Daniel Joseph


19 games reviewed
76.8 average score
80 median score
84.2% of games recommended
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Jun 14, 2024

Whilst AMANATSU’s heroine routes are somewhat lacking, all three do manage to be pretty fun, it’s just a shame that only Kogane’s route really managed to shine. It also benefits from an incredibly fun common route, wonderful seaside vibes, and some perfect music choices. I’d say that overall you’ve got a really nice package here, even if it is carried largely by one heroine and its common route.

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Apr 19, 2024

It’s no surprise to you I’m sure, after you have sat through my gushing praise, that I wholeheartedly recommend The Shell Part II: Purgatorio. In the forty-ish hours I spent reading, I found only one unfortunate reservation, amidst an ocean of qualities worthy of recommendation. The Shell Part II is a testament to the narrative potential of visual novels. I simply will never forget this story. My recommendation is of course contingent on you being ready for the rather oppressive overtones of hopelessness and misery. The Shell Part II is a beautifully written tragedy. It is the emotional equivalent of being skinned alive, and it is the best visual novel I’ve ever read. There is nothing else that has been able to draw such genuine emotion from me, except perhaps Clannad. Though where Clannad draws sadness from the ephemeral joys of life, The Shell Part II draws from a darker place. The sadness I’m left with after The Shell Part II is more akin to the quiet despair of a child understanding for the first time that one day their mother will die. Again, I do mean that as praise. I love this game and wholeheartedly recommend it, I promise.

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Criminal Border 2nd Offence paid off on the excitement I had coming in from the first episode and built even more excitement ahead of the third entry. The story does a great job of delving deeper into the core themes of Criminal Border. Kotoko serves as an interesting heroine, with the unfortunate caveat that her relationship with Itsuki stumbles and doesn’t live up to its potential. I can’t wait for Criminal Border 3rd Offence. I feel more confident in my recommendation for the series now that there are two solid releases available. If you don’t mind hopping into an episodic narrative before it’s fully released or you’re reading this when it is, then Criminal Border is a great choice for your next visual novel.

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Feb 28, 2024

Granblue Fantasy: Relink was a bit of a surprise for me. I was expecting a good time to be sure, but I am shocked by how deeply engaged I’ve become with the game. The story might disappoint some who were expecting a long, in-depth JRPG, but if you know what you’re getting into that shouldn’t be a problem. The combat is phenomenal. The character variety provides an endless supply of fun, with tons of opportunity to experiment and optimize your play. I’m going to be playing Granblue Fantasy: Relink for a long time, even after finishing this review there are a wealth of characters I want to dive deeper into and master, and I want to continue playing with those I’ve already spent hours upon hours with. I hope we see more games like this from Cygames going forward. They have a killer foundation to build on here.

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After finishing Irotoridori no Sekai, particularly having finished Shinku’s route, I am confident in recommending it. Going in, my interest mostly stemmed from some of the beautiful artwork I’d seen, and whilst it certainly delivered on that, it also delivered a compelling, emotional narrative that I’m happy to have experienced for myself. There are some issues of course, a couple of less interesting routes and a bit of unnecessary complexity at times. But I think that messiness is often an unavoidable side effect of earnestness. And that’s my favorite part of Irotoridori no Sekai, you can tell it is bursting with a desire to communicate its story, its characters, and its world to you.

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I had a lot of fun with Dungeon Travelers: To Heart 2 in Another World. The story, frivolous though it may be, is appropriately lighthearted and funny. Its characters grew on me over time, and I loved the variety in their designs. The gameplay holds everything together here. Despite some issues with inflexibility, RNG, and some frustrating dungeon design, the high level of player freedom, the wealth of customization options, and the tight balance of combat make Dungeon Travelers one of the most engaging DRPGs I’ve played.

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The Indigo Disk is a decent enough addition to Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, but it could have been a lot better. The story content is insubstantial, the game’s core performance issues remain, and much of the additional content is impotently integrated and tied to a grueling BP grind. The Indigo Disk is fun, but only because Pokémon is fun. I enjoyed my time with the DLC, with some caveats, which is identical to my experience with Pokémon Scarlet/Violet as a whole. It doesn’t do much to excite, but it serves perfectly fine as simply more Pokémon Scarlet/Violet. If you liked Scarlet/Violet, and want more, this is that. If you’re looking for a significant improvement on Scarlet/Violet, sit tight and hope for a solid Generation 10.

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6 / 10.0 - Custom Mech Wars
Dec 12, 2023

I’m in a bit of a tricky spot reaching a verdict on Custom Mech Wars. I like the concept, I like the tone, and the customization is a lot of fun. All of that is attached to a dull gameplay loop though. Truly dull, just thinking about it I’m getting tired. Am I going to continue playing Custom Mech Wars once this review is done? No, at least not alone. Maybe with some friends I could see myself diving back in. I’d certainly be interested in future games with the ‘Omega Customization’ idea attached. Should you buy Custom Mech Wars? Possibly, at some point. I think that this could fill the role of a light time-waster, if you go in with appropriate expectations. If you’re really into customization and creative tools in games, then it might be worth a look just for that. If you’re a fan of EDF, then there is some potential for enjoyment here. It’s better than EDF: Iron Rain, if that counts for anything.

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Nov 28, 2023

Persona 5 Tactica impressed me by going well beyond my expectations. By merging traditional tactics RPG gameplay with ideas and concepts unique to the Persona series, it creates a fresh, exciting experience. When you bundle this creative foray into a new genre with a loveable cast of characters and an engaging narrative, you get one of the best games of 2023. If you loved Persona 5, pick this up. If you haven’t played Persona 5, do that, and then pick this up.

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I’d recommend Like A Dragon Gaiden to any fan of the series, without hesitation. Of course, if you’re not caught up with the series then you’ll want to get up to the end of Yakuza: Like A Dragon before diving into Gaiden. This is definitely not a good entry point for the series, just in case you were wondering. With a grounded, cohesive narrative the game perfectly sets the stage for Infinite Wealth. It’s a joy to be back playing as Kiryu, and seeing him still growing as a character after all this time is incredibly rewarding. I enjoyed every moment of my time with Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name and, barring some disappointment with the weaker than usual substories, I don’t have any real complaints. Another fantastic entry in a fantastic series.

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7 / 10.0 - Fashion Dreamer
Nov 15, 2023

Fashion Dreamer isn’t a perfect game, in fact it’s got quite a lot of issues. That said, I really enjoyed my time with it, and I plan on playing a whole lot more even after wrapping up my review. If you’re interested in fashion games, then you sort of have to pick this one up. There’s not much else like it out there nowadays. There are problems sure, but there’s also so much to love. The online social elements have been executed masterfully, and that should inject some real longevity to the game if the developers can address some of the quality of life concerns in the future. There is so much fun to be had, and so I do recommend Fashion Dreamer overall, just with the caveat that you’re going to rub up against some rough edges if you dive in.

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Criminal Border 1st Offence (Liminal Border Part I) is a great introduction for the episodic series. I thoroughly enjoyed the 6 hours I spent with it. The narrative built to a strong conclusion that left me excited to pick up the next episode when it releases. I love the direction Purple Software took with the art style, giving the title a unique visual identity that fits well with its mature narrative. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Criminal Border and I hope it can deliver on the potential shown in this first episode.

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Oct 17, 2023

In the end, Sword Art Online Last Recollection is a disappointment. The enticing promise of 45 playable characters is undercut by the monotony of combat, and the story is decently executed but entirely trite and predictable. This is the last entry in the Sword Art Online Gameverse, and I went in really wanting to love it. I’ve developed an appreciation for the game series over the years, in spite of its flaws. But I can’t find much appreciation at all for this. The game took me about forty hours to clear, and all I can say is that was about thirty hours too long. At least it's mercifully short compared to Alicization Lycoris. For diehard fans of the series perhaps it is worth picking up eventually, if only to see the journey through to the end. But for the majority of players who might be interested, I can’t recommend Sword Art Online Last Recollection. There was potential here, but it’s squandered. For the last entry in the series, this is no swan song. More like a goose gurgle.

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Sep 26, 2023

I’ve had a brilliant time with Disgaea 7. Everything I’ve loved about the series is present here, wrapped up with a nice little bow. The effort made to refine elements from previous titles, and the new mechanical additions like the evil-gacha and jumbification, creates a fresh and fun experience. The personality and charm of the game’s characters is relentlessly compelling, and the comedic overtones keep the experience light and pacey. I can’t think of a better endorsement of Disgaea 7 than the fact that as soon as I’m done with this review I’ll be jumping right back into it.

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Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era is a frustrating game. The narrative has some interesting ideas and worldbuilding, and it’s much better than the standard for eroRPGs. Unfortunately, the story isn’t really the focus here. Most of your time will be spent exploring the Dragonschaft, engaging with incredibly dull combat and progression. The mystique of the labyrinth is undermined by how boring it is to spend time in. The eroge elements are alright, but they’re definitely not worth the slog. I didn’t enjoy the majority of my time with Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era. I don’t think many people are likely to enjoy it. Whilst I was fairly engaged with the story, and the translation team did an excellent job with the script, it was constantly interrupted by the tedium of the gameplay. If you’re looking for a DRPG, there are many better options. If you’re looking for an eroRPG, there are many better options. Even if you’re looking for a solid story set in an interesting fantasy world, there are many better options.

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Sep 5, 2023

I had a lovely time with Rune Factory 3 Special, and I think you would too. For those familiar with the series it’s another fantastic entry. For newcomers I think it serves as an excellent entry point, although with the caveat that there are some issues with direction and the learning curve. The game is elevated by a cast of charming characters, and much of the fun is found in events and interactions with the people of Sharance. The farming element is fun to dive into, and that little bit of additional complexity that Rune Factory adds makes it more fun to engage with than similar titles in my experience. If you appreciate cheap and cheerful combat, expansive crafting options, and delightful characters, then you should pick Rune Factory 3 Special up.

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Aug 16, 2023

The Shell Part I: Inferno is a stunning experience. I was absolutely captured by the narrative and the themes it was drawing on and exploring. The writers know how to elicit some powerful emotion out of the reader, whether it be terror, grief, or occasionally relief. The music is masterfully crafted, lifting the entire experience beyond the already incredible high set by the narrative alone. The only significant negative for me is that tedium that sets in on additional playthroughs, but that feels like a minor gripe when weighed against everything I got out of The Shell. It’s worth playing through blind a few times over to experience the highs and lows of Reiji’s life as a detective, and then even though it’s difficult you have to get to the true ending to see The Shell deliver on everything it builds with its narrative.

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8 / 10.0 - Please Be Happy
Jul 21, 2023

If you’re here for romance I suspect you may be disappointed. There isn’t enough strength in the romantic writing for me to recommend it on that basis. Really Please Be Happy is more story than yuri. I was pleased and engaged by the experience but I do think it’s important to go in with the appropriate expectations. Please Be Happy is light, but it isn’t disposable. If you’re looking for a relaxed slice-of-life story with some thoughtful exploration of purpose and identity, with a small helping of romance, then I think Please Be Happy is a safe bet. If nothing else the wonderful art and music justify the price tag in my book.

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So, should you give Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal a shot? My general verdict is yes, but if you’re looking for a deep narrative to get immersed in and complex characters to explore, you’d be better off looking almost anywhere else. If you’re looking to ogle some anime girls with a thin veneer of deniability in the presence of gameplay, there are better options for you. But, if you’re looking for a well-crafted and engaging DRPG set against a serviceably fun story and world, with a panty shot thrown in every few hours to keep things fresh, congratulations. You are the target audience, Dungeon Travelers 2 sees you, it understands you, you are loved, you are valid. Go wild.

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