Truly a standout JRPG experience, Persona 4 Golden is easily a must-play for any self-respecting RPG fan. Great visuals, excellent music and sound production, and one of best narratives in any RPG cement Persona 4 among the greatest experiences on PS2, PS Vita, and now the modern suite of consoles. Recycled elements from previous entries in the series may annoy some players especially when played in sequence, but while it is showing its age in some other respects, this hardly detracts from the impeccable gold standard it sets for its peers.
Whether you are a JRPG veteran or a Persona newcomer, Persona 3 Portable is a high-quality example of one of the best eras of the genre. The game is handicapped by a few shortcomings and could have done with some rebalancing and graphical updates, but still Persona 3 Portable reminds us where the series kicked things into high gear, while also showing how far JRPGs have come. An engaging, moody, and confronting experience that has plenty to offer to even the pickiest of players, Persona 3 Portable is a standout roleplaying adventure.
Need For Speed Unbound is easily one of the best racers I've played in recent years and a modern highlight of the series. Through great gameplay, a true sense of progression, an engaging visual style, and a well-crafted open world the game manages to cement itself as one of 2022's most unexpectedly shining stars. A few knocks for cliché story beats, a samey soundtrack, and a few minor bugs shouldn't be enough to keep players from driving over to the streets to Lakeshore for some stylish, speedy fun.
Metal: Hellsinger aims to be a full-featured first-person shooter as well as an engaging rhythm game, and I am so glad it delivers on its ambition rather than falling flat. Fun, frantic combat paired with a crushingly heavy, star-studded soundtrack makes Metal: Hellsinger one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable games I have played this year, and I urge anyone with a passing interest in metal or shooters to give this a spin.
Thymesia is unlikely to blow anyone's socks off, especially if they are a Souls veteran. A snappy, fluid, and visually striking experience doesn't quite make up for the lack of character and purpose the game unfortunately suffers from. You'll likely enjoy your time playing the game and fighting through the different locations and bosses, but Thymesia still fails somewhat to leave a lasting impression.
Disgaea 6 Complete is, overall, a stronger entry in the series than the original Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny, yet still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to game balance, quality of life, and ease of use. The many game mechanics are simply too varied and plentiful, and while the game’s cast and plot are a fun ride, the best of them are left as afterthoughts as part of the pack-in DLC. The performance and stability fixes will be welcomed by those who struggled with the Switch port, as the powerful PS5 and PCs run the game with ease. I would say fans of SRPGs should definitely give Disgaea 6 Complete a spin, but expect a devilishly cheeky time that does not conform to the genre’s traditional values.
Trek to Yomi is, for me, just shy of a veritable masterpiece. Looking at it purely subjectively, I think this game is bloody brilliant, and certainly one of the finest non-AAA games I have played in a long time. Rich combat, striking visuals, a gritty narrative, and dynamic audio experiences blend together to make this game a true stand out of 2022 so far. Unfortunately, I feel the hyper-stylised tone and fixed Japanese language setting may prove a turn off for some and cause this game to be overlooked. However, if you have even a passing interest in Japanese culture, cinema, or just plain solid gameplay, then I implore you to give Trek to Yomi a look.
I had a lot of fun playing Chrono Cross again; the unique spin on turn-based combat, colourful locales, and dimension-hopping narrative was a joy to re-experience all these years later. However, through a critical eye, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition leaves a lot to be desired. Glaring issues with performance, improvements, and graphical inconsistencies take away from the truly great source material. This lack of care and attention to detail flies in the face of some of Square Enix’s other remaster works, and is a disappointing black-eye on what could have been a truly great remaster package of a still phenomenal classic JRPG.
From a dismal effort on the front of graphics, user interface, player onboarding, sound design, and essentially every other aspect of game design, Babylon’s Fall is a failure. Games have bounced back from disastrous launches in the past, but in this case, I feel like it may be best to let sleeping dogs lie. The game’s one and only saving grace is that Platinum Games truly are the kings of combat, and while Babylon’s Fall is nowhere near the top of their collection of works, hacking and slashing your way through the Tower of Babel is at least, occasionally, kind of fun. It is just a crying shame that there is very little else to enjoy from the game; there isn’t anything pretty to look at, nice to listen to, or easy to engage with.
Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection joins the Nathan Drake Collection as the best way to experience some of the greatest titles PlayStation has ever put out into the world. Naughty Dog truly are kings of their craft, having created many of the industry’s greatest games, and with Uncharted established a franchise that captures the movie-like-magic of adventure cinema and brings it into the interactive space. Who knows what the future of the Uncharted franchise has in store, but for now getting your hands on this collection is a sure-fire way to experience a platform-defining experience that should hold up for years to come.
Do not let the quirky name put you off, The Gunk is more than deserving of a play during a lazy summer (or winter for you northern hemisphere dwelling folk) afternoon. Bugs and minor flaws do prove to be an inconvenience, although Image & Form Games have still managed to deliver a solid 3D platformer that’s worth a look.
Death Stranding itself is a modern marvel of creativity and risk-taking that I consider a “must play” for anyone who has not yet experienced it, and the upgrades in the Director’s Cut make it the optimal way to tackle this unique journey.
While Tales of Arise isn’t perfect by any means, it is a meaty, colourful, and engaging game that I think should be on any self-respecting JRPG fans must-play list. Mastering the action combat is a thrilling and rewarding experience, as is the satisfaction of finding rare materials to craft with or taking down massive beasts for big rewards. The overarching plot is richly detailed, filled with twists and turns that will keep you interested, all while embarking on the journey with a party of well-realised characters. With some minor flaws found in the game’s competing visual styles, graphical options, and side quest content, I think there are more than enough positives to be found that Tales of Arise could easily end up being one of the best RPGs released this year.
Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is a stunning upgrade to an already excellent title, and brings forth some fantastic updates to the PS5 version of the game that enhance, deepen, and expand the gameplay experience. Other than the very minor complaint of some dark visuals, there is a whole lot to love on offer here, and I was delighted to have another reason to join Jin on a new, exciting adventure in feudal Japan. Ghost of Tsushima was already a must-play title, and with the Director’s Cut here there really is no excuse to not experience one of the greatest new IPs PlayStation has to offer.
Unfortunately for Foreclosed, the glitches, confusing systems, and undercooked game mechanics overwhelmed my experience with the game. On the surface, Antab Studio present an exciting and engaging future-noir thriller, but look much further and you will see a cyberpunk-by-the-numbers experience that falls flat. Even taking into consideration the well-realised cyberpunk world, and the clever use of comic book aesthetics to present the game’s narrative, Foreclosed fails to impress on most fronts. Gameplay is key, and unfortunately Foreclosed presents and feels like a middling shooter from decades past.
Overall, NEO: The World Ends with You is a fantastic followup to 2007’s The World Ends with You, and both expands the universe and introduces different gameplay styles to keep even the most veteren of JRPG fans engaged. The exceptional visual style and musical flair work together to create a vibrant and stylish game that I just couldn’t get enough of. The narrative is satisfying and fits firmly in the hyper-stylised world of JRPGs, and will delight fans of Kingdom Hearts, Ni No Kuni, and Persona. Despite some minor critiques, NEO: The World Ends with You is a surprise hit, and has the potential to pave the way for another successful Square Enix franchise.
Cris Tales isn’t going to blow anyone away, and probably won’t gain a huge following, but I still enjoyed most of my time with the game. There are enough positive points to balance out some of the glaring and more egregious issues present in the game. I particularly loved the art style, voice acting, and implementation of the time travel mechanics across combat, quests, and puzzles. Unfortunately, the constant presence of loading screens and the scripting issues make Cris Tales a flawed experience.
Legend of Mana Remastered rounds out the 90s Mana titles to be brought onto modern consoles in a true-to-form remaster. Updated visuals and new features are certainly a nice touch, even if the narrative can be a challenge to earn. While the game shows its age in places, fans of the genre and Mana series as a whole will love returning to the world of Fa’Diel, or experience it for the first time.
Guilty Gear -Strive- is a very competent modern fighting game that will appease both veterans and newcomers alike. With a gripping plot, enjoyable cast of characters, and steady learning curve the game is set to be one of the series’ most popular entries. I know for myself, I am keen to get stuck into the nitty gritty as I get deeper with the game, and will eventually take my skills online for the real test against actual human players. While I am disappointed the story side of Guilty Gear -Strive- is relegated to a cinematic story, the plot is rich with drama and stands toe-to-toe with actual anime productions made for TV. Some variety in the battle dialogue and narration wouldn’t have gone astray, either, but in the grand scheme of things is a minor ding against an otherwise brilliant fighter.