Mighty Polygon unabashedly stands on the shoulders of giants with Relicta. The wheel is not reinvented but rather pleasantly spun around and flipped on its head. While further investment into the artistic aspects of this game may have helped clarify some of the issues with sameness and emptiness, the gameplay and narrative overpower these concerns. Puzzles pose just enough of a challenge to keep the player fascinated while the narrative, strong character, and world give the player incentive to progress. Throw in collectibles to round out the details, and you've got quite the adventure for the curious. With a $20 price tag, Relicta may have its shortcomings, but it's challenging, narratively compelling, and - dare I say it? - magnetic. If you enjoy the likes of Portal, get this game.
In sum, Skater XL tries to fill a void in the world of skateboarding video games by offering a valiant blend of the familiar and innovative. The music and aesthetic are warm and welcoming to build a carefree experience for the player. The settings are bright, crisp, and appealing, but the controls and game layout that Easy Day Studios decided to embrace seems misguided. The freedom to explore and create your own lines may be liberating for some, but the lack of direction can leave players cold. Most sandbox games offer something tangible to work toward, to build, to interact with, etc. This same sort of goal isn't in Skater XL, which makes the experience feel blasé. While the game's website touts that there are no specific inputs for tricks as a selling point, this sort of freedom is a nasty combination of overwhelming and undefined. Games generally work when the player is either presented with goals to reach or a world to explore, but Skater XL doesn't provide enough of either to be a fulfilling experience.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is incredibly intriguing and draws in the player with its world-building and tone. The art and music provide just enough to pique one's interest, but as a game, Mechanicus leaves a lot to be desired. I makes itself into such a cookie-cutter experience that progression doesn't feel rewarding, and it reduces the battles to pauses in narrative progression. Top that off with insufferably written narrators, and you get an experience that's tough to sell. The concept and world of Mechanicus are interesting, but the follow-through, laced with lethargic gameplay and sometimes indecipherable characters, is lacking.
At the end of the day, Dungeon of the Endless attempts to scratch a lot of itches by meshing together a lot of different genres, and it manages to do so in a satisfying way. The collection and allocation of resources aren't the most intriguing aspects of the game, but the gameplay is still pretty solid. Meanwhile, the character selection and roguelite elements provide plenty of replayability. The visuals and music are predominantly well developed, but the UI could use some extra attention. For enthusiasts of pixel art, 16-bit music, and games that utilize light strategy elements, Dungeon of the Endless is for you.
Ultimately, Without Escape is a sad shadow of a genre from the past. Point-and-click adventure games fell from favor years ago due to progressing technology. Some of the originals of the escape room genre may soon be lost to time (due to Adobe's support of Flash ending in a few months). Now kids can play Roblox with a quick download and Minecraft on a web browser. Perhaps if this game offered more in terms of narrative or visuals, it could be worthwhile, but it doesn't offer enough to be appealing. While some attention was given to the visuals and music, Without Escape largely feels dissatisfying and lackluster.
Azur Lane: Crosswave is essentially a visual novel with some brief moments of action. Everything works as intended, and there's no need for a combat strategy, but the equipment and upgrades systems are cryptic. The visuals look good, and the chibi characters are adorable. The game can be a decent way to pass a weekend. However, Crosswave and all games under the Azur Lane banner espouse views on females — especially young girls — that I cannot look past, and it's troubling to me that this title is deemed appropriate for teenagers.
At the end of the day, Arc of Alchemist delivers a decent gaming experience. The characters' personalities are fun, and their antics are worthy spectacles. The building mechanics are a fun respite from the otherwise ho-hum aspects of the game. Those who are interested in the genre may find this to be worth their time, but the music, art, and significant chunks of the gameplay are too blasé to talk up.
Despite everything you just read, Last Encounter is not a bad game. It looks decent, it plays decently, and it sounds decent. That's all it is, though: a relatively inoffensive twin-stick shooter. Since it glosses over the woes concerning design, perspective, and heck even gameplay, but this title is pretty functional. If "functional" is the kindest word that can be mustered for this flat and frustrating game, then I wouldn't necessarily call it good, either.