Digitally Downloaded's Reviews
It might only be a single game, and that game might only be a single hour’s play long, but people who have a genuine love for the history of video games owe it to themselves to pick this up. Trip World DX works as a museum exhibit and charming little curiosity, and there are far worse things to do for an hour than this.
Born of Bread looks like a game that will be easy to love. The art in screenshots looks lovely, and Paper Mario-inspired titles are always welcome. It’s a lovely formula that lends itself to a lot of joy. But the developers completely misfired on this one. It comes across as a flat fan project that had original art assets dropped in at the last moment, rather than a cohesive creative work with its own identity, and, sadly, it’s one of the dullest games I’ve played this year.
If Xuan-Yuan Sword III: Mists Beyond The Mountains had a working localisation, it would be essential. After all, it’s not often that you get to play a RPG from the 90’s for the first time these days. The classic turn-based combat is well executed, the Pokemon-like monster-capturing system adds nicely to the base formula, and the real-world and real-history backdrop is something that I wish more RPGs did. But it’s so hard to follow the plot, worldbuilding and characterisation when the localisation is this undercooked, and these elements are all so important for the RPG genre in particular. I do hope that one day, someone has the opportunity to give these games a high-quality localisation, because it is obvious that they deserve it. Until then, unfortunately, this classic is only for the patient.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is an exceptional return for one of Square Enix’s most under-appreciated properties. With Pokémon going through a rare period where it’s not meeting nearly universal acclaim, perhaps this is the big opportunity for this series to finally break through, some 25 years after it first launched on Game Boy Color.
However, for the most part, Refind Self is a compelling narrative experience. One that you might just learn something about yourself from in the process. It might not be scientific, but it’s one of the better pieces of introspection we’ve seen coming out of game development.
I enjoyed SteamWorld Build a lot, but it’s not essential. Perhaps that’s why, 13 years later, this overall property is still searching for that breakout hit that will elevate it from indie charmer to a major property. The elements are all there: the theme, the quality aesthetics, and the maverick ability to move between genres while interpreting them in an accessible and engaging manner. But the developer really needs to figure out how to tell a compelling, deep and purposeful narrative with all these components. It’s the glue that’s missing from making SteamWorld memorable.
Persona 5 Tactica is an excellent addition to the overall Persona 5 property. What at first looks like a cheerfully whimsical bonus spinoff ends up being something that adds to the core themes of the base game, and is impressive in the way it does that. It also backs up with some of the sharpest “fast tactics” play we’ve seen in the genre. I just wish the concept and theme were written better, and I honestly never thought I would say that of a Persona title.
Sadly, apart from being really, really ridiculously good-looking, Fashion Dreamer just hasn’t got much going for it. With no real reward mechanism to encourage you to think about fashion, and nothing stopping you from building up an extensive wardrobe of clothes simply by jumping online for a couple of minutes here and there, there’s so small of an incentive to actually play. Especially once you’ve found an outfit for your character that’s so cute that you don’t feel the need to mess around with it any further.
Thankfully we only have to wait three months for the next “proper” title in the series to land. While Like a Dragon Gaiden might have been disappointing against the astronomically high standards of this series, I have no doubt whatsoever that January 2024 will deliver another bold step forward for SEGA’s gritty urban epic.
There’s not much else to say in this review. The big feature in Football Manager 2024 is the inclusion of Japanese football. That alone makes this version of the game the definitive edition. Putting that aside the rest of the game is another decent refinement to the best sporting management game of all time, and while it sometimes feels like Sports Interactive rests on its laurels, as no one else is ever going to have the engine or data to compete in this particular niche, the reality is that when the base game is this good, tweaks from one year to the next are enough.
Nintendo’s had a bumper year, so I’ll forgive it for some filler (especially when there’s also the Super Mario RPG remake on the way yet). WarioWare: Move It! achieves what it sets out to by providing players with a bunch of microgames that use the Joy-Cons and motion control in an inventive and silly manner. You’ll enjoy the boundless creativity in coming up with so many microgame ideas. In addition, you’ll enjoy the colour and humour at first. And then, about an hour later, you’ll be done with it for good.
With that being said, the original Metal Gear Solid trilogy isn’t just a trio of great games that people have strong nostalgia for. They’re genuine masterpieces and deserve to be preserved into perpetuity. This collection is a perfectly adequate way of preserving them for this hardware cycle.
Crymachina asks probing questions about the nature of humanity through the lens of machines, and its conclusions are evocative, emotive and ultimately quite uplifting. It does sit in the shadow of a giant of a game that already canvassed exactly the same subject through exactly the same lens. However, there’s a greater warmth to Crymachina that makes it more relatable than the relatively academic NieR: Automata. Throw in some vividly memorable art direction and what we have here is a JRPG that might surprise people with just how memorable it proves to be.
I’d kill for a Jackbox Party Pack launcher, from which I could launch whichever games in packs I already owned during gaming sessions, rather than having to both remember which pack they were in and then launch that pack’s interface. In fact, I’d pay for just that alone, Jackbox Games. How about it?
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd looks the part. It’s a gorgeous game and I was really hoping that it would deliver the vision for the character and comic in the same way that it captured the aesthetics. Sadly, instead, we got a stodgy roguelike that largely misses the point of what either Hellboy or the roguelike should offer. Equally sadly, we continue to wait for a truly great Hellboy game.
Dementium is not even slightly entertaining and all the developer has achieved with this re-re-release is broadcast that their original game wasn’t ever anything more than a gimmicky novelty. What an incredible own goal when Dementium did actually have something of a legacy from people nostalgic for the DS.
I am quite sure that some people will absolutely love the intensity of the horror and dark fantasy that infuses Lords of the Fallen. As cartoonishly silly as it comes across by trying so hard, it is technically impressive. Similarly, the game is perfectly solid mechanically, and while it does have some issues with pacing and the design of some boss battles, it is, for the most part, very playable. I had more fun with this than I think it deserved, and while I’m not sure whether I was laughing with it or at it most of the time, I was definitely laughing and having fun with it. Who knows? Perhaps satirising the self-seriousness of dark fantasy was the entire creative point and if so, bravo developers, you nailed it.
Assassin’s Creed: Mirage is a return to form for the series. What had become a formula so bloated that it lost sight of what actually made the series good has been simplified to make it more engaging. What you get here is an efficient and clean historical action game. One that gives you the chance to explore a less-travelled part of history from a part of the world that people are usually too busy demonising to explore as a setting. Ubisoft would benefit from writers who understood how to convey narrative efficiently, but in every other way the more focused and streamlined experience that Mirage offers makes it the most cohesive entry in this series for a very long time.
I realise that Asterix & Obelix isn’t as commercially valuable as, say, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars or the Fate anime property. It’s never going to attract a major project from a top-flight developer. Nonetheless, there are small developers who have taken the iconic French comic and done something that shows respect; at least they have done their best. There is nothing like that in Asterix & Obelix: Heroes. It’s a cheap and tacky cash-in, and everyone involved in the comic over the years (the 40th book in the series comes out this year!) deserves better than this.
The next step for Big Ant would be to start capturing the nuances of the sport and convert excellent ball-to-ball action to give us the full match experience, when events that happened in the 10th over can impact on how bowlers, batters, and the crowd itself behave in the 40th. If Big Ant can get there, make it feel like tactics matter and results are less pre-determined and arbitrary, and then they will produce a cricket game that will finally move from the cusp to sit alongside EA, Sony and 2K’s sporting titles in offering something that truly understands and captures the spirit of the sport.