preferred the previous entry… that’s probably saying something.
I wish I could rate this higher. I honestly had a fun time playing through Curse of the Sea Rats, but the issues I encountered were significant. On top of balance issues and voice line deliveries, I also stumbled across a few bugs here and there including one that basically broke most of the ending. Again the refrain goes, they’re aware and fixing issues, but I can merely hope the patch irons out every last detail. Should the patch fix every one of these issues admirably, I could easily see this being an 8 or even a 9. But even in its current state, it’s a charming experience. Especially for anyone with fond memories of 90s animated features.
More than anything else, Season is about the vibe it cultivates. Asking you to pause, actually look and listen to your surroundings, not just as a way to work on your journal but as a way of life. It is certainly a beautiful experience, one I couldn’t help but reflect on even after I’d put it down. But outside of that, it is a little bit short, and there doesn’t seem to be too much in the way of replay value. If you’re down with that vibe, you’ll find this a very relaxing experience with some entertaining worldbuilding and a few mysteries for suspense. However, being pretty much a one-off experience more like a movie may rub a lot of gamers the wrong way.
NeverAwake is a truly polished gem, an absolute pleasure from start to finish. The short levels, simple controls, and satisfying challenge all combine to make it oh so tempting to play “just one more level” until you’ve binged the whole game. While there are certainly a few areas here and there that feel less polished, they really focused on the core that makes for a great shooter.
That’s not to say it’s completely perfect. There is a little bit of that indie game jank, it’s not terribly long, and there are a few bugs here and there ranging from minor graphical ones to more major ones that halted my progress temporarily. Thankfully the devs are already hard at work on a patch, and while the main story may be short, I’ve managed to sink 20 hours in so far and I’m nowhere close to stopping.
More than anything, Card Shark is an experience. It’s not an exceptionally long game, coming in at eight hours, but it very much suits its length. I wasn’t left unsatisfied, nor did it feel padded. The emphasis on the tricks themselves was oddly compelling as well. By the end of the game I had learned the theory behind a good number of techniques, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to practice some of these for real.
I want to like this game, I really do. When it works, it works really well. The core gameplay loop is satisfying, the two ideas mesh believably, and figuring out how best to manage the species on a given level is like a fun little puzzle. Actually reaching later planets makes me feel like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill, with the content I’m repeating feeling no different than it did an hour ago when I started my last run.
It’s buggy, the balance is off, and a good 80% of the locations only really serve as random sidequest destinations. But the storytelling drew me in, the stealth worked rather well, and on the occasions when I felt like I had resources to burn it was just so dang satisfying to slow motion dive out from behind a corner while blasting a barrage of shotgun shells.
Infernax keeps the things that worked from the nostalgic classics of yesteryear while changing what didn’t. I haven’t had this much fun with a game in a while. It’s just a perfect blend of difficulty and discovery from start to finish. It’s basic, sure, but sometimes shaving off the excess parts is how you polish something down to its core.
Really, if I had to boil down my issues to one thing, it’s that the developers need to understand how to add content to a game. Games are all about what we as players choose to do, and for extra content to actually mean anything it should ask me to make different choices. For every dating minigame I’m making the same choices every other time that minigame shows up, for every frame of bowling I am making the same choices as every frame before it. All the pretty visuals don’t change that it is the same minute or so of content repeated over and over.
In Sound Mind feels like a call back to yesteryear, in a good way. A style of game design not often seen these days, more of a niche title but one that hits that niche VERY well. It’s easily the best psychological horror game I’ve ever reviewed here, and the amount of polish and sheer heart help it stand out even outside of the niche. Above all else, In Sound Mind is fun. The horror and melancholy of what’s going on in the plot is balanced out by light-hearted camp, the levels are all interwoven exploration puzzles where a new tool invariably makes you realize several new areas you can discover, it’s all so easy to just get lost for hours and hours until next thing you know it’s 3AM.
For all my complaints, Aragami 2 does pull off making you feel like a ninja rather well. Planning just the perfect route to ambush everyone one by one or slip in and out without disturbing anyone felt really satisfying. It manages to tread that fine line of letting you get away with more than is realistic while still making a perfect run challenging that makes a great stealth game. I just can’t help but feel they took a few gambles with changing things up from the original, and took a step backwards as a result.
Fuga: Melodies of Steel is perhaps one of the most impactful games I’ve ever played. The story and gameplay both serve to complement each other, with the story adding so much importance to your decisions, but with the horrible impact of firing the cannon entirely within your power to prevent if you pay attention to all your options. I don’t know if my experience will match everyone else’s, but I sincerely and genuinely felt something from this, and sometimes it just feels good to have something connect with you even as it hurts.
Whether you’re an old fan of the series, looking for a fun visual novel about courtroom intrigue, or just saw a few of the series memes flying around and want to know what it’s all about, you owe it to yourself to pick up The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles.
While it’s true the target audience is a bit niche, at its core Winds of Change is a thrilling fantasy visual novel about the oppressed and downtrodden finding hope and doing everything they can to change their world for the better, a story everyone can enjoy.