Road 96 is flawed yet fascinating. It takes aim at U.S. politics in a way I’ve seen few games tackle, if any. While it’s far from subtle in its approach, the game is sure to generate some valuable conversations among players—and that deserves praise. The game also impresses with its novel storytelling structure, brisk pacing, and smart use of supporting characters. There are issues. The game’s procedural nature is undercut by a “look, don’t touch” design philosophy. Narrative drives the game forward, and gameplay almost always takes a backseat. The game offers little in the way of difficulty, and the voice acting is so bad, the game would have been better off without voiced lines at all. And yet, Road 96 is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s not going to appease all kinds of players, and it certainly won’t win over those it looks to critique, but those who give it a chance will surely warm up to its charm. Road 96 is a worthy trip, potholes and all.
"12 Minutes is the car crash you wince at, but can’t help but crane your neck to stare at. The game’s premise was brilliant, the concept trailer was masterful, and the cast couldn’t have been better. But none of those components make up for what is, ultimately, a game founded on contrived mechanics and underwhelming storytelling."
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights caught me by complete surprise. 2021 has been a quiet year so far, yet it’s easy for smaller games like this to fall through the cracks. And that’d be a shame. If you’re starving for more info on Metroid Dread and Hollow Knight: Silksong, no need to go hungry. Ender Lilies is far more than an appetizer; it’s a whole meal, and one of the best Metroidvanias in recent memory. Don’t miss it.
Despite some story misgivings, Episode INTERmission makes for an exceptional piece of DLC. It adds thrilling combat, a fun new character in Sonon, and Final Fantasy VII Remake’s best mini-game to date. It also includes a few bonus scenes that—without giving anything away—fans of the base game will want to watch. At $20, Episode INTERmission isn’t the cheapest proposition, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one. If you’re lucky enough to have a PlayStation 5, do yourself a favor and give it a go. Yuffie fans, rejoice!
But therein lies the rub for The Wild at Heart: It just isn’t memorable. Despite its inoffensive story and well-meaning gameplay, the title never quite finds its groove. There’s no smoking gun I can point to, as nothing here is inherently “bad.” This is a rare case where a gaming experience is simply less than the sum of its parts.
While it has some story pains, make no mistake: It Takes Two is a fantastic game and a welcome 2021 surprise. Grab a friend or loved one; find a co-worker or bridge buddy. Regardless of who you pair up with, this is one adventure you'll want to share together.
It speaks volumes about PGA Tour 2K21 that, despite its lackluster roster and game modes, it's still such an easy recommendation. It owes it all to a phenomenal gameplay loop that's as easy to pick up as it is difficult to master. The series may be a few years away from true greatness, but don't let that stop you from shooting your shot now.
Despite its gorgeous world and accessible veneer, Sakura Wars isn't going to win over the masses. It's simply too restrictive design-wise to achieve the broad appeal of games like Persona and Yakuza. For those willing to look past the blemishes, there's a certain beauty to be had here. It may not be the next Sega cult-hit, but Sakura Wars is a powerful love letter for series fans. It' not half-bad for anime fans, either.
Despite my issues with Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns, the game is still one heck of a great experience, twelve years later. Battles are as exciting as ever, while the new wealth of classes and quests ensures that even series veterans will be able to get lost in this world all over again.
Charming is certainly the word I'd use to describe Trover Saves the Universe. In spite of its underwhelming gameplay and disorganized storytelling, there's a definite sense of joy to be had while exploring the vibrant planets of the cosmos alongside Trover and his R-rated sense of humor.
Despite my issues with its combat and optimization, Hand of Fate 2 provides a wonderful experience for those seeking an interesting deck-building game to add to their Switch library. There's a good bit of bang for your buck here, and with additional levels available as paid DLC, I could imagine players getting lost in Hand of Fate 2's tabletop-inspired world for countless playthroughs. Just be sure to bring an open mind and plenty of patience.
Despite its title, Forgotton Anne is far from forgettable. Its story is deep, its characters are nuanced, and its journey is emotional and powerful. Unfortunately, its stiff platforming and uninspired puzzles hold it back from being a must-play. For fans of adventure games, Forgotton Anne is a surprising gem that'll provide plenty of memorable moments over the course of its 7- to 8-hour run. For those looking for a more cohesive melding of story and gameplay, however, there are simply better options available.
LEGO DC Super-Villains offers a lot of great things to like, despite my small quibbles. The title makes up for redundant core gameplay with its sheer variety of playable characters, robust character creation suite, and abundance of side content to complete. Meanwhile, its relatively by-the-books story is bolstered by phenomenal voice acting and classic LEGO charm. It may not be the mature, gritty super-villains game that many would like, but LEGO DC Super-Villains is still worth your time and money.
As an experience, The Gardens Between is a journey that's well worth embarking on. Its puzzles are gratifying, and its world is gorgeous and filled with personality. Its price may be too step for those looking for a meatier experience, and veteran fans of the genre might wish for tougher puzzles, but those hankering for a small game with a big heart will find plenty to love in The Gardens Between.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is an easy recommendation for Life is Strange fans as well as for those who have never touched the series before. Clocking in at 90 minutes, the episode can easily be completed in a single sitting; the episode's characters, on the other hand, will stay with you long after you put down the controller. If you have a free afternoon and some space on your hard drive, you have no excuse: Give Captain Spirit a whirl. It's free.
Despite its poorly told story, repetitive material grind, and wonky scoring system, Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack is a solid investment for fans of the 2D platformer genre. Gunvolt may not be Mega Man, but the series offers up much of the same charm and challenge that made Capcom's iconic franchise such a big hit. The pair of games doesn't quite hit the same highs as many of the Blue Bomber's greatest adventures, but Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack earns serious points for trying something new. Despite the wealth of platformers that have come to the Switch in recent weeks, Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack makes a compelling case for being an addition to your growing library.