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Astria Ascending is a fantastic throwback to classic JRPGs. Its story may not be remarkable, but the overall gameplay experience makes the game memorable. The deep combat with the customization and unique boss battles with excellent enemy variety is what kept me playing. In fact, knowing how the game works now, I have been hungry to start a new playthrough with different character class combinations as I progress. It will be hard for players to pick up if they are not used to turn-based gameplay. However, fans of this style of game will be in for a fantastic treat. But if you are on Xbox I cannot recommend playing this game in its current state. When it is patched and you can get past the main menu, then feel compelled to pick it up.
Deathloop is an incredibly unique FPS, blending together some of the best aspects of Arkane’s previous work. Whether you prefer to sneak and target your prey slowly, or to tackle the challenge head-on with a limitless arsenal of weapons and powers. Deathloop blends an intriguing narrative, with incredibly diverse combat, and truly makes it one of the best games on PlayStation 5 right now. It is without a doubt one of the best games by Arkane to date.
Far Cry 6 is the culmination of everything Ubisoft learned over the years from the long-running series. Yes, the open-world formula is still there. But luckily, the publisher takes a few well-realized bit more risks to counter it. From the inclusion of an actual character protagonist to getting rid of the skill tree, and a complete gear and perks revamp, these new aspects paid dividends to create a fresh take on a long-running franchise. Far Cry 6 is one of the most thematically consistent entries in a long time. Graphically, the game is one of the best-looking games of this year. It also runs impeccably well at 60 FPS. Although there were a few technical hiccups along the path and some might be put off by the Ubisoft open-world formula, make no mistake, Far Cry 6 was treated with the utmost love and care and makes me excited for the future of the franchise.
Lost in Random is another example of genuine uniqueness coming from the “EA Originals” program which brought us It Takes Two earlier this year. It excels in creating a nightmarish setting filled with charming characters and dry humor to indulge in its wonderous writing. From a gripping narrative and lovable protagonist to the friends found in the twisted streets. With engaging enemy encounters, intricate combat, and interesting but disappointing bosses. Zoink Games excellently delivers a fun experience that will leave you wanting to dive back in after the credits roll. It will be hard to not want to get lost in Random again.
If you are as enamored with the visuals in the trailer as I was, Kena was worth the wait. With their first game, Ember Lab has something here, the beginning of something fantastic. At $29.99 there is tremendous value there. Although, during my play-through, I could not help but wonder what it would be like if it were a $70, AAA game that spent five years in development with hundreds of developers. Maybe next time, Ember Labs, maybe next time.
In the end, Song of Iron gives players a beautiful world that is enriched with enchanting music and effects. But ultimately the game falls short. It is hampered by its controls in both combat and platforming which will likely frustrate many players. The story feels like an afterthought, and honestly had so much potential with the setting, but it misses the mark. The game could have benefited from the protagonist having actual lines of dialogue, or even dialogue choices. This would have lifted Song of Iron to another level. With all the criticism I have of this game, admittedly it certainly was a solid effort. I commend the developer for making such an ambitious title. I look forward to seeing what he is able to build on and improve with his next title.
Ultra Age executes a very fun and engaging combat system with bosses that were unique and great to fight. However, introducing so many combat mechanics with its many swords and never using them during boss fights is a major letdown. The story was basic and the dynamic of Age and Helvis never grew over the journey in the many boxed-in levels. Thus, I can not recommend this game since the only enjoyment to be found is in its combat. But the game never felt boring, and it shows the clear ambitions that weren’t executed well by two indie studios. While I won’t remember the journey Age and Helvis went through in the years to come, I will remember the fun I had with its combat.
Psychonauts 2 is a tremendous journey from start to finish. It takes what was successful from the first game, and improves what wasn’t, and cranks everything up to 11. Psychonauts 2 is the culmination of everything Double Fine has learned from its decorated history and is easily their best title to date. If you’re new to the series, you don’t have to worry. The game does a good job of filling you in on the characters and events from the first Psychonauts.
While it has its problems Fracked is a nice addition to the PSVR library. If you only play on PlayStation and yearn for retro shooters, this is going to scratch that itch. A lack of content in what will be the hardware’s final year makes Fracked one of the few must-own PSVR games in 2021. If I were playing Fracked on just my PS4, I would be disappointed. Given the platform, Fracked is one of the top 10 FPS’s on PSVR. Many of the game’s bad moments are balanced out by its better moments.
Scarlet Nexus, while disappointing in the story overall, is saved by its relentlessly enjoyable combat. The Japanese voice cast did a superb job, even if the English voice acting was not particularly impressive. The levels, while offering stellar visuals, were too linear and never offered any interesting reason to return to explore. It feels like for every great part of this game, another lacks to a noticeable degree. Even so, Scarlet Nexus is worth the money if you are looking for a decent 25+ hour experience.