Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an incredibly pleasant surprise. Brilliant gameplay and gorgeous visuals make it utterly addictive to play, and in my time with it, I never wanted to put it down. The only fault the experience really has is the story, and while it is perfectly serviceable, it's never sufficiently engaging, even if the gameplay itself is enough to keep you going. If you are looking for a new Metroidvania to sink your teeth into, this is one I can highly recommend, and a strong return to form for the previously long-resting franchise.
Fashion Dreamer is a game that tries to do too much at once and fails to focus on making the game satisfying in the first place. With all the different forms of currency, different ways to get free clothes, gacha games and bingo games, it is completely unfocused and doesn't put enough effort into the important stuff: the fashion and a tangible sense of growth as you become more and more popular. There are plenty of older and much better fashion games out there, so Fashion Dreamer really shouldn't be at the top of your list.
The Lords of the Rings: Return to Moria has some very solid ideas. A game set in the Fourth Age is incredibly interesting and exciting. This is why it's such a shame that Return to Moria is not a success. There is a lot of heart in it, sure, but the core gameplay loop just isn't engaging enough to make the game worth buying over other survival titles, even if you are a big LOTR fan.
Fae Farm adds a lot of great quality-of-life improvements to the farming sim genre and makes magic with its soft and comfy art style. It's unfortunate that it falls short in a few important areas such as the interactions you can have with NPCs, because the rest of the game is incredibly solid. It does also take a long time to get going, and those first days in the game will feel a bit like a slog, but once you start uncovering the more fantastical side of the island there is a lot of amazing stuff to discover. If you are looking for a new farming sim to try, especially one with magical elements, Fae Farm might just scratch that itch.
Viewfinder is an incredibly interesting game with a mechanic that is very easy to pick up and highly enjoyable throughout the entire runtime. If you are looking for something truly difficult, you aren't likely to find that here, but if you are interested in a short and comfy puzzle game, then Viewfinder will surely deliver.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a buggy mess, even disregarding the constant crashes. Not only that, but it is a game void of any personality, originality, or bravery. It attempts nothing new and falls back on tropes that started falling out of style years ago, while somehow still managing to replicate them poorly. It disappoints me not just as a fan of the Lord of the Rings, but also as a fan of video games in general.
Strayed Lights definitely ended up surprising me, with an entertaining gameplay loop that finds the perfect sweet spot between "too easy" and "nail-bitingly hard". Surely a Souls-like veteran might find it a little basic, but if you find yourself struggling with other games in the genre, Strayed Lights could be a great entry point. The art is also gorgeous with vibrant colours and lively animations, so there is plenty to look forward to with each new area and even though the story isn't super deep, it's still easy to get invested and want to meet more characters and help them on their journeys. If you are looking for an action-adventure game that provides a light, yet satisfying challenge, Strayed Lights might be perfect for you.
Overall, Mile 0 just isn't as strong as its predecessor. It somehow feels both like there were too many and not enough changes made to the formula. Maintaining the dialogue options made the story feel diluted and weak, but abandoning the setting of the open road loses a key part of the game's identity. It's a hard spot to be in. This isn't to say that Mile 0 is a failure, just that it doesn't manage to improve on the shortcomings of the original or capture what made it work in the first place. The music is still very good and the characters interesting, but letting the player control their actions removes any potential agency and kills what could have been a great story.
Terra Nil is a masterclass in everything that it attempts to be. A resource management sim that can be as difficult or relaxing as you want, that successfully provides an alternative to classic city-building games by completely flipping the core pillars of the genre on its head, and showing that a game about fostering nature can be just as engaging as one about destroying it. The game does an amazing job of evoking emotion in the player with just its environment alone and even allows you a moment to relish in the majesty of each region you have restored before heading on to the next. Terra Nil wants you to find love and beauty in nature, even if you have to leave it behind. Endlessly satisfying and elegant, any fans of city builders should give this outstanding take on the genre a try.
I can tell that there was a lot of love put into Clive 'N' Wrench, and this is impossible to ignore. It's an amazing feat to make a game, especially one as complex as this one, but even still, there are many areas where Clive 'N' Wrench falls flat. There are moments of greatness, such as in the well-crafted platforming sections, but overall it's an underwhelming experience with lacklustre animation and a soundtrack that fails to impress.
ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree is a game with lots of love put into it. The story is emotional, the art is beautiful and original, and the soundtrack is outstanding. It's just unfortunate that the rhythm game portion doesn't work quite right on Nintendo Switch. I think it would only take a few small changes for it to be greatly improved, and I hope the team at Wildboy Studios may have the time to implement these in future. The game is already good, but it could be even better.
Harvestella is a game with a very addictive loop. With each dungeon leading you to a new plot revelation, and each season giving you new crops to grow it's like the game is begging for "just one more day" and it can be hard to say no. While I wish that there was more depth to the characters, especially in the voice acting department, and the game doesn't make any major strides, it is still a decently fresh take on the genre. It is important to know that Harvestella really is a JRPG before it is a farming sim; even though farming is a lot of fun, it is not the main thing you will be doing. Even though both farming and combat are simple, the combination of both manages to make Harvestella feel deeper than it actually is. So if you are on the lookout for a new RPG farming adventure to play after finishing Rune Factory 5, this might be it!
If you haven't picked up a Splatoon game before, then Splatoon 3 is a great place to start. It takes a lot of steps to make it easier to play with friends and has a variety of different modes to play, meaning everyone will have something they enjoy, even if they just want to play single player. The game is more customisable than ever and you are free to change the appearance of your character at any time if you find yourself wanting a new look. The only real problem with the game as it stands is the connection issues. When it works, the game is amazingly fun and you will find yourself playing match after match, only for the connection to drop again out of nowhere. Hopefully this gets fixed soon so I can be playing Splatoon 3 for even longer during my next session.
Yurukill: The Calumniation Games is a bit of a mess, but it definitely feels like a mess that someone tried really hard to make. While the gameplay elements sometimes feel at odds, it has a lot of charm in its characters and UI design. Even though the game's plot can feel unfocused and confusing, it does have some really good moments. The characters especially do a great job of keeping the story engaging, even when it loses itself a little. Yurukill definitely has both hits and misses, but it feels very earnest and I hope to see more games by this team soon.