Each game has been distinct in nearly every way, and Gunbrella is once again a standout among its peers. I came away with some disappointments, but those hours I spent going through the game twice melted away unnoticed. If that’s not a sign of quality, what is?
At the end of the day, Rune Factory 3 Special is a fine game, and its only crime is how closely it sits to games that use it as a stepping stone. If you love the “cozy” genre and are looking for some farming action, but only have the budget for one game, it’s hard to recommend this. But if you’re more of a fan of Story of Seasons and/or Rune Factory as a series, there’s absolutely room for Rune Factory 3 Special on the shelf.
But then, these issues with inventory management and navigation really only annoy me because of how I play games like Starfield: as deep action games with first-person shooting combat. And that's one of the other great things about this game (and, honestly, this genre of game): you have so much choice in what you do and how you do it that you might not be bothered by having overflowing pockets or being unable to find a store. Heck, bring a knife to a gunfight if you want. You do you. Me, I'll be exploring the stars, with a gun in my hand, a song in my heart, and a grin on my face.
Sea of Stars hits a lot of notes with ease, not only wearing its inspirations on its sleeve (and hiring them; they got Mitsuda on the score!) but leveraging them to try new things. For the most part, this game is a standout indie RPG with a level of style, polish, and storytelling that makes it stand out in the crowd.
So, even though the gameplay loop can be a lot of fun, I worry about the longevity of this game's lifespan. With only three maps (that are all kind of similar) and the possibility of not getting much new content due to licensing issues between all of the other films in the franchise, the game might not be around for a long time. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.
There is a good amount of content here and the gameplay is fun. My only real complaints are that the game can be a pain to play solo, the class perks don’t always make a lot of sense, and the points grind won’t be a fun time for people who don’t want to move the difficulty mode up as their characters level up.
There’s no doubt that some Jet Set Radio fans hungry for more will enjoy Bomb Rush Cyberfunk. I’ve been waiting for this series’ return in spirit along with the rest of them, but in the end, it did little more than inspire nostalgia for the original, gorgeous though it may be.
BG3 is a highwater mark for choice-driven RPGs and the new standard to which basically every other major RPG will be compared. I feel bad for Starfield at this point and for game developers in general. Larian Studios has set the bar incredibly high. Still, I hope other publishers will see it as an example to let developers have time and creative freedom to make incredible games without all the bloated live service and microtransaction bullshit. Also, you can play this game in four-player online co-op or even split-screen locally on a single PC, and in this day and age, that may be one of the most impressive features in BG3. If you love RPGs, you owe it to yourself to play this game.
Double Dragon Gaiden is an interesting game with a lot of creative ideas. We’ve seen roguelikes and brawlers mixed before, but not nearly as intricately. I could feel that spark of passion as I played. Unfortunately there are some key drawbacks that betray many of those neat ideas and really hamper the experience. From getting slapped out of defensive tags and juggled to death to subsequent runs feeling more and more like a grind, I had less fun the more I played. I love that Arc System Works has been producing cool, experimental games since snagging the Double Dragon and Kunio-kun/River City licenses. This one has a lot going for it, but stumbles toward the finish line.
Even after the credits roll in Pikmin 4, there’s a bit more to the story and brand new areas to explore. From the delightfully textured world that’s brimming with secrets to the tiniest details, like how your Pikmin will occasionally sing classic Pikmin songs when riding Oatchi, Nintendo has packed the game with enough personality and whimsy that it could easily keep fans happy for another ten years. Of course, we certainly hope Pikmin 5 will come a lot sooner.
The verdict in this Maquette review is that the game isn’t worth playing. It’s a shame that it isn’t better, because the initial concept of resizing objects with the maquette is truly unique. However, it’s not explored nearly enough, the game’s puzzles aren’t enjoyable to solve, and the game’s story is an enormous load of nothing. The biggest puzzle in Maquette is figuring out why anyone would want to play it.
Aliens: Dark Descent feels a lot like some of the recent Alien films, where there are plenty of good ideas but the execution is lacking. A real-time strategy game starring helpless, fragile marines sounds fun, but the slow and clunky controls makes it much harder to engage with the systems present in combat. The atmosphere and story are strong enough that if the game was even a bit more fun to play, it would be worth checking out for fans of Aliens, but as it stands Aliens: Dark Descent is a frustrating experience.
Ghostwire Tokyo: Spider’s Thread may be a free update, but it is integral to taking a good game towards something truly great. The few additions to combat genuinely help the game flow, and new missions and a roguelite mode are just the icing on the cake. Tango Gameworks is dedicated to making Ghostwire a worthwhile game, and it won’t be long before it sits in a similar cult classic spot as The Evil Within 2. I hope that Ghostwire gets a sequel one day because it is one of many titles on the cusp of something extraordinary, but it just needs a little more room to grow.
Cassette Beasts is a fresh take on the monster collecting genre, featuring both whimsical creatures and actual floating nightmares in its surreal world. A double battle system with dozens of different buffs and debuffs creates a need to be more strategic and its story goes far beyond a desire to become champion or to just catch'em all, but you can still do that too if you want to. A few shortcomings in the quest systems and platforming hold it back, but only slightly. Cassette Beasts proves itself as far more than just a knockoff, and is instead a brilliant game in its own right.
All in all, Engage is a fun game, particularly those who have a history with the franchise. Folks who have been with the series for a while will appreciate the inclusion of classic favorite characters, as well as the nods to past game soundtracks and maps on the Paralogue maps. Those who play for engaging maps and mechanics will not be disappointed, but if you’re wanting more dating-sim in your chess match, you may find this game’s characters lacking.
Even with my figurative shrug at World Tour mode, it’s easy to see Street Fighter 6 as an achievement for Capcom. There was so much up and down with Street Fighter 5 that sucked the joy out of having a new one, and really only people who showed up years later got the full package. The esports vibe was an understandable experiment, but not one that fully landed. Street Fighter 6 on the other hand is like smashing open a pinata. It’s bursting with energy, style and content in a way very few fighting games have ever managed, even ones praised for single-player offerings. It not only feels like there’s something for everyone here, but it feels like there’s a genuine foundation for a community to grow and thrive. And I definitely plan to stick around and see how that shakes out.
Greedventory does something fresh with meshing point-and-click games with some Souls mechanics and its great art style and music show a lot of charm and care. A few issues like difficulty balancing and some bugs here and there hold it back a bit, but won’t ruin the experience for everyone. However, those who don’t enjoy difficult games or get frustrated easily should probably sit this one out.
Outlanders blends satisfying strategy with an enticingly chill vibe, and packs a surprising amount of humor into its mostly wordless story. Don’t let its cute exterior fool you — Outlanders will test your strategic abilities even as it draws you in with its cozy charm.