Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen is an ideal opportunity to get into the series and learn what it's all about. It won't be for all; those unable to deal with the slow pace of visual novels will get unstuck in the many events that try and build relationships at the expense of driving the plot, something that is almost omnipresent throughout both this game and the Mask duology. However, for those who enjoy winding down with a deep story and some enjoyable tactical combat, the game provides that in spades.
The combat is decently engaging, but the repetitiveness and lack of interesting elements outside of it means it fails to garner full attention for any extended period of time. Those looking to crawl through neon corridors and vaporise cyborg punks will find some enjoyment from it, but it’s ultimately forgettable.
Though — as is normal with the genre — there isn’t too much interaction required from the player, it makes great use of both the medium and its storytelling to provide an experience that sucks one in and keeps the engagement level high until the very end.
Returning to Midgar has been a much more fulfilling experience than I expected going in. Seeing all of these characters, and the world, fully realised in 3D has given me a whole new appreciation for them and I’m very much looking forward to what’s next in store. Exactly how successful the full project is remains to be seen, but the first part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake has done everything it could in getting me incredibly excited for the second.
Though the combat holds up, it’s just too difficult to find a way to recommend Element: Space as a whole. There’s not much of interest from a narrative standpoint, while all of the good points about the gameplay are offset by the technical problems. It’s a shame, as there’s a good base underneath it, but even with giving leeway based on the small size of the development team, the annoyances currently outweigh the good.
Hero Must Die offers a fascinatingly different approach and is well worth checking out just for that. All of the RPG building blocks used are of the most basic sort, but the game manages to combine them effectively with its wilder ideas to ensure that there’s always a sense of building towards a bigger picture and a final goal as well.
Azur Lane: Crosswave doesn't harbour ambitions to be more than it really is and, though it may be a bit underwhelming, it at least doesn't outstay its welcome. It's perfectly happy to just provide some hours of mild entertainment without trying to reinvent the wheel and that may be enough for some, but certainly not all.
The music at least alleviates some of the monotony and players won’t need to spend too long with it to spark the ending credits, but the combat and systems contrive to make the gameplay far from enjoyable, and the story is almost not worth mentioning. One can only hope that it allows lessons to be quickly learned ahead of any future action RPG endeavours.