On the surface, this looks like a decent sports/management simulation game and at first, I’d agree. For the first few hours I couldn’t put this down but as time went on it grew repetitive and more of a chore than a fun game. I’ve played a lot of games from this genre and sunk hours into similar games from Kairosoft but this one missed the mark and likely won’t make its way back into my gameplay rotation.
Figment 2 is one of the best games I’ve played in 2023. It may have a short runtime but it uses every second to tell a simple story and blow you away both with its visuals and its audio. The core gameplay remains interesting until the very end while every area you visit is full of character and charm that makes this one impossible to put down.
At first, I hated Clive ‘N’ Wrench, I didn’t see any appeal and thought it was a terrible game. As I played it and got used to the controls I found myself enjoying some aspects of the game because it is an attempted homage to one of my all-time favourite genres. If like me, you’re a fan of 3D platformers from yesteryear, you’ll find SOMETHING that attracts you to Clive ‘N’ Wrench. Unfortunately, the title has too many issues to really flourish and reach its full potential. For a debut effort, the developer did a lot right and a lot wrong, all I can hope for is that they focus on what they did right with this one and knock it out of the park next time.
SpongeBob SquarePants The Cosmic Shake is a charming, funny, and sometimes great game. At its heart, it is a masterful platformer but it gets sidetracked too often with underexplored mechanics and a desire to focus on tedious combat. It is still a very easy game to pick up and play through, but it falls short of the excellence that this franchise expects in the video game world.
While Persona 3 Portable isn’t perfect, it is still a viable way to experience one of the best games ever. This is by far the best Persona game of the series, it has the best pacing, the best music, the best art, everything. While this port is lacking some of the things that FES had that made it an all-time classic, it is still one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch, and that’s saying something.
Lone Ruin is a solid addition to the roguelike genre, especially for those in need of a challenge. It’s got a strong art direction that enhances the darker mood the game is going for. The boss fights are an easy highlight as the developers really get to flex their muscles with those but the gameplay loop isn’t quite good enough, or long enough, to thrive otherwise. The weaker abilities and items render some attempts futile without me even doing anything wrong and success largely feels down to luck rather than my own choices for the most part.
I don’t think any number grading could ever fully translate my thoughts on Trifox. It’s a game that does so much right and stands out in the action-adventure genre as one of the more well-designed and creative titles I’ve played in a while. Despite that, there are just too many small things that hold it back from reaching its full potential. I would love to see this team get another swing at a Trifox game, a tightened-up sequel could be a contender for best indie game of the year, but for now, Trifox stands as a pretty good game, but one limited by its own faults.
Disney Dreamlight Valley is a quintessential Disney fan experience that shakes up the life simulation genre. While it has its performance issues and occasionally leaves me unable to find the materials necessary to complete a quest it is a charming and addictive experience.
Train Valley: Console Edition is a very good transition to consoles for the PC staple. While the User Interface at times isn’t great almost all PC-focused games struggle to make that change for consoles. Ultimately, the gameplay is very enjoyable and strategy fans will have a good time thinking three steps ahead to make sure things at the station continue to run smoothly.
Cat Cafe Manager is an addictive management simulation game that balances enjoyable gameplay with a good supporting cast, an actually useful skill tree, and a heartwarming story. A couple of minor issues hold the game back from perfection but it’s a great game nonetheless.
I appreciate some of what Big Bang Pro Wrestling brings to the table. It is a retro port that wears its influences on its sleeve. The characters and designs look really good and the layout makes it feel like I’m actually playing a New Geo Pocket console. Sadly, there are just too many great wrestling games today that do what Big Bang Pro Wrestling does, but better. Its gameplay is at times aggravating and unforgiving, while the movesets and game modes get old fast. All in all, if you’re desperate for some old-time pro wrasslin action then the low price point of Big Bang Pro Wrestling may entice you, but it won’t occupy you for long.
For those hankering to play a Fire Emblem style game, Dark Deity will no doubt scratch your itch. Its tactical gameplay is satisfying and engaging, with a wide array of units at your disposal to lay waste to your enemies. The story and characters are lacking, however, which leads to a lot of the game feeling like a slog to get through. The contestant addition of new characters leads to a “shiny new toy” mentality with other characters being forgotten about and left to waste away in the meaningless bonds
WWE 2K22 was a necessary reset for the series. 2K endeavored to reimagine what a pro wrestling game can play like and in the process found a style of gameplay that is infinitely more enjoyable than the realistic simulation-based gameplay we’ve had in past games. It does a great job of focusing on the in-ring action while showcasing all the pizazz that comes with pro wrestling. MyRise and MyGM are welcome additions and are two modes that could be pillars of the series going forward if they continue to be improved upon. While not perfect, see Showcase/MyFACTION/slight gameplay issues, and some of the modes are admittedly lacking in depth, WWE 2K22 is a good building block for future games that offers a lot of fun gameplay.
I really liked The Company Man. It’s another strong addition to the indie 2D platforming catalog even if it didn’t reinvent the wheel. The main draw of the game is no doubt the setting and its satirical view of the workplace which makes it stand out from the crowd. Despite all the positives, there are some areas where the game didn’t fully live up to its potential and that is what keeps it out of the elite tier. The Company Man is a strong addition to anyone’s gaming library.
It’s rare that I don’t have a bad word to say about a game but 6Souls is an example of a video game done right. It didn’t overreach and promise the world, it focused on delivering what it could and making the most out of the game’s core concept. While it isn’t a game of the year contender or even a game that MUST be played this would make for an excellent addition to anyone’s gaming library.
This game is almost beyond words. It is invigorating in just about every way and feels like an experience that manages to rip you away from reality with ease. If I had a minor critique of the game it’s that the story can feel a bit underdeveloped at times and admittedly the game does take a while to fully grip you. However, those minor critiques aren’t enough to stop me from considering this one of the most amazing gaming experiences I’ve had in a long, long time.
The Lightbringer isn’t a perfect game but for all of its faults, it is a game that plucked at my nostalgia with its platforming capabilities. Exploring each level is a challenging and fun experience that kept me engaged from start to finish. The increase in difficulty as the levels wore on kept me on my toes too and made sure that the gameplay never lapsed or become uninteresting. For any fan of the platforming genre, this is a game I can highly recommend picking up even if the combat is limited at times.
I have my gripes with NBA 2K22 for sure, but for the most part, it delivers such an entertaining Basketball experience that it’s hard to dislike it. MyTEAM is a wonderful game mode full of life that could keep anyone playing for hours, and MyCareer is as addictive as always, and also cut back on some of the mode’s previous issues. Although I’m not ecstatic about defending and shooting, they’re things that can be worked around by a good player and won’t derail my enjoyment of the game anytime soon.
Staxel is a game with potential and there’s a lot that I liked about it. Ultimately, it gets in its own way by trying to spread itself too thin and leaving too many elements of the game feeling tacked on. Having so many quests going at once with materials not being available ends up feeling more frustrating than anything and while graphically the game looks good and stands out from the field, this only gets you so far. Admittedly, the creative mode would alleviate some of my issues but that would essentially make this a sandbox game. Unfortunately, Staxel winds up as an ambitious project that couldn’t keep up with its own potential.
While the developers certainly deserve credit for their unique concept and magnificent atmosphere this game is a bit of a misfire, the gameplay is just lacking in too many areas and the creativity is put into little references rather than the actual gameplay itself. While this is certainly a game that people can, and have, enjoyed it was a very tedious experience for me and one that I can’t recommend unless you enjoy a more passive gaming experience.