Eric Van Allen
- The World Ends With You
- Final Fantasy X
- Mass Effect 2
So while Mario Party Superstars doesn’t necessarily break massively new ground, it’s so good at replaying the classics that it will probably be my new go-to for Mario Party fun moving forward. It isn’t just the Nintendo 64 nostalgia talking here; this is a good collection of minigames, a smart board selection, a nice-looking game, and it’s got tons of settings, dials, and options to fiddle with for repeat play sessions. It might not be filled with new ideas, but Mario Party Superstars plays the hits, and plays them as well as it did the first time around.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable RPG with some novel ideas and strong presentation behind it, Voice of Cards can easily eat up a weekend or two. It’s sweet and doesn’t overstay its welcome, even when I wished it would. While those factors aren’t enough for it to match up against the best-in-class competitors, there are many worse ways to spend a cozy fall evening than curled up with Voice of Cards.
Whether I’m laughing out loud over a brilliant strategy gone awry or just barely getting onto an escape vehicle with Ridden right on my heels, Back 4 Blood has the right formula for a good few weekends of co-op fun. If it gets even more support and updates down the line, I could see this taking up a spot as a go-to social game for quite a while to come. Really, it just feels good to have this sort of game back again.
The Good Life does many things, but they never felt like they coalesced together into an experience that could stick with me. I certainly enjoyed parts of it, and some of its stranger moments really do land as big, enjoyable peaks. But there’s a lot of valley in-between, and while I arrived in Rainy Woods eager for a pleasant countryside escape, I didn’t feel like making a return trip after the credits had rolled.
For as gorgeous as Eastward‘s graphics are, and as endearing as some of its characters become, and as much as I need its soundtrack on vinyl as soon as possible, it also falls short in some ways that leave its conclusion feeling a bit off. It’s one of the more promising debuts I’ve seen, and Pixpil has ensured I’ll be incredibly interested in whatever they do next. Eastward is something a fan of pixel art and good music, with a weakness for video game nostalgia, deserves to check out. It’s just also a journey that left me wanting a little more.
Whether this is the big Tales breakthrough or not is a matter that history will decide. This is a Tales game that hits the right spots for me, puts a lot of love into its cast and its action, and somehow manages to strike a balance between the old and the new.
So with every repeated loop, and every new piece of info that leads to more narrative threads to pull on, Twelve Minutes is certainly fascinating to unravel. Some of it might start to feel a bit clunky, when dialogue starts mashing up against itself and characters move in awkward ways, but on the whole, it’s a puzzle I kept wanting to piece together, both fascinated and afraid of the answers I might find. It keeps the story driving forward, and if some deep, dark character drama set in a time loop sounds appealing, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
Even when Axiom Verge 2 wasn’t hitting perfectly for me, it feels different and very much its own. Things start out slow, but give it a little time and Axiom Verge 2 really gets going, playing off expectations with clever alterations of the original game’s conventions. It’s dense as ever lore-wise, and it’s got some good music and worlds to move through. It’s a follow-up to Axiom Verge that doesn’t content itself with a simple recitation of the first game’s high points, and if what’s detailed above sounds like your jam, you’ll probably have a good time with it.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles as a unified duology really captures everything that draws players into this series in the first place. It’s got big reveals and turnabouts, clever use of examinations and deductions, and a cast littered with memorable, endearing characters. Naruhodo’s journey through the legal system of London is one that’s been a series highlight. It’s nice to finally have these games in the West, as both a great onboarding point for newcomers and a nice treat for Ace Attorney fans. No objections here.
Mario Golf: Super Rush is still a fairly solid golf experience, but it will need some of that aforementioned post-launch support to match up with previous sports spinoffs for me. It satisfies a craving for some arcade-style golf multiplayer, and I can see myself having some fun playing an 18-hole trek with friends online a few more times. I’m just hoping for some more reasons to keep me coming back.
Scarlet Nexus is, ultimately, some gorgeous, action-heavy comfort food. It is Saturday morning anime in game form, and while it will struggle to hold your attention from a story perspective, it’s also a good way to lose 30 hours in a fun combat system. It’s not a narrative powerhouse, but if you need a vehicle for bashing monsters with the might of your brain, it’ll suit that need just fine.
If I was looking for an on-ramp to understanding Guilty Gear or even one-on-one anime fighters, this is the game to do it with; and what’s here looks ready to act as a platform for more to come, as there will no doubt be balance changes and new characters to come. I can lament what it might be missing, but Guilty Gear Strive is also what I needed right now: a good, solid, very online-capable fighting game with plenty of big swords, charging dolphins, and doctors with questionable credentials to go around.
If we’re setting off to new horizons and, eventually, a new Mass Effect, then Mass Effect Legendary Edition serves as a solid collection of this trilogy. This is everything these three games were, and still are to many fans, preserved for time. Just like the capsule Liara makes during Mass Effect 3, this is what can hopefully stand the test of time and carry what this trilogy is—its characters, its worlds, and its stories—forward for ages to come.
New Pokémon Snap is a sign of the times in that way, but while it's adapted to the age of Instagram, it hasn't lost its soul in the process. This is the Pokémon Snap you remember, with a few additions that don't always hit as resoundingly, but the foundation has been well-kept. It was a blast to spend a weekend just blasting through every ride this park had to offer, and they're varied enough that I know I can go back today, tomorrow, and months from now, and still find new things to photograph, new interactions to fool around with, and a good time to be had.
By zipping through the creation of life itself, you might just find answers to why someone has been shot and how to stop it. Though some puzzles and controls can get pretty frustrating, the adventure itself is the draw, and with Genesis Noir, it's a beautiful trip through primordial creation worth taking. If you're eager to see what kind of stylish, inventive ways developers are finding to tell stories in games, this hard-boiled trip is worth the ticket.
Gnosia manages to capture that in single-player format, while creating a story and universe you care about enough to really learn and understand. I know everyone’s tells, but I also know what they like and dislike, what they struggle with and what they seek. Gnosia’s both an impostor game and a visual novel, and the mix results in something else entirely new. Whether you enjoy new forms of storytelling or just want the friendly deception without the social anxiety, it’s well worth experiencing.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a new frontier for the Yakuza series, and the life and crimes of the series feels right at home in this new setting. Ichiban is an instant addition to the pantheon of Yakuza legends, his party an endearing band of ruffians, with the combat doing just enough to make everything familiar feel new again. Where Yakuza goes from here is anyone's guess, but mechanical friction aside, this is a step in a fun and compelling new direction.
Paradise Killer drips with endearing style and charm, but can't quite make its finale match up to its opening hours. Discovering intrigue and mystery is compelling at the start, but the good gets lost in its collectible busywork. Paradise Killer is a good option for virtual detective fanatics in need of new mysteries, but it lacks the staying power of other modern mystery giants.
Spiritfarer is a cozy game about helping spirits move on. Its wide scope of systems and resources can sometimes get in its own way, but when working in harmony it unveils a touching narrative, all the while adorned by gorgeous art. Best enjoyed in small pieces, Spiritfarer is a warm and inviting world to get lost in, with the occasional emotional gut punch for good measure.
Valorant leans heavily on its predecessors, but makes use of established schools of thought and the unique novelties of its Agents to create a fresh take on tactical shooters, even if its launch is a little slim. For years, there hasn't been a fight for Counter-Strike's throne; but in Valorant, Riot Games has found a valiant contender.