It was always going to be tough to follow-up Golf Story in an interesting manner, and one certainly can’t say there was a lack of ambition in what Sidebar Games was trying to achieve in Sports Story. However, fulfilling that ambition is another matter entirely, and ultimately the game leaves a sense of what could have been.
Harvestella somehow manages to pull off some highly ambitious storytelling, accompanying with it a highly satisfying gameplay loop that is hard to put down. The game has a much stronger and widespread appeal than many may have been lead to believe heading into its release, and is an easy recommendation.
Some of the puzzles and challenges are good fun and satisfying to complete, but there are also many that are made more frustrating than they need to be. With a flawed match system that becomes trivial once its workings have been figured out and technical issues that stack up as the game progresses, it’s incredibly tough to recommend.
Although its story and presentation elements wear a little thin after a promising start, there is nonetheless plenty to enjoy thanks to a decently deep battle system that offers plenty of challenge for those who want it. It’s a strong debut that offers plenty of optimism for the developer’s future projects.
Fans of the Adventure Science series will get some enjoyment out of seeing its origins, and the mystery does eventually come together in a satisfying way. However, it’s hard to suggest it as an entry point for new potential fans when there are much better options available.
Airoheart should find its fans among veterans willing to stay patient and deal with its challenges in order to enjoy its explorative element. However, it’s difficult to see much widespread appeal with basics that are very derivative of past games, plus a general lack of polish and quality-of-life features compared to its contemporaries.
While its ultimate resolution is not quite as satisfying as its brethren, the way it uses its cast, some higher-minded concepts, and the player themselves makes for another highly absorbing title across its twenty-plus hours.
Not all of what it does is fully effective, but the things that work more than make up for the areas that stumble. With satisfying mysteries and a highly enjoyable cast, those who have enjoyed mystery novels or TV shows will find much to like about the game.
While there’s plenty of room for improvement in the main narrative and in establishing its antagonists, the content of the side missions ensures the game remains interesting throughout. Its ability to transport players into its supernatural Tokyo is not to be understated, and uncovering the different Japanese spirits while helping those unable to move on gives the game a thoroughly engaging loop that is hard to put down.
Its pacing and presentation makes for a relaxing and generally chilled experience that still comes with plenty of emotion in its bittersweet narrative. There’s definitely reason for Square Enix and Alim to return to the Voice of Cards world, and it may once again be sooner than expected.
It’s certainly not a bad title, and thankfully the issues that are there are such that they don’t create an active barrier to progress, but the entertaining parts are steadily diluted enough that the experience as a whole misses out on being something to be fully celebrated.
For those looking for an engaging historical RPG, Expeditions: Rome is an easy recommendation. The options for tailoring the difficulty allows players to focus on their preferred elements and make it challenging, welcoming, and rewarding depending on what players want.
Though there is still much more to come from Final Fantasy XIV in the future, Endwalker is a magnificent cap on everything leading up to it and a fitting end to the story of Hydaelyn and Zodiark. The passion of the Final Fantasy XIV team and its desire to do the best that it can for the fanbase is clear, and it deserves every one of the plaudits that has come its way.