Reroll reaffirms that 14 years after its debut, Katamari Damacy remains a bright streak of design vision and an iconic waft of imagination. It’s the kind of no-fuss game that’s fantastic in short bursts, which makes it well suited to the handheld console (I played through a lot of this in bed while interstate and visiting my folks, for example). It’s a fun world to flitter in and out of, and it has one of the best soundtracks imaginable. I do wonder if Bandai Namco could have done more than just plonking the original game out here, but I guess at the end of the day they knew what they had held up, in all its grand simplicity, pretty well.
And that’s the thing about 11-11 Memories Retold – should I expect to be surprised? Should I rightfully hope to learn something? Should I expect the medium to be used in a new way to make me think about things differently? Is this video game just not for me? Who then, is it for? I’m upset that 11-11 can be both so serious and so inane, so against-the-grain yet so grimly uninventive. I’m bothered by the feeling of myself being bored by this game when its earnestness and thematic content tells me that my entertainment here shouldn’t necessarily be the point. Where is my empathy? Why can’t I think of the poor soldiers, civilians, etc., the people who lived through this? I like that it tries to work against the video game paradigm of glorifying violence; I hate how it gave me the longest five hours of my life in the process. Press “F” for feelings and so on.
Dark Souls seems pretty at home on the Switch (which all up is not a particularly surprising conclusion to come to since this console launched with a Zelda title, and Dark Souls is basically Zelda but difficult… Haha, don't look at me like that, I'm kidding. No really). Should you pay full price to get it, though? I don't know. It apparently costs the same on PC at the moment too, and if you're strictly comparing the two options, well, Switch seems like a smart one. I don't know if Dark Souls on Switch is the most Dark Souls version of Dark Souls, but it sure gives you a lot of options as to how you want to suffer through it.
It’s true that there’s surprisingly little in the way of innovation in Soulcalibur VI, and I’m not one hundred percent on board with condoning a game that takes so few risks and perhaps feels several new characters short of a final product. Yet while this complaint still stands, I can mostly forgive it because, at its best, Soulcalibur VI is a giddy pile of fun. It’s fun because it’s a particularly well-tuned version of the same free-flowing slashy-kicky fest the series has always been, but now it’s also on PC. It’s fun because it has good online matchmaking options that actually seem to work. It’s fun because the character creator is ridiculous and good and excessive. It’s fun because it’s an intuitive fighting game that provides some self-improvement tools for the competitively-minded. I like it, basically, despite how it took me a while to be sure I was even playing a new title, and I hope it sticks around for a while.
Unforeseen Incidents is a smart, funny, engaging, thoughtfully-designed adventure game, probably one of the best traditional point-and-click mysteries that I’ve played in years. In story, dialogue, artwork, puzzle building, pacing and accessibility, it cuts well above its newbie-studio weight. It’s more than the sum of its parts, and its parts are all outstanding. I wholeheartedly recommend it both to fans of the genre and curious newcomers alike.
For the most part, Frostpunk is exactly what I hoped it would be, and more besides. It's an aesthetically realised addictive management game, and it cleverly pulls in disparate gameplay elements to craft a feeling of isolated, desperate warmth against the crippling cold. I like it a lot. It also provides avenues for tyranny, if that's your thing. Its main issue at the moment is a slight lack of content, as its three scenarios suffer a bit in terms of replay value, but given the devs have already committed to future (hopefully unpaid) extra content, I'm hopeful this won't remain a problem for long.
Chuchel is absolutely a game you might want to pick up if you have young kids, or if you want a couple of hours of good, unbridled cartoon humour. It’s otherwise not essential. Fans of Amanita’s other games may find something to like here, but also something lacking. For others, give your time to Amanita’s older titles first, particularly Botanicula and the Samorost series. These showcase a similar vein of creativity and humour to Chuchel but are overall more affecting and rewarding, if not quite as thematically or functionally child-friendly.
Into The Breach is a tour-de-force of tight design, an excellent execution of an idea, and a wonderful take on turn-based strategic combat. I have pretty much nothing bad to say about it. My only wish right now is that there was more of it, that its permutations would stretch on forever, that there’d be islands that I’d ever be able to conquer, more different Vek than I’d ever be able to fight, and more different bonus objectives than I’d ever see. But I understand, design-wise, why this could never be the case. I think Subset have achieved something pretty special here; I look forward to coming back to it in all my future timelines.
Bayonetta 2 is an all-round improvement on the-fun-but-flawed Bayonetta, which I guess is exactly what you’d want from a sequel. It’s visually sharper and technically smoother. It feels just slightly less seedy to participate in, and it has a more coherent (but still convoluted and far-reaching) story, with basically the same combat experience that was the boon of Bayonetta-the-first. Despite all this, in my heart of hearts, I can only tentatively give it the green light for this, a consumer review. It’s a bit like junk food: enjoyable moment to moment, but after nearly 30 hours of the franchise, I feel bloated and tired, with no desire to dive back in for a second go anytime soon. Maybe with some distance, I’ll feel differently.
Bayonetta is a distinctive, sometimes-fun hack 'n' slash game with a bonkers story and interesting visual aesthetics. The core fighting mechanics of the game are excellent, but they're let down by a suspect camera and some clunk choreographing. It's also padded out with many less-good filler sections and a lot of tedious cutscenes, and these are ultimately what's putting me off giving it a whole-hearted recommendation.
In the end, it’s difficult to see the point of Super Lucky’s Tale from either a commercial or critical point of view. If you (or your children) haven’t played the games that Super Lucky’s Tale bowerbirds, there’s no compelling reason to not be playing those instead (beyond, perhaps, their availability on Xbox and PC). If you have, there’s hardly enough here to justify your time, money, or emotional integrity. At best, it’s a sugary, adequate if frequently flawed distraction. At worst, it’s a morose void belching an existential crisis, poorly concealing the frantic absurdity of all existence beneath its irreverent cartoon veneer.