Stela clearly wants to be as unnerving and fascinating as its contemporaries but the end product is merely an empty imitation. There is no element of surprise or wonder here, nothing to make players consider the game at a deeper level. Instead, it acts as a good reminder of the far superior titles that came before it.
Sayonara Wild Hearts is what you'd get if Robyn ran the Grid from Tron. A stunning collection of music, action, heart, and radiant setpieces, it's easily one of the most inventive and unpredictable games of 2019. And it could have been one of the best too if only the developers had made the decision to present this album as a whole upfront rather than take players through it track by track.
Despite that, the sum total of my experience with Daemon X Machina is positive. The combat is amazing, the game is bright and colorful, the framerate mostly holds up in either docked or handheld mode, and the hangar is great to tinker around in, checking out all the different configurations of my mech. That's what I'm going to remember out of all of this, which is safe for me to say because most everything else in this game is pretty forgettable.
Flight School Studio has created an exceptional world to explore in Creature in the Well. Its prodigious art direction is enticing, wooing players into a unique puzzle game that very much feels like a history lesson on the medium itself. It combines ideas and concepts found throughout gaming into a single, dynamic experience with a memorable antagonist eerily watching your every move. I absolutely love it, but I recognize there is room for improvement. With a bit more variety in design and a fine-tuned difficulty curve, it could have been one for the ages.
Whether or not the fanservice is too much for players or just a natural evolution of the boundary-pushing booby game genre, one thing that is certain about Omega Labyrinth Life is that it is not that good. The dungeon crawling, which is how you'll spend about 75% of your time with the game, simply isn't up to snuff with its contemporaries and tending to the Grand Garden lacks the depth an activity like that should have. It's just a top-to-bottom boring experience, and no amount of lady spray on my Switch screen can change that.
But that toolkit is only half of the equation. The other half is a platform game with no quality control, no impetus for putting legitimate effort into your original designs, and no way to weed out poor content creators other than trusting that players will be able to discern the difference between a bad level and good level and rate them accordingly. Given how many positive messages I've seen attached to genuinely bad stages, I don't have much faith in the Mario Maker community right now and I question whether it'll get better down the line.
It's easy for me to say Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a good game because it'd be a lie for me to say otherwise. The groundwork laid by the first title is still sound, but it just didn't grab me the same way its predecessor did. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop playing anytime soon -- I still have my home island to complete -- but it does mean it's not going to get my undivided attention for weeks-on-end like the first game did.
Marvelous and Honey∞Parade Games' biggest mistake with Senran Kagura: Peach Ball was treating it as a budget title because it deserves so much more: more tables, more girls, more everything. Combining the cheeseball sexuality of Senran with pinball is perhaps the most brilliant idea this franchise has ever had and the execution of what is here is nearly flawless. But the lack of a diverse set of pinball tables and a curtailed cast keep Peach Ball from reaching the excellence it could have so easily achieved if the developers had more time and more ideas for what they wanted Peach Ball to be.
Outside of those pesky load times, it's hard to find fault with Crystal Crisis. This is just a well-made game, a genuinely fun puzzler that challenges players to imagine new strategies with every character they try. And with memory mode beckoning me to play again and again, I don't imagine I'll be taking up any of the other Switch puzzle games for a long, long time.