Worth Playing's Reviews
Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth knocks it out of the park. It takes the already excellent first game and expands it to a bigger and more populated world. The combat has been improved, the dungeon design is better, the story hits a lot more than it misses, and from start to finish, it was pretty much everything I could've wanted. Only a few nagging problems keep it from perfection, and it's a love letter to everything that makes Final Fantasy VII great.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a great game and a nice pivot for the dormant series. The combat is enjoyable, and the crisp controls translate well to platforming that requires a good deal of skill to master but rarely devolves into frustration. The puzzles do an excellent job of being tricky but satisfying to solve. You can still point at a few flaws, like the fact that the story is standard, but those are minor nitpicks that don't stop the game from being worthy of a classic adventure fan's library. For Switch owners, The Lost Crown shows how much power there is to tap in Nintendo's portable console.
Slave Zero X has a few too many rough spots to make it an easy recommendation, but it isn't a terrible game. When you get into the groove of combos, cancels and bursts, it can be incredibly satisfying to leave the forces of fascism in bloody chunks on the ground, but the effort it takes to reach that point feels like too much to be worth it. If you're in the mood for a bloody, execution-intensive beat-'em-up, then Slave Zero X might be for you, but it might be tough if you're used to playing modern beat-'em-ups.
Helldivers II is a good game that happens to have some current teething problems. Everything - from the perfect satirical tone to the solid gunplay and variety of difficulty levels - create some exciting and satisfying gaming moments. Some of the more military simulation traits generate some tense situations, but they can be humorous moments, too. The microtransactions don't feel too bad in the game's overall scheme. If the connectivity issues can be resolved and stabilized soon, then Helldivers II can be one of the sleeper hits of the first half of 2024.
I did have fun with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, but I finished the story a little relieved and exhausted, and I wasn't compelled to engage in endgame stuff because it was essentially more repetitive, conditional missions. I'd had my fill by then. I enjoyed the character and personality of the game - the banter among Task Force X is truly enjoyable, so kudos to all of the voice actors involved - and also the world that was built. Action-wise, the game gave me Crackdown vibes as I hurtled around the city and dove into its chaos. Unfortunately, it also had Crackdown depth to the point where I eventually got bored and irritated. I was not irritated enough, however, that I wish I had a bomb in my head.
It's difficult to give a score to Tomb Raider I-III Remastered. On the one hand, some of the improvements are quite good. The inclusion of extra levels for each game to make them more accessible is always welcome, and the improved modern controls are certainly welcome unless your muscle memory is attuned to the old tank-style controls. On the other hand, the very slight graphical improvements are overshadowed by the fact that the game design fails to keep modern controls in mind, and no other changes have been made to bring it up to modern standards. Considering the pedigree of the games, the result is a package that's fine but could've been much, much better.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a great example of less being more. What it does well, it does very well, but those elements are bogged down in a needlessly large, open world that's been padded out with thin gameplay. When you reach the meat of the game, it's usually worth the effort, but there's so much dilution that it has difficulty shining through. The poor performance also makes the tedious elements feel more so. Like its main characters, Banishers is stuck in limbo between excellence and blandness, and I can only hope that any sequel will focus on quality over quantity.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a great game and a nice pivot for the long-dormant series. The combat is enjoyable, since you never go through that expected moment of weakness like in other games. The crisp controls translate well to platforming that requires a good deal of skill to master but rarely devolves into frustration. The puzzles do an excellent job of being tricky but satisfying to solve. You can still point out a few flaws, like the fact that the story is fairly standard, but those are minor nitpicks that don't stop the game from being a title that's worthy of a classic adventure fan's library.
Overall, Granblue Fantasy: Relink is an enjoyable action-RPG, even when divorced from its gatcha origins. It doesn't break any molds and tends to feel more like an MMO than Monster Hunter, but almost every part of it is well executed and enjoyable. If you've been curious about the franchise and want a more friendly way to explore it than gatcha and fighting games, Relink gives you everything you need. If you're looking for a chill multiplayer RPG to play with friends, Relink absolutely nails the experience.
Persona 3 Reload is a fantastic - if safe - remake of an excellent game. The updates to the mechanics and visuals do a lot to bring it in line with Persona 5, and many of the game's rough edges are smoothed out. At the end of the day, it's still Persona 3, with all of its strengths and weaknesses, and it does a great job of recapturing the feel of a 2009 game in 2024. Fans will find a lot to like in Reload, and newcomers to the franchise will find a fantastic start to their journey.
When the credits roll on Outer Wilds: Archaeologist Edition, you'll feel sad that there's no way to experience it with fresh eyes again. You can play the main story for close to 15-20 hours, and the meaty DLC adds another 10 hours or more, but this isn't a game that you'll return to after completion because you've solved the puzzle. As cool as the little pocket galaxy is, if you have another system besides the Switch that can run Outer Wilds, I'd recommend playing the game on the other system instead. Outer Wilds simply isn't meant to be played on a handheld console.
Tekken 8 is excellent. The fighting is just as crisp as ever, and the addition of the Heat mechanic and an increased focus on aggression create a game that feels both exciting to play and watch. The bevy of new modes was what the game needed at launch, and there's more than enough content to keep players busy without feeling like every facet of the title had been explored. The fighting game scene has been blessed with banger after banger over the last few years, and Tekken 8 keeps that trend going. Fans of the fighting game genre need to have Tekken 8 in their libraries.
Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth is an overall fantastic entry in the franchise. Stuffed to the gills with content, there isn't a more fully packaged RPG on the market. The plot is charming and heartfelt, the characters are lovable, and the gameplay incredibly fun. It doesn't matter if you're a longtime Kiryu fan or jumped into the franchise with Kasuga; it's everything a Like a Dragon game should be.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a worthy successor to the Phoenix Wright Trilogy released in 2019. It contains all of the same basic upgrades and improvements, and it finally means that the entire franchise - minus the Edgeworth games - can now be played on one system. The overall quality is similar, with the somewhat weak Apollo Justice being followed up by some of the finest Ace Attorney has to offer. It doesn't really matter if you're a newcomer or a long-tie fan; if you like turnabout cases and back-and-forth courtroom drama, this trilogy has you covered.
Like its predecessors, Reigns: Three Kingdoms does a good job of taking a simple and easy-to-understand mechanic and making it a big part of a very substantial adventure. The change to a real historical setting is nice, but the original story is much more interesting to follow and uncover. The balancing act for card selection is simple but fascinating once you understand meter management. The battle system follows the same "simple but good" philosophy of the main game. If you're a fan of the previous titles, Reigns: Three Kingdoms is worth checking out, especially given the game's low price of $2.99.
At the end of the day, The Last of Us: Part II - Remastered is a fine but pointless upgrade. In a vacuum, it's a straight boost to the PS4 version in every way, and the $10 upgrade cost is probably worth it if just for No Return. For all of its glories and failures, Part II is still the same game, even more so than The Last of Us: Part I. It's the best version of the game but probably not something that players need to rush out to get.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is an excellent Metroidvania. It doesn't completely break the mold of the genre, but it is firing on all cylinders, and it's a delight from start to finish. The excellent gameplay is bolstered by the anime-inspired visuals to create a distinctive style. The somewhat lackluster plot lags behind, but even that is mostly fun, if unexceptional. If you're a fan of Metroidvania-style games, you're certain to have a ton of fun with Sargon's adventure in The Lost Crown.
As it stands now, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is good. The story is interesting, the quests are plentiful, the characters are well rounded, and there's plenty of depth in the RPG systems. The game is also flawed. The attack roll system can produce infuriating results if you aren't thinking with dice in mind, the quests can feel too similar in the late game, and the lore is awesome but so dense that the learning curve for newcomers is rather steep. It's also very buggy, but at least that part is getting ironed out by the day. Despite that, the game is fine as-is, but based on Owlcat's track record, if you give the developer a little more time to fix up the game, it can be one of the highlights in a year that's already packed with great RPGs.
Like any good walking simulator, The Invincible thrives on its story. Even though it feels similar to what the book already touches on, the differences are enough to make the game feel new and somewhat fresh, considering how many people may be approaching the game without prior knowledge of the novel. The decision to go with a walking simulator works as far as being able to effectively deliver the story, and it pays off with a gripping narrative, but some of the dialogue sections can run longer than expected. If you can live with some of the bugs that still need ironing out, you'll find this to be a fascinating experience that's well worth checking out if you're a genre fan.
In Stars and Time is probably my dark horse for one of the best games of the year. It's a distinct, fun and interesting experience that makes masterful use of the time loop concept to create something that's deeply heartfelt. At times, it borders more on an RPG-themed visual novel than a full-on RPG, but it uses the RPG trappings more than well enough to justify it. Aside from some dullness when it comes to repeating events, In Stars and Time hits all the marks dead-on and should be a must-play for fans of plot-heavy RPGs.