Boomerang X is a textbook example of short and sweet. It's a bite-sized experience that rewards persistence with a vague, mysterious narrative, dynamic combat, challenging enemies, and so much satisfaction when you squeeze out a victory in the last wave. I had to test my mettle and tolerate a bit of slowdown, but Boomerang X is one of the best indies I've played this year.
The world is vibrant and colorful, and the characters have distinct personalities and relationships that feel genuine. Dipping up and down to close those weave gaps is one of the most meditative experiences I've had this year, and it's only one small piece of the gameplay pie that's chock full of delicious combat filling. Weaving Tides is a treat, one to share with friends and make room for seconds.
The core battle system is too thin, and the activities and charming character interactions aren't enough to paper over that problem. This is the most robust mii maker, but it's all at a price that's downright terrible. I wanted to like Miitopia more than I did, but it's more like a Mii-nopia.
None of that could dull my enthusiasm though. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a beautiful application of a roguelike system with a 2D dungeon crawler format married perfectly to a town-building system and overworld that invites exploration and grinding gems to uncover more things to do outside of combat. This is a no-brainer for classic Zelda fans or anyone looking for co-op fun, and it's absolutely been the best gaming experience so far for me in 2021.
A decent sense of speed with maniacal track design and near flawless drivers. Visually inconsistent style that just highlights the problem areas. Music that is in the right genre but is somewhere between lacking and outright horrifying. I had high hopes for Future Aero Racing S Ultra, but instead i'll be playing more Fast RMX.
This is a system where crowns make the world go round and everything is replaceable, for a price. The breadth of dialogue, world-building paragraphs, and light agency in storytelling let you build the world according to what you hear. It's a world I want to dive into again and again, even if I know this incarnation will be just as taxing.
The addition of rewind and save states lets newcomers experience them without having to beat their heads against the wall. Even better, the tome of special features and developer interviews shows a devotion from Blizzard to make this collection a true historical document that too many classic game collections lack. Even for those who haven't played the originals, this is a package I'm happy to recommend to anyone.
Curse of the Dead Gods could have easily been an also-ran to solely capitalize on an upcoming release that has a lot of buzz (think Antz to A Bug's Life). Instead, I've been greeted with a roguelike that, while definitely sharing DNA with other dungeon crawlers, has enough interesting backdrops with a few neat combat ideas to make it its own. Curse of the Dead Gods' unique features don't all hit dead-on, but what's here is a game that while not as refined is still plenty of fun in its own right.
It won't win any awards for its visuals and could certainly do well by limiting battling. That said, it hit the mark with tranquil digging, incentivizing crafting with small goals in its missions, and gradually pushing you along to explore the wider world around your starting grounds. If you like your crafting but want a guiding hand for your experience, Aground is a good place to start.