The lineup of locations are the strongest in the series and I adored the depiction of the Disney worlds as vast playgrounds where you can explore, battle and take selfies to your heart's content. Kingdom Hearts III exhibits quality from every expensive edge, with a presentation that matches Disney’s animated output and a phenomenal score by Square-Enix’s composers.
Tightly designed to a fault, the game's rigid structure works well to present eight different perspectives. From the way each of the characters' unique skills make exploration and combat engaging to the wonderful rhythm of the thoughtful turn-based battles, there are enough excellent ideas in Octopath Traveler that help to overlook some glaring flaws.
The way 428: Shibuya Scramble is presented is unlike any other translated title, but if you value games with strong stories you owe it to yourself to not let this creative crime drama fly under the radar. Like Shibuya's scramble crossing, the events are chaotic and the passing moments between characters are sometimes fleeting, but crossing that iconic intersection is one hell of a memorable experience.
The dungeon dives are dull, but Sorcery Saga at least has some flavour in the goofy items and ridiculous soundtrack. The light storyline and simple spelunking makes it a decent entry point for those curious about the genre who might be intimidated by other roguelikes. Sorcery Saga fails to innovate or challenge, but barring a few unfortunate jokes and costumes it’s at least a cute tribute to a more innocent time for Compile’s RPGs.
With some interesting combat mechanics and wide range of creatures to collect, The Lost Child makes for a passable, if not particularly compelling JRPG. Were it not for a dearth of dungeon crawlers on the Nintendo Switch, this is a tale you could easily skip.
The tacky VR integration in this instalment sure isn't a big leap forward for the series and the changes to the battle system make for a game that's lacking in challenge. The new characters are entertaining and some of the jokes land, but it never comes together into anything satisfying.
The split release makes it feels like a collection of epilogues rather than the second half of a story and emphasises just how similar the routes are. The strengths of the original visual novel are still here: a large cast of samurai to pursue, plenty of action and plot twists if you're not there for the romance and some welcome glimpses at life in this interesting time period. If you can stomach parts of the story, it makes for a fascinating follow-up to Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds.
While Monster Hunter: World pulls off the same satisfying style of hunting in a way that makes the setting feel more alive and more approachable for new players, there’s still room for improvement. Capcom are kings of the iterative sequel, so I’m sure that we’ll see even more monsters and hopefully a rethink of the multiplayer matchmaking in the near future.
What’s seen as a shallow musical genre is turned into something that’s bizarrely complex; there’s a lot of depth to the turn-based combat if you manage to wrap your head around its idiosyncrasies. Omega Quntet still falls victim to the seedy baggage that follows idols everywhere, but there are some surprising digs at the industry before it devolves into repetitive sugary sweetness. It’s a collection of dissonant ideas that’s difficult to recommend, but there are rare moments where it’s all in tune.
The lack of cynicism makes The Longest Five Minutes a likeable enough journey into the past. The writing isn’t particularly funny or profound, but the game presents its story in a novel way that moves at a brisk pace and is backed up by a great musical score. That’s worthy of at least five minutes of fame.
It's a game where the ultimate villain is political apathy, but in the process of telling a story about social justice Persona 5 falls back to cheap stereotypes and the same conservative values that it's supposed to be trying to overturn. But god damn those menus and music are nice! The visual stylings, gameplay systems and confidant narratives combine to create a technically proficient package that does make parts of the game more palatable
Though repetitive at times, Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection is a generally well-paced 15-20 hours of food-scoffing fun. Thanks to a wonderfully localized script, the cast are bursting with personality and the frequent moments of comedy are handled well.
Lost Dimension has an interesting premise that the character writing can’t quite support, although the unique, possibly unintended tone that paints Sho as a complete sociopath certainly doesn’t hurt. The tactical turn-based combat is competent and the changing traitors force players to experiment with different psychic abilities.
The changes made in Culdcept Revolt seem very minor, but they improve the flow of matches considerably by speeding up matches and getting to the exciting parts faster. For those who haven't played Culdcept before, the improved presentation and explanations in the single-player Quest make this a great point to try it out.
Mary Skelter aims to shock players, but it doesn't take long to fall into a familiar formula with both repetitive dungeons and event scenes dragging on for too long. Even the tense Nightmare encounters can't stop it from becoming a bog-standard dungeon crawler with a bit of a bloody twist.
The story of survival at the heart of the game is pulled off well thanks to an endearing cast of characters who all have a unique perspective and purpose. Ys VIII is hardly thematically rich, but it's so satisfying to play, tapping into that primal desire to pull off flashy combos at high speeds and watch that map percentage slowly creep up. Rather than one of shambling prehistoric beasts that populate Seiran, Ys VIII is no dinosaur and this is the freshest and most fun the series has been for a while.
There might not be as much payoff as some may like but Trails of Cold Steel does a lot more than just setting up events for the sequel. I found myself immersed in an interesting industrial setting with a rich history, exploring the motivations behind a likeable bunch of characters and mediating the conflicts between the nation’s social classes. It's a lengthy game, especially if you feel compelled to talk to every NPC, but Trails of Cold Steel does a great job of rewarding this kind of obsessive behaviour.