Mutropolis features great comedy writing, with a simple but satisfying story. Its puzzles are logical but some of the hardest I’ve played in this genre. If you’re a point-and-click adventure fan, I wholeheartedly recommend it despite niggles about animation speed and a bug where the main character disappears from view. For the writing alone, I’m giving this a solid “I Like It A Lot” rating.
Overall, the game’s design couldn’t be better. I can see myself introducing Puzzle Galaxy to my daughter someday as one of her first ever video games. It’s good for short, relaxing sessions. Considering the base game is free, its DLCs seem reasonably priced, at about 4 to 5 US dollars (each contains between 22 to 54 new puzzles). But I’d like to see a wider variety of themes. The ones available now are space, steampunk, ocean life, cats and dogs, horses, princesses, and city or country landscapes. It’d be nice to have more categories, such as food, home interiors, dinosaurs, or construction vehicles. Meanwhile, I like that there’s a mix of digital paintings and actual photographs.
Parental note: There’s a teeny bit of violence (blood but no gore), and I recall one use of profanity (in a nickname) but nothing to sweat about for teens and, possibly, older children. Overall, Intruder in Antiquonia is a pleasant game that works, but it could have offered so much more in the story/dialogue department. For that reason, it’s hard to recommend Antiquonia over other games in the point-and-click adventure genre.
Loop Hero is unique and addictive. I’m always up for another round. I love the gloomy but charming art and music. The only thing I find annoying is how expensive Camp upgrades are, which means lots of grinding. Still, grinding doesn’t feel pain because the basic gameplay loop is so enjoyable. It’s fantastic value for money and not a tough game, as roguelikes go.
Lamplight City has given me an appetite for more detective work, and for more work by Grundislav Games designer Francisco Gonzalez. Both the story and puzzles are well-written. Variant endings make the game even more interesting, though there’s little reason to replay if you get the best endings on the first try. I recommend the game not only to genre fans but also to players who don’t usually play point-and-click adventures (or any games at all). Just be forewarned that the game contains mature themes and is darker than the 12+ age rating suggests. The game is great for handheld play. The font is legible even on the Switch Lite. While there are touchscreen controls, Joy-Con controls are much more precise.
While Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising doesn’t have the stamp of undeniable greatness, it does have truly amazing visuals. The writing/translation, music, and most of combat is rather good too. Town-building feels meaningful as it rewards you with significant growth in combat abilities. Despite a slow, unimpressive start and getting lost in dungeons, Rising builds into an enjoyable action RPG. It’s an easy game, suitable for casual or younger players. It’s also very linear and repetitive, but some players may find such simplicity relaxing. If Eiyuden Chronicles: Hundred Heroes can boast similar strengths, I’d be curious to play the longer game when it releases in 2023. Hundred Heroes isn’t planned or confirmed for the Switch yet, but if we’re lucky, I will plead for a larger font than what Rising uses. (On the Switch Lite, text can be painfully small.) Oh, and fewer fetch quests, please! Now 14 hours into the game, I’m guessing the end is only a few hours away. Instead of rushing, I’ve decided to play in short sessions at leisurely pace. That might be the best way to enjoy Rising.
Catie in Meowmeowland has many merits: beautiful art and animation, cute characters, and cool bizarre-ness. It’s lighthearted and slapstick funny, even if occasionally crude or downright mean. (I felt sorry for the giraffe candlestick I had to set on fire.) There’s not much of a story, though the overall plot is clear and it wraps up very well. I completed the game in 3.5 hours. Most levels didn’t take long to solve. But too many solutions felt obscure, and I didn’t enjoy resorting to a trial-and-error approach so often. I kept looking for reasons to give the game a positive rating, yet I hesitate to recommend it unless you are (1) patient and persistent in solving puzzles, (2) open to a cute, colorful art style and (3) not expecting a story or puzzle design on par with well-known point-and-clicks.
I couldn’t recommend this game more. Definitely check out Primordia if you like point-and-clicks, post-apocalyptic settings, or philosophical themes. What it may lack in visual appeal, it makes up for twice over in writing. Lead voice actors Logan Cunningham (Hades and other Supergiant games) and Abe Goldfarb really bring it all to life. The characters, conversations, and well-developed themes were a delight. I enjoyed the puzzles and was thankful for a great hint system. Lastly, the Switch port is excellent.
Is there a place in 2021 for old-school point-and-click adventures? Absolutely, and Dexter Stardust proves it. This is a great title for kids and adults alike, with a likeable protagonist and well-designed puzzles. If you like story-driven puzzle games, go for it!
Make the Burger is beautiful, likeable, and will kick your frontal lobe’s butt. Alas! If only I had time to feast my eyes on these sweet burgers, but the game’s fast pace is too intense for that. There’s a good challenge to be found here, but it lacks staying power.
It’s not going to knock your socks off, but Floating Farmer is a decent game with cute visuals and manageable difficulty. Finishing the 50 levels took me slightly under 5 hours. The difficulty is about easy to moderate for a puzzle game. I’d say the only prerequisite is to have a reasonable short-term memory! Young players should definitely try their hand at this, though they might need help with understanding how to move a tile where they want it to go. If they like Floating Farmer, who knows, they might be game for a Rubik’s Cube next! Do check out Mens Sana’s other puzzle games; the Farmer games have a similar concept and look but different mechanics.
Is The Banner Saga for you? Could be, if you’re into SRPGs, stories with tough choices and real consequences, or Viking stuff. The combat isn’t what I’d call super addictive or mind-blowing fun, but it’s nevertheless unique and engaging. I like that it’s fairly simple yet quite challenging (unless you play on Easy difficulty). I love that the visual novel element is very, very substantial. It’s half the game’s weight, even if not half the game’s length. Combat isn’t merely broken up by cutscenes where you’re passively watching. Here, you’re directing the story. Or at least the details, if not the overall plot. Most notably, you decide if major characters live or die. The Banner Saga trilogy is an all-rounder. Despite an initially confusing plunge into the deep end, I came out gasping at its beauty, most of all the landscapes and hand-drawn combat animations. Both story- and combat-wise, expect a meaty game lasting 30 to 40 hours or more.
I’ve gotten the same enjoyment from Curious Expedition 2 as I did from its predecessor: the fun of exploring uncharted lands, the thrill of danger, the satisfaction of shrewd planning. I’ve spent over 20 hours with CE2 and haven’t tired of it. If you like survival, resource management, or elaborate board games, you might enjoy this unique strategy game. The colonial elements might turn some players off but not trouble others. Curious Expedition 2 makes many improvements, like offering an easier game to first-time players. If you can’t endure roguelikes, you can switch off that element by changing the difficulty settings, even mid-game. The lovely new art style and generous offering of new content also make CE2 worth picking up for old fans. My only big complaint is that each run is longer than it needs to be. A word about the Nintendo Switch port: I love playing this handheld. I just have two minor grouses about the UI. Scrolling through inventory takes a bit longer in CE2 than in CE1. And while trading, tool-tips often block half the screen. But overall, it’s an excellent port.
Space Scavenger is a neat little game, made by two guys in Sweden (Jacob Selg and Jonas Holgersson). I’m delighted by this simple but fun space shooter, even if victory lies beyond reach of my current skills. It’s nice to pick up for 30 minutes a day and see what motley ship configuration will emerge each run. Last but not least, Space Scavenger has a great soundtrack! Putting the soundtrack, ship-building, and short but tough levels together: if you play in short bursts, it’s unexpectedly relaxing for a roguelike shoot-em-up.
What’s the optimal number of players? I suspect any number of players works well (except for playing solo), which makes Papa’s Quiz a versatile game in this respect. Playing alone is pretty lacklustre. In these Covid times, it’s harder to meet friends in person for a gaming session. We’ve been playing party games online, so I’m happy to have found us a new title. Unfortunately, I don’t find Papa’s Quiz as engaging as some of the better titles from Jackbox Games. For comparison, Trivia Murder Party is funnier, more varied, and more interesting; though, on the downside, its trivia questions are more obscure. Still, Papa’s Quiz is a pleasant, relaxing way to spend time with friends—for a game or two. Do consider this title if you’re looking for a casual party game. It’s a decent one to play with non-gamers, as it’s uncomplicated, has simple controls, and is good for a 15- to 20-minute session.
Among roguelike deck builders, Griftlands is an ambitious one. But it actually pulls off those ambitions. The gameplay is unique, combining a two-deck system with a relationship system. Visuals, sound, and controls get one thumbs-up, while the writing gets two thumbs. Even run-of-the-mill conversations have a spark of wit, or at least a dash of snark. More importantly, it’s fun to play (though there’s lots of terminology to digest at first) and enough reason to replay on a higher difficulty if you love a good challenge. At $19.99, this is seriously a steal.
A short, snappy visual novel in which you commit major mischief, Overboard! makes being the bad girl fun. It taps into the human instinct for self-preservation and perhaps a latent desire to see what badness we can get away with. Good writing, fun gameplay, and a light thinking challenge. The game’s replayability makes it worth the price of admission.
If you’re up for a numbers-based puzzle game, I highly recommend Mystic Pillars. Adding a hint system would make it perfect, but it’s still a good game without one. Not only is the gameplay solid, but the visuals and sound show that Holy Cow Productions went the extra mile to present a polished game.