At the end of the day, Tales of Arise is an incredibly fun game. There are some things that I would have liked done differently, and the battle system is definitely simplistic, though these things likely won’t be much of an issue for most players. Honestly, any game that I can play for 50 hours in under two weeks and still enjoy is a great one in my book. I’m looking forward to seeing what Bandai Namco does with the franchise next — hopefully we wont have to wait until the PS6 for their next Tales project.
While the RTS sections might drag things down a little, 13 Sentinels is still a fantastic story driven game that offers up a unique experience. It’s not quite the game that I thought it would be, though in some ways that didn’t turn out to be a bad thing. The future is looking bright for Vanillaware, and I hope that their next game goes all-in on the adventure elements, without anything else getting in the way.
While I may have criticized Yakuza: Like a Dragon for a decent chunk of this review, there’s still a lot to love about it. Ichiban is the perfect character to usher in this new era of Yakuza, and the amount of things to do outside of the main story is almost overwhelming. However, Yakuza 8 will need a lot of work put into it to make the RPG elements more balanced and engaging.
As a solid dungeon crawler, Moero Crystal H is often enjoyable. Filling in the map of each floor, gaining levels and skill, adding your selection of party members; it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be. As for the fanservice, it often just gets in the way of everything else. The touching minigames in particular are repetitive, and seem counter-intuitive to actually delivering fanservice. There is a lot to do in Moero Crystal H if you’re a fan of the genre, as long you’re fine with the premise — and the less-than-stellar localisation.
While the tech used for Mario Kart Live is undeniably impressive, most people will get more out of the £100 required to play it by getting Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and a few years of Switch Online instead. The way tracks are created in game limits the designs you can create, and you’re out of luck if your house has a limited amount of useable space, or flooring that isn’t completely flat. Still, there’s fun to be had for at least a few hours before the novelty wears off, and it’s hard not to enjoy seeing Mario speed around track you have made. There’s potential, just not enough for this to be worth it for most Mario Kart fans (though cats certainly seem to love it).
While I’ve played worse, Vigil: The Longest Night just has too many flaws for me to wholeheartedly recommend it. The visual style, despite the bad animations, is still pleasing, and you’re generally rewarded well for exploring. I just wish that the combat had more impact to it, especially the bosses.
Gnosia is a game that’s bound to be incredibly divisive. While I found the main gameplay loop uninteresting, fellow writer Lilia left with a far more positive impression. At the very least, I can appreciate the attempt at creating something fresh, even if I didn’t think it worked in the end. If another game of this style was released with improved gameplay, then I’d still be willing to try it out. It absolutely has potential — potential that I feel Gnosia just couldn’t realise.
In its current state, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is hard to recommend. Crafting is tedious because of the clunky way the makers are implemented, and the town is lifeless due to a lack of varied dialogue or meaningful events each season. Patches are supposedly planned to improve these problem areas (along with performance), so the game could be a decent entry in the series after some updates.
Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World is an odd one. It’s so faithful to the original that those used to newer games will find it too simplistic, but the change in visuals won’t really appeal to fans of the original version either. If you know what you’re getting with Asha in Monster World, then there’s still some fun to be had, though it’s hard to really recommend it over other more interesting platformers.
Ultimately, Cris Tales ended up fixing few of the issues that I had with the game’s demo back in 2019, while also adding a few more thanks to the Switch port. I can’t imagine the currently average story getting much better at the end, and most of the ideas and gameplay mechanics presented at the start end up going nowhere. It’s a shame, as there was a lot of potential there — hopefully some of the more glaring technical issues can be fixed in a post-launch patch, at least.
It’s hard to really see who Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is aimed at. People that were put off by some of the issues in Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed aren’t going to play its even jankier predecessor, and £34.99 is a steep asking price even for someone that might be interested in trying this out. If you’re desperate to see the series’ origins, then this might be worthwhile — just go in with appropriately low expectations!
There’s still a lot to love in Lost Judgment. Nearly everything outside of the main story has been improved since Judgment, and I’m still not tired of scouring the city for new side-content. But it’s hard to ignore how poorly the story often handles one of its main subjects, and the way that certain characters are written. You’ll still get the usual mix of chaotic fights and funny one-liners though, alongside a slew of new side activities and stories, so it’s still easy to recommend Lost Judgment to fans of the franchise.
If you’ve not played Mary Skelter 2 or its predecessor, this is still a solid way to experience both titles (a remastered version of the first game is included for free). It has next to no graphics options, but solid support for both keyboard/mouse and controllers, and the actual dungeon crawling gameplay is enjoyable. But if you want 100% of the game to be available on PC, then you’re out of luck.