- Mass Effect 3
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
- The Last of Us
Detective Pikachu Returns isn’t setting up a sequel, and while I’m glad to have some closure, I am sad to leave Ryme City. Sometimes I get tired of sending Pokémon out for battle to knock each other out, and I just want to go on adventures with Pikachu by my side. Detective Pikachu Returns is imperfect, but lets me revisit the Pokémon world I’d most like to live in. I hope, even if this is the end of Tim and Pikachu’s story, it’s not the end of The Pokémon Company doing interesting, off-the-wall adventure games that can look at this universe in fresh ways.
But it’s also still this. Scarlet and Violet already showed major signs of technical stress, and the bulging seams are even more apparent in The Teal Mask. As much as I enjoyed this DLC, it remains disappointing that some of Pokémon’s best stuff is being dragged down by a game engine that feels like it’s just a slight breeze away from falling apart.
Ultimately, those final moments are the ones I leave Eternights thinking about. Where often the game feels like it’s struggling to execute its own ideas, it’s clear that it at least has ideas. It gets in its own way with what feel like expected genre pressures to undermine itself, but it knows the emotions it wants the player to feel, and they aren’t as superfluous as the gags at characters’ expense it throws out along the way. It makes me hopeful about what this studio might make in the future, because while Eternights may be imperfect, it’s clearly made by a team that wants to create moments like this game’s finale, ideally supported by games that are fully deserving of them. It just needs to work on ironing out all the wrinkles that held this game back.
I’m enamored by Stray Gods’ writing and art, but the thing that makes it unique is the worst part about it. Whenever I was enjoying the writing, acting, or art, the music would kick in and I’d mutter “oh, okay, here we go again” until it was time to pick my choices and direct the song one way or another. It’s such a cool idea, but the foundation is so shaky that I sometimes wish it was just a standard adventure game so its best parts could shine through. It wouldn’t have been as eye-catching or original without its gimmick, but it would’ve been a better game.
I can try a new playthrough and build things back up and game the system to get the “better” outcome where the dice roll in my favor every time. But there’s something kind of beautiful in a messy playthrough that you can’t experience more than once as each permutation becomes more apparent with each replay. For now, this imperfect outcome is mine, and I want to maintain that memory of my Baldur’s Gate 3 story. At least for a little while longer.
Rain Code is built by a team that knows how to make these kinds of games, and as a long-time fan of the themes Kodaka tends to write around, I was pretty moved by the end even though it nearly lost me in the beginning. If you’ve never been a fan of Kodaka’s mix of camp, heavyhanded themes, and theatrics, Rain Code will likely not grab you. But despite it feeling like Danganronpa’s distant cousin, it makes it clear this team doesn’t have to lean on Monokuma’s death game as a crutch and can build something new upon its bones instead. Hopefully, this means Kodaka can continue to let old things die on their own terms and make new things instead.
I don’t think Crash Team Rumble is going to be the next big live service craze, but it has its moments, I can’t help but pity a game that feels like the odds are stacked against it. I guess now I’m just left to see whether or not future support helps the game pick up steam, if Activision flips the switch and makes Crash Team Rumble a free-to-play game down the line, or if the plug gets pulled before either of those things happen.
All of these twists and turns in Blizzard’s messaging have no doubt made things harder on the folks making Overwatch 2 as they deal with strife within Activision Blizzard in the midst of its harassment lawsuits, turnover at Blizzard on both a managerial and rank-and-file level, and forcing a once work-from-home staff to move back into the office after establishing their lives elsewhere. I feel for the team because, underneath all the poor planning, there is clearly a lot of talent and love for these characters desperately crawling out of the hole poor business decisions have put them in. I just hope that something, anything comes along that feels like it captures that passion, because I can feel my own dwindling every day Overwatch 2 doesn’t live up to its promise.
Despite my frustrations with its structure, mechanics, and the fact that it looks and runs like a middling GameCube game most of the time (there were several instances, even outside of the open-world areas, where character animations would drop to near stop-motion levels of movement), I still left Scarlet and Violet enamored by its character relationships and neatly tied-up themes of finding one’s own joy in the big, wild Pokémon world.