Infinite Start's Reviews
Overall, I would say I enjoyed playing through Ghostwire: Tokyo. Some of this might just be my love of the setting and overall culture, though it’s unique and often fascinating. It’s just a shame a wide variety of choices hold it back. Turning an open-world game into a long series of checkboxes is rarely good, with combat following an odd curve. It starts fun, then feels unsatisfying, followed by it slowly building back to being fun. Given it eventually becomes a satisfying experience I would say it’s worth considering, though it is absolutely not an experience I’d say is for everyone.
All things considered, Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is a good spin-off. It feels different enough to stand out, without it being so different to throw fans off. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite check every box. Combat could be a little better, gameplay a bit deeper, story a little less goofy and so forth but it’s a good first attempt. One that is worth giving a go if you enjoy either experience.
Triangle Strategy does what it sets out to do quite well. It’s engaging, the story is interesting if you’re invested in it and there is the ability to explore or ignore it if you want to. Unfortunately, the slower aspects won’t appeal to everyone, some might even be overwhelmed by the options, though it’s a solid strategy RPG that will give you plenty to do at home or on the go.
ELEX II builds upon its predecessor, offering up an enticing return to Magalan, a setting that is as enjoyable as ever. As with all Piranha Bytes games, there is a level of unrefined gameplay to be found. Audio and animations can be a mixed bag. But beyond the rigidness, there’s a game full of sprawling, deep systems that give the player the freedom to tackle this medieval/sci-fi mash-up their own way. It’s unfortunate that the design of a bygone era comes under fire from resolvable technical problems that make it harder to overlook the rougher edges. After a few patches, ELEX II may be able to shine brighter, but as it currently stands it has one too many jagged edges overshadowing its greater parts.
Shadow Warrior 3 is touted as the next step for the franchise, but the end result feels like several in the wrong direction. Lo Wang’s terribly brief outing fails to fully find its rhythm, although it does occasionally glimpse a better version of itself. The lackluster dialogue, platforming, and campaign all hold back the newest installment, providing us a watered-down gun-toting, sword-slinging adventure that tosses aside the loftier ambitions of its predecessor. If fast-paced FPS action is what you crave, your appetite is better satisfied elsewhere.
What makes Elden Ring work is a deep understanding of both what players like about the games and what makes the setting different. It should immediately feel different, yet the same, making for a wonderful experience. Some might be put off by the more accessible nature, at least initially, though it does a good job of offering this without taking away from what makes the experience special. You’ll still struggle, die, make another mistake, die, get to the boss and then die again. Just instead of putting people off, it encourages using the awareness to your advantage. For these reasons, along with the wonderful cutscenes that touch on a fascinating narrative and delightful scenery, it’s easy to recommend Elden Ring.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a mildly interesting repurposing of the Siege formula as it’s molded into a co-op only outing. Breaking away from the 5v5 PvP that has led the charge since 2015 is certainly refreshing, even if combatting parasites with tactical professionals is unlikely to be the experience Tom Clancy fans desire. Whether or not Rainbow Six Extraction vibes with you may be partially dependent on your prior disposition towards Siege, as the central gameplay is copied as is. The difference is in the use of those gameplay mechanics against a different enemy, which changes up the pacing. Those that have been long-time Siege faithfuls may find the Extraction spin-off a fun deviation for the series. Those without prior participation in Ubisoft’s successful multiplayer title are likely to be more aware of the flaws showing through the uninspired implementation of another game’s soul.
Forza Horizon 5 is a masterclass in arcade racing. There is no equal out there. Burnout has all but disappeared; Need for Speed has fallen from its once-lofty heights, and The Crew is hardly a competent competitor. Playground Games have proven that their formula is still king, offering up countless hours of racing bliss as the live service seasonal format unfolds. As long as you aren’t looking for a more simulation-bound experience like Forza Motorsport, you simply cannot do better than Forza Horizon 5.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is mostly more of the same, for better or worse. Sledgehammer Games has brought fresh ideas to a formula that desperately needs a shake-up, but the execution only leaves us desiring more. The inevitable Call of Duty: Vanguard 2 may further explore the designs seen in their infancy. And we sure hope it does because Vanguard could signal a notable change in the future. But for now, we have a relatively amusing installment that ticks the required boxes and little else for the annual series.
Blue Reflection: Second Light does a good job of building on what worked in the first adventure. It’s cute, the characters are charming, with deep enough mechanics to make gameplay engaging. It might not be perfect like stealth sections are fairly pointless, but fans of the previous or this style of RPG will enjoy it. Even if it’s only over the delightful visuals.
The hard part about the introductory chapter is starting with a bang. It doesn’t feel like the story actually starts until the very end of Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation Code Fairy Vol. 1, with gameplay that is simply not appealing enough to carry the rest. As a result, this is going to be an experience, at least in its current form, that appeals to a very small set of people. Maybe if you’re a fan of the Gundam Battle Operation series, otherwise I’d wait to see how the second volume goes.
Shin Megami Tensei V is the Shin Megami Tensei game fans have been waiting for. Not only it does improve the core gameplay, but it also offers a dark-gritty storyline that exceeds previous efforts. There is so much to do in Shin Megami Tensei V that could make you easily forget how long you’ve been playing. If you have been a fan of the SMT games, Shin Megami Tensei V is a must-buy, and for JRPG gamers, it is a game you don’t want to miss.
In a lot of ways, I applaud the concept behind Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars. It’s different, commits fully, and absolutely captures the experience it wants to create. The problem is, a gimmick like that can make it a hard sell. Games as a medium have distinctly different advantages, as well as those games catering to different elements, making it more of a well-executed concept. Naturally, fans of Dungeons and Dragons will likely find the experience comforting and enjoyable, whereas most other players will see a unique-looking game that plays like a rather generic RPG.
here are a lot of things going on in Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi. It’s a simple-looking game that relies heavily on a love of the tactical side of RPGs. There is also a strong story, one that does a good job hooking players quickly, though can lose them with frequent tutorials and vague answers. At its core, Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi does a decent job in the genre and certainly has its own perks, it just might not be enough to make it stand out next to similar titles or fall short of some of the better games in the genre.
Unfortunately, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water wasn’t perfect when it released on Nintendo Wii U, nor is does the remaster fix everything. While the flaws hold it back, the game succeeds by providing the horrific and eerie atmosphere that the franchise is known for. There is a lot that fans will appreciate, it’s newcomers who might not care for the dated approach. However, whether you’re a fan or newcomer, if you give Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water a fair chance, you’ll likely not be disappointed.
Despite having some bumps, the core story, character interactions, and setting more than make Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy worth playing. I found myself amused by Star-Lord’s antics, gripped by his past and curious about the future. Throw in some delightful songs, weird situations, and a fascinating setting that requires a team of at least some level of teamwork to accomplish and you have a game worth exploring.
Even if Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars isn’t reinventing the wheel, it’s the type of experience that will speak to fans. The jokes are good, the setting offers a fair amount of new subject matter to explore and the gameplay is interesting enough to enjoy. What it lacks is some of the depth or sheer content you’d find in a similar game, which is somewhat disappointing. Still, fans of Neptunia will likely find themselves having fun seeing what trouble Neptune has gotten herself into.
New World could be presented as a gateway to MMOs (“My First MMO,” if you will). The simplistic combat may entice those who have been overwhelmed by the busy hotbars of games like Final Fantasy XIV. The many allusions to survival games also provide an easy way to integrate those new to the genre. But I don’t believe everything on offer here is going to pull anyone away from the titan MMOs still holding their thrones. New World is at its best when you wander into the dense forests and toil away endlessly with the (arguably therapeutic) gathering portion of the game. Those pork chops and apple sauce meals won’t cook themselves, after all.
Speaking for myself, The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes starts very strong, takes an instant nose dive, and then meanders to one of the conclusions. Linear paths, obvious secrets, blatant choices, and more take so much out of the experience. Sure, players are still rewarded with so many tiny details, it just isn’t interesting enough to warrant the ride. It’s hard to go from a man in a golden mask taking the life of a woman before his people are brutally killed by monstrous beasts to getting orders about how this insurrection is going to play out and then three hours in a hole looking for more interesting things to do. It’s a shame too since the interesting things are there, it would probably just work better as a movie than a game.
The tricky thing about Dungeon Encounters is that it’s an engaging game. I found myself saying I would do one more floor a couple of times before realizing I had to stop. But, by the same token, there are plenty of games with deeper mechanics and more to it than a board and boxes fighting one another. For this reason, I think it appeals to people who love the imaginative side of Dungeon and Dragons, but many RPG fans will likely find the lack of practically anything boring. After a while, you just realize you’re swapping numbers, with a team eventually winning or losing.