Asterigos has a great world design and a combat system that is similar to the Souls series, while being faster and more action-oriented. It's just the exploration elements that let the game down, as the city of Aphes can sometimes feel a little too empty for its own good, and its residents a little too verbose. Those who don't mind backtracking and skipping dialogue should be able to see through the muddy parts and enjoy Asterigos' finer points.
Tactics Ogre: Reborn has some great updates over its predecessor, but some changes work to the game's detriment, and concepts like the level cap would have been better served as the basis for a higher difficulty mode. Tactics Ogre: Reborn can be a punishing and sometimes unfair experience, but those who rise to the challenge will find a lot of content to explore, an engaging story to experience, and a fantastic battle system to master.
The merging of the Raving Rabbids and Super Mario Bros. franchise was also a strange one and turning the finished product into a tactical RPG was stranger still. Sparks of Hope manages to bypass the oddness of its concept. Its bizarre worlds and weird characters help lay the foundation for a fantastic tactical RPG that is on par with the likes of XCOM 2's excellent gameplay depth. Sparks of Hope has completely surpassed Kingdom Battle and has taken an idea that was once seen as an oddball crossover and turned it into a Nintendo franchise with a genuinely exciting future.
Moonscars is an amalgamation of different ideas merged into one 2D Soulslike package, and while a few feel undercooked, the rest manage to tie everything together into an excellent action-RPG experience. The gorgeous visuals are also worth experiencing, as it's rare to see a gameplay pull off an art style as well as Moonscars. The dark world of the clayborne is a fascinating and deadly one, and like its clay protagonist, the player only gets stronger as each death reshapes them.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a great remake of a good game. The visual overhaul of the graphics looks great and the new QoL features help iron out some of the rough edges that are present in many games of its era. The sameness of the stages and the short runtime are blows against the game, but it's still a fun experience, and worth checking out for fans of platformers.
Live A Live aims to tell nine different stories, with very different protagonists and settings, all within a short period of time. The jack of all trades approach means that some chapters are fantastic and others can drag. It tries to do a lot of things at once, some of which work and some that don't. Luckily, the good parts outweigh the bad, and Live A Live is a great pick for fans of classic JRPGs, so long as they expect an occasionally bumpy ride.
The games in Sonic Origins are among the best Sonic the Hedgehog titles in existence and this package is a great way to experience these games, especially for new fans who were introduced to the franchise by the Sonic the Hedgehog movies. The people who already own these games in some other form won't find anything particularly worthy of a double-dip, as even the convenience of owning them all on a modern system is undercut by all of the original versions of the games being available on the Sega Genesis Classic collection. Those who don't already own the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games can get them in a neat package in Sonic Origins, with a few extra features to keep them interested after the credits have rolled.
As Dusk Falls is going to launch on Game Pass on day one and it feels like the perfect game for the service, and that's meant as a compliment. It's a strange experiment of a game, with an odd aesthetic and concept, that people might have otherwise overlooked. As Dusk Falls is worth checking out, especially with friends who can commit to experiencing the full story, as it's one of the few video games that have captured the feeling of controlling the story of a TV show, so long as everyone is fine with experiencing some HBO levels of dark themes, and the risk of sad endings along the way.
The Legend of Wright is a unique title that really captures a moment in time. It perfectly encapsulates the nostalgia for the days of old-school RPGs and creating games during lunchtime with school friends. Kenta's game doesn't last for long and it has some frustrating moments, but The Legend of Wright is worth experiencing, as there is nothing else like it out there, and its shortcomings can easily be forgiven due to its overwhelming charm.
Sunbreak is the ideal title for people who thought Monster Hunter Rise was too forgiving and that it gave the player too many options for evading the monsters. The Master Rank quests can be extremely punishing, but Sunbreak is intended for those who have beaten Monster Hunter Rise and are looking for that next level of difficulty. It takes time to hit its stride and the omission of Rampage quests is puzzling, but there is some great new content here that is worth exploring, especially for those who enjoyed the base version of the game.
Daemonhunters is a challenging game and can often tip the scales a little too hard against the player, but overcoming the odds is part of what makes it fun. Fans of the strategy genre who are seeking to be tested should check it out, as should fans of Warhammer 40k, as Daemonhunters is one of the best games to ever hold the Warhammer 40k license, even with its brutal difficulty.
It's possible to restart each chapter of Swansong if the player wants a do-over, but that's not the best way to experience the game. Swansong should be treated like an ironman experience, as it is tough on player consequences. Swansong tells an excellent story about betrayal and bloodshed, which can play out in a number of different ways, and the player has a staggering number of options for how they want to proceed. Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong has some design and technical hiccups, but it offers a dark and compelling story that is told in a unique manner, where situations must be resolved through deduction and intelligence, and each choice puts the player further down the path to victory or defeat.
Salt & Sacrifice has the potential to be a great game, but it badly needs balancing fixes to allow it to live up to its potential, especially in regard to its battle system. A few tweaks to the stamina meter, the dodge roll & blocking mechanics, and the enemy attack patterns would do wonders for the game, as would a way to skip the chasing sequences and jump straight to the Mage bosses. As it stands, Salt & Sacrifice is a game full of frustrating moments that bog down the rest of the experience.
There was some reticence from the Vampire: The Masquerade fanbase when Bloodhunt was announced, due to how incompatible the setting of the tabletop RPG is with a battle royale. Is Bloodhunt accurate to the world of Vampire: The Masquerade? Absolutely not, but that doesn't stop it from being a blast to play. Bloodhunt is a super-powered gothic vampire battle royale that offers a more adult tone and faster-paced action than its contemporaries.
Heartless Lullaby has the potential to be expanded into a full experience that can give Vampire: The Masquerade fans their own equivalent to a Baldur's Gate title. As it stands, the current version of the game is worth checking out as a free title that only takes a short period of time to finish, especially as a taster for the Vampire: The Masquerade games that are coming soon. It's easy to see why Heartless Lullaby won the Vampire Jam, as the team did an amazing job putting together a game in a month, and it will hopefully lead to more World of Darkness content from the studio in the future.
The original version of The Force Unleashed had a lot going for it when it was first released, as there were few Star Wars games that offered the player the chance to play a Sith in a canon storyline that happens alongside the movies. The Force Unleashed is now showing its age, especially in an era when Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has done many of the same things, but better. The Force Unleashed offers a short ride through a galaxy far, far away, and it does have some moments of making the player feel like an awesome Sith warrior, but it doesn't manage to sustain this feeling, with its lightsaber swinging soon becoming like a chore.