The missing piece in the Legend of Heroes franchise finally makes its way west. Trials of Zero is a great addition to the franchise featuring a great cast of characters and a fantastic strategic combat system. It's just unfortunate that the PS4 version of the game didn't get the same upgrades that it did on other platforms.
Dusk Diver 2 delivers a much-improved sequel. Though its story takes some time to get going, its execution bears weight, especially in the second half of the game. With great exploration and combat, which allows you to take control of all your party members this time around, Dusk Diver 2 provides a steep challenge with plenty of content to sink your teeth into.
Soul Hackers 2 feels like a budget title whose developers did the best with what they had. It's still a solid game with plenty to love that fans of the genre will certainly enjoy. A strong addition to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise with great combat and art direction only held back by uninspired dungeons and exploration.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a faithful and entertaining remaster of two classic PlayStation platformers. Bandai Namco did an excellent job keeping the franchise's identity alive and preserving the faithful combat and platforming. Though it may feel dated by today's standards, those who remember the Klonoa series will love these remasters, and those jumping in for the first time will experience simple platformers from a simpler time in game design.
Fobia St. Dinfna Hotel does a lot of things right but it falls just a tad short of matching the greatness of many other games in the genre. I loved exploring the Hotel and solving puzzles that are reminiscent of classic titles like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. It's just a shame that combat is not only boring but lacks any real challenge, and the story doesn't provide much resolution or explanation to what's really going on.
Tribute Games and Dotemu have officially brought back the beat-'em-up genre into the spotlight. Shredder's Revenge channels the greatness of arcade beat-'em-ups from the 80s and 90s to create an exceptional experience. Teaming up with friends and taking on the Shredder and his ninja Foot army will definitely put a smile on your face. With plenty of quality-of-life additions like unlockable skills and mission-to-mission quick saves, the only thing holding the title back is the lack of any unlockables and only two game modes to play through.
A great start to what I'm hoping will be a great franchise. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising doesn't do anything to move the side scroller action RPG genre forward, but it does everything to make it fun. Rising reminded me a lot of old school 2D action platformers but with an entire town-building mechanic. It's also one of the most visually impressive indy titles I've seen in a while. Overall, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a great starting point for what's set to be an epic JRPG, with Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes releasing in 2023.
I loved my time in Lake and wished it lasted a bit longer. Though mail delivery doesn't sound so appealing, it was nice and relaxing to drive around a small town and take in the sights. Providence Oaks' town is full of people with big personalities that you can interact with however you want. It has some issues with pop-in issues and repetitive musical score, but it's easy to overlook these issues when the people of Providence Oaks are so delightful to talk to.
There is almost nothing good about Outbreak: Contagious Memories. From the terrible controls to the lack of simple quality of life issues that were found in previous games in the franchise, Dead Drop Studios want you to believe that all the horrible design decisions were done on purpose. Sadly, it's impossible to actually believe that someone can make something this horrible in hopes of entertaining anyone.
Stranger of Paradise is the perfect example of gameplay towering above the sum of its parts. I loved the combat and job system, which allows for dynamic battles and strategy. It's just a shame that the rest of the game feels low budget and unfinished. If you're looking for an origin story to the original Final Fantasy, you'll get it here, but chances are you may want to forget it as soon as you're done.
It's not every day that you get to play through a game that leaves a mark with its disturbing and tragic story, but Martha Dead was able to achieve something that got me thinking from start to finish. The game's incredible soundtrack and sound design are harrowing, and the visuals push the genre forward. It's just a shame that some technical issues and hit and miss tutorials hold the game back from true greatness.
Monark has many great ideas, and some of them are executed well, but the game falters when it requires you to grind for hours just to stand a chance against the next story battle. The exploration and puzzle-solving keep things exciting, and the use of the Seven Deadly Sins for character personalities is a unique way to develop your characters. All in all, though, Monark may have been a better adventure or visual novel game than an RPG.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human has been a long time coming, and thankfully it's worth the wait. I loved the time I spent exploring Villedor; finding random events and scaling buildings took me back to the old days of Assassins Creed II. While I wish I wasn't being timed on the occasions I went into a dark building or decided to explore at night, it's a minor issue to overlook when most of the game is so brilliantly executed and fun to play.
Baldo: The Guardian Owls tries really hard to mimic the best games in the genre but fails to conquer its glaring flaws. Combat is unfairly difficult and the camera is absolutely atrocious. The game's quests and puzzles are also frustrating due to the lack of any real direction to follow and no types of hints for puzzle solving. Thankfully, Baldo's art style is fantastic and for the most part, exploration is a joy.
Transient creates great settings but doesn't utilize either one very well. Its story should have been its most substantial aspect but instead ends up being its weakest. Through its puzzles are solid, the game holds your hand when solving them, leaving almost zero need for critical thought. What ends up being the best part of the game are the mini-games that transport you to other titles that Transient took inspiration from.
It's a shame that Blue Reflection: Second Light couldn't live up to the expectations it set for itself. Though the story and characters development is good, the game is held back by overly complicated combat mechanics that seem to make encounters harder and longer when they didn't need to be. With the franchise now two games deep, I have to wonder if a third entry will ever get the light of day and if so, will GUST Studios finally be able to get the formula right.
Eidos Montreal has crafted one of the best superhero games to date. Their attention to world-building and characterization should be followed by many studios to come. The Exciting combat, which blends action RPG elements with strategic player commands, and breathtaking visuals and animations, is something to behold. But what truly sets this title apart is the fantastic writing, not just for the Guardians themselves, but for every character you come across. If you weren't a fan of the franchise before, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy might just change your mind.
There aren't many games that can carry charm and charisma on its back throughout its entire duration, but Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan managed to keep my interest from start to finish. Its charm is undeniable, and developer ManaVoid Entertainment managed to create an experience that held a smile on my face from start to finish. The game can get repetitive quickly, but the delightful exploration and innovative combat kept me intrigued long enough to see the credits roll.
I had plenty of fun with Xuan Yuan Sword 7. Though I wish the story would have been a little more engaging, the fun yet straightforward combat and exploration kept me going until the end, that said the game does suffer from some lousy difficulty spikes and forgotten mechanics that are introduced early on. It's the seventh core title in the franchise, and I'm hoping it's not the last one to make it to western shores.
The Lonely Assassins is the best Doctor Who game to date. It's terrifying at points and leverages the franchise to the best of its abilities. The writing is top-notch and rivals the show on many levels. The exclusion of the actual Doctor may upset some fans but I found the story worked better and felt a little more personal without the Doctor's direct involvement.