The Atelier Arland series continues to amaze me in ways I never expected from the outset. Atelier Totori, like Rorona before it, features deep, engaging gameplay systems which demand thinking and strategy despite people frolicking around in what is to be considered the alchemical equivalent of “tutus.” The story isn’t going to be the driving force of the whole experience, but it does have the potential to wrap up neatly enough in the end. The pacing here is so much smoother than that of Rorona, to the point that I wish that this would have been my first foray into Arland. Alas, you really should play Rorona before diving into this one, unless you don’t care about the story and characters whatsoever. That said, if you enjoyed Rorona, definitely give this one a go. It won’t blow your socks off, but it is still worth your time.
While not a perfect game, nor will it be for everyone, Atelier Rorona can easily provide hours of entertainment for those that dig time management, intricate crafting mechanics, and especially multiple endings/playthroughs. Resource management is a must in order to get the most out of the experience, and your familiarity with the franchise may end up affecting the overall opinion you form of the title when it stands on its own. As I’ve come to experience first hand, growing pains might detract some from fully appreciating the game, especially if you aren’t interesting in playing through it more than once. That said, the core mechanics have certainly piqued my interest, and I’m genuinely looking forward to my next outing in Arland, and there will be another soon!
The focus on masquerades and pushing it to a legitimate political centerpiece, as well as infusing it with otherworldly magical properties, is both refreshing and interesting take on the "detective's tale". That is why it is all too unfortunate that Masquerada's potential is marred by poor, repetitive combat and meaningless character progression – which would not be an issue at all if it weren't billed as an RPG in the first place.
If you can get past its graphical and technical shortcomings, My Time At Portia is a lot of fun. There are many things to do, sights to see, products to craft, and relationships to cultivate – really, there are hours upon hours of content for those that enjoy multi-layered, but easygoing grinds. You have to be in it for the long haul though – nothing in Portia comes without an equal amount of effort put in first.
I've accepted that these kind of games will have an in-game shop, and perhaps multiple premium currencies, but don't make those systems mandatory for progression even if you don't have to come out of pocket for it during a normal difficulty playthrough.
SteamWorld Heist is a game that has left me with no regrets – okay, maybe the fact that I'm kicking myself for not giving it the time of day beforehand counts as one. Outside of that, I really love everything about this game – the sound, look, and feel are just stellar for a modestly priced indie affair. Like steampunk? Play this game. Tactical/Strategy enthusiast? Play it. In it just for the unicorn hat? Whatever the case may be, play this freaking game.