Wasteland 3 could be an entertaining game if not for its nonstop softlocks, disappearing items, and idiotic pathfinding (I’ll get into that later), but these problems stood in the way of my enjoyment while chipping away at my patience in a way few other games ever have.
Deliver Us The Moon‘s gameplay is trash, with its only challenge coming from timed sequences with decorative oxygen canisters and the fiddliness of its context-sensitive prompts. Its story, meanwhile, is strongly reminiscent of Interstellar at several points but so melodramatic and poorly developed that it becomes a predictable soap opera version that’s worse in every way. Finally, there’s the performance, which is so bad that it puts the lie to the assertion that the Switch version was canceled because of coronavirus. This doesn’t even run adequately on a Playstation 4 while using textures so downscaled that text is borderline unreadable.
Roughly speaking, Paradise Killer is a game about an exiled detective being welcomed back to solve a heinous crime everyone is a little too quick to pin on a lower-class citizen, but that glosses over many of the weird details that make it shine so brightly. I’m talking about aliens, demons, gods, and immortal upper-class residents of a parallel realm who harness the psychic energy of thousands of their slaves in order to resurrect the cosmic beings that they were once thralls to. These extra touches do a lot to separate Paradise Killer from similar games—Disco Elysium, Smile For Me, and Phoenix Wright seem like adequate comparisons once you squint and picture them as nightmarish bizarro versions of themselves—and no charm is lost in the process.
My lack of experience with the Pokemon series’ modern releases makes me unqualified to claim that Nexomon: Extinction is superior to them, but its large cast of adorable goofballs and unexpectedly competent worldbuilding play to the strengths of the classic jRPG genre (which this monster-catching branch of gameplay is derived from) while largely avoiding its pitfalls. This may look like an amusing jaunt in a crazy world, but by the end, you realize that an unexpectedly epic journey has snuck up on you.
“Censorship” is one of those words that always feels oppressive, and yet Aokana – Four Rhythms Across the Blue doesn’t need any of that adult content because it’s not the game’s point; this is an uplifting, frequently hilarious visual novel that succeeds on the quality of its characterizations and the sneaky rhythm of its conversations that makes it possible for deep-seated trauma and dirty jokes to coexist without either extreme being jarring. It’s fantastic.
Methodically wiping out as many spiders as possible in the most excessive ways imaginable is entertaining—how could it not be?—but that would mean little if the rest of the game didn’t hold its own weight. This is where things get interesting; by asking the player to complete challenges in order to reach the real ending, Kill It With Fire suddenly shifts into a puzzle game that requires exploiting its mechanics to overcome seemingly impossible hurdles.
Ghost of Tsushima embraces many of the addictive-but-unrewarding elements endemic to the Assassin’s Creed series while telling a story about characters who are genuinely interesting until their dramatic arcs become cartoonishly melodramatic. It’s a passable, often lovely ride, but poor camera controls, awful physics, and terrible mission design frequently spoil the fun.
This one’s a keeper; the best sRPGs are maddeningly complex while allowing for deceptively simple—but effective—strategies, and Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia ticks both boxes. The gameplay here is unabashedly old-school, and while that can cause some combat encounters (and with them, the overall campaign) to drag on, I continually found myself going back for more.
I decided to track down an original PS2 copy and alternate between the two versions, first playing through the original game before jumping back to the PC version I’m reviewing to get an idea of what’s similar and different. There have undoubtedly been improvements, but there have also been some unnecessary and arguably questionable changes that hardcore purists will find aggravating because of how they alter the gameplay (which is to say nothing of how they contribute to two major difficulty spikes). The original version of Destroy All Humans! was deeply flawed, however, and the remake’s quality-of-life features easily make it the definitive version.