By no means is Tales of Zestiria bottom of the pile, yet as far as all around quality goes — by which the many cogs keep this latest entry circulating; moving with swift, relevant engagement — Zestiria is perhaps the point wherein Bandai Namco really do have a franchise on one hell of a tipping point.
Reality itself may be a lot less pixellated here, but Poncho's well-planned orchestration of sound, aesthetic and more importantly art direction resonate remarkably well. For a game so mechanically simple, it's one of the better experiences out there — four-letter swear words and all.
Pitting the player's wit against a changing set of circumstances is a fun and exhilarating experience on paper, but ROOT makes too many wrong decisions in executing this mechanic that it's hard not to see the majority of its level-by-level progression as anything but malnourished of some much-needed player-support. Be it the lack of checkpoints, lack of salvageable health, lack of difficulty balancing; there's not even the ability to reload your weapon.
Surprisingly, however, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam dishes up an interesting take on the Mario RPG formula without wandering too far from its roots. Some may scorn the lack of drastic change in the gameplay and while it's fair to conclude it is more of the same in most parts, Paper Jam is — at its heart — a solid RPG with plentiful personality. It may not be the RPG we had sought at the beginning, but it's one that marries together most (though not all) of what makes this Mario spin-off so immediately engrossing.
It's a shame that a mechanic as promising as playing as a toddler — and all the repercussions surrounding it — is underplayed here, as tied in with a psychological leaning in horror, Among the Sleep could have offered a fresh take in what is a painstakingly underused concept in games. [Hardcore Gamer separately reviewed the PS4 (2.5) and PC (2.0) versions. Their scores have been averaged.]
There is indeed a one-more-game pull to Zotrix's gameplay and if you're willing to take apart its mission-based structure as slices of a cake, there is a somewhat commendable attraction to the way its resource and upgrade management system plays out like a carrot dangling on a stick.