Persona 3 Portable is a complicated experience. On one hand, its core gameplay loop is at times frustratingly tedious and the plot goes nowhere for several months of the in-game calendar. On the other though, Persona 3 Portable is an emotional stroke of genius by the time it reaches its final act, executing a beautifully poignant narrative using consistent atmospheric world-building and an overall solid cast of characters to hammer home difficult themes of loss, grief and the inevitability of death. As a story about making the most of the time we have on Earth while we still can, Persona 3 Portable is a staggering achievement, but its flaws remain significant and numerous as this re-release is almost completely unchanged from its prior versions.
Originally released in 2020 as the definitive and expanded edition of the critically acclaimed Atlus JRPG, Persona 5 Royal has finally made its way to a handheld device just like its predecessors–and it feels right at home. The Nintendo Switch port of the Phantom Thieves’ stylish journey to steal the hearts of criminals and reform society manages to combine smooth performance and minimal graphical downgrades to deliver the same triple-digit hour long story while making very few sacrifices along the way.
LEGO Bricktales, the new physics-based puzzle-adventure game from the makers of the Bridge Constructor series, is simultaneously a triumph and a disappointment. It shines brightest in its variety of puzzle designs, ranging from simple decoration exercises to surprisingly complex engineering dilemmas, with each puzzle being built brick-by-brick using an intuitive and precise control scheme. Additionally, LEGO Bricktales’ detailed dioramas are consistently beautiful to look at, featuring catchy music and delightful sound effects that make for a joyous brick-building atmosphere. The experience is, however, marred by issues of varying severity.
Soul Hackers 2 is, just like many other ATLUS JRPGs, a game of two distinct halves, and the disparity between these halves is clearer than ever. On the one hand, uninspired dungeon designs lifted straight from the mid-2000s will undoubtedly mire the experience for many fans who have seen the improvements made in this respect across other ATLUS titles in the past few years. On the other hand, however, everything else about Soul Hackers 2 shines brightly, often exceeding expectations to create a memorable and at times emotional JRPG that condenses itself into an approachable 40-50 hour playthrough without losing any of its soul.
It is hard to know where to begin when describing the experience of playing AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative. It is the sequel to 2019’s AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES, but requires no knowledge of the first game whatsoever and can go out of its way to hide spoilers if players have not experienced the original. The first game’s essence is still very much present in nirvanA Initiative, and there are a multitude of improvements to the puzzle-solving elements that makes for an overall superior gameplay experience. It is among the best of its genre, while also being at times completely nonsensical. It is a game of halves, while also being a game about halves.
It’s difficult to understate exactly how much content is in The Skywalker Saga compared to every other game in the developer’s catalog. Not only is there at least 20 hours worth of high-quality adaptations of Star Wars movies both old and new but there is also a colossal amount of side content that both enriches and occasionally detracts from the overall experience. It is a completionist’s nightmare, and that is an important aspect to consider, but it is also a Star Wars fan’s paradise.