The charming dungeon crawler builds itself around the chaos of dice. Choose one of six characters, each with their own unique skills and way utilize your rolls of the six-sided die. Combat is rather fun, the artwork feels like a pop-up book, and the electronic soundtrack will have you tapping your foot. Despite the characters and additional modes though, it doesn't feel like Dicey Dungeons expands upon its early hours of play enough. Still, it's an enjoyable roguelite dungeon crawler.
Zachtronics make a detour from its puzzle game destiny with the visual novel Eliza. It's slick in its design, though shy on the big choices you might expect from most visual novels. Still, packed with a stellar solitaire minigame, impressive voice acting, and one of the most prescient narratives I've seen in games, if you're a fan at all of interactive stories that'll have you gripped from start to finish, Eliza is it.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses soars on to Switch with a fully-realized school setting, deep character customization, and multiple full-length campaigns. While it loses momentum in the second half, it still manages to come off as a striking reinvention of the well-worn Fire Emblem formula. That makes its first real console appearance in more than a decade a triumph.
Elsinore is simple and focused, aimed squarely at avid readers who want to manipulate Hamlet with their own hands. It succeeds at this, building a wonderfully meta-textual world that's fascinating to unravel and earns a good few gasps, laughs, and tearful moments, but the long waiting periods and frustration between different events overlapping can grate on after a while. Elsinore is time-looping <em>Hamlet</em>, and that premise is what will likely hook you or not.
The Ultimate Alliance comes roaring back with this Nintendo Switch exclusive. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 pulls inspiration for Marvel comics, movies, TV, and more to create an homage to the brand's long history. Unfortunately, some camera issues and general readability mar the overall experience, and the alternate costumes fall short of the Ultimate Alliance standard. Despite that, this is a great couch co-op adventure with all your Marvel favorites.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a quintessential example of a great sequel. It takes everything that's fun about the first game and adds more of the good stuff while removing the mechanics that didn't work the first time around. It's slow to really get started, but once it starts rolling, you never want to stop digging, building, and fighting. If you're curious about the Dragon Quest Builders series on any level, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a good jumping-on point.
Final Fantasy 14 set a high bar with its previous expansions, but Shadowbringers stands above the rest. Expected additions come in the form of new regions and the new jobs, Dancer and Gunbreaker. Both bring their own flavor to the game, though the Dancer is the standout. More importantly, Shadowbringers tells a tale that not only contains some meaningful real-world connections, but also provides an experience that's firmly Final Fantasy-esque. Great writing, solid voice acting, and an excellent soundtrack wrap Shadowbringers up in a package that should satisfy Final Fantasy 14 fans and neophytes alike.
Not even striking art direction and sincere storytelling can save the unfortunate nature of Sea of Solitude. Marred by dull action and, at worst, frustrating sequences, Sea of Solitude ends up feeling like twice the length of its runtime. Those monsters and that world sure are gorgeous though.
Outer Wilds is easily my game of the year thus far, and continues to move up the list of my personal favorite games of all time. It's an experience I genuinely cannot stop thinking about, managing to encompass everything I love about the adventure gaming genre and the smart sci-fi musings of my all-time favorite authors. The few negatives brought on by the time loop at the game's core are universally outweighed by the pioneering spirit cultivated throughout. I urge you to seek out Outer Wilds if you can, if only to try out what is surely one of the greatest adventure games ever created.
Samurai Shodown captures the spirit of the older games, veering towards a mix of older and newer series entries. In terms of single-player, but it's a a far cry from Mortal Kombat 11 or even what recent games like Dead or Alive 6 have offered. On the multiplayer side, it offers a solid core, but not much else. It's nice to see SamSho back in the spotlight, but we wish it had a little more to keep us playing beyond just fighting other players.
Players now have the chance to make their own hellish, evil Mario levels on Nintendo Switch. Super Mario Maker 2 starts with the foundation established in the first game, and adds new themes, new game styles, and new items. It falters due to the loss of the second screen of the Wii U and 3DS iterations, and the lack of Amiibo costumes hurt, but this is still a fantastic package for a Mario fan or budding lever designer.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been a long time coming, but now that it's here, fans of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night have everything to gain. Playing through Bloodstained feels great if you're already a fan of Koji Igarashi's work—and if you're a fan of action-adventure games in general. There are some unfortunate bugs, hitches, and glitches, but once you download the 1.02 patch, you should be through the worst of them.
Judgment is very much a Yakuza game in detective clothing, but with some clever twists and a killer mystery at the center, it ends up feeling surprisingly distinct. While some of the detective-specific mechanical additions are a drag, everything else vibes really well with the familiar Kamurocho setting. It's easily the best of the recent line of Dragon Engine-developed games in the series—even without Kiryu Kazuma at the center, and even without a karaoke minigame.
Cadence of Hyrule is the Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer crossover we never knew we needed, but now that it's here, we want the song to go on forever. Brace Yourself Games' expert handling of the Zelda property is commendable. Here's hoping we get an encore with some DLC.
Slay the Spire cleverly mixes the roguelite and card game genres, bringing with it a deep and satisfying strategy layer that encourages you to experiment over the course of a multitude of runs to the top of the tower. I can only hope that it continues to see regular updates, because it's already one of my favorite games of 2019.
Elder Scrolls Online heads to Elsweyr, the homeland of the Khajiit. While the environment isn't as impressive as Morrowind or Summerset, Zenimax Online's storytelling is still impressive and entertaining. Unfortunately, the combat mechanics need a little more punch and the addition of dragons ends up be less impactful than advertised. It's a good expansion, but feels like a step down from the previous few.
Dauntless is Monster Hunter for those that don't have the time or money to devote to Capcom's Monster Hunter: World. Dauntless falters in certain areas, but provides the feel of hunting and gear progression in a more streamlined manner. the world can feel a bit lifeless and gamey at time, but this is definitely good enough to carve out it's own space alongside Capcom's flagship series. And being free-to-play with full cross-platform play helps a great deal.