Ultimately, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is a detective story that needs to be experienced. If you’re a fan of Japanese mystery games such as the Zero Escape series or the Danganronpa games (by the same developer/publisher), Nirvana Initiative is definitely something you shouldn’t pass up. The only thing better is that if you haven’t experienced the first game in the series, you get to go back and experience another terrific detective tale.
The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story is an exceptional grouping of semi-connected detective stories. Experiencing a whodunnit while marginally helping piece the mystery together was a great combination. While much of the investigation is much too guided, getting to watch the suspect react as you place down piece after piece of evidence is completely worth it. The game never works better than it does when you just get to sit back and enjoy watching the story unfold.
In essence, In Nightmare is a narrative heavy puzzle game where all too often you must engage in more action heavy scenes in order to progress. That, coupled with frequent sections where you must navigate a room of either a single monster or multiple and avoid detection, caused the game to wear out its welcome sooner than it should have. When it’s just puzzles where you have have all the time in the world to reason out is when the game works best, and I found myself wishing for more of that as the game went on.
Stranger of Paradise is a peanut butter and chocolate combination of Final Fantasy XV and Nioh. The beauty of it is that you don’t even have to be a fan of Final Fantasy I to enjoy Stranger of Paradise. The story explains everything you need to know and anything you bring into it from previous knowledge is just extra. The combat is just spicy enough that you can feel like a powerhouse, but lets the players somewhat tweak the difficulty to their own desires if they’d rather face a tougher challenge. If this is the way that Square Enix will be remaking the early Final Fantasy games I am entirely in. This iteration takes modernization to the best possible level.
The true problem of Babylon’s Fall is that it has no sense of identity. There’s nothing that sets it apart from games like it, and it only shows itself as a poor comparison to other, free, games. Babylon’s Fall feels like it was made to check a box, because it is just so empty and slapped together. The cookie-cutter levels only serve to wear you down as you just want to make it through main missions that are just about your only way to play the game. At the end of the day, Babylon’s Fall is a live-service game, assuming it survives this rocky launch, there’s enough potential to maybe transform it into something much better in the future.
The use of the jetpack meant that the map had to have more to it. There could no longer be somewhere players couldn’t/wouldn’t go. This is probably the first game of its kind where I honestly believe I saw at least 90% of the map. ELEX II is one hell of an experience and made swooping around the map to unlock fast travel points and complete the main story feel like an adventure rather than just ticking off boxes. The freedom ELEX II allows through the traversal mechanics is something that I have never encountered before in a game like this but will now always think about going forward.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood starts off on the right note, engaging players with the type of action I imagine werewolf fans will find exciting. It quickly runs out of puff, though, and what excitement there is to be had is spoiled by too much tedium in between. Ultimately, enthusiasts of the Apocalypse TRPG are unlikely to feel satiated by what is a rather shallow video game experience overall, which makes it difficult to recommend to those outside the hardcore fanbase.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is a wonderful mix of the two ideas. As a platformer, the game wouldn’t have enough driving force, and would wear out quickly. For farming, while it’s truly lovely, there’s too much downtime with not enough to do. Each of these things in a game of their own would be draining, but together it creates a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of a game that deserves recognition and continues to feel fresh and enjoyable even after 20 hours in.
There is enough variance to make sure for a large majority of story battles you have a way of coming in with a fresh look, but the battles kind of always play out the same way, so it’s frustrating when the build you brought isn’t good enough and you struggle to get through what you were clearing before without any problems.