Worth Playing's Reviews
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a solid game that will make series fans happy and surprise the more casual ones. The action in the levels meanders a bit, and the platforming can be a little rough, but the majority of the action is good. The multitude of secrets to uncover give the game some real legs after you complete the campaign. If future entries are handled by this developer, SpongeBob fans will have some good stuff to look forward to in the years to come.
Mahokenshi has a cool concept and plenty of high moments. It lacks that special something to separate a good deck builder from a great deck builder. It's too slow, too repetitive, and a touch too easy. Even taking that into account, you'll still get hours of gameplay out of the loop, and if that works for you, it's easy to see it becoming a niche favorite. With the deck builder market so crowded, Mahokenshi doesn't stand out as much as it should, but it's still a well-made game.
Power Chord is a perfectly competent but entirely unexceptional roguelike deck builder. Once you take away the rock 'n' roll theme, it's pretty much another Slay the Spire clone that doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from the rest. It looks nice and plays well, but it doesn't stand out. If you've already burned through the other games in the genre and want something new, Power Chord will be the nice snack, but don't expect it to be a long-term engagement.
Fire Emblem Engage is a mix of steps forward and back. On a gameplay level, it's pretty much the absolute best the franchise has ever been, with excellent level design, great new gimmicks and features, and a customization system that offers a ton of depth. The storyline feels too much like standard Fire Emblem to stand out, and the side content that isn't focused on combat feels tacked-on. It's still a delightful game to play, and despite my nitpicks, I had a fantastic time. Fire Emblem fans will find a lot to enjoy, even if the story might not be to their tastes.
It might not seem like it right now, but Forspoken had some very good ideas, and I ended up still having some fun with it. It feels like it needed a little more time to figure out its real identity instead of its disjointed little-of-this, little-of-that experience. I think it's true form, which it hinted at, is as a young-adult, Bayonetta-adjacent ass-kicker, that needs to pick a tone and lean into it. If that's what it had been, we'd be onto something.
Graze Counter GM takes an already solid shooting experience and makes it shine even more. The addition of more content all around gives the game much more replayability, and the fact that it accommodates players of all skill types makes it more inviting. The lack of things like an online leaderboard and TATE mode may be off-putting for very hardcore shooting fans, but for everyone else with an interest in the genre, this is well worth looking into.
Colossal Cave is a good adventure game that will appeal more to those with some nostalgia for classics and classic sensibilities. The limited inventory system and the slightly obtuse puzzles might not gel if you've only been exposed to modern adventure games. That said, the sense of exploration is still strong, and the point system gives the game some replayability, which is something rarely seen in the genre. The reimagining of the original game works well, and genre fans who are keen to see where it all began should pick this up.
Persona 4: Golden is probably the ideal place to start your Persona experience if you haven't yet. It's probably the most consistent of the three games, and it nails the atmosphere, characterization and tone while keeping the gameplay fresh and exciting enough. It fun even if you are coming directly from Persona 3 Portable. If you have the current PC release, not a ton has changed with the latest patch, and you might consider whether you want to start this all over again. If you're looking for an excuse to pick it up, there's no better time.
It might sound like I'm being negative about Persona 3, but I'm not. It's a lot of fun, and it has a lot of interesting strengths. It has the misfortune of being the first game in a franchise where the sequels improved on a ton of features and were released before it on the PC. If you've never played it, it's well worth a shot. It's still a great game, but it has aged more than its sequels. Despite that, it still does some things superbly well. The addition of an entire second playable story path and a bunch of new social links also makes it a worthwhile experience for those who played the original release but not the portable version.
One Piece Odyssey is a nice RPG for fans of the franchise. It's clearly crafted with a lot of love, and there's a ton of great banter and interaction between the cast members. The core gameplay is perfectly serviceable, but it never really reaches the realm of "great," and it takes a bit too long to get going. It's probably not going to attract the attention of anyone who isn't a big "One Piece" fan, but for those fans, it should be an enjoyable little RPG. At the end of the day, how much fun you'll have boils down to how much you enjoy punching bad pirates in the face with your favorite pirates, and there's a whole lot of folks who want just that.
Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider is a game that stepped right out of the '90s. It's a fun little platformer that controls well and is a delight to play, and it evokes a remarkable amount of nostalgia for a game that is coming out in 2023. Much like Blazing Chrome, it's the closest you'll come to a new Strider game that plays like the old-school Strider. If that is what you're looking for, you'll be delighted, and if you love old-school platforming action, Moonrider offers it in spades, without the quarter-munching or rental fees.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed may not be perfect, but as a Ghostbusters fan, I'm really enjoying it. If you're not a fan of the franchise, there are better multiplayer options out there, but for the Ghostbusters faithful, it's a blast.
In some ways, it can be difficult to be objective about Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. It's one of my favorite games, and barring a terrible port, there's no way I'd really dislike it. Getting the chance to play it again after a few years really drives home that as weird and strange as it is, it's still an absolute classic. You need some tolerance for the oddities of a PS1 title, but if you have that patience, Lenneth is easily one of Tri-Ace's best games and one of the best RPGs out there.
Tad the Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet is a return to the type of licensed game we thought had died out a while ago. It follows the events of the movie without bothering to get anyone else up to speed, the platforming is perfunctory, and it looks mostly nice if you don't look deeply into it. The game's low difficulty level makes it a good choice for younger gamers, but the number of bugs will frustrate those same players. Fans of the movie or character might be tempted by the relatively low price, but this is a tough sell, even for those who love collect-a-thons.
VR really makes the Jurassic World: Aftermath Collection experience enjoyable, and while the move to the Switch isn't terrible, it still loses something in the process. The slow walk and run speeds make for a sluggish-feeling experience, while the controls feel awkward when compared to other first-person games on the system. The stealth experience shines at first, but the repetition makes it dull by the halfway mark. The story is fine but doesn't have the chops to keep you glued from beginning to end. The effort is admirable, but unless you're a big "Jurassic World" fan, you're better off waiting for a VR headset before experiencing this one.
As a sum of its parts, Espire 2 is a very solid VR stealth game that is only held back by a few issues, but those issues usually interfere with the player's enjoyment. The rough visuals and AI never got me to buy into this otherwise well-executed stealth fantasy. It has good ideas, which are all done well, but they quickly wear thin with repeated playthroughs. If you have a friend to play with, Espire 2 also offers the ability to play missions cooperatively, so that may be a reason to rank Espire 2 a bit higher, but the overall gameplay remains the same. Ultimately, Espire 2 does some impressive things with VR controls and offers some great open-level design, but it isn't an overly long game experience, and it feels rough around the edges.
There's a good base supporting Divine Knockout. The fighting mechanics work well enough, considering how it differs from traditional platform fighting games, and the action is measured and not chaotic. The small variety in fighting game modes works fine, but the real test is going to be how quickly the team can come up with new fighters and arenas. Divine Knockout is worth checking out in its current state for fighting game fans, but those who are on the fence might want to wait for the current season to end to see if it will remain free-to-play.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners - Chapter 2: Retribution is an exercise in restraint. It adds content where it makes sense and expands the known formula in a few different directions. It never reinvents any part of what made the first game so revolutionary, and it doesn't need to. By the time you start swinging a chainsaw through a group of zombies, you've probably forgotten about the lack of innovation on display and are appreciating Retribution for what it is: more of the same fun in one of the best VR games to date. The only real downside is that the Quest 2's technical limitations put a noticeable dent in the presentation. If you have the means and patience, waiting for the full PC release in February would be my recommendation. For everyone else, this is a good, if technically flawed, version of a great VR game.
To that end, I love Motorsport Manager, but really I played it because it was the closest modern sim that had something akin to Formula One cars. F1 Manager 2022 drives a perfect line by clearly taking some inspiration both from that game as well as from the series' own (distant) past, but it feels like something fresh. Every element of it feels refined in a way that is clearly specific to the real-life sport, and it is both defined by and pays homage to reality. It's a game that has shockingly few true flaws, and while it is also very much geared toward a specific crowd, I had a great time elevating Haas to (just a little bit more) glory.
Tanuki Sunset is the kind of game you'll dig if you want a relaxing time that's still somewhat challenging. The lack of upgrades and far checkpoint distances are a pain, but the overall friction between you and your goals is minimal enough that you can finish the experience with a bit of effort and enjoy the scenery while doing so. It still needs some bug fixes for things liked a dropped-out soundtrack, and while it lacks much to keep you coming back, it's the perfect game to hop into between much longer games in your library.