Octopath Traveler is a beautiful game with one of the best soundtracks I've heard. The combat system rocks and will hopefully be used in more Square Enix games to come. There are plenty of good ideas in here. But the game is too grindy, too repetitive, too full of structural problems to be viewed as much more than another botched JRPG experiment.
Like the world of Alrest, there's very little holding up Xenoblade 2. It is dull, dreary, overly complicated, and unconcerned with wasting the player's time. Life is just too short for that—even if you don't live on a sea of sinking clouds.
It is a well-crafted game, and like its predecessor, it feels like an authentic recreation of South Park the show. It is full of shocking, outrageous moments. But it can also feel sanitized, like a Disney-fied rendition of a cartoon that won many early fans over with how crappy and explicitly un-Disney it was.
This second time around, Final Fantasy XII has surprised me. I can credit some of my improved regard for the game to this remastered version's visual polish and convenient fast-forward button. I credit more of it to the game's innate quality. It holds up. It works well. It functions like no Final Fantasy before it or since.
This is simultaneously a joke about pixel hunting, a joke about adventure games, and a joke about the dumb things that players will do in video games. Did you ever think you'd want to hunt for pixels again? And did you ever think that the act of hunting pixels might be fun? Thimbleweed Park somehow both subverts pixel-hunting and makes you want to hunt pixels, which is just about all you can ask for in an adventure game.
It's got everything I want from a Final Fantasy game. I know that it'll be yet another snapshot in a life filled with Final Fantasy. Another grand adventure, another gang of worthy heroes; another tale of crystals and magic and betrayal and love, all beautiful melodies and lush scenery and the finely honed complexity of carefully choreographed combat. Onward to secrets beyond the horizon, and don't forget the Phoenix Down. If that's not Final Fantasy, I don't know what is.
Spirit of Justice also excels at everything Phoenix Wright has done so well over the years. The music is great, the character animations are superb, and the localization is very good, handled deftly as always by longtime Phoenix Wright editor Janet Hsu and her team of pun lovers.
Metal Gear Solid V is the best Metal Gear yet, and has immediately become one of my favorite video games of the last few years. It's an impeccable stealth-action game, clearly inspired in all the right ways by modern series like Far Cry, and it's got a level of moment-to-moment joyfulness that kept me satisfied even when I was slogging through harder versions of levels I'd already beaten just to see the "true" ending.