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Digitally Downloaded

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2643 games reviewed
72.9 average score
80 median score
55.5% of games recommended

Digitally Downloaded's Reviews

Apr 9, 2024

Cozy means something different to everyone. For me, a cozy game is about a welcoming atmosphere, no death, and a slow pace. That description fits Botany Manor to a tee. The world is so lovingly crafted, the grounds so abundant and colourful, that I’d like to stay there forever. I have screenshots of every room I’ve been in because they are perfectly decorated from every angle. The logical puzzles require careful observation (and sometimes backtracking once or twice) yet are somehow simultaneously quite straightforward. Botany Manor is exactly the kind of cozy puzzle/gardening sim that I’ve always wanted, save for a couple small bothers. I’m already eagerly anticipating my return to the manor.

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So, while Outward is certainly a port with limitations due to the platform, I’m not entirely sure I would have enjoyed it any more on any other console. Yes, there is a joy to being dropped in a big world and left to carve your own journey through it. Outward is a fundamentally appealing experience. The problem for Outward is that there other games that have done that with much more soul.

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Apr 5, 2024

The Gap is in an intriguing and compelling idea. Unfortunately, it’s underdeveloped, and structured in a way that undermines something critical for any psychological thriller: if you’re not connected to an invested in the characters, then you’re not going to care about what they’re going through enough for it to chill you. The Gap also comes across as something that is badly trying to be analysed in intellectual terms, but fails to land on a distinctive theme that it can call its own. It’s great to see projects like this, from a games-as-art perspective, but it’s not one of the finest examples of that, either.

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Apr 3, 2024

I’m going to get dozens of hours of play out of Cricket 24 on Nintendo Switch, of that I’m sure. I am very disappointed in how the development team has gone about optimising the game down to fit on the more modest hardware, and the portability of the Switch has to be a major selling point for you to go for this version over the objectively superior console versions. But it’s still Cricket 24 on the go, and that’s a critical hit right to my weak spot.

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As a 15th anniversary celebration of an incredibly marginal series here in the west, but a far more popular one in Japan, the Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files collection is just blindingly good value. Each game combines classically entertaining and surrealistically funny point-and-click mechanics with memorable characters and some delightfully eccentric moments. This is in so many ways a perfect example of the heart and soul of Japanese game development.

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Mar 29, 2024

Violet Wisteria is very transient, ultimately. It is enjoyable, yet also forgettable. Once you get into the groove with the triangle combat system, the pseudo-puzzle quality to the platforming will keep you on your toes and get you to think about movement and combat in a different way. It’s a clever quirk and the developers have implemented it well. The art in the cut scenes is also gorgeous and I’d like to see the developers expand on this character and her world in a visual novel or similar. However, the platforming itself is clumsy, the effort that went into the visuals in the cut scenes is not reflected in the gameplay, and ultimately Violet Wisteria is only going to appeal to the hardest of hardcore retro platforming fans.

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Played in short bursts, Legend of Legacy is a stunning-looking JRPG for the genre’s nostalgic. The clean, functional turn-based combat, combined with straightforward objectives and smooth flow through the adventure make this one best played in short bursts so the lack of narrative can’t drag on the all the other positives in the experience. Play it on those terms, however, and its charms will never fade.

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I went into Princess Peach: Showtime expecting Nintendo-quality filler. A game to pad out the year’s release schedule without being a particularly memorable effort by the company. Instead, we get a wonderful, playful and clever little game that allowed Nintendo to make Peach a multifaceted hero without needing to subvert all those years spent building this incredibly valuable character. This feels like it could be the start of another very valuable property for the company.

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Mar 21, 2024

While it is an open world game and therefore part of a tired and tiring genre, Rise of the Ronin makes it worth sticking with, thanks to incredibly strong historical fiction storytelling. With any luck, it will inspire some people to learn the more factual side of the era and, hopefully from there, come to a better understanding about where modern Japan came from. Despite being relatively recent, the Boshin War is a relatively under-utilised period of Japanese history, and Rise of the Ronin acts as a good introduction to it. Like with any historical fiction, the emphasis is firmly on the “fiction” side of things, but Koei has done a superb job of depicting the dynamics, tensions, conflicts and personalities of the era, making it as good an introduction to the era as any.

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It’s really nice to have Alone in the Dark back in form. And for it to have its own identity. After being such a pioneer, this series has spent so long chasing the horror genre popular trends and trying to read the lowest common denominator that it became little more than a pale imitation of other good ideas. It’s genuinely nice to have something that heads in its own direction, and is comfortable in providing a taut atmosphere and a focus on a chilling narrative rather than visceral scares. You could call it “quaint,” but I like to think of it more like a game Stephen King would like to see rather than another cash-in from the Saw writers.

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I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Contra in the first place, but I’ve always admired the series for challenging and inspiring so many players over the decades. Likewise, I understand what WayForward’s done with this remake of the original. I appreciate the effort to try and find a broader audience. But if that was the goal they should have properly built the game around that kind of experience, rather than half-measuring it and then giving players the ability to just ignore it all. The complete lack of confidence in actually following through with whatever creative vision WayForward took into this project, unfortunately, leaves the entire experience feeling soulless.

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Mar 12, 2024

I have to go back to 2018 and NieR Automata (wow… that was six years ago now) to think of a game that has stunned me quite as much as Unicorn Overlord. That’s not to say I haven’t loved plenty of other games in the interim, but I’ve been waiting for a sequel to Ogre Battle 64 for 25 years now, and this delivers. I am so glad that Vanillaware was the developer to see the opportunity, because no other team in the industry has the talent to do something like this.

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It’s a delightful experience that shows the value of proper narrative scripting in games, building on the Moomin world rather than just using it as a prop for yet another tired tie-in genre game.

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Mar 8, 2024

For this reason, platformer purists are going to love Berserk Boy. As a blended homage to just about everything they have ever loved about the genre, the effort that has gone into meticulously recreating the best qualities of the genre is truly impressive. It’s just disappointing that the game, while drawn nicely and supported by an excellent soundtrack, ends up ringing hollow because the developers forgot to give it an identity that extends beyond the franchises that it celebrates.

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King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a high-quality tactical RPG, mechanically, but that’s overshadowed by an dismal narrative, setting and characterisation. At no point does anything in this game suggest that the developers had the slightest interest in doing the Arthurian legends justice (or even respect). This is the end result of the entire industry being motivated around content rather than artistic integrity. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale sure has a lot of best-practice dark fantasy, as the developers chase after all the financial success that other dark fantasy content products have received. If only anyone who worked at the development studio actually picked up Le Morte d’Arthur and learned something about what they were “adapting” to video game form first. They may have realised what a mistake they were making with this game then.

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Mar 4, 2024

With no narrative, no variable AI, and no continuity to playing (there isn’t even basic statistic tracking like win-loss scores), as good as Kashido is – and I must emphasise that it really is a fascinating game well worth learning and playing – it fails in its basic task of actually helping people to actually experience and want to invest time into this game. No digital board game should lack online play. We’re all better off importing physically copies of Kashido and taking it along to chess club meetings to see if we can get them to give something different a spin.

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This is one of those shorter reviews as I don’t have much else to say. Almost everyone knows what a roguelike is, and Shiren the Wanderer is a classical roguelike in every way. However, Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island is one of the most perfectly executed, impossible-to-put-down examples of the genre, and for that reason it’s essential.

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It might not be the most ambitious spinoff that you’ll ever see, but Piczle Cross is a generous and heart-warming good time. The world needs more Story of Seasons, not less, so the existence of this game is an objective good in the world.

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Feb 26, 2024

Dicefolk gets a lot right, and the developers clearly thought hard about how to take a fundamentally dice-based game, and make something that players could enjoy as a tactical roguelike, where randomness does not result in frustrating failures. However, Dicefolk is, ultimately, a pastiche with very little of its own creative identity, and I do think this is going to limit its audience to only the most hardcore Slay the Spire fans. But, then again, it’s not my job to worry about the commercial viability of a game. For those who simply cannot get enough of roguelikes, Dicefolk is yet another one for you to play.

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Most of all, I love and adore the work that Kazushige Nojima has done with the narrative (especially the ending that, once again, challenges everything we assumed about the FFVII plot), and he further entrenches himself as arguably the most innovative and creative writer in JRPGs with Rebirth.

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