This is the first game attached to Square-Enix that’s genuinely impressed me in over 8 years; the amount of detail put into translating the art into something totally different but nevertheless nostalgic is mind-boggling, and it’s possibly more impressive that the team behind this knew which things could be changed/replaced without undermining the entire project. Trials of Mana is how remakes should be done.
Shantae and the Seven Sirens isn’t just a return to form for a series that’s shown a proclivity for unexpected experimentation. Much like how its characters begin the game vacationing on a tropical island that’s hosting a half-genie festival, the game serves as a lighthearted and much-needed break from 2020’s unceasing assault on everything good and decent.
Fort Triumph is a miserable, uninteresting slog until you manage to level up a team of characters, which makes one wonder why their deaths are even an option in the first place. I can’t help but wonder how the devs squandered their time in early access. Why did it take so long to release something so rough?
You play as The Mage, a guy with magical powers who awakens to a world he and others failed to save. The only other living beings left hanging around are monsters, most of which are mute, so the dialogue that plays between levels consists of him talking to himself. Ancient Enemy‘s story is basically just a march back to the mysterious force that destroyed and corrupted the world. Needless to say, it’s an incredibly lonely and grim journey, and while some of the things The Mage has to say border on profundity, the near-absence of other characters robs the story of the development needed to anchor and back up those statements.
How many other games can keep you glued to the screen for 20 minutes while a little cartoon guy chops away at a crystal? At the same time, the tendency of some to ascribe brilliance to media tinged with novelty is misguided. Any meaning that runs deeper than the shallow concepts directly addressed in-game will be more a case of your imagination running amok than the game trafficking in deep ideas. The Longing definitely won’t be for everyone, but as an interesting departure from what ordinarily constitutes a “game,” I’d say that it’s worthwhile for the most part. Just be aware going in that it can run out of steam long before you’re finished.
Half Past Fate can be an incredibly sweet game, and the way even its minor characters reappear so that you can track how their lives change (or don’t) can be incredibly fulfilling. Rarely, though, the good intentions of characters can cause some of this sweetness to feel a touch contrived and unbelievable. Still, the story comes together in a really nice way, and the game’s simple mechanics rarely get in the way.
At its best, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has the area design and pacing of an unforgettable platformer, and the ways it improves on its predecessor are every bit as welcome as they are subtle. Every so often, however, it forgets how to keep that momentum up and instead throws a gimmicky chase sequence or annoying area gimmick into the mix to slow you down.
Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I can’t wrap my head around why it’s considered superior to Minoria. The absence of a leveling system and rarity of mandatory enemy encounters make this a faster game to complete, and the smaller player character makes it feel like you have more room during boss fights, but I continually found myself missing Minoria‘s interesting movement techs and stun-based combat.