Few games are as unremittingly grim as Frostpunk. In this world of snow and sacrifice, success comes rarely, and hope is but a fleeting memory. Failure is almost assured, and the lessons learned in that process can only be applied to a certain degree. Additionally, some elements intended to be challenging can be exasperating. Nevertheless, these gripes are relatively minor and do little to detract from the engrossing atmosphere. Although the title is unlikely to be remembered as a benchmark or future model for the city builder genre, it stands out from the pack by daring to carve out a wholly unique niche and refusing to pander to the mass-market mentality.
At worst, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a victim of ambition. The sheer number of ideas and the volume of content packed into the game is jaw-dropping, but can cause confusion. Nonetheless, familiarity breeds contempt, so Level-5's decision to keep things fresh throughout the expansive adventure must be commended. Considering that such a noble goal is attached to a game that, on the surface at least, is targeted towards children makes it even more impressive. However, the reality is that Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is an incredibly powerful title that has the potential to appeal to people from all walks of life. The game's excellence should not be underestimated.
The team at Phantom 8 should be proud of what it has achieved in terms of atmosphere and core gameplay. Past Cure, similarly to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice before it, is a testament to the idea that small indie developers can produce a quality of content matching that created by blockbuster studios. However, the excellence of these aspects makes the flaws in design, audio, and storytelling more glaring. What looks like a sterling experience feels amateur. Past Cure is ambitious, which can be a fantastic quality, but the developer's effort is misplaced, leaving the game incapable of surviving its own confusion.
The first age of so-called walking simulators is long past. The design foibles that led to such projects being so widely decried have been ironed out, but the genre is still struggling to find its feet. In such a situation, The Station is no revolutionary. Many aspects of the game help to give it a unique identity, but the gameplay is too reliant on established ideas to allow it to stand out from a crowded field.
Few titles can take players on a journey with the ease and grace that The Red Strings Club does; its ability to do so much with so little is a ringing endorsement to the effectiveness of minimalism. The game will not—can not—appeal to everyone, but those seeking a title that takes narrative seriously should not overlook it. Although the gameplay is not challenging, the way it forms an integral part of the story is something that even the biggest, most practiced teams in the industry can learn from. In short, The Red Strings Club is unmissable.
Indeed, in an age where titles are designed as sprawling live services, a more focused campaign can help a game to stand out. Fortunately, Attack of the Earthlings has much more in its favour than being a throwback to a simpler age thanks to its cheery tone and novelty. The game is far from revolutionary, but it bears a sense of individuality that many others lack. The greatest disappointment is that the title will likely never reach the audience it deserves.
Bringing together a pair of budget RPGs, Fallen Legion + represents excellent value for money, but that worth is highly conditional. The artwork is truly inspired—sometimes even breathtaking—but serves a world and story that do not deserve it. Adherents of fantasy war tales will likely find enjoyment from the narrative, though a general audience will fail to be enraptured. Aside from the graphics, the battle system is the game's standout feature, yet even this highlight is let down by the poorly-considered ancillary mechanics that make the Fallen Legion games into anaemic RPGs.
Dynamic Pixels seems to have begun with a simple, brilliant concept, but struggled to make a cohesive game out of it. The AI neighbour and skewed environment are both wonderfully executed pieces of game design, but every other aspect of the project is flawed, making for a fundamentally unenjoyable experience. In some languages, "hello" also means "goodbye", and the latter is more apt here; no matter what horrors lay within the basement, they are not worth persevering through the horror of playing this game.