Ashen is not awful, and I think that any hardcore Souls fans who just can't get enough of this style of combat will enjoy it. The open world adds a new layer to the Soulsborne format that succeeds more than it fails, but it comes at the cost of weakening a core pillar of the genre. The result is a passable experience, and in a genre that's quickly becoming as crowded as this one, passable just won't cut it for anyone but the most hardcore of fans.
Princess Maker is a tough series to get into. The horrible translation is enough of a barrier to entry on its own, but the total lack of tutorials to explain the complexity of the different stats only serves to make the game very difficult for newcomers. If you manage to get over that steep learning curve, there’s a surprisingly deep simulation game waiting on the other side, but it is a tough sell with a mediocre localization of one of the more middling entries to the series.
S. and Kodai's research, but Takuya's casually gross candor never stopped pulling me out of the story and reminding me of how creepy visual novels could be sometimes. YU-NO is a monumentally impressive piece of the genre's history that finds ways to impress even today, but perhaps it's best not to load a jewel placed back in the 90s and travel back to a time when "sex sells" was the core tenant of the visual novel framework.
Farming Simulator 20 is a bit of a disappointment. As a newcomer to the series, I couldn't manage to find a hook to keep me playing before I was overwhelmed by the poorly explained gameplay loop, and with the draw distance as bad as it is, I can't imagine long-time fans of the series having a good time on Switch either. Agriculture is the backbone of society, but Farming Simulator 20 will not be the backbone of the Switch's library any time soon.
Groove Coaster's stylish look can be frustrating and intrusive, but the underlying mechanics still make for one of the best rhythm games I've ever played. The excellent track list was already impressive, but the fine-tuned gameplay, inventive mechanics like ad-libs, and a mission-based structure of unlocks that keep you focused and coming back for more content make the game addicting and rewarding. I wish I could turn off the flashy backgrounds and weird camera angles, but even with that blemish this is still an easy choice for anyone who wants to get into a good groove.
Thief of Thieves would be a boring game in the best of conditions, but the Switch version only serves to make a bad game worse. It's incredibly short, clocking in at less than five hours, but I still found myself struggling to care to keep going long before I reached the end. From the bland, underdeveloped gameplay to the buggy port, Thief of Thieves spent so much time focusing on the comic book's style that it didn't bother including any actual substance.
Aside from the clunky controls and tedious animations, nothing about the game is really offensive, but there's just no hook that managed to keep me invested up to the end. The aesthetic is overall eye-catching, but it can't hide the fact that Incredible Mandy is simply not that incredible. There's nothing wrong with a simple game, but simplicity only works if there's a high level of polish to back it up.
Even the Switch port isn't quite as good as RE4's, running at an inconsistent framerate that never manages to hit 60fps—sometimes not even hitting 30fps. I had a good time playing through a chunk of the game online with a friend, but playing on my own was just dull. It's probably true that RE5 was never going to live up to RE4's legacy, but now, a decade after its original release, I think it even fails to live up to its own.
But the bad puzzles are so incredibly frustrating and feel so much more difficult than anything that came before them that they overshadow the entire game. It never feels good to solve a puzzle through sheer trial and error, and while every puzzle game has one or two duds there are just too many in Kine to allow for the good puzzles to feel worth it. It's a shame that such a beautiful aesthetic was wasted on this, because the game is not nearly as exciting as the jazz riffs that accompanies it.
Despite that, it's still a personal favorite of mine. The structure of the game, with its changes to matchmaking and further exploitation of loot boxes, feels worse nowadays than it did three years ago, but the core, fast-paced experience of actually playing the game remains as fun as it's ever been. Overwatch is an absolute must-play for fans of multiplayer shooters, and while the Switch version makes a number of compromises, it does not compromise how incredible Overwatch is.