Despite multiple shortcomings and my general aversion to the game’s writing, High on Life has occasional glimmers of potential. I’d like to see a sequel polish and improve upon this foundation. I’m always itching for more creative takes on shooters, but High on Life is a reminder that “different” doesn’t always mean “good.”
Harvestella’s systems feed together in a way that forces you to engage with nearly everything it offers, whether you want to or not. But those slice-of-life activities are mundane and get in the way of letting you enjoy the RPG elements on your own terms. Maximizing a day’s schedule is sometimes rewarding, but the sluggish pacing makes it tough to stay engaged for the long haul. Harvestella forces you to do a whole lot to complete comparatively little. At 70-80 hours, it’s one of the biggest chores I’ve played in some time. That’s unfortunate because the combat, story, and characters are decent enough that, in a more traditional RPG framework, they’d shine brighter. As it stands, squeezing this fruit isn’t always worth its small amount of juice.
A pleasant and, at times, playful soundtrack, fun visual effects, and the occasional light interference of a mischievous cat add to an overall charming package. A Little to the Left may have left me scratching my head in confusion at times, but more often, it left me pleased and content with the neatly arranged spaces I created.
A charming though uneventful narrative about stopping a cosmic darkness from consuming the galaxy rounds out this delightful package. Like the best sequels, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope builds upon Kingdom Battle’s foundation with smart tweaks and fun additions to emerge as a better game in every way.
Dorfromantik balances its strategic and cozy elements well, and it's easy to fall into a serene trance of dropping tiles. Pulling the camera back to reveal the full scope of my landscape always feels like a satisfying reward for my subtle, hard work, much like stepping back to admire a finished painting. While it's not the sort of puzzle game I feel compelled to play more than a session or two a day, I always appreciate the improved mood with which it leaves me.
Tinykin feels comforting in an old-school sense. Its challenges never become convoluted, nor does its design reinvent the wheel, and that’s okay. Tinykin executes its handful of ideas exceptionally well, making it a thoroughly enjoyable and laid-back journey that only requires six to eight hours of your time. Don’t let this delightful adventure sneak under your radar.
Ooblets offers solid fun, and I enjoy its cheerful tone. I only wish playing it didn’t feel so much like work. Despite the pride I had in my farm, clearing checklists eventually felt more laborious than satisfying. There’s fun to be had as long as you’re willing to work for it.
Despite my misgivings, Madison still offers a respectable evening of frights and is worth a look for fans of psychological horror. It succeeds in building tension and puzzle variety, stumbling when it becomes obsessed with bamboozling players with head-tilting solutions and stopping their hearts with lame jump scares. But when the game hits right, you’ll be glad no one caught the look on your face.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge gives me what I wanted: a polished, raucously fun throwback that plays better than how I remember the original games. Turtles fans new and old will find plenty to love, but those possessing a nostalgia for this era of the franchise are in for the biggest treat. Invite some friends, order a pizza, and prepare to relive your childhood in the best possible way.
I initially thought that Kao the Kangaroo would, at the very least, be a great recommendation for younger players. Then I remembered that I and generations of kids cut their teeth on games like Mario, Crash Bandicoot, or Ratchet & Clank – kid-friendly platformers that still offer plenty of mechanical depth, polish, and design creativity. Children are much more capable than we sometimes give credit for, and Kao’s by-the-numbers design would likely bore all but the most nascent of gamers. Kao the Kangaroo isn’t a total disaster by any means. It just feels aggressively average and forgettable which, sadly, has been the case for the mascot for years.