Blue Reflection: Second Light improves on almost every aspect of the original, with a mystery that feels more personal as the characters become closer. The relationship between the girls as they seek to discover why they were brought to this strange world is the star of the show; though the combat is fun, it is always a vehicle to get you more story rather than the driving force of the game. Second Light is a fantastic-looking anime adventure that you'll love, so long as you can accept that combat isn't the focus.
Ghost of Tsushima may or may not be the game of the year for a lot of people. Between the stunning visuals, solid story and characters, and one of the best uses of the open world framework I’ve seen, it is a strong contender for me, even in a year that has included some fantastic releases.
Overall, this is definitely a game for fans of the original. However, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity still delivers the fun action of Dynasty Warriors is known for while looking and feeling like a true prequel to Breath of the Wild, which is not an easy feat.
Between the surprisingly deep plot for such a simple game, the clever narrative explanation of the mechanics, and enough chaos going on in the discussions to keep you guessing, we had a lot of fun with this one. Gnosia's simple game mechanics and deceptively deep story make it a must-have for visual novel and murder mystery fans; it's just a shame that the music is so poor. Even so, if you give it a chance it's highly likely that you'll fall in love with each member of its diverse cast – just in time for them to kill you.
Love Esquire is a straightforward and fun visual novel/dating sim with simple but effective design and gameplay, surprisingly strong production values, and a fantastic voice cast. This isn't a game trying to push the boundaries when it comes to inclusivity, but it is an enjoyable romp and a relatively 'safe' introduction to the genre for those unfamiliar with its tropes.
It took us around 10 hours to complete our first playthrough of Wife Quest, which is not a bad run considering the low entry price. There is a lot of personality and style on display here, and players who want to go for all the trophies in the game will have plenty to come back to. Save for a few small visual hiccups and the fact that the game's humour is often an acquired taste, there isn't really a lot to pick fault with here; it's fun, short, and well-balanced enough to keep it from ever becoming overwhelmingly difficult. While it's not quite in the same league as the likes of Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge, if you're a fan of Metroidvania titles, then Wife Quest is yet another title worth checking out on Switch.
Root Film builds off of what its predecessor did well while managing to feel very distinct and more grown-up than Root Letter. The Switch version's portability makes it much easier to get those hours in than the PS4 version, but those who weren't fans of Root Letter or who are on the fence might want to wait until a sale or pick up the digital version of the game. For fans of murder mysteries, there are plenty of cases to get stuck into and rich locations to explore. We think it is worth the full price but can't blame people for being put off by the hefty price tag.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot might not do much more than retelling the story of Dragon Ball, but it does that well enough that existing fans will find joy in exploring the world and fighting iconic villains from the franchise. Despite the lack of depth to its combat and a minor internet-based technical inconvenience to work around, the game saves itself by expanding on the already massive amount of Dragon Ball lore available and giving fans the slice-of-life moments we've so sorely needed. Non-fans won't find much to love here, but it's a more than serviceable retelling of an iconic story.
Both Monster Rancher games are fun throwbacks and this package is a tribute to a series that arguably never got the love it deserved, especially in Europe. Retro gamers and those who enjoy finding hidden gems should definitely consider picking up Monster Rancher 1 & 2 DX for a taste of late-'90s non-Pokémon monster battling. Once you get your head around the unusual controls and the dated presentation, there's lots to like here - and it feels like nothing else released before or since. Go in expecting to make mistakes and stumble through some of the gameplay features and there is plenty of fun to be had.
Both of the games that make up Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 benefit from having a light-hearted approach to their story. With gameplay that doesn't feature too many surprises, the humorous writing and charming characters sand over the rough edges of these older RPGs. While we had a preference for the over-the-top antics and writing of Z.H.P. over Makai Kingdom, both games have plenty to offer both new and existing fans and showcase the humour that has made these and other NIS titles so enduring over the years.
Maglam Lord has a lot of potential, but you'll need to stick it out and try to squeeze some joy from its repetitive combat system and stale dungeon design. Along with its writing, an excellently drawn cast of characters - who can be recruited and romanced through the dating mechanic - offer shining moments in an otherwise unremarkable action-JRPG. The potential is certainly there for something special, and the game's visual cues for possible results of dialogue options removes much of the guesswork common in other games, but the execution falls flat in the combat department and holds back the enjoyable visual novel elements of this package from being as good as they could be.
Neptunia x Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars is a solid, fun hack-and-slash that doesn't take too long to finish and looks gorgeous while you're playing it, but it never reaches the heights of some of the classics from either franchise. What's here feels polished, but a lack of extra modes and features will be disappointing to fans of both series. Still, the game's charm lies in the Neptunia and Senran Kagura characters and their interactions, with writing that delivers great, unexpected punchlines that help give the game some focus. If you are a fan of either series, this is definitely worth playing despite its lack of depth. It just might be one to wait for a sale before picking up.
Seven Pirates H is not a title that wishes to be taken seriously. While there is a decent story and fun characters behind the fan service, the shallow combat can become tiresome after a few hours. It is fun and a lot of the humour lands, but the actual gameplay can be a bit threadbare. While the headline Booby Training mechanic is an interesting way to customise your party, it doesn't break up the monotony of the gameplay. This is a title that won't keep to occupied too long and is best enjoyed in in fits and starts, and very much within the privacy and comfort of one's own home.
Poison Control's story is cliché-filled but fun, and the tongue-in-cheek dialogue carries the game far further than its gameplay could manage alone. The writing can only make up for shallow game mechanics to a point, though, and ultimately shallow gameplay is what lets this game down. Visual novel fans will likely find more to enjoy here, but there's simply not enough gameplay depth or variety for fans of shooters.
We're always fans of seeing lesser-known games in any genre get a bit of love and exposure to new players, and the two games in the NIS Classics Volume 1 collection both have a lot to offer tactics fans. Phantom Brave's combat system is unique among tactical RPGs and Soul Nomad's take on the hero's journey is still interesting 15 years after its PS2 release. However, both games feel even older than they are; the unattractive visuals and uneven voice acting of this compilation re-release aren't going to change anyone's mind who wasn't a fan before, nor prove attractive for a new audience.
Melody of Memory is a competent if simple rhythm game that serves as a solid recap of the series for existing fans, making it a worthwhile purchase if you’ve followed the escapades of Sora, Donald, and Goofy through the years. However, it does showcase how impenetrable the plot has become, but even seasoned fans will get enjoyment out of the confusion. Its what we’ve done all this time anyway, right?
Waifu Impact makes the mistake of assuming that the promise of fan service is enough to carry a game through its runtime, however short. This game takes the Fortnite formula, dips the character controls in digital treacle, strips it of the multiplayer aspect that makes that game fun, and doesn’t add anything worthwhile. It feels more like a proof of concept, with no story or characterisation to speak of. Most importantly, it just isn’t fun to play. Even for the low price from the eShop, the joke here wears thin within half an hour