- Valkyria Chronicles
- Sakura Taisen 2
Ultimately, it doesn't feel like Utawarerumono: ZAN effectively serves any part of its prospective audience. It's inadequate as a gateway game for newcomers to the franchise, and despite some decent graphics and interesting musou-gameplay twists, it lacks the substance to attract existing fans. It feels like a game created mainly to remind people that the franchise still exists, rather than actually satisfy those who'd deign to play it. Utawarerumono fans are better off waiting for the remake of the original game in the series, while newcomers are advised to pick up the game, or watch the anime instead.
Sea of Solitude stands out as heartfelt, almost painfully sincere, so much so that I hesitated to actually put a score on this review at all. It felt almost crass to do so, like being allowed to read a relative's diary, only to give it a thumbs-up or -down. Though engaging gameplay and meaningful messaging aren't mutually exclusive in games, Sea of Solitude is squarely one of a growing number of titles that challenges the notion that "fun and entertainment" should be a game's main priority in every case.
Outer Wilds proves there's still a sense of genuine adventure to be gained from games that commit to a set, fixed structure and design, rather than the kind of sprawling, endless expanses many contemporary titles set out to become. Playing it brought to mind my favorite bits of Dr. Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go...except with more of the sun exploding.
In the end, Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is a credible and entertaining adventure, but its potential to stand alongside its developers' best works is hampered by its systems and story's inability to come together and elevate the experience beyond the sum of its parts.
The Caligula Effect: Overdose is still definitely a flawed, frustrating work. Its shortcomings are many, and might still be too intractable for some, but the refinements and additions have,for me at least, papered over the cracks just enough to make it worth putting up with. Patient and curious JRPG enthusiasts will find plenty to appreciate, if not necessarily love, if they try for a quick stay in Mobius.
Taken on its own terms, though, with God Eater 3 we have a pretty hunting game that moves like lightning and makes its stylish combat feel like something worth mastering. Players willing to adjust their expectations will find plenty to fill up on, but those seeking a novel new taste rather than a bit of comfort food may want to keep looking.
Nevertheless, though, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition excels in the places that matter most to Tales game, and in doing so earns the timeless adulation lavished on it by its fans. I can't tell you if it's the best Tales game, but it's everything a Tales game needs to be, in order to be considered great.
When it's firing on all cylinders, Ace Combat 7 absolutely soars as a return to form for a series thought dormant. It'll be interesting to see how Bandai Namco might take things forward from here on, but for now, the series is flying high and steady once again.