The Nintendo Switch has a deluge of amazing party games, many of which were produced by Nintendo. WarioWare: Smooth Moves isn’t going to unseat the last Mario Party game or any of the Jackbox titles, but it’s still a fun romp for those who miss the days of waving Wiimotes around, despite its flaws.
Star Trek Infinite is a challenging game to recommend. Grand Strategy games on their own do appeal to a certain mindset, and a Star Trek coat of paint isn’t going to make someone like Stellaris if they didn’t enjoy the gameplay before. A Star Trek fan might be more willing to try the game to sit in the big seat and have the feeling of running the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Star Trek Infinite will reward you with incredible depth and replayability if you stick around long enough to learn its intricacies. You need to meet Star Trek Infinite at its own level, and if you’re unwilling to learn all of its systems, then this might not be the game for you.
Fate/Samurai Remnant works as an excellent introduction to its franchise. A few issues aside, the combat system is fantastic and pulls off the difficult task of remaining fun over a lengthy runtime, which is something that similar titles can struggle with. The story is also superb and acts as the main motivator for you to pull out your sword as you push forward into the next mob of enemies.
At its heart, Master Detective Archives is a story-based game, especially as it acts as a visual novel for portions of its runtime. If you can be patient and enjoy the slower sections alongside the fast-paced ones, then you’ll find a lot to love in this game. It’s a shame Master Detectives Archives doesn’t quite nail the gameplay/story balance. Still, the process of actually solving the crimes and conquering the Mystery Labryinths manages to carry the parts that drag and make for a satisfying experience, as the layers of secrets of Kanai Ward are slowly peeled away.
Final Fantasy 16 works on many levels, with a fantastic story and addictive combat system that keeps you coming back for me, along with incredible visuals that bring the world of Valisthea to life like no entry in the series before it, and I’m including Midgar from FF7 Remake in that comparison. On the other hand, you also have some of the MMO traits that hold it back from being a true classic, with a lot of pointless side quests and a few underwhelming game systems that feel as if they’re designed to waste time, in a game that doesn’t need its runtime extended.
The Layers of Fear experience can be favorably compared to the Ocean House Hotel sequence from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, with its slow build-up of dread followed by some excellent pay-offs. The gradual reveal of its story and the decaying of the minds of its protagonists is fascinating to experience in real-time, and there are even multiple endings to seek out, should you wish to squeeze more from the runtime, so long as you’re willing to endure all of the chases again.
Gollum isn’t protagonist material, at least not for a video game. He is a wretched creature who only survived the events of The Hobbit because Bilbo took pity on him. If The Lord of the Rings: Gollum can be said to have one achievement, it perfectly emulates the painful experience of being Gollum, as it makes you feel just as sad and wretched as Sméagol himself. This story didn’t need to be told, as the exciting parts of Gollum’s life were displayed in Tolkien’s works, and this game only sullies the characters created by the great author with its terrible… everything.
The question that Redfall leaves me with is why? Why put out such a middling game before it’s ready, especially as any buzz it would have accrued will be swallowed by other game releases? Why not save it for later in the year, after the launch of Starfield, and end the Xbox brand’s year on a high note? Why botch the vampire concept and fill the game with gun-toting soldiers? Why include a loot and skill point system only to make them so boring that leveling up and finding equipment becomes a chore? Why launch a game focusing on multiplayer and not have match-making? Why, Redfall, why?
Ultimately, Desktop Dungeons: Rewind is a cleaned-up repackaging of one of the most visually basic PC games of all time, with the Dragon Quest overworld-style sprites of the original brought to life in a whole new way. The gameplay is still as gratifying as ever, with countless hours of content on offer to those who want to master the art of dungeon crawling. While it might be light on brand-new content for the veterans, it's still a filling experience for those who want to gorge themselves on numbers wrapped up in images of monsters and spells, especially one that keeps you wanting to play a little more.
On the surface, Blood Bowl 3 should be the kind of game I’d hate. As a denizen of the United Kingdom, I know as much about American football as the average house cat. By contrast, I know a lot about Warhammer, but even that has been twisted in Blood Bowl 3, with the familiar factions settling their disputes through sports, like some kind of ultra-violent take on Mario and Bowser playing tennis together.
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.