Most of the time, though, it’s like playing a stripped-down version of Yakuza. You wander a Japanese neighborhood, shop, do side-quests, build up your character, much like in that venerated series. But then the combat sucks and the story is poorly paced. On the other hand, I can’t deny it grew on me. It feels like one of those janky, Japanese, early PS2 titles like Mr. Mosquito or Robot Alchemic Drive. It might not be the most fun to play, but it’s unique enough to captivate.
I played Secret Agent HD pretty flat out. I ate through the episodes hungrily until I hit the end. For all its flaws, it’s an easy game to get sucked into. The levels are just short enough that I fell into the “just one more level” trap. The inclusion of leaderboards, additional difficulties, and a level editor help extend the game’s lifespan and breathe new life into it.
I wrack my brain trying to figure out Dark Alliance’s strengths, and I’m not coming up with much. The level design works surprisingly well for multiplayer. I was afraid looting would fall by the wayside, but every time a fight would wrap up, everyone would run off in different directions and grab chests before finally moving on. I didn’t feel like things were getting missed. Well, except for the shoes that would pop out of chests some other player would open. Those just rot, forgotten on the ground.
Not only is Chicory a fun game, and not only did it speak to me on a profound level, it also made me want to be a better me. I’m not exaggerating nor using hyperbole, it’s a well-built experience with a tremendous amount of heart. It wants you to be you, and it wants you to know that the best you can do is always good enough.
As a whole, Backbone is stylish but not exceptional. It’s a good time with an enjoyable story, but otherwise it’s just kind of routine. The visual style is great, but it’s offset by uneven audio design. There’s definitely a lot to love about Backbone, I just don’t feel it sticks the landing quite well. It will be worthwhile playing for most, but I’m more interested in what comes next from EggNut.
I also have to stress that Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World isn't a bad game. Some of the backtracking got annoying, but mostly it's just monotonous. The mechanics are tight enough, I just can't help but shrug at the final product. I'm always happy when an old title is given new life, but that doesn't mean I'm going to end up loving it.
I had a lot of trouble tearing myself away from Biomutant, and a lot of my grievances didn't really surface until I'd finished it and had time to digest. Before that, I was absorbed in exploring its well-designed world, plumbing ruins, collecting dopey looking mounts, and dressing like I just survived a landfill explosion. There are some unwanted mutations in its genes, but they're covered in fur and easy to overlook.
Perfect Gold is one such game that did manage to hit paydirt. It's absolutely solid, and finding a narrative, even in the VN genre, that deserves to be called that can be difficult. The characters are flawed without being annoying, interesting without being archetypal, and the storytelling does a great job of focusing on them. It's worthwhile if you're into watching two people in love while figuring themselves out.
What it comes down to is that Shadow Man Remastered is an excellent title that I enjoyed thoroughly. However, it is an excellent twenty-something-year-old title, and some people just can't go back to that era. I get it. But for the rest of us, this is definitely a title worth pulling back from Deadside.
That's not to say Spacebase Startopia is a bad game, it's just something of a disappointment. At best, it feels like a remake that makes a few missteps. It's a forgery at worst. If you really want more Startopia but can't stand to look at its dated graphics, there's definitely something for you here. Otherwise, you're better off docking with a different donut.