I want to like Bookbound Brigade more than I do. I like the concept of working in several references to classic literature and historical figures in a big ol’ side-scrolling adventure. As is, it’s a serviceable Metroidvania with somewhat awkward combat and levels composed of rooms that blend together and stretch on for way too long. It took almost 18 hours for me, in large part due to navigation problems. Like how every word in a good book is written with purpose, this game needs to better apply that methodology to its level design. It could easily scale back some rooms and/or improve navigation and trim a few unnecessary hours off its run time. If monotony isn’t an issue, you’ll probably find the $19.99 it costs to be worth it in the end.
Stay Cool, Kobayashi-san! A River City Ransom Story is a fun, if not frustrating at times, spin-off of the Kunio-kun games. However, as a game designed to be played through several times, often completing vague objectives to get certain endings or rankings, it quickly lost its charm for me. If you’re confident the gameplay loop won’t get old, the $13.99 asking price will probably seem like a good deal. Otherwise, I’d look elsewhere to get your fix of high schoolers beating up other high schoolers and/or time travelers.
Whether or not Jet Kave Adventure is worth it comes down to whether you think you’ll replay the stages to complete all the extra challenges. My initial playthrough lasted just short of four and a half hours, but I completed almost no challenges and missed several trophies. I want to recommend it to people who just want a nice platforming experience, but between its other shortcomings and the asking price of $19.99, I’m leaning more toward waiting for a sale. It’s functional fun, though not necessarily a total package.
Your mileage with Treadnauts will vary wildly, depending on how much you make use of multiplayer and how determined you are to unlock everything. From my experience, maxing out at level 30 took a little over 11 hours. While it requires a fair amount of time to complete, the single player Target Test mode loses its luster after the first couple dozen stages and devolves into a chore. If this is the kind of game you plan to regularly spring on unsuspecting friends or break out at get-togethers, the $10 price tag might just be worth it. Otherwise, waiting for a price drop, or a patch for some of the performance issues, is likely the way to go.
It seems like the narrative is supposed to carry the day, what with the gameplay being rather uninspiring. However, after a little under five and a half hours, I got an ending which left several plot points unresolved and felt like sequel bait. There’s little reason to go back to it, outside of finding the collectibles. Even then you can’t see them outside of when they’re picked up, so it’s just for those desperate to say they accomplished everything. In the end Close to the Sun is a competently made game, but one with more style than substance. Its backstory and setting end up being the most engaging parts, with little else to keep the player slowly jogging deeper into the bowels of the Helios. For $30, there are more fulfilling and better executed experiences to be had.
With the main game split into eight acts, it took me a little over four hours to get through Engage mode. There is some enjoyment to be had floating around a derelict space station for a bit, but in the end it comes off as a game which isn’t bad per se, doesn’t particularly excel at much. The various design pieces don’t quite fit together, but are forced to fit like an impatient kid with a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle. For $19.99, considering how short the game ended up being and the technical issues affecting the experience, I’d give Downward Spiral: Horus Station a chance if there were a decent sale, but a pass at full price.
While it’s functional as a game, I expected more from Habroxia. That may sound unfair, but my expectation was not to breeze through everything the game had to offer in less time than a Lord of the Rings movie and feel no urge to return to any of it. What it does right, it does with no particular finesse. It’s a shooter in which I was able to get away with not shooting anything, or mindlessly holding the fire buttons on way too many occasions. Considering what else is available, not just on consoles but on PC as well, I struggle to recommend this to anyone, barring a massive discount from its $7.99 asking price.
Devil’s Hunt is a game that knows the look of a high-quality video game, but stumbles on most other fronts. It has the skeleton of the game in place, but struggles to flesh things out beyond that. Clocking in at about six hours, it’s a mostly functional package that takes a grandiose story as its base and delivers something less bombastic. Hopefully Desmond can get his act together should another installment come to fruition.
Silver Chains is a story-driven horror game that almost immediately can’t keep its story straight. Even if it did, the aimless wandering and general lack of threat the two monsters pose make the already tired scare tactics at work even weaker. It’s competently made (which is rare nowadays for a Steam horror game) and has some clear inspiration, but badly needs a more creative take on its character design, setting and gameplay. As is, it merely blends in with the sea of Steam horror titles that use the same settings, scares and game mechanics. $25 is too much for this short, disjointed experience. Even with a price drop, there’s not enough to distinguish Silver Chains as anything other than another brick in the Steam horror wall.
Sweet Sachiko’s Hysteric Birthday Bash may hold appeal to hardcore Corpse Party fans, giving the chance to see several characters from different schools meet or reunite and interact with each other. Beyond that, the story can’t figure out what it wants to be, tries to be everything, doesn’t do anything particularly well, and ends up undermining what it does right. Padded out to about 10 hours in length, it’s at least worth the $20 price tag in that regard. I’ll still play the regular Corpse Party games some time, but ultimately I took little away from this spin-off.