Many years have passed since I played the masterpiece that is Ever 17, and I'm still in awe of his ability to weave in so many strands, concepts, and plot twists and still create something that isn't just coherent, but also adrenaline-inducing and emotionally resonant. Every game is a team effort, but Uchikoshi's brilliance is what's made many of the visual novels he's directed and written become cult classics. AI: The Somnium Files isn't his best work, but it's entertaining from start to end and a game I'd recommend to anyone interested in visual novels, murder mysteries, or simply a great story.
It's a shame that Borderlands and I are no longer a good fit. What I miss most of all is its personality. The aesthetic and surface changes to the series don't make it a stranger; the change in temperament does. We just don't have as many laughs as we used to. Better to cut things off now, and remember the relationship for what it once was, because it doesn't get any better from here.
Luckily the foundation of the series is still strong in and out of the campaign, with the multiplayer suite of Horde and Versus being as fun as ever. Escape, clearly inspired by Left 4 Dead, is also a great way to kill an hour if you've got competent squaddies for the ride. Ultimately, I had a fair amount of fun tearing my way through swarms of foes with shotguns and chainsaws, but there's definitely a part of me that's disappointed Gears 5 isn't the evolution its bloody heart is set on being.
There's no "best Final Fantasy game" because Final Fantasy has become largely indefinable—something most franchises can only dream of. Maybe, no matter the feats this incredible series continues to achieve, Final Fantasy VIII is the lighthouse to which the series should constantly look back to. It'll always be there, waiting, serving as a reminder that Final Fantasy can tread new grounds while maintaining the brilliance that has made it one of the most influential series to exist.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a stylish detour that allows the series to safely explore some new directions while setting the scene before the next game. But it's not taking the risks where it really counts. In an era where right-wing extremism is an increasing threat, and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred, the visible politics of Wolfenstein can't shoulder the weight of the game alone.
They are so cute, but the juices and goo underneath their gelatin-like skin is a necessary resource. But I still feel bad. Sorry, Slimes. When my time on this mortal coil reaches its sunset period, I'll let the Slimes have my insides in an act of penance for the goo-based crimes I committed against them.
The detective-like gameplay allows the world to become a character in and of itself and, at times, I wished that there was no core central narrative. I would be perfectly content with exploring this beautiful Norwegian town, rummaging through the town's ephemera of life and taking it all in at my own pace—as slow and methodical as the bucolic surroundings imply. At just under three hours, Draugen is a perfectly fine excuse to interact with and explore a beautifully realized world; just be ready to come to terms with how forgettable its story is.
Sea of Solitude gives us a boat. And a light. And it accepts that we must sometimes think of ourselves as a contradiction of insignificance and grotesquery, as we wind our way through the path of recovery. That, monstrous though we may feel, we can still affect change in our lives, and the lives of others. Healing is possible, if complicated, non-linear, and often contradictory. Sea of Solitude wants us to see ourselves better than we do, but won't abandon us when we can't.
But how do you review the experience of a city? I still don't think I know. Perhaps, as Judgment understands, our experiences are too precious, too deeply personal to do more than hint at suggestions of experience. To anecdote and extrapolate. To let slip the micro moments of intimate connection to a person or space, to leave others with only the wordless emotion of a snapshot.
I appreciate that the development team gave the player the second option. But, given the splash screen that begins the game, and Frogwares' clear understanding that they are dealing with a heated and contentious period of history, I question why they gave the player the first option.