Working with a clearly limited budget, Tamsoft has focused on delivering a tight action-combat system, while also relying on the fan service of both Senran Kagura and Hyperdimension Neptunia to see it through. It’s a good couple of hours of genuine fun, with the requisite bath scenes, humour and familiar characters to meet and fight. You can’t help but think that both properties could have grown to become more than this, but taking as it is, it’s still entertaining nonsense, with a heavy emphasis on the “entertaining”. I play enough serious games that require deep analysis, this kind of thing is my ideal break time between them.
So although the game is fun to look at, and to think about, it rarely lives up to its lofty ambitions once it’s in motion. Combat is thankfully sparse enough that players get pushed towards their next objective briskly. Although enemies aren’t always fun to fight, they do look cool, and their bullet patterns are always an impressive spectacle. And while I came in expecting a 3D bullet-hell action RPG, what I got instead was an interesting sci-fi world to explore. It’s a pleasant surprise to see that a world this rich and complex came from a studio this small. Origamihero Games is a developer with huge ambition and a lot of promise, so I’d be keen to see the team iterating on ideas from this game and continuing to polish their craft.
In flicking back through my notes on House of Ashes, I find that I have been more negative on it in this review than I remember feeling from my time playing it. It is a highly enjoyable experience and hard to put down. It might not be as spooky as I’d like from a horror game, and it might not play the way I think it should given the type of horror the developers were aiming for, but ultimately, holding the lives of a bunch of delinquent characters in my hands and deliberately letting them fall to their proverbial (or perhaps literal) deaths will never fail to be a (ghoulishly) good time.
When we think about this Halloween season and all the horror games that celebrate it, we rarely think about a dungeon crawler. After all, the 'crawler doesn't feature visceral action or jump scares. It's all too turn-based for that. But, of course, horror can be much more than jump scares and visceral action, and Undernauts demonstrates that beautifully. Strong atmosphere, challenging combat and Experience Inc.'s mastery of the genre combine to create something that is nearly impossible to put down.
I don't have much else to say about Lyrica that I didn't in my review of the first game. The differences between the two of them are so slight, besides the obviously different tracklists, that they are two sides of the same coin. In fact, the physical edition is a bundle of the two of them together, and that only reinforces that perception that Lyrica and its sequel are, really, one product split artificially into two. Given that this particular coin is made out of solid gold, though, I'm not complaining.
At the end of the day, Ultra Age is a middle of the pack action thing that has the basic mechanics of the genre down, but doesn’t do anything to stand out, and it has some real balancing issues. but struggles to balance difficulty progression as well as pushing boundaries in the genre. Unfortunately for the developers, this is one genre in which we are spoiled for choice, both in terms of finding challenging games to enjoy, and complex, thought-provoking experiences.
There is no doubt that The Caligula Effect 2 is a niche within a niche, and the fact that the second game so closely follows the first just confirms that the developers are comfortable with that. While it might not click with everyone, it's worth trying, because if you do like your games a bit thoughtful and arty, then this is going to be one of the highlights of the year.
There's respect there, and an understanding that Demon Slayer is more than a mindless series of fights, even if the gameplay system creaks with age and having been used for far too many other anime tie-ins. Mind you, if nothing else, being able to tear demons a new one with Nezuko has been something I've been looking forward to from day one with this anime, and if nothing else, CyberConnect2 delivered that.
The Eternal Cylinder is quite sad yet somehow there is a delight in finding in the smaller moments: finding an egg and evolving are especially happy moments. It is complex yet simple, running from the big bad thing that constantly looms like the Sword of Damocles is easy enough, but exploring to find the way ahead isn't always completely straightforward. The opposite emotions make the game feel deeply fulfilling. It's not quite like anything else I've ever experienced, and I feel like it will haunt me (in the best way possible) for quite some time to come.
Bunhouse is meditative and sweet. It's the kind of game that you can boot up and play for a couple of minutes or hours, depending on how much you need to de-stress, and in so many ways it parallels the joy of having actual rabbits as pets. They might not be the loudest or most boisterous buddies, but their stoic warmth fills the home with wholesome goodness. Ultimately, rabbits are wonderful, and Bunhouse does them justice.