Bobbing and weaving through hails of gunfire, frantically trying to intercept bombs, taking down any enemies you can wherever you can all the while: Jet Lancer is at its best in these moments. For as tough as it can be sometimes (though thankfully it does include a nice suite of difficulty and accessibility modifiers you can activate at any time), when it all comes together, it’s sublime.
Chances are you when you hear about shoot-‘em-ups, you think of the bullet hell variety. Constant hails of gunfire filling the screen, leaving hardly any room to breathe. Rigid Force Redux isn’t nearly as intense, instead allowing you to easily decimate everything in your path and focus on trying to maximize your score. It’s a comparatively more relaxed style of shooter. Challenging, but not as daunting as some of its peers.
Dreamscaper rewards patience. It may not have immediately pulled me in, but sticking with it was ultimately worth it. In part because the wait wasn’t huge, but also because the majority of my time with it has been worthwhile. It’s a very satisfying game to play once it finds its rhythm. Roguelikes are a crowded genre with plenty of games vying for attention, and Dreamscaper is one definitely worth your attention.
The ways you can use your abilities to end fights as quickly as they begin never gets old. Every time a fight occurs, I welcome it. There’s a speed and efficiency to it that makes even the smallest skirmishes fun to partake in. The range of abilities you can use plays no small part in that, but it’s mainly just how good it feels to move around and how the degree of control you have enables you to perform all sorts of wild moves. Arcade-style space shooters of this style aren’t as common these days as the games hew toward simulation with regard to flight, which makes Chorus all the more welcome a surprise.
When Tails of Iron works, it works. There’s a weight to combat that makes each hit feel powerful, the sounds of weapons clanging against each other and the smooth animations demonstrating the force put behind each strike. It’s fast and lethal, a few good hits all it takes to be within death’s grasp. It’s difficult, but thrilling when everything clicks. But there’s only so much I can push through the less enjoyable sections, only so much I can bang my head against the wall that is certain bosses before I lose interest.
Tunic is defined by its mysteries. It’s a game that purposefully obfuscates much of the experience. Its world is packed full of secrets to find and hidden puzzles to solve. It gives back as much as you’re willing to invest. It can just be a simple adventure starring a cute fox. Or it can be a really involved puzzle that requires a ton of patience and fortitude to solve. I’m very excited to see everyone else get their hands on Tunic and start figuring out its many mysteries. I expect everything will be cataloged and be a quick google search away in due time, but until then, the process of discovery should be a fun one.
Loot River’s pitch is a strong one. Described as “Dark Souls meets Tetris,” Loot River is a roguelike wherein you move platforms (often in the shape of Tetris blocks) around while fighting enemies in Souls-like combat. It’s a roguelike that combines light puzzle solving in how to navigate the game’s tight corridors using the large platforms (especially when you’re trying to grab a treasure chest) and the lethal nature of Souls-like combat splendidly.
It’s easy to imagine another version of Card Shark where every trick becomes far more involved on the input side of things to try creating a more one-to-one imitation of the movements, thereby making every step a more delicate process. And that version might be good too, but that they can feel satisfying to pull off with such simple inputs while still seeming complex is a definite achievement; not only for the way it makes them more easily accessible but the ways it still feels like you’re shuffling the deck or pulling sleight of hand maneuvers.
Puzzle games are good because you can take just about any premise and turn it into something fun. Building snowmen in A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build, guiding water to create waterfalls in Spring Falls, splicing microbes in Splice… just about anything can be turned into a puzzle. In the case of Freshly Frosted, that’s building donut factories.
It’s hard to know what DNF Duel will look like in a year’s time, let alone a few months. Fighting games get huge updates so frequently these days it’s impossible to know what form they’ll take in the long term, whether due to the developers deciding to make massive changes or the meta shifting in such a way that pigeon-holes the greater play dynamics. Right now, though, it’s a ton of fun and relatively easy to hop in and just start pressing buttons. Hopefully it can stay that way for a while because it’s nice to have something to just turn on and get some quick sets in without feeling like I need to actually put in actual work to do anything.
Once a run gets underway and everything starts to click, it’s a good time. Being able to construct a build fully formed before you make another attempt at the 50 level gauntlet that Blacken Slash presents is a great hook that the game delivers on splendidly. I’m probably a long way out from actually getting a win still, but at least I’m always getting somewhere in the meantime.
But also like Mario Party, the actual competitive aspects are moot. Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a party game first and foremost. These sorts of games aren’t meant to be super balanced competitive experiences, but something you can just load up and have some fun with and maybe get a few laughs out of. To that end, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is successful. It’s rather slight overall – you can easily get your fill in just a few games since there isn’t a whole lot to it – but enjoyable even so.
As more and more games take inspiration from the Souls games and play with those mechanics, I hope more consider taking Thymesia‘s tack of seeing what removing a fundamental aspect has. The Souls-like designation is more than just mechanics at this point, I think, and seeing more games challenge what genre entails is something I’d like to see. Thymesia‘s choice to remove stamina is odd on its face, but the results speak for themselves.
Betrayal At Club Low‘s humor may be one of its draws, but the way it plays with dice rolls and captures the sensibilities of tabletop games is what makes it shine. The myriad ways any one playthrough can go – or a single roll even – make it a joy to constantly revisit and see what happens if you try this instead of that. This is my first experience with a Cosmo D game (I’ve meant to play Off-Peak for ages but haven’t because I’m terrible) and I feel like a fool for putting them off for so long. If this is just a peek at what the stories of Off-Peak City has to offer, I’m very excited to see what else this surreal world has in store.