I enjoyed my time with Born of Bread. The characters are cheery, the combat is smooth (if simple), and the dialogue, though verbose, offers just enough charm to keep the player reading. That said, it’s far from a perfect substitute for a Nintendo-level release. We’ll see whether a patch (or a few) helps ameliorate some of its bigger technical stumbles. For now, though, Born of Bread is a competent Paper Mario-like that’s held back from truly leavened greatness.
I wasn’t a believer at first, but Ghostrunner 2 won me over. Sure, the story’s forgettable, and the technical performance takes a hit here or there. But the combat is sharp, the platforming is sharper, and there are quite a few surprises lying in wait. (I’m intentionally not spoiling one of the game’s coolest gameplay twists, but trust me: It rocks.) If you have room on your 2023 gaming plate for one more adventure, and you’re ready to grind through the pain, Ghostrunner 2 is well worth your time.
What else I can say about Smushi Come Home without spoiling its finer moments? Its characters are charming, its gameplay is soothing, and it has a great sense of style. (Just listen to that feel-good soundtrack from composer Failpositive.) And while the experience is a bit on the short side, it’s one that hardly feels undercooked. If you’re looking for a breather between AAA epics or simply searching for a wonderful indie, Smushi Come Home has enough charm to make you blush. Come for the adorable mushroom; stay for the tender narrative and cozy vibes. This is one homecoming you don’t want to miss.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is absolutely worth playing. It’s a rare game that exceeds despite several key issues, and the more I reflect on its narrative and core themes, the more impressed I find myself. Beware spoilers, and go in with zero expectations. Jedi: Survivor will win over your heart, just like it did mine.
SEASON: A Letter to the Future is an unforgettable story about the power of memories—how joyful it can be to make them, and how painful it can be to lose them. It has rough edges. The story asks more than it answers, and the game feels too short for a journey of its magnitude, but these flaws only confirm what I already believe—that I wish there was more of this brilliant game. Whether you’re a lover of adventure games or simply looking to lose yourself on a mystical journey, SEASON has plenty it’s willing to show you.
I’m surprised a mobile game can be this good, without reaching for the wallet. I have concerns about the battle pass, but those can wait for another day. Marvel Snap is out now, and the reality is, it’s stellar. Play it on iOS or Android, or try an early access version for PC via Steam (widescreen support is coming soon). Thanos might be bad, but this snap is damn good.
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.