The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is the kind of game that doesn’t do anything well enough to satisfy any of its intended audiences. For survival fans nothing is done better than titles they’re already playing, and in fact does plenty worse. And for diehard Lord of the Rings fans, the strange lore deviations and limited vision of Khazad-Dum and the canonical events portrayed aren’t any more attractive.
Against all odds Baldur’s Gate 3 is everything it’s hyped up to be. An RPG with few if any equals. A project of passion, made by RPG fans for RPG fans. A niche game, developed with AAA quality graphics, sound, and animations. Phenomenal writing, compelling complex characters, and some of the best turn-based combat I’ve ever enjoyed. And best of all, for me personally, is that it does its predecessors proud.
The Company of Heroes Collection for Nintendo Switch is one of those projects. It’s such an old game, and the genre to console conversion comes burdened with so much implied work. And even if it was ported over successfully, the RTS audience on Switch is hardly overwhelming. And this definitely wasn’t a case of a successful port, with the missing multiplayer, control issues, and puzzling performance decisions.
SWORD ART ONLINE Last Recollection is the most polished game in the series, with by far the best combat loop. However, I found everything else, from the RPG mechanics to the linear world structure, to be a clear downgrade from Alicization Lycoris. And I can understand the why: focus on what you can do well. But I feel like the ambition of previous titles was something the niche fans of these games had already accepted, and not continuing with that for the franchises’ (supposed) last title is doing it a disservice.
The joy of abusing enemy AI through the use of social stealth and corners. An open-world city to explore and parkour through, pickpocketing everyone. And the sandbox black box missions are fantastic, a culmination of the franchise at its best. Sure, overall the formula for the game is a collection of Ubisoft classics. But isn’t that what we’re here for at this point? Exploring a city, solving small puzzles, collecting stuff, and going stabby stabby while looking cool doing it. This is an Assassin’s Creed game, unapologetically, and it’s much better for it in my opinion.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom proves once again that ESO is the most stable MMO on the market. Every year like clockwork, there’s more quality content released. New stories to experience, new worlds to explore, and new mechanics to play with.
I don’t think it’s some greedy money grab, a worthless piece of trash, and the worst game ever. There is a ton of effort and quality here. It’s just buried under nonsense, which I suspect only exists because of market pressure. A $50 niche stealth game is a hard sell, and being a short game only makes it more so. But I think we can all agree that taking the same game and artificially inflating it to AAA length at AA quality wasn’t the solution. And while Daedalic has said they intend to work on and fix the game, I honestly don’t see how. The damage is done, the issues baked in. Just learn and move on.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is that rarest and most beautiful of things. A great original Warhammer 40K game. It has a solid sense of what it wants to be, and the developers had the skill to nail what they went for. A classic boomer shooter, that doesn’t just copy the classics but replicates and even improves what made them work. The level design is genuinely genius, with so much variety and visual style. The gunplay is fast, hectic, and deliciously gory. And the music and graphics blend classic and modern styles together beautifully.
Final Fantasy was the game that literally saved Squaresoft. It transformed a no name company into one of the biggest Publishers in the industry. And the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster shows why, with it’s simple yet elegant plot and gameplay. Crystals, Warriors of Light, Airships, Bahamut, it all began here. Playing through the game was a bit like falling in love with the genre all over again.
Controls were tight, and the minute-to-minute gameplay just feels great and smooth. I could live without the loot system, but even then the worst crime it commits is being bland. It’s a good game, a very solid space sim. My issues stem from its failure to stand out.
The UI is still terrible, but playable. And the AI is again absolutely braindead, but we all know the real game is in the mutiplayer anyway. And Cyanide has already posted a comprehensive roadmap, which should fill in a few missing gaps as well. Still as fun as it is, Blood Bowl 3 is a warning of what some developers and publishers are willing to try to make a quick buck. It may be fixed and fun now, but we can’t forget when it wasn’t.
The cover system is absolutely fantastic and just works as described. The level of destruction and interactability with the environment is something every RTS should have. It launched with two full campaigns as well, even if I much prefer the mission based one to the Total War knockoff. The biggest issue I have with the game is how unbalanced and limited the Multiplayer feels in its current state. There’s also a total lack of Multiplayer progression, which feels like a weird omission for an RTS title. Still, there’s nothing broken here that can’t be fixed, and while I’m really getting tired of playing unfinished games, at least the foundation here is incredibly solid and fun.
Hogwarts Legacy impressed me, and not just as a lifelong fan. I especially loved its dedication to exploration and puzzle solving, two things modern RPGs are finding less and less time for. I think it’s possibly the best RPG for newcomers to the genre and people who don’t otherwise play RPGs. Unlike most RPGs, setting the difficulty to Story doesn’t invalidate everything. With Hogwarts Legacy, there’s still plenty of game to explore and puzzles to solve. You can still have a fun fulfilling gameplay experience, without complicated combat getting in the way.
Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is the kind of game that confuses me with its existence. It’s not for newcomers with its real-time world map on top of real time combat. Even slowed down to turtle speed, it’s still a lot for someone who’s never played a game like this to start with. Especially with the complete lack of a worthwhile tutorial to lead them through the game. And it’s definitely not for genre veterans, given they’ll have played ten games that do everything better than this one.
It feels like a product of its time, with newer games doing the same things, but better. Especially Triangle Strategy, a game I now recognize takes a lot of cues from this title. It’s still a good game, and worth playing for people curious about the history of the genre. Beyond that however, I just don’t see the hype.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns was a game I wanted to love more than I did. And don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy it. I can’t express my love for the combat enough, it’s fast, furious, and fantastically flashy. The deck-building aspect is great too, with loads of options and variety. It’s what you’re doing when you’re not in combat that’s the problem.
It’s a game that I genuinely believe to be one of the greatest JRPGs I’ve had the pleasure to play. If there was never another Xenoblade game (although let’s face it, there will be though), I would be perfectly satisficed with this momentous well-crafted conclusion.
Sonic Frontiers is so frustrating because it was so close to greatness. Despite the story weirdness, I did genuinely enjoy Kronos Island. The mechanics and feeling of speed were great, the levels were fantastic (this carries across the whole game), and the boss fight was absolutely incredible. But then you fly off to Ares Island, something shoots you scattering the Chaos Emeralds, and you crash land realizing that you have to do everything you just did all over again. It’s at that exact point the game falls apart and it never recovers because it pulls this nonsense two more times.
This isn’t just some Space Marine cashgrab designed to milk money from desperate 40k fans. It’s a legitimately well-crafted game that should do a lot to improve the general opinion of Warhammer games. Sadly though, it suffers from technical issues that bring down the experience. Still though, in my opinion, the base game experience is still more than worth it.
I didn’t expect to enjoy Lost Eidolons nearly as much as I did. I’d assumed it would be just another one-note SRPG set in another generic high fantasy world. The Fire Emblem similarities would be skin deep, and nowhere near as high quality. However, I was delighted to be wrong as this game over delivered on every level. Impressive presentation, simple yet deep combat, and there’s plenty of variety in progression and customization. And while the story’s long in the teeth and the reliance on visual novel style dialogue sequences may not be for everyone, fans of the genre will be right at home.