Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is an exceptional sequel that surpasses expectations in nearly every aspect. It combines compelling storytelling, innovative combat, and a wealth of engaging content to deliver an unforgettable adventure. As a bold continuation of the saga, it sets the stage for the final installment, leaving fans eagerly awaiting what comes next. Square Enix has truly outdone itself, showcasing the depth and potential of the Final Fantasy VII universe.
Persona 3 Reload is a highly-anticipated remake that doesn't deliver on all fronts. Still, it tries to do so with plenty of meticulous care. The added character scenes and new activities make the experience even more compelling, while the modernized visuals and new English voice cast live up to this classic's legacy. However, some of the new gameplay features make the experience too easy and forgiving. Additionally, the exclusion of some elements, like The Answer from Persona 3 FES, makes this launch less definitive than it could have been.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is an ambitious mainline outing that doesn't quite check all the right boxes, but definitley attempts to do so with a ton of heart. The gameplay variety, improved combat system, and excellent character dynamics make this an adventure for the ages with standout setting distinction. However, the poor narrative pacing, questionable ending scenes, and noticeably lacking difficulty stand out in an otherwise addictive experience.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a package featuring unconventionally gripping character arcs and quintessential Ace Attorney shenanigans. The compelling strife of protagonist Apollo Strife is the throughline pushing everything forward, alongside an engaging multi-faceted central cast that makes the world immensely more well-rounded and full of depth. Despite the inconsistent quality across this release's several mysteries and episodes, some of the franchise's best are showcased here in newly defined form. Further, the trilogy-exclusive features, such as the extensive art gallery, music player, and ease of accessibility with plenty of playable languages, make this another Ace Attorney homerun. Still, those who have strong attachments to the original trilogy may find it difficult to become endeared to these experiences.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an unapologetically stylish and sleek Metroidvania action adventure that boasts magnificent movement and brilliant boss design. Aside from setting itself apart from other entries in the Prince of Persia series, it also stands toe-to-toe with some of the genre's giants. While the narrative isn't comparatively engrossing, this one-of-a-kind journey will undeniably satisfy both beginners and veterans of the franchise. The never-mundane gameplay loop full of ceaseless reward and discovery is one that shows clear, meticulous thought poured into it. At its core, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown redefines what Prince of Persia can bring to the table and proves that it can still shine in the modern age if given enough polish and opportunity.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is a worthy resurgence for this beloved spinoff series. While the messy narrative pacing and poor framerate bring the adventure down a few notches, the addictive and rewarding gameplay loop with player freedom at its core more than offsets those flaws. You can spend countless hours making your ideal team to your heart's content and engaging with the post-game content after clearing the main story. Further, Dragon Quest IV fans will get more out of this journey than most, but newcomers who exhibit patience can still find themselves invested and enthralled. Ultimately, Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince proves that this series can prosper, and with the promise that they'll continue, we're excited to see where it goes from here.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a standout superhero adventure with terrific character writing that, at least in my experience, is heavily bogged down by unsatisfactory performance. Bugs and crashes drastically ruined segments of progression, even in story-heavy scenarios. If I only faced the occasional softlock or crash, I wouldn’t really care, but these issues being such a constant made them impossible to overlook, doubly so with the launch patch installed.
Hellboy Web of Wyrd takes a notable step forward into the roguelike genre but fails to find its footing. While it successfully implements its gameplay loop and progression mechanics, it offers only a baseline level of satisfaction as a package. The distinctive comic-style presentation and impressive voice work contribute to the game’s appeal but fall short of igniting a strong desire for replayability. Fans of the Hellboy franchise may find deeper enjoyment due to their attachment to the source material.
Sonic Superstars is an adequate 2D Sonic adventure boasting great character control and stage theming alongside significantly improved boss battles. However, the peculiar implementation of the Chaos Emeralds and the only decent level design prevent this outing from really establishing itself as a must-play for veterans of the franchise or genre. At the very least, there’s a reasonable offering of supplemental content packed in replays and bonus modes to satisfy the fans awaiting an original 2D Sonic game.
Wizard with a Gun is an engaging action adventure that seamlessly blends roguelike and crafting elements. It initially feels slow in the opening hours, but players who stick with it will find themselves deeply immersed, enhancing their base and character. This game offers an enjoyable experience even if you’re not a survival genre enthusiast. Plus, its multiplayer functionality adds significant replay value, making it a well-rounded gaming choice. Don’t be deterred by a sluggish start; Wizard with a Gun has much to offer.
Fate/Samurai Remnant is a fresh addition to the Fate franchise, offering a unique take on the adaptable Holy Grail War formula that caters to newcomers and longtime fans. If you have the patience for its deliberate storytelling, you’ll discover a compelling narrative exploring themes of self-repression. This journey is enhanced by a well-written main cast and supporting characters, a satisfying combat system, an addictive gameplay loop, and an emotionally resonant soundtrack. Whether new to Fate or a seasoned fan, Fate/Samurai Remnant offers an engaging experience worth exploring.
Silent Hope is an action RPG that will likely be overlooked due to the sheer quantity and quality of 2023’s video game releases. Still, if you’re yearning for a more low-stakes adventure that manages to remain fulfilling across brief play sessions, then this title is an ideal pick-up. The engaging progression systems, weight-filled combat, and addictive, varied gameplay loop make Silent Hope a delightful adventure.
Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai is not an experience I recommend to anyone. Regardless of your familiarity with the series, I can promise you that this is not worth the time. Even fans who love the source material will get nothing positive from this title, as the miserable gameplay loop and surface-level storytelling will do nothing to initiate or enhance anybody’s love for the IP. What is here is more representative of a mobile game’s structure, with a console coating that’s mostly deceitful above all else.
Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster are memorable JRPGs that can finally fully spread their wings in this remastered package. While the systems might cause early confusion no matter which entry you’re playing, they both develop into a masterful adventure. The added quality-of-life features made these titles approachable for any who wish to casually revisit the narrative or experience it for the first time. I’m glad these classics have graced a modern platform for fans, both new and old.
Wandering Sword is a bit of a mixed bag that uses its brilliant presentation and vast player freedom to partially offset its dull storytelling, the lacking script translation, and dialogue structuring. Unfortunately, the pros weren’t enough to really stick the landing, as I had to force myself to get through a fair bit of the experience. The intrigue this cast and narrative carry doesn’t manage to reach anything meaningfully gripping or memorable, and that made much of this title an unfortunate slog. Still, it can be an addictive and enjoyable time for those who become compelled by its systems.
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is a masterful spinoff boasting its own distinct identity, with an addictive gameplay loop enhanced by several excellently woven upgrade and replayability systems, as well as a finely crafted narrative and loveable cast that works well thanks to the relatively compact scale of it all. The stellar voice work and, as in typical Falcom fare, the sublime soundtrack also serve to make this adventure a must-play no matter one’s history with the developer’s lineup. This spiritual successor of sorts to Zwei is such a considerate blast from the past that I want to see more of in Falcom’s future.
Anonymous;Code takes some understanding of the Science Adventure series to wholly appreciate, but its world-building is what I would regard as some of the series’ best. It acts as a culmination of ideas seen throughout numerous titles, creating an unconventional experience that is extremely rewarding. Despite a few stumbles found in the cast and the ending needing a bit more time to be fully realized, what’s here is an immaculate story with brilliant pacing that makes every scene and interaction meaningful and necessary. The fantastic English dub and presentation only serve to help matters. I have no idea where the Science Adventure series will go from here, but after seeing the sheer love and ambition poured into Anonymous;Code, I’m more confident in this series than I’ve ever been.
Monochrome Mobius: Rights and Wrongs Forgotten is mostly the same on PlayStation 5 as on PC, except in a better launch state. If you’ve already played the game on PC, you have practically no reason to get this version unless you’re a diehard fan. On the other hand, newcomers to this entry don’t have anything significant to worry about.
Final Fantasy XVI is an action JRPG polished to an iridescent sheen. Its well-designed combat system and enemies, outstanding character writing and worldbuilding, and consistently stellar side content make it a standout entry in this legendary franchise. Even when accounting for the weak villains and a lukewarm conclusion, this was a journey that truly gripped me from beginning to end. This is a must-play game of the year and a Final Fantasy adventure you won't forget.
Labyrinth of Galleria The Moon Society is an addictive dungeon-crawling RPG that fans of the genre will undoubtedly sink dozens upon dozens of hours into. Its involved yet approachable gameplay systems, meaningful sense of consequence, and cathartic breakthroughs of progress make it a joy to spend time learning. Even amidst some area design choices I perceived as stumbles, unnecessarily drawn-out tutorials, and bland environments, this was a journey I’m glad I stuck out to its end.