- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Final Fantasy IX
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 is not a perfect game, marred by its pacing, spontaneous voiceovers, and heavy-handed use of anime tropes along the way. That aside, the additions of game speed increase on top of more strategic options in combat and intriguing characters make this entry of the franchise a rewarding one, presenting wonderful payoffs for those invested in the journey. Even still, newcomers receive enough organic context and subtext along the way to still feel fulfilled as the journey progresses. Few RPG franchises, especially ones this lengthy, can provide a starting point in the middle of the series, and Cold Steel 3 finds a way.
You can't go wrong with a game that channels the heart and soul of PS1 horror, and Alisa does just that. Certain oddities of the genre piggyback on the experience, but fans won't be deterred by that. The humor mixed with dread and unease make Alisa a great game to explore, even with its limitations and minor issues.
Trinity Fusion approaches the rogue-lite genre with accessibility in mind. While enemy variety is small, boss fights soon grow trivial, and it doesn't offer the same complex options as other entries, the true enjoyment comes in the combat itself. With ways to make this enjoyable gameplay easier or harder, this is the perfect game for newcomers and aficionados to try.
Laika Aged Through Blood takes some time to get used to but offers a unique combination of gameplay styles. Still, it's not without growing pains, like button combinations not being as intuitive or the pace taking some misteps. There's still some cool ideas here in terms of gameplay and narrative that should be checked out even if you're only a little curious.
Very little stands in the way of what makes Little Goody Two Shoes special. Apart from some pacing issues in important parts of the game, this RPG Maker title channels psychological horror wonderfully. Don't let the cutesy presentation fool you: There's something sinister laying in wait underneath it all, and it's a joy to play.
Crymachina has several good ideas that it begins to explore. However, the kind of output needed to make those ideas flourish did not happen. Instead, this is a gorgeous-looking game that leans too heavily in the wrong directions, leaving its more intriguing elements as accessories instead of features. There's a decent game here that plays well, but its middle-of-the-pack execution in a sea of action RPGs doesn't do the game any favors.
Caligula Effect 2 tries to mix up the RPG formula with combat previews and expanded social elements. However, much of those ideas get buried under their over complicated presentation and execution. There is something new here that RPG fans may be curious about, but not many others will take a chance on it.
Vlad Circus Descend Into Madness makes the puzzle genre worth playing through. It may not streamline anything the genre offers, but it does keep you motivated to move forward, thanks to its simplistic visual style and thoughtful writing.
Honkai Star Rail offers a palpable universe full of possibilities on top of an accessible turn-based combat system that you can dig as deeply into as you want. There's a grind involved with any gacha game, and Honkai Star Rail is no exception. Strong writing, intriguing characters, and engrossing combat make Honkai Star Rail a must-play game that's also relatively friendly to free-to-play players.
While a heavily niche game, Scorn executes on a type of horror that most can only superficially attempt. Pacing is an issue with several puzzles, and the gameplay on its own isn't gripping. Nonetheless, the world itself makes up for all of that, telling vague stories that both compel and repel you. Scorn is an absolute must for horror fans.
Paleo Pines takes a unique approach to the ranching genre, asking you to learn a new way of developing your home. Pacing suffers along the way, and much of the side content feels more like filler. It may not have revolutionized the genre and may not be for everyone, but fans of the genre will find something surprisingly engaging, even with its flaws.
In NBA 2K24, some thoughtful additions to gameplay visuals and mechanics get deeply overshadowed by some minute growing pains with ProPlay, some major hurtles dodging gacha pop-ups, and plenty presentation hindrances that keep you from playing the actual game. Behind all that is still a fantastic basketball game, even if it doesn't feel different enough from last year to merit a must-buy status, even for basketball fans.
The Legend of Nayuta Boundless Trails doesn't have the kind of depth many RPG fans may want. At the same time, there's a universality to the gameplay loop that still works well when compared to the modern mobile game formula. While combat gets finicky and the aesthetic is somewhat dated, the complete package makes for a fun diversion and an intriguing spinoff from the Trails franchise.
No Son of Mine does a lot right, combining a fantastic setting with vivid graphical fidelity and stellar low lighting. Some ideas don't meet in the middle, such as combining combat limitations with far-too-frequent encounters. Either way, horror fans need to check this out. Those of you new to the genre can also get a solid experience here without being massively overwhelmed.
While far from perfect, Fort Solis still delivers an intriguing story with just a couple of well-delivered characters to really sell the final product. While they make sense, some creative decisions negatively impact the game as a whole. Still, sci-fi fans will have a great time with Fort Solis, even if it takes a bit to get going.
Moving Out 2 reeks of charm and goofy heart, which makes for a winning recipe when coupled with gameplay that matches perfectly. This may not be a title that everyone will enjoy, but anyone looking for a fun break from norm or love goofy games have something special to find in Moving Out 2.
Atlas Fallen suffers a few mishaps along the way, with enemies able to do cheap shots, modernized fast travel limitations, and a rather empty map. At the same time, there's a fun story here that keeps you moving forward, and combat itself feels visceral without being over-demanding. This is a great entry point for newcomers to the genre. Atlas Fallen has high fantasy alongside simple but intricate combat. It may not make game of the year by any means, but it certainly makes a good impression.
Very little gets in the way of the success that Final Fantasy XVI creates. The strength of combat on top of a compelling, deep narrative steal the show. Despite little need for world exploration and the occasional lower resolution texture, Final Fantasy XVI stats true to the namesake while forging its own path forward.
There's no better way to play this series than the PS5 release of Layers of Fear, combining both stories under one cohesive umbrella. It also shows fantastic early potential in Unreal Engine 5, showcasing exactly what it can offer the rest of the gaming industry.