Trek to Yomi starts to come into its own only as it heads towards its finish. It's easy to admire what Flying Wild Hog set you to do with Trek to Yomi. It's an attempt to blend the appeal of the classic samurai film genre with the interactive moodiness of fellow indie games like Playdead's Limbo or Inside. It's partially successful in that regard, but while the ideas underpinning the game are solid, their execution leaves something to be desired. Ultimately, Trek to Yomi could have benefitted from more time studying the blade.
If you've never played Chrono Cross, you should, and there's little reason not to take advantage of the upgrades available in The Radical Dreamers Edition. If you already have access to the original edition, whether it's worth the double-dip comes down to how determined you are to play Radical Dreamers; I'd wager it isn't worth the price of admission. But regardless, however you do it, you should play Chrono Cross. It's just a shame this remaster isn't all it could have been.
It can be challenging to wrap one's head around Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. On the one hand, it is utterly steeped in Final Fantasy mythology. And yet, it's a far cry from a traditional Final Fantasy game. In a way, it feels like an attempt to apply the Final Fantasy VII Remake approach to a game much less suited to such treatment, with fascinating, if not entirely successful, results. Fans of heavily customizable action games will find a lot to love but might be divorced from the nods and homages to Final Fantasy history. It'll be the players who have a foot in both worlds that will most enjoy Stranger of Paradise, but despite some narrative pacing issues and a bit of bloat, most players will find it an enjoyable, action-packed fantasy adventure.
But anyone would be justified in deciding to continue honing their skate skills in OlliOlli World. It's a fun game with practically infinite replay value thanks to asynchronous online multiplayer and the ability to generate new levels randomly. And despite realizing that I may never be the king of the halfpipe, I still find myself loading the game up to spend an hour attempting to master a new track with a single-combo run. OlliOlli World is all about the journey, that state of flow that washes over when you've committed to a challenging run, and testing your limits that way never goes out of style.
I feel comfortable saying that Solar Ash is going to be someone's favorite game. It has a singular artistic vision and a strong enough message that, for the right person at the right time in their life, it's going to ring true in a way that will resonate with them, perhaps like no other work of art. It's also hard to deny the game's visual splendor. For me, it is a game that I wish I loved, but only liked, and I fear that will be the most common experience. There are a few too many flaws to overlook, and it's hard not to compare it to the masterpieces it hoped to emulate. That said, the video game world could do with more ambitious, imperfect works like Solar Ash and fewer safer bets. It may not be quite the masterwork that Hyper Light Drifter was, but it's still likely to stick with you after the credits roll.
Overall, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy takes what's good about the first game and improves upon it. It's set apart from other games in its genre through its charmingly wholesome tone and low-stakes narrative that allow its characters and their relationships to shine while conveying relatably human themes filtered through an optimistic, sometimes-wistful lens. The game's systems are sometimes at odds but are each entertaining, and exploring ancient ruins with Ryza and her friends on a quest for knowledge regularly instills a hopeful sense of adventure. Atelier Ryza 2 will well-suit anyone looking for a leisurely, character-centric, self-paced, and intimate JRPG journey.
But those who take a chance on Voice of Cards might be surprised. Its tabletop style is endearing and a testament to the idea that gripping adventure transcends the need for cinematic cutscenes. Voice of Cards puts the "game" back in "role-playing game" in fun, compelling, and thoughtful ways that will delight players throughout their time with it.
But even if you miss all of that beautiful metatext, Alan Wake remains a tense thriller that will keep players on the edge of their seats and is a testament to how sometimes less can be more, even in relatively big-budget game designs. Alan Wake Remastered presents an opportunity for a new generation of players to experience a gem that never got its due, and they'd be foolish not to take advantage. Still, they may want to keep on the lights when they do.
But there's no denying Death Stranding: Director's Cut's technical achievements. It's incredibly immersive, putting every new capability built into the PlayStation 5 to the test and coming out triumphant. If you were disappointed by Death Stranding's unwieldy gameplay the first time around, the Director's Cut isn't going to win you over. But if Kojima's storytelling won you over, this will be a worthwhile upgrade.
Ultimately, No More Heroes III is an impressive series evolution that doesn't lose touch with its roots. It's the most polished No More Heroes game to date, both in aesthetic and gameplay. While it loses some steam in its back half, without spoiling anything, Suda51 has enough surprises and unexpected twists in store to keep even the most ardent No More Heroes fan on their toes. Perhaps most impressive is the understated internal struggle of its hero. Suda51 and Grasshopper have once again created a layered experience that's enjoyable on the most kinetic and visceral level with plenty of hidden emotional depth, conveyed with an unmatched and unduplicated artistic personality. After a decade-long wait, No More Heroes III delivers on the promises of a superheroic return to Santa Destroy.
I'm hoping that Modus will continue to support the Cris Tales with patches to address some of its technical issues. Decreasing load times might be too much to hope for on Switch, but game-breaking bugs are another story. I feel optimistic about it because Cris Tales is too good of a game to leave things like this. It puts new spins on some classic JRPG elements and creates an aesthetic all its own, telling tales that are universal and troublingly timely. Technical flaws aside, Cris Tales is a potent blend of the best of the JRPGs that inspired it and fresh ideas from a unique and personal perspective. Playing it is like discovering a fantastic SNES RPG from another timeline (with much more advanced graphics), serving as both a love letter to the past and an invitation to push forward, and it is likely to capture the imaginations of anyone who embarks on Crisbell's journey.
Ultimately, Legend of Mana presents a fun and enchanting world to explore. The gameplay is simplistic and clumsy, but the tedium is alleviated somewhat by M2's modern additions. If players avoid getting bogged down by the unnecessary side systems, they may be able to capture Legend of Mana's lost spirit of adventure.
Game Builder Garage seems like a game that will live or die based on the strength of its community. If players pick up where Nintendo left off and provide quick online tutorials for achieving the trickier game-building techniques that Bob doesn't cover well enough, it might become something special. Even without that, it's a decent first step for anyone looking to learn about programming, especially kids.
Considering how much ground the Shin Megami Tensei franchise has gained in its efforts to court fans in North America since Nocturne first released, the game, in retrospect, feels like a harbinger of things to come that went unheeded. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster pushes the game to new levels in terms of quality and accessibility, allowing fans the chance to fully appreciate its heady, post-apocalyptic, coming-of-age story on their terms. That's an opportunity they should not miss.
The result of all of this is a strictly superior version of an underappreciated game, one that strips away many potential stumbling blocks for players while keeping the original experience intact. SaGa Frontier Remastered offers anyone, fan or critic of the original, plenty of reasons to revisit this sprawling, undercelebrated, unorthodox adventure.
Taken as a whole, Bravely Default II plays like the 3D remake of a 16-bit JRPG that never existed, but it misses something important. Games like Pillars of Eternity and Streets of Rage 4 play the way fans remember games of the genre playing, and memory has a way of editing out the annoying bits. Bravely Default II does not. It's aggressively grind-heavy and repetitive in precisely the ways that the games that inspired it often were. The battles are not interesting enough to make the leveling process anything but a necessary evil for those hoping to keep pace with the game's challenges. At 60+ hours long, it will test all but the most dedicated retro JRPG game lover's patience. If you are such a dedicated JRPG fan, you will undoubtedly find a lot to enjoy and appreciate in Bravely Default II. If you're not, Bravely Default II will do little to make you a believer.
Even so, Spider-Man: Miles Morales tells an intimate, emotionally resonant superhero story about a young hero trying to live up to the role models that inspired him and do right by the community that supports him. The subtle marriage of gameplay progression to themes helps make the story that much more engrossing. The boss fights could be more impressive, and the side content can, at times, feel perfunctory. But the game is fun, poignant, and powerful all the same. Spider-Man fans should be swinging high while playing.
Torchlight III gets the fundamentals of action RPG well enough. When it comes to clicking on tiny monsters to murder them, the game does that as well as any other, but it offers little in the way of innovation or depth. I didn't see everything that Torchlight III has to offer, but my time spent left me feeling that I'd seen enough and ready to move onto something else with more to offer. Torchlight and Torchlight II showed that ARPGs had life beyond Diablo. In a way, Torchlight III is a victim of its predecessors' success in breathing such vibrant life into the genre. Torchlight III's simplicity might position it as a decent introduction to the ARPG genre. For most players, it's hard not to suggest they direct their attention elsewhere.
Ys Origin is an engrossing dungeon crawler with a killer soundtrack that can serve as a great introduction to Ys series, or a rewarding prequel for longtime fans who missed out on previous releases. Any Switch owner looking to sink into an action RPG would do well to gives Ys Origin their attention.
These factors add up to a game that starts strong, but that can quickly become a frustrating and repetitious experience. I allow for the possibility that Massive Damage's target demographic for Star Renegades are players who will have an easier time progressing through the game and thus won't spend as much time replaying the same sequences. But it is a game with repetition built into its DNA. Therefore, it feels fair to criticize the game when that repetition begins to feel like a chore. Despite all of that, the game's depth is impressive. It's remarkable how every system, from character selection to movement on the map to the campfire conversations are all interlinked and can make a significant difference in your success or failure. If the game's respawn system were a bit more forgiving, or the playthroughs more varied, this could be an absolute success. As it is, hardcore grinders are the most likely to appreciate this cyclical adventure.