Grant E. Gaines
It might be corny to say, but I look at Ultros as more of an experience. All the weak parts start to fade away as new locations appear, mysteries are uncovered, and a new location offers a fascinating new thing to see. Sure, it would be nice if some of the weaker points were more refined, but at the end of the day it's a 10 or so hour experience that will likely stand out for quite a while.
At the end of the day, I found that Granblue Fantasy: Relink captured the elements I love about this genre. There are several unique bosses, each with their own shenanigans, keeping things interesting. While I would appreciate changes to the build system, it doesn't detract from the overall engagement of the experience—especially for those who aim to overcome everything Granblue Fantasy: Relink has to offer.
What stands out the most about Tekken 8 is the effort to bring newcomers in. Even if someone isn't ready for online, there are many offline options to build your skills. This isn't just a brief overview and combo trials but a wide variety of options to polish practically any rough patch. This, combined with the great gameplay, solid online, and overwhelming customization options, make Tekken 8 a fantastic choice regardless of skill level or experience.
Overall I think Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a solid experience. It's far from perfect, as it can be surprisingly difficult/cheap/annoying, but most of the time it's a creative metroidvania. Add in some genuinely cool boss battles, climatic parry moves, and countless locations to explore and you have an experience well worth considering.
In a lot of ways, I find myself conflicted. On one hand, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is basically the base game with all the DLC and more, but on the other, it's a step closer to a traditional fighter. I don't think that is a negative per se, just a choice many fans might disagree with given the mobile game and previous version spoke to a wider audience than just fighting game fans. Regardless of where you fall on the casual side, the core gameplay remains good. Anyone determined to learn has more than a few options, plus a wide variety of offline modes to enhance your skill. So, fans of the fighting game will be happy, whereas RPG fans might walk away disappointed.
I genuinely enjoyed Have a Nice Death on Nintendo Switch. It was a fun game with humor that really elevated the final product. Now that modern consoles, such as PlayStation 5, don't have the performance issues it's an easy choice looking for a rougelike to explore. It has so much going for it, with an accessible learning curve. So if you are on the fence, but love the genre, you'll almost certainly enjoy this experience.
Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless doesn't stray far from the familiar formula, but it stands out as one of the finest entries in the Disgaea series. For fans of its humor, storytelling, and core gameplay, the game rectifies some past missteps. While it's not without flaws – notably, the post-game content falls short of previous entries – it's still a must-play for those seeking a challenging RPG with extensive grinding opportunities.
Lies of P is an interesting game with some elements reminiscent of Soulslike titles. While it doesn't fully embrace the challenging yet rewarding approach that defines the source experiences, it also distinguishes itself by not attempting to be a mere clone. Notable differences can be found in its durability and weapon-swapping mechanics, as well as its more traditional narrative style. Consequently, players will likely have strong opinions about this unique approach. Although it isn't inherently flawed, there's room for improvement through thoughtful design changes.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie is what you’d expect, given previous entries. The narrative is easily the best part, which does a great job of closing out the last story arcs. Gameplay isn’t revolutionary for the franchise, yet that is far from a complaint. It would be nice to see some improvements in graphics/performance, but other than that, it’s a solid experience fans will likely love.
Crash Team Rumble is far from perfect, but the current form is fun. Matches are quick without being too one-sided. Utilizing specific mechanics and a good understanding of the mechanics can turn a particular loss into a win. Unfortunately, I fear long-term, the community will adopt the more oppressive meta I already see, though I have hopes future characters/patches will help balance things. So if you’re looking for a fun multiplayer game for a few hours here and there, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Gunfire Reborn is a fun game that suffers from some pretty substantial problems. Online is simply a mess; regardless of where the fault lies, it results in a negative experience for all. Add in a lack of updates and questionable history on Xbox, and it’s a hard sell for Gunfire Reborn. Sure, it has good gunplay, charming weapons, and a lot of build potential; unfortunately, these issues exist. Perhaps things will improve now that more resources can be poured into the console side of things, but for now, I would stick to PC or Xbox via Game Pass.
Capcom did a fantastic job with Street Fighter 6. It retains the fighting mechanics players love, and its approach to newcomers is commendable. Even if you don’t want to play online, getting your money’s worth is easy, which is great to know going into it. Some of the other changes, like modern controls, further help make things accessible to a more significant number of people. Street Fighter 6 is a slam dunk worth considering for all these reasons and more.
In many ways, Protodroid Delta reminds me of Mighty No. 9. I can see where Mega Man X influenced Protodroid Delta, but it takes some of the franchise's worse parts without offering many improvements. The floaty controls will put some off, and others will have unintended glitches or weak art direction, in addition to the other things mentioned. For these reasons, it will probably appeal to fans of Mega Man X, itching for a new experience, but likely not anyone else.
Monster Menu: The Scavenger’s Cookbook is ultimately in a weird place. The gameplay is enjoyable if you like the genre, but so many elements won’t resonate with people. As someone who dislikes resource management, those frequent sections get old quickly. For this reason, I suggest giving the demo (PlayStation / Switch) a go. The core gameplay loop is relatively unchanged from early and late games, so you should instantly know if this is a winner or a dud.
I don’t particularly appreciate giving games low scores, especially to a game that was a labor of love by a small team, but Death or Treat is a hard sell. It’s short, features only four bosses, limited variety, is poorly balanced, and is filled with bugs. The last one is significant because I can overlook some of these things, but in its current state, I can’t recommend it. This is a shame because the jokes and core gameplay loop are enjoyable, but the flaws are impossible to miss.
If I am being sincere, Redfall feels closer to a beta than a finished product. It isn’t just missing polish; many elements are in the wrong place. There isn’t much of an end game or reason to grind, nor did I find any weapon that seemingly changed the face of the game. At most, I found more accessible ways to do things resulting in my build always having a UV and stake weapons. Despite this, I think Redfall will benefit significantly from Xbox Game Pass. Even if the product I reviewed was in a rough place, I still had fun. Arkane Studios has time to improve it, two additional characters are coming in the future, and 60 FPS is in the works; it’s just a shame our first impression was nowhere near what we’ve come to expect from Arkane Studios or the genre.
Overall, Trinity Trigger has some interesting ideas that don’t really pan out. Gameplay starts as a fun action RPG before evolving into a convoluted system where various encounters require swapping between various weapons/characters. Narrative also has some interesting elements, they are just lost in a rather predictable loop that overstays its welcome. For these reasons, there is still some charm if you love the genre, but otherwise I’d hold off for a bit.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed playing through Ghostwire: Tokyo. Some of this might just be my love of the setting and overall culture, though it’s unique and often fascinating. It’s just a shame a wide variety of choices hold it back. Turning an open-world game into a long series of checkboxes is rarely good, with combat following an odd curve. It starts fun, then feels unsatisfying, followed by it slowly building back to being fun. Given it eventually becomes a satisfying experience I would say it’s worth considering, though it is absolutely not an experience I’d say is for everyone.
All things considered, Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is a good spin-off. It feels different enough to stand out, without it being so different to throw fans off. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite check every box. Combat could be a little better, gameplay a bit deeper, story a little less goofy and so forth but it’s a good first attempt. One that is worth giving a go if you enjoy either experience.
Blue Reflection: Second Light does a good job of building on what worked in the first adventure. It’s cute, the characters are charming, with deep enough mechanics to make gameplay engaging. It might not be perfect like stealth sections are fairly pointless, but fans of the previous or this style of RPG will enjoy it. Even if it’s only over the delightful visuals.