One other artistically awesome indie game that left an emotional impression on me was Old Man's Journey. Now with the journey of Arina and Frendt, The Gardens Between manages to go for the same areas of emotion. There's nothing seriously gripping here, but it's meant to leave an overall personal feeling, which it does well. The environmental puzzles using objects from each memory builds up a personal idea of what event is actually taking place and ultimately becomes resonating when it is revealed. It's fun getting to those points. The Gardens Between may look simple when giving it a brief glance, but it's one of the most charming, clever and wholesome games of 2018 and it's all about beautifully capturing friendship.
Image & Form continues to impress. When tackling other genres and adding their own flare they never cease to amaze me. SteamWorld Quest is a properly balanced RPG whose visual and audible are equally beautiful with the humor and charm that you know and love. It's a straightforward, more linear journey and that's okay because some games should be especially when there's wiggle room for discovering secrets. Play times may vary between 20-30 hours and upwards 40 for those truly committed. It's a nice dose of an RPG that is just downright fun to play. Its formula now has me wanting to see what more can be done.
Vaporum is a well-rounded RPG that properly executes a classic experience with a nice coat of paint. It takes what you commonly love in a more fantasy/medieval setting and interprets it into a steampunk setting. Vaporum looks the part and sound effects and environment ambiance also help sell the atmosphere. The combat is fast, but flexible. And the choices given for certain playstyles make it a worthwhile experience.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is a title that easily grabs peoples attention. The art style invites one to seek it out and uncover what it's all about. The game succeeds in delivering on its visual presentation. Furthermore, it's nice that a touching story is able to pair perfectly with it. The game's length and puzzle-platforming might be its biggest detractor from being an overall amazing experience as those are just *okay*.
City of Brass stands out for a roguelike. It's one of the first-person roguelikes with an underused visual theme that recognizable and feels more realistic than arcadey. The snap of the whip feels great and the opportunity it presents will vary from run to run. The different items, enemy variety and amount of traps will surely test you. It feels good and there's not much more to it than that. It's a roguelike meant for repeated plays until you unlock get it down with all the things to see and unlock. The gameplay might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it has its audience. For something that feels more weighted and isn't a shooter, City of Brass has you covered; not in sand.
Cursed Castilla EX is on Nintendo Switch and it may as well be the best version. In a time where 2D pixel-art have made a huge comeback, don't let Cursed Castilla EX get lost in the shuffle. Cursed Castilla EX respects your time when playing it and Locomalito has certainly earned my respect as a developer after playing it. Fans of Super Ghouls n' Ghosts/Ghosts & Goblins looking for something on par should look no further. With tight controls, carefully crafted levels, hidden secrets and fantastic bosses... Cursed Castilla EX is all-around quality and a polished experience.
At Sundown: Shots in the Dark gets mostly everything right. Responsive controls, a variety of weapons with their own gimmicks, plenty of matchmaking options for any type of player and all the good modes you want in a multiplayer shooter. The stealth mechanic where players can take advantage of the dark certainly adds tension to the fight. It's not the best looker. Maps are themed, but feel rather bland and uninspired in their design. Still far from bad, however. What may separate players are those who got the gameplay down to the meta with not as much wiggle room to show off versus anyone who just wants a good time. In the end, having a good time is what it's all about.
It seems Touhou Project games are a dime a dozen if you've ever heard of the series, but they're all about having fun with characters and using them in different ways. Gensokyo Defenders is a little rough around the edges, but the mechanics in place make for some fun gameplay. It keeps things interesting by adding new characters to join your party who play differently from each other, new map ideas, introduction to new traps and an upgrade system that requires skill points to be spent and applied in any way you see fit. It's a tower defense that feels like more than the usual tower defense and it certainly scratches an itch or two.
Storm Boy is charming, cute, touching and very accessible. It's designed with a younger audience in mind, but can be experienced at any age. Some tales are for everyone. Being very pickup & play, both parents and children can experience an easygoing journey together in this faithful retelling of a classic story of a boy and his pet bird; but mainly his friend.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is an awesome anthology of classics that felt about time it should exist. The games included can be debatable, but holding out-of-print or hard-to-find games in the palm of your hands is way cooler than coming up empty. The Museum feature alone really is a blast from the past. The Watch feature is a new innovation that lets players not only witness a playthrough, but control it and resume the game from any point they choose. Overall, this is a worthy package created with care.
I've been a fan of Moonlighter since it was first revealed and after having finally played it I can say it delivered. It's a game that fuses two different genres successfully. At one point you're navigating through floors of dungeons in different ways, fighting crazy enemies using a fun combat system. The next, you're growing a peaceful town and selling your earnings the way you want to through the shop you own. The action is fairly competent and constantly makin' cha-ching as a merchant is gratifying. The visuals are beautiful and nostalgic; the same is said for its music. If the idea of feeling stronger and playing smarter intrigues you, and if the choice to handle your earnings fancies you, then Moonlighter is a worthy time sink.
Rise & Shine not only has great artwork, but it also feels great to play as well. The shooting is solid and feels polished. Its pace is a little more deliberate thanks to the gun & bullet modifiers that require a slight bit of thinking. Levels never felt stale because the way mechanics were incorporated always kept things sort of fresh and because of that it strongly adheres to replayability; which you might be doing since the experience is a short one.
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection includes two titles, Yomawari: Night Alone & Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. It may contain cute, chibi characters whom you play as, but the creepiness factor sinks almost immediately. If the idea of exploring a town at night with monsters lurking in the shadows intrigues you, it's definitely worth checking out. The towns and locations are fun to go through just in general. Add a survival element with your flashlight, some tense moments, atmospheric sound design and collectables to the mix. Japanese culture and setting may also be a good reason to experience this horror adventure.
The true successor to 2006's Marble Blast Ultra is finally here. Marble It Up! carries the torch and is even better than before. It looks stellar. It feels finely polished. Or does it look finely polished and feel stellar? True to both, really. The level design is clever and the future updates are promising. Multiplayer mode will be a good addition. As a Super Monkey Ball fan who has been constantly craving for another entry in the series, I've been a little disappointed that nothing has been made to grab my attention and that a game after Marble Blast Ultra hasn't seen the light of day. Marble It Up! not only does its series justice but proves it's got what it takes to be the best in the genre. Don't stop now. Keep rolling!
Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk is like if Disgaea was a first-person dungeon-crawler RPG, albeit with an entirely different cast. The character and enemy designs are good and the humor is still intact. Above all, the battle system is fun to play. Exploring the different labyrinths can be feel a bit repetitive at the start, but it helps you earn the experience and learn the mechanics. The game continues to open up and flows much better as you learn more abilities and are able to craft more Puppet Soldiers to your party. As far as dungeon crawlers are concerned, Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk pretty much nails it.
Dial (555)-555-5555 for a good time, $4.99 every minute. Or, pay $9.99 upfront and go hands on for as long as you'd like and even see person in front of you. There's a very repetitive gameplay loop for the story mode if you plan to see and unlock everything. There's no "going all the way", but there's actually a decent amount to unlock if customization is your thing. I.... unlocked everything. You also have the freedom to create any scene you'd like with your girl. So there's that.
The Spectrum Retreat is a wonderful first-person puzzle game. It contains clever puzzling and a mysterious story involving the past of the main character you play as. It's $12.99 on the Switch eShop, had a 5 year development cycle from Dan Smith himself, and is totally deserving of the price tag. There's an appreciated elegance to The Spectrum Retreat. I'm sure Dan Smith Studios is goin' places and most likely up from here.
Sigi - A Fart For Melusina is a budget title. Its price is a fair entry point and probably worth it for those looking to get a quick retro fix for their nostalgia cravings. There's no hating on $4.99 for 20 levels. Disregarding its price, it's boils down to the quality of the game. Ultimately, it's fun in a very clumsy way. However, you may want to put that money towards another game.
SNK HEROINES ~Tag Team Frenzy~ is made with love from the creators and it shows. It's accessibility is meant for players of all skill types, neither catering to only the hardcore players or only casuals; just both at once. There is plenty of content to unlock and plenty of ways to customize your character. Even if it's not as sharp as the PlayStation 4 version, it's still eye-candy on the Switch. The soundtrack is also pretty good with the best remixes of past songs. There's enough single player for the solo player and co-op/versus for players of two, but up to 8 can play together both offline and online. Above all, it's just fun to play. Looking forward to the future characters being added to the roster.
God Wars The Complete Legend is a solid strategy RPG. Following the turn-based mechanics of classics and incorporating a jobs system with many different skills makes for a good time. The characters can also be fun. The story is alright enough. The graphics are outdated, but the art design does a good job of standing out. Overall, it's pretty by-the-books when it comes to the genre. With a wealth of content, it's definitely recommended for the strategy purists.