It's a shame that a game of such promise and ambition ends up in such a questionably lacking state as this, for Genesis Alpha One wields a fair number of interesting ideas, mechanics and spins on such things as roguelike exploration and base-building methodology that work wonders when feeding back into the core premise of managing all aspects of a ship journeying through space.
After five years of waiting, though there are some frequently fantastic examples of sound used to further the tone and aesthetic, a similarly plentiful amount of contradictory design choices and unnecessarily tasking moments leaves BELOW with many rough edges.
Though its pixellated visuals and bright environments do provide brief pleasantries in the first hour or so, the little variety in its missions and very reason to stay invested other than grinding until the climax results in a game caught between two minds, committing, sadly, to neither one in the process.
It's bold to dish out a product with so many obvious absentees of the most fundamental components to a video game, but The Quiet Man goes one step further in presenting itself as this artistically-flash, cinematically-deep experience it's all too proud of itself over without ever working for that accolade.
Pleasing and genuinely tense a large portion of its core gameplay may be — particularly when it comes to considering which abilities to sacrifice, and when more importantly to enact them — Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption falters from an otherwise lack of context and general purpose in a world that is suggestive on quick glance, but quickly reveals itself as little more than superficial decoration.
It likely won't garner the longevity of something a kin to Deadly Premonition, but there's no denying Swery's fluency with a whole host of tones, on both gameplay and story — not to mention his ability in using the surreal to portray a real and hard-hitting theme of young love — shines through in a sufficient capacity, despite the numerous rough edges.
Obvious it may be that Valkyria Chronicles 4 proves to be more of what made the original Valkyria Chronicles so enjoyable in the first place — its conservative approach this time round preventing it from achieving essential status — that's not to say that the careful-and-considerate style of tactics, complete with its unique approach to turn-based/real-time style of play, have in anyway resulted in a lesser iteration a decade on from the original.
There are nice ideas and a plentiful amount of passion put into replicating the look and feel of classic first-person, dungeon-crawling in Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk. If one were to approach this with the intent of short, couple-hour bursts with little aim other than the acquiring of more loot or leveling up one's disposable units, the game services those eager on that aspect of dungeon-crawling.
Truth be told, these are but brief and minor gripes in what is a twenty hour quest (should you aim for a full 100% completion) chock full of charm, wit and some of the most mechanically-sound and cleverly-designed platforming you're likely to find this side of 2018.
While there are clearly some efforts to distinguish from other platformers of an allotted, check-list fashion on a visual/world-building sense, the inevitable blurring-together of seen-before sparse storytelling and relative simplicity in appearance mean that The King's Bird doesn't quite excel as a complete package.
Though it may not provide anywhere near the kind of substantial additions to convince veterans to invest for a second time, there's no mistaking the care and passion Retro Studios and company have put into making DK's most recent outing one of his best.