Shovel Knight Dig is a fun little rogue-lite. While it took me over ten hours to beat, I know better, more rogue-lite skilled players will not need as much time. I did not encounter bugs or errors with my time; but more than a few of what felt like unfair deaths. The chaotic gameplay of Dig makes it hard to see how great the pixel art is at times, but being able to literally slow down the gameplay or adjust my health and damage output makes it easier to appreciate the visuals. I can see myself returning to Shovel Knight Dig in a few months just to give it another spin, but the overall replay did not entice me back immediately.
Potion Permit has you go from unwelcomed guest to belle of the ball. This doesn't feel like other life-sim game in a couple of ways. The handful of mini-games, the romancing, and the gifting feel different, in some good - and sometimes only decent - ways. The pixel art looks great, and load times on the Switch were a breeze. I would have liked more of an overall challenge; the game never feels hard or very difficult. Potion Permit works best when throwing on some headphones and listening to a podcast.
Nine Noir Lives reminds me of childhood Point & Click titles with a grown-up edge. The cat detective and his misadventures with his voice recorder held my attention the whole time. If I were more into the genre, my detective skills might be better. Some puzzles that slowed me down probably won't stump others, but I found them challenging. A story that required my attention throughout made Nine Noir Lives worth my time.
Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed looks and sounds great, like a well-made game from 2022 should. The issues start to arise with the gameplay. Open world maps feel small, missions are short, and the story lacks depth. I never hated my time spent with Reprobed; it started as pushing a pea up a hill but felt like heaving a boulder up a mountain by the end. There are times when I like to think back to being a 13-year-old boy who finds fart jokes amusing; you just don't see games with the same raunchiness to them as you did back in my youth Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed has kept that level of humor, for better or worse.
If I hadn't played Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II when I was in high school, would I have enjoyed it now? I don't think so. The simplistic look did not age well. The city of Baldur's Gate feels empty and lifeless. The couch co-op is good; being able to play online would have been great, but only the PC version has that. The only real update was the rapid loading times and smooth frame rate. But I did play this back in high school. The memories carried over from 18 years ago. I'm lucky that the nostalgia was strong enough for me to look past the obvious flaws of Dark Alliance II. Because I was able to distance myself from the flaws, I was able to have a blast playing. Exploring, fighting, and the characters all had a familiar feel that made my time enjoyable. It might not be as sharp and crisp as a modern hack and slash game, but it didn't matter.
It's easy for Coromon to be labeled a clone. It almost begs you to think of it as one. On the surface, it looks like a new set of monsters were dropped into a nearly identical world. But dig a little deeper. A story that doesn't have gyms or badges, customization in both difficulty and player options that you don't see in the competitor. Coromon feels more like a spiritual successor to monster trainer games of decades past. Sharper pixel graphics and features that people ask for are present throughout. The look of Coromon is more refined than what you'd expect from a "clone". If you enjoy collecting monsters, then Coromon has it. If you want a new twist, something that helps define the genre moving forward, you're might be let down.
What's my final piece of advice for Long Live the Queen? Shake it off and try again. Is it worth the challenge? Yes. Being successful is gratifying. But having said that, this is a menu game; navigating menus is the core mechanic. There's also plenty of reading that is required, skipping over it makes playing this game almost pointless. The soundtrack is beyond repetitive, nearing an annoyance, but it isn't required to play. Touch controls are fantastic, elevating this to being a great game to sit on the couch and play.
Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX is kindling; easily combustible and not much else. A platformer that makes platforming impossible at times. It also wants to borrow from roguelikes and Metroidvanias, but ends up taking all the wrong elements from them. Firegirl feels repetitive well before it should, including a camera that frustrates and leads to cheap deaths. The art of Firegirl is excellent. The 2D-HD made me feel like I was sitting in the living room of my parents house and I was nine years old again. But that's nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
Sitting down for even ten minutes with Neon White makes me feel like I've gotten a lot of playing time in. Stages are fast, and replaying them when things don't go your way doesn't feel like a drag. The addictive nature of Neon White meant I was going back to the same stages again and again until I was able to ace them. The story isn't for me, and feels predictable, but I can see how it might hit the right crowd. The easy to learn gameplay, with the unique weapon cards made for an experience I couldn't get enough of.
Saying that Legends of Kingdom Rush on PC doesn't feel legendary is not to say I didn't enjoy my time with the game. There is plenty of content to see, even through multiple playthroughs. Combat is a highlight, the AI does not let up on the harder difficulty. The leveling system, items, and dice rolls just don't do it for me here. This is for people who want small gameplay experiences, with a lot of replayability. That being said, Legends of Kingdom Rush has a pickup and play vibe that I can dig while binge-watching tv.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: the Sith Lords expands upon the ground-breaking original. Story choices change depending on who you put into your party at the time. Conversations that take place between party NPCs can also get spicy, depending on who you bring along. Sith Lords does lean on some traditional Star Wars tropes a little harder than I would like, and the menus and UI are a bit dusty. Though I was afraid my rose colored glasses wouldn't hold up, I fell in love with these unique characters once again.
Card Shark has a few things going for it, not the least of which is unique gameplay. I've never played anything like this. The watercolor style looks great. But the story feels like an afterthought; it never felt important or drove the actual game anywhere. The card playing part of Card Shark is nonexistent, instead focusing on the tricks you are trying to pull. While the tricking is fun, there is a lot to remember, and some of the tricks feel silly to perform. This might not be Devolver Digital's biggest game to date, but it does have that feel that most Devolver Digital games give off - a unique game with a unique look and feel. Card Shark doesn't fit into a genre, which is something to admire.
There isn't much that sets Souldiers apart from other Metroidvanias. A big map to explore, secrets to discover, and plenty of upgrades. But limiting players to one of three unique classes does not make me want to play Souldiers all over again a second, let alone, third time. Dying is a struggle, and loading back in after a minute to die all over again is not rewarding. Puzzles that frustrated me to no end were common enough to keep me away. Souldiers will only appeal to those who are gluttons for punishment with little reward.
Good puzzle games make you see the pathways in your mind before they show up in the game. Mini Motorways does this, and does it well. At its heart, Mini Motorways is about failure. Or your attempt to push failure back as long as possible, just like my parents' marriage. Eventually your city will collapse under its own pressure. But if you need a half hour to kill Mini Motorways is a great choice.
While the visuals and voice acting didn't sell me, there was plenty else to sink my fangs into. Choices. So many different, split second choices that made me feel that what I did mattered. A story that kept me searching out clues to find what was really afoot, and great RPG elements too. I was a bit unsure how a game would handle three main characters, and while they're all kinda jerks in their own ways, they're my jerks. I was able to overlook any issues I had without having to sacrifice much to do so.
Loot River has a lot of good features. Controls, artwork, music are all very nice. The combat, while not bad, does nothing to move the genre forward. The unique Tetris-like platform moving is enjoyable, but nowhere near the complexity or difficulty of Tetris. I can see the potential for a great experience, but it just isn't quite there. Occasional difficulty spikes that knock me for a loop and put me out of the mood to make another run leaves Loot River as a good, not great, game.
I'm not sure what I thought I was going to get with Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition. I thought I would be swept away in the story and taken on an adventure I wouldn't forget. What I got was a game that feels like it is trapped in 1995. Some of that is good, solid combat, old-school CG cutscenes, excellent music. If you are new to Chrono Cross this edition is the one you want. It is beyond welcoming to new players. But there was too much holding the game back for me to make it a great game. A cast list so massive I felt bothered by it, and a story that is a bit bonkers was too much for me. Chrono Cross had to crawl so modern JRPGs could run, but it doesn't fit in with JRPGs of today.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed can take you back to 2008, with all the good and mediocrity that comes with it. Do you need to play this if you like Star Wars? I think so. It's a story that feels right at home with the original trilogy, some plot is good, some goofy, it's certainly Star Wars. Some shortcomings like basic level design, targeting, and boss mini games. But using your force lightning to attack clone troops is satisfying. Not a perfect game, but darn near close to a perfect Star Wars game.
No Place Like Home offers a unique take of the farm simulation genre by placing you on a near desolate Earth. Unfortunately it is also void of memorable NPCs and contains little story to sink into. While the addition of a sci-fi element is welcome, the overall gameplay feels like it came from a farm sim made fifteen years ago. There is plenty to enjoy, especially if you want to stick to farming and cleaning up. But since No Place Like Home feels like it is missing modern mechanics that have become mainstays in the genre I'm not sure it's for everyone.
I am at a loss for words when it comes to Rune Factory 5. I had a lot of fun, but it comes at a price. In order to truly enjoy the game I have to get over the horrible optimization. It's not game breaking, but frustrating doesn't begin to cover it. The RPG mechanics are fun, so is the farming. While not the update to the series I was hoping for, there is still fun to be had for the die hard fans who simply have to play it. Everyone else might want to enter with care.