But even as its second half failed to match what came earlier, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a finely honed delight. Its action is precise and responsive, and learning the intricacies of each adversary is exceedingly fulfilling. While I wish its back stretch was either pared down or had a wider variety of foes, this is a rare title that induces trance-like focus and euphoric moments of victory. It may not quite reach the heights of the works that inspired it, but it’s not far off.
And despite some skepticism about how its historical period would be portrayed, the early turns of its story hooked me thanks to its marriage of murder-mystery, subterfuge, and deeply felt brotherly bonds. Unfortunately, these points of familiarity eventually proved incompatible with the kind of politically charged tale it was trying to tell. While most of my time with Ishin! was a delight, its closing hours are a mess due to its inability to reconcile the series' naivety and optimism with the complexities of history, resulting in a sanitized portrayal of the past that is both bewildering and somewhat troubling.
undefined.Taken as a whole, what you get out of this experience will vary dramatically based on how much its melancholy tone and setting make up for its sometimes unforgiving design elements. Although its boss fights are an annoyance, the haunting atmosphere, contemplative character writing, and well-realized space leave a far greater impression than its gameplay gaffes, repeatedly pulling me back into this world. There have been many cracks at this genre since Metroid's chiptune synths first accentuated its foreboding alien backdrop, but few emulate and transcend its ambiance as well as Ghost Song.
Resident Evil has existed in many forms, a shifting organism that's frequently morphed into unique renditions of horror. While Shadows of Rose had an uphill battle attempting to recreate any of these styles in such a shortened runtime, even judged by these adjusted standards, it largely fails at drawing on the series' history or charting a new path. It has one particularly terrifying stretch and a couple of nice additions for die-hard Village fans, but it is largely a disappointment.
Despite some gaffes, one of its biggest strengths is that it achieves exactly what many AA titles set out to do by delivering on a somewhat uncommon genre that has largely fallen out of favor. Soulstice may not reach the highest echelons of character-action bliss, but when its art direction, mechanics, and score are in harmony, it scratches an itch that only this brand of stylish spectacle can.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards is a successful union of its disparate halves, existing as both a platformer with consistently inventive level design and an engaging collectible card game. Joustus and the platforming offer a well-choreographed sequence of challenges that deliver constant variation.
However, even with these technical issues, I enjoyed my time with Children of Morta. The constant narration depicts the bonds of family with a kind-hearted pathos, which is a welcome palate cleanser between the bouts of monster slaying. Even failed runs are rewarded with new tidbits, tying us to the Bergsons’ struggle.
If you can ignore some of its questionable elements, Fight'N Rage delivers one of the most mechanically satisfying brawlers out there. It feels responsive and fast, opponents’ attacks are well telegraphed that make encounters fair, and the parry mechanic adds an additional layer of complexity.
Astral Chain feels like the culmination of Platinum Games’ work, combining sleek character-action gameplay with well-defined progression mechanics, a striking world, and more than a few memorable moments.