Unbound: Worlds Apart is an excellent Metroidvania that is a must for fans of the genre. The imaginative use of the ever-evolving portals ensures that each area feels unique, helping to create a great sense of pace. Although there are some performance issues, they don’t spoil the beautiful adventure through this grand, fantasy world.
Last Stop’s anthology-based approach to storytelling is great and helps to keep you engaged throughout. Even though your choices don’t really impact the story, it’s a lovely journey that touches on some interesting themes. Unfortunately, the conclusion is disappointing as it delves a little too far into the realm of science fiction. Regardless of this, the grounded characters and interesting cast are worth meeting.
As much as I love the aesthetics of Cris Tales, there are issues with the gameplay that affect the experience. Although fans of retro JRPGs will be able to overlook the constant random battles, lack of auto-save, and the monotonous grind, these aspects will deter gamers who are used to contemporary design elements. The clever use of the time mechanic allows you to be more tactical in your approach to fights; however, this is overshadowed by the sheer volume of encounters and repetitive enemy types. At its core, Cris Tales is a solid JRPG with an interesting twist; however, it sticks to the well-trodden paths of those that came before, creating a disparity between the gameplay and visuals.
Death’s Door is a masterclass in level design. The interwoven areas encourage and reward exploration, whilst the simple yet challenging combat makes confrontations a thrill. With an alluring art style, sorrowful soundtrack, Acid Nerve has managed to create one of the greatest indie titles of 2021.
Out of Line is a great example of the puzzle platform genre. Nerd Monkey’s methodical approach to puzzles is delightful. Although the game lacks challenge, the tasks continue to develop and are always enjoyable. Due to the low difficulty, the game is accessible and acts as the perfect gateway to the genre. The endearing art style is a highlight of the game, helping to give context to the subjective narrative. Even though the game is relatively short, each moment in the mechanical world is a joy.
From the moment you lay your eyes on Mother Bilby, you’ll fall in love with this title. The beautiful animation, emotive story, and luscious backdrops echo great cartoons of the past. Proud Dinosaur has expertly crafted puzzles that mature in quality and difficulty as the game progresses. Although Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey is relatively short and a little sluggish at times, the game imbues quality, making this a journey worth taking.
Labyrinth City: Pierre, the Maze Detective, is an enjoyable experience that combines intelligent-level design and a charming art style. The lovely setting, packed with detail, is a joy to explore even though it lacks any real challenge. With several collectibles in each level, there is some replayability. However, I would be surprised if many revisit the game after completing it. That being said, each moment of the roughly 3-hour story was an absolute joy. Although a little repetitive, I loved perusing the world, inspecting the oddities, and marveling at the landscape. Fans of the franchise will be enamored with this interpretation of the books, and newcomers will fall in love with the world. Due to this, I would recommend getting lost in Labyrinth City.
Crash Drive 3 is a fun idea that is enjoyable in short bursts. Unfortunately, in longer sessions, an array of issues are glaringly obvious. The slippy driving mechanics, repetitive missions and bland visuals make this an uninspiring release. With almost no reason to play solo, the game’s reliance on a community could mean that the game crashes before it hits the highway. Due to this, I would hit the brakes before picking up this racer.
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series succeeds in its goal of making you feel like a Jedi. With a high production value, intriguing plot, and excellent cinematics, the game will leave fans of the franchise in awe. However, with little gameplay and a short runtime, this is more of a VR experience than a game.
Mario Golf: Super Rush’s plethora of options and solid mechanics make this one of the greatest arcade golf video games to date. The inclusion of the exciting, speed-based Rush and Battle modes helps take the genre in a new direction that will appeal to gamers old and new. With an incredible story mode that will keep you hooked throughout and the returning cast of characters in fresh golfing garb, it’s clear Nintendo has hit a glorious stripe down the fairway.