Game Informer's Reviews
Considering the game was announced and released on the same day, Hi-Fi Rush is easily one of the most surprising games of 2023. Part of that is literal. The other, more important part, is just how good the game is. Hi-Fi Rush finds a magical sweet spot between rhythm games, stylish action, and lighthearted, character-driven platformers we don't see very often anymore, and by every measure, it comes out on top.
Colossal Cave isn’t for everyone, but it’s like a slow and meticulously designed theme park ride, all built around an old text adventure game, making for a fascinating experience. Whether you play it or not is probably more up to your personal sensibilities, but Colossal Cave remains an immersive excavation that’s more than worth the trip, even with all the old screws and rusty bolts binding the two periods of game history together.
Purple Lamp showcases a clear adoration for SpongeBob SquarePants, with jokes, deep cuts, and characters that brought me back to my childhood. And when they weren’t forced or overused, they worked well in the narrative. I especially loved hearing that one fish scream about his love of chocolate, and hearing “My leg!” brought me great joy. When The Cosmic Shake is at its best, it sounds, looks, and plays like the kind of game I would have begged my parents to buy me growing up. But when it falters, it’s boring. It’s a game I recommend to fans of SpongeBob SquarePants with ease; for those looking for a great platformer, though, better options lie elsewhere in the sea.
While Chained Echoes has the advantage of decades of distance from the games it looks to for inspiration, it’s a better experience in many instances than those vaunted games from which it arose. I prefer this combat, storytelling, and approach to progression and exploration to many of the JRPGs I grew up so enamored with playing. That’s the highest praise I can heap on a game so removed in time from the games to which it might be compared. Whether you currently count yourself a JRPG connoisseur or fondly recall the ʼ90s heyday of the genre, Chained Echoes is well worth your time.
Lil Gator Game is as short as it is sweet, with the main story lasting just under five hours, but that's all it needs to be. I loved exploring each nook and cranny of the world during that time for new friends, loot, and memories. By the time the story wrapped up, the game had delivered a poignant and touching message about balancing the important parts of our lives. Lil Gator Game isn't the best Zelda-like I've played, but it's probably the one that will stick with me for the longest.
Players looking for deep customization, expertly crafted strategy RPG combat, and a heartfelt story with adoration for more than 30 years of Fire Emblem history will find that and more in Engage. It’s one of the most gripping games I’ve played on Switch and, ultimately, one I struggled to peel myself away from.
Even if Sports Story was polished and bug-free, it would still fall strikingly short of the first title in the series. The new sports don’t play well, the fetch quests are tiresome, and the story is tedious and less charming than that of Golf Story. What remains of the retro golf experience is fun, but the whole game feels like a textbook example of being unable to deliver on lofty ambitions.
I have reservations about the experience as a whole – however, I can't help but smile thinking about this adventure with the Straw Hats. It nails the core cast of characters, the Memoria areas are fun to revisit, and the revelations surrounding Waford, Lim, and Adio ultimately satisfy. Of course, I can't thoroughly recommend this voyage for someone new to One Piece, but seasoned pirates will find a worthy adventure on the horizon.
One of the best things going for Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is its length. Making your way to the last level and defeating the final boss only takes a few hours. In this way, it knows exactly what it is: a brief but enjoyable nostalgic experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. By the time you start feeling like you’ve completed a full retro meal, credits are right around the corner and I appreciate it for that. Moonrider’s adventure likely won’t linger with you, but I don’t regret playing the short, familiar, and satisfying experience.
It’s this buildup of minor annoyances that makes it hard to recommend Dragon Quest Treasures. The experience is driven by charm and nostalgia, but if you don’t have an existing appreciation for the series, there isn’t much here that I could recommend over most other open-world role-playing games. It’s an experience that would greatly vary depending on the player; in other words, one player’s Dragon Quest trash is another player’s Dragon Quest Treasure.
Despite multiple shortcomings and my general aversion to the game’s writing, High on Life has occasional glimmers of potential. I’d like to see a sequel polish and improve upon this foundation. I’m always itching for more creative takes on shooters, but High on Life is a reminder that “different” doesn’t always mean “good.”
While Soccer Story is a tale about the beautiful game, the soccer matches take a backseat to story and exploration. The adventure and role-playing aspect is a lot of fun, especially with soccer so integrated into the world, but the weak soccer matches keep it from truly being a great sports role-playing game. Buoyed by its charming and humorous premise, Soccer Story provides a satisfying adventure and a different type of soccer game, but one that doesn’t quite score a hat-trick.
Need for Speed Unbound feels like a foundational entry for where the series could go from here. Competing across the title’s many events is a blast, and I love the juxtaposed visual aesthetics. Though some elements left me wanting, Unbound is as much fun as I’ve had with a Need for Speed title in years.
For the ongoing Final Fantasy VII re-examination, which Square Enix has officially dubbed the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core feels like required reading. Its place in the larger story is important and will likely grow in significance moving forward, but making your way through those story moments sometimes feels like a school assignment. Reunion is a well-executed remake of the 2007 game that delivers fun combat alongside a stilted story with an interesting and narratively important final act. If you plan on starting or continuing the Final Fantasy VII Remake journey, make sure to do your homework.
With Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, Digital Eclipse has set a new bar for future historical compilations in video games. It's a digital traveling museum exhibit, as the game bursts at the seams with nostalgia thanks to more than 100 playable games and hundreds of relics from the developer's vault. While a good amount of the games offered will pass by quickly, those brief life spans cannot weigh down the amazing historical value of Atari 50, and I hope Digital Eclipse has more wings of its digital history tour opening in the coming years.
For all its focus on supernatural magic and demonic threats, Midnight Suns is a fun-loving and thrilling ride. XCOM strategy fans won’t be disappointed; the format changes still result in a gratifying combat flow. But this is a more approachable and story-driven experience than Firaxis has previously attempted, filled with some of the most recognizable pop culture heroes of the moment. It’s big, boisterous, and a little bit silly at times, but just like the best of Marvel’s output in recent years, it’s also a rousing good time.
Harvestella’s systems feed together in a way that forces you to engage with nearly everything it offers, whether you want to or not. But those slice-of-life activities are mundane and get in the way of letting you enjoy the RPG elements on your own terms. Maximizing a day’s schedule is sometimes rewarding, but the sluggish pacing makes it tough to stay engaged for the long haul. Harvestella forces you to do a whole lot to complete comparatively little. At 70-80 hours, it’s one of the biggest chores I’ve played in some time. That’s unfortunate because the combat, story, and characters are decent enough that, in a more traditional RPG framework, they’d shine brighter. As it stands, squeezing this fruit isn’t always worth its small amount of juice.