Toki Tori is classic puzzle-platforming at its best. Levels are never cheap in design and solving them feels rewarding. The occasional "ohh yeah" moment may happen. The music and visuals bring out the charm of this series and with the amount of levels for you to challenge yourself, it's one the best deals on the eShop. 5 dollars or euros gets you a polished gem.
Smoke and Sacrifice is fantastic. It's not often where a game comes along and uniquely pieces together elements quite well both visually and from a gameplay standpoint in a genre not occupying much of the gaming scene at the moment. It's beautiful and fun to play. Dozens of hours can be had. There are clever ideas implemented such as how the crafting system is handled. Both character progression and enemies are rightfully balanced. There's a lot to take away from Smoke and Sacrifice when it comes to what we should expect in the future. The only slight issue players have to deal with is the inventory, but if you can handle that then the rest is pure excellence.
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.
SUPERBEAT: XONiC is very fun and there's nothing really bad about it. Its main purpose is to make sure the music and your coordination are in line with each other while offering a visual style to keep you engaged. It succeeds in all regards. The track list is enjoyable and the visual presentation is far from lazy. This is a perfect game to play at home or on the go. The game is just shy of 70 total songs which may leave players wanting more, but it's the kind of game where you still have all of these tracks to master because putting good songs on repeat is the name of the game and the beat music lovers should feel.
Anyone who isn't into fantasy card games, but have thought about trying them should give Hand of Fate 2 a look. There's a compelling narrative and many added RPG elements which should tickle the everyday RPG fan in general. The combat is good, albeit repetitive. The stories on your journey will keep you engaged. The Dealer makes you feel like you're never alone. The newly earned cards always feel surprising to see what's next in your story and there's enough variety in-between to never make it feel stale. Hand of Fate 2 brings the tabletop feel to completion and fully immerses you in its atmosphere. You'll be shouting at times, and they will be for different reasons, both excited and enraged; and that's part of the addiction. It's alright to be addicted.
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.
Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout not only turns a new leaf for the series, but is the perfect entry for newcomers as well. The revamped synthesis mechanics are just that much better. I personally feel that the new turn-based/realtime battle system is an improvement by being fast and feeling fresh, but may not be for all. It just takes a while to unlock all its best features. The cast of characters and the new visual upgrade really amplify the cozy slice-of-life nature the series is known for. The plot stays steady, but it's the slow burn of the main cast and people of Kurken Island that make it worth it if the slice-of-life genre is your jam. It's wholesome, jolly vibes all around.
I like seeing love letters to games many people enjoy. Furi looks, sounds & plays good and it has some known names to back that up. It draws heavy inspiration, sure, but Furi is its own art worthy of standing alone. Some players may find it short if they're wanting more than just battling opponents, but it does have style and is satisfying from start to finish. This is a badass indie gem that reminds me of something I should have played on Nintendo's GameCube.
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.
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!