Fashion Police Squad does get repetitive and annoying after a while, but I cannot deny how creative this title is. The idea of a fashion-based, death-free DOOM clone sounded ridiculous on paper, but the developers sure delivered a brand new take on retro-styled shooters with an additional layer of puzzle-solving, dad-worthy puns, and a ton of color and personality.
I went in with high expectations from Chained Echoes, but remarkably, it managed to exceed every one of them. The characters are enjoyable (although Robb can be a bit insufferable at times), and most of them are fleshed out pretty well by the end. The storyline isn’t overly convoluted either, and has just enough depth and twists to keep it interesting. The combat in particular surprised me with how engaging it was, all thanks to its inventive Overdrive system.
As a huge fan of Shin Megami Tensei in general, Persona 3 Portable cannot be ignored, and should not be. It spawned the series as we know it, and the updated version, though not as magnificent as it could be, is still leagues better than the original Playstation 2 version, and it has the additional character and bonus content that helps this title dominate a large block of your time.
It would be overdramatic to say that Neptunia: Sisters Vs. Sisters broke me. Instead, more accurately is it just bored me to no end. The style of the game and everything it’s doing seems like it should make for a fun experience, but the execution is miles off the mark. Based on previous games, this game would be looking to be about twenty hours of gameplay total, if that’s the case, I would be willing to barter that only the biggest of Neptunia fans will stick with it the whole way through, because even Final Fantasy XIII felt like less of a slog.
Backfirewall_ is filled with creative puzzles that are never obtuse. There are a few collectibles here and there. The script may have never made laugh out loud, but it was clever. The game may not be as memorable or replayable as its sources of influence (then again, that’s an incredibly high bar), but I had a pretty good time with it. It’s funny, well-designed and unique, with the latter being its most important quality.
Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is the kind of game that confuses me with its existence. It’s not for newcomers with its real-time world map on top of real time combat. Even slowed down to turtle speed, it’s still a lot for someone who’s never played a game like this to start with. Especially with the complete lack of a worthwhile tutorial to lead them through the game. And it’s definitely not for genre veterans, given they’ll have played ten games that do everything better than this one.
My complaints are very minute. I simply loved Hi-Fi Rush. I just wasn’t expecting for such a banger to drop without any buildup, coming from such a talented team, right at the beginning of the year. It’s a magnificent mixture of tons of games from the mid-2000s, resulting in a unique combination of gameplay styles, sense of humor and visuals that easily stands out from the rest of Microsoft’s current exclusives.
This is still the GoldenEye you have loved for the past twenty-five years, with just enough quality of life improvements to make it feel at home in a modern console. It runs well (though not at 60fps), its new controller scheme is a godsend, and the godlike soundtrack remains intact. It’s more than just nostalgia bait: as a shooter made in a time when console shooters weren’t a thing, it has aged surprisingly well in most aspects besides its visuals. I love that I can finally play this on a modern system, with a decent controller, for the foreseeable future.
I hope that we see further building on this idea from Lizardry in the future: a version with voices might actually be better, since I’m more of an audio learner than a visual. But, as it stands, this experiment in connection and communication is neither satisfying nor dissatisfying: it simply is, and I can appreciate it as such.
The mishmash between retro aesthetics and modern quality of life improvements creates a game that doesn’t innovate at all, but never needed to. Dread Templar is a stellar retro shooter that shines with its fast-paced gameplay and utterly stellar level design, with most of its issues being minute things such as poor (but very occasional) voice acting and some bizarre key mapping.
The improved framerate alone makes this next-gen version of Kakarot the ideal way to play the game, but considering the original build came out three years ago, you may have already played it to death. It’s still getting DLC, sure, but it’s the same old Kakarot. You need to either love it to death or have never played it before to fully enjoy this brand new version. It’s still a repetitive game full of padding and pointless filler, sure, but it’s also a phenomenal celebration of the anime, and pretty good action RPG in its own right.
If you were wondering if Persona 4 Golden would manage to stand the test of time, don’t worry, it did. Playing it on a console is still as fun as it was on the PS Vita. Even if its visuals aged like curded milk, and the dungeon crawling segments aren’t that engaging, the rest of the game is just too damn entertaining to complain about. The music, the characters, the setting, the fusing system, the fast-paced combat, the utterly fantastic plot… Persona 4 Golden is just great.
There could definitely be some balancing with the weapons, and bosses, as the bosses can feel like way more of a challenge than any of the enemies depending on your setup. That said though, it’s a very okay game with a lot of potential so maybe in the future with a few balance patches, it could stand on its own two feet for Hades fans waiting for the second game.
I’ll confess that I expected little from The Legend of Tianding due to its origins as a remake of a Flash game, as well as the minute amount of hype garnered when it first came out last year, but I was really pleased with the game as a whole. Even if its art style is hampered by some dull level design, and its pacing can occasionally be a bit dull, its gameplay was just good enough to make me (mostly) ignore these setbacks.
These issues were minute, however. I still wholeheartedly recommend picking NeverAwake up, even if you’re just moderately acquainted to bullet hell shooters. Its gameplay is actually innovative, in a genre known for rarely experimenting with new control schemes or gameplay loops, and its visuals are just amazing, being the perfect blend of something from Tim Burton and old-school Sega. Even if its story was forgettable and its duration wasn’t that impressive, its core mechanics more than made up for any setbacks found along the way.
There’s no denying the love and passion that went into recreating Colossal Cave into a 3D experience. The fact that the Williams’ came out of retirement to undertake this project, just proves how special the game is. However, I can see it being divisive among gamers. Older players (like myself) and veterans of the early adventure game genre, will more than likely revel in its faithfulness to its source material. I was completely hooked by its mysteries, and have gone back several times to try to discover everything Colossal Cave has to offer. Younger players, on the other hand, might be put off by its lack of narrative, complex puzzles, and very minimal hand-holding. I hope I’m wrong, and that Roberta Williams gets the appreciation she deserves from a whole new generation.
This game was just the greatest cup of coffee for me to help start the new year. Last year started with a bang when I had the pleasure of playing Infernax, and 2023 got off to a great start as well with Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider. It’s not terribly involved, the storyline is a bit heavy handed, and you need to figure out how it handles, but it’s exactly what it needs to be.
To Codemasters’ credit, it is the full version of GRID Legends, but now available in VR. It’s not a simple “VR experience” either: there’s a truckload of content in this game, making it one of the beefiest titles available on the Quest 2. However, the horrendous visuals, disappointing controls, and lack of immersion make this one a tough sell to all but the most die-hard VR enthusiasts, those who were eagerly waiting for a full-fledged racing sim on the system.
It feels like a product of its time, with newer games doing the same things, but better. Especially Triangle Strategy, a game I now recognize takes a lot of cues from this title. It’s still a good game, and worth playing for people curious about the history of the genre. Beyond that however, I just don’t see the hype.