Harvestella is the perfect game to cuddle up on the couch with, preferably in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch or on Steam Deck. While it doesn’t deliver the best JRPG or farming sim, it is the only game that delivers both experiences at the same time, delivering a unique entry in a crowded genre that manages to be a breath of fresh air.
This historical murder mystery isn’t what you might expect from Obsidian Entertainment, known for first-person action RPGs like The Outer Worlds and Fallout: New Vegas, but there is still importance placed on building your character and choosing how you experience the world. It explores the societal, theological, and artistic beliefs of one town during a time of rapid change, and it does so with a beautiful art style unlike anything else in video games. Everything about Pentiment feels as carefully designed as the illuminated manuscripts it draws inspiration from, delivering an enthralling mystery that is a wonder to behold.
Signalis is a masterful recreation of classic survival horror. Mechanically, it ticks every box that the genre requires. Yet this indie gem shines in how it evolves the formula, both mechanically and narratively for more modern audiences. Developer rose-engine pushed beyond the boundaries of a simple homage to create something that stands on its own as the best horror game of the year.
The performances of the two siblings and the story itself are compelling enough to make up for the most glaring flaws, but the padded runtime hurts the pacing. At its worst, the game feels boring. Yet the shining moments of A Plague Tale: Requiem push through its problems, leaving a satisfying sequel, rats and all.
Immortality is the antithesis of the belief that games are an art form, as its lofty attempts to establish prestige are built upon the language of another medium entirely (cinema). It relies on the spectacle of the project alone and not the substance, leaving an empty shell confident in but not convinced of its own self-importance.
The market for a shorter Persona experience is there; Not everyone has the time to sink so much time into a single game. Even for fans of the franchise, the idea of experiencing everything Persona offers in the span of a couple of weekends sounds like heaven in a world where an array of games demand our attention. But Soul Hackers 2’s attempt to deliver a palatable streamlined experience for anyone and everyone should have taken more time to do some soul searching.
Endling: Extinction is Forever hides a monotonous experience behind a striking visual aesthetic and an empty message about the relationship between humanity and the environment. The gameplay never fully commits to building the relationship between the mother and her cubs, which leaves the whole story feeling emotionless and bare. The end result is more “call of the mild” than Call of the Wild.
Escape Academy offers a truly unique experience that provides the player with a sense of discovery that’s difficult to compare to any other game. I have a new itch to scratch, and now no other game can satisfy that. I’ll have to go book an escape room.
"A game built on the message that your choices matter, The Quarry does very little to prove this design principle in execution. It’s a grand attempt at recapturing the magic of the developer’s cult 2015 hit Until Dawn, but rather than demonstrate growth for Supermassive, The Quarry makes it feel like the studio is trapped in the past. In this case, it’s an overemphasis on pulpy B-horror movies from the ‘80s."