Pacific Drive is a unique RPG and survival crafting game in a landscape choked with unimaginative copycats and clones. That alone makes it worth checking out. Its story, atmosphere and basic loop are engaging and satisfying. At the default difficulty though, its design and mechanics can frustrate in ways that neither skill or time can overcome. Pacific Drive offers a refreshing RPG experience but the ride is sometimes bumpier than intended.
This Final Fantasy VII project is a massive undertaking of an impossible scale. A single release stretched into three games? Preposterous. And yet, so far the team is totally nailing it. The first game was a smash hit, and Rebirth runs laps around it in almost every way.
Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is a wonderful homage to an awful console. It faithfully captures the iconic aesthetic but also manages to deliver a solid platform adventure. Although it’s short and sticks a little too close to its inspirations, connoisseurs of the industry will lap up the humor and enjoy this trip down memory lane.
Regardless of the early-day technical issues, Helldivers 2 is an absolute blast… When it works. The high-octane, exhilarating, take-no-prisoner approach to fighting off horde after horde of enemies is utterly fantastic. Tight gunplay, excellent coop, varied and rewarding missions, and a fun upgrade system all come together to create a perfect blend of shoot-em-up chaos that I simply can’t get enough of. While server issues continue to be a considerable nuisance, I can’t help but wonder what Arrowhead Game Studios have cooking for Helldivers 2 in the years to come. Now, step forth, Cadet. The day ahead is uncertain without you.
The original 2009 Solium Infernum was a unique take on turn-based strategy. League of Geeks’ 2024 update preserves and polishes what should have been a familiar classic. Solium Infernum is a complex game more about politics, double dealing and uneasy alliances than fights on the battlefield, though there are those, too. This is a game that might be too dense for more casual players, but patient strategy gamers are in for a treat and a good, long season in hell.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League drips with potential but never lives up to the Rocksteady pedigree. I had fun with its story, at times being genuinely left on the edge of my seat with what could happen next. Most of the performances – Kevin Conroy being the best of the bunch – also kept me engaged and entertained with the narrative. But the endlessly unambitious gameplay loop grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. Envisioning this as a live-service game with years of life ahead of it is impossible. It’ll be interesting to see if Rocksteady can ever make Suicide Squad feel more entertaining than a bullet to the head.
Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story is a much more ambitious game than most crafting RPGs. It’s accessible to most patient gamers, too, whether they’ve played League or not. The crafting elements are good, if occasionally opaque. Unfortunately, the game’s unvaried tone and extended length padded out by some dull quests takes away some of the fun.
Qomp2 is a wonderful puzzler that is packed with innovation. It’s a refreshing twist on a beloved classic and serves up unexpected elements from start to finish. With bosses, switches and much more, this game of patience and skills is a blast. While it’s only a short ride and lacks real replay value, each bounce is a joy due to its sleek design and intuitive gameplay. I truly hope that this sparks a new wave of spiritual sequels, rejuvenating iconic Atari titles, much like what this game accomplishes for Pong.
The puzzles in this game are clever, well-constructed, and satisfying to solve. At the same time, the platforming can be frustrating. The jump mechanics take some getting used to, and the controls don’t have that Mario feel. But this too is a sort of puzzle to solve. You’ve got to learn the basics all over again, in a way. Once I accepted this, Mario vs Donkey Kong really opened up for me. I took my failures in stride. I pushed for perfection whenever possible. Soon enough I was having a great time. For longtime Mario fans new to this series, this new paradigm might take some adjustment. But I assure you, this investment of time and effort is worth it.
For veteran gamers, Tomb Raider Remastered I-III is a great time capsule of a very popular trilogy of games that moved the action/adventure genre forward. For recent gamers, this collection is an excellent way to experience the games that the modern action/adventure games of today evolved from.
Ultros is a game with a very strong visual identity, trippy theme and a few unique mechanics, like its gardening system for upgrades and abilities. Strip away the psychedelic art and gauzy narrative, however, and you’re left with a somewhat familiar-playing 2D Metroidvania. That isn’t necessarily bad, but I wish the game’s combat and exploration matched the imagination of its art.
Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden is a splendid experience crafted intricately by Don’t Nod. The game starts off strong, but a bit of the allure wears off over time as you peek behind the curtains of the various systems within the game. That said, the game’s intriguing narrative, relatively tough decisions, and overall solid gameplay elements make Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden one of the strongest gaming experiences of early 2024.
There’s another way to look at War Hospital which is as some sort of RPG/visual novel. I think this change would actually benefit the themes of the story. There are already existing characters in the story. They are where the game comes closest to realizing its vision. The randomly generated patients by comparison, all feel like unimportant NPCs. War Hospital is all about taking on a role, but you express yourself through tactical decisions. If I spent less time choosing the mortal fates of random named guys, maybe I could have spent more time learning to be Major Henry Wells.
All in all, I had a great time with Another Code: Recollection. I recommend it to fans of interesting stories, mysteries, and puzzles. It won’t provide a real challenge, but it has a great atmosphere. And if you haven’t played the original games, this is a great opportunity to fill the hole in your library.
Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior shakes up the action RPG formula with a genuinely creative mechanic. Simple to understand but often deviously challenging to execute, Lysfanga’s clone-based combat is addictive and clever. Maybe best of all, Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior doesn’t overreach, instead focusing on polish and the best possible execution of its original, core concept.
If all you’re looking for is fan service, I guess Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash provides it, though it adds almost nothing to the established lore or characters. If you’re primarily interested in Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash as an anime-inspired fighting game, look elsewhere. A very short story mode, no 1v1 matches, poor design choices, and an overall lack of polish more often than not overshadow some occasionally fun combat.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink does a few things very well. Its art direction and music are gorgeous. The online multiplayer co-op combat gameplay works really well. But as a single-player action JRPG, Granblue Fantasy: Relink is mostly quite generic. It’s also the story sequel to a game not released in North America, which really soured my ability to get invested in the story or characters. Action JRPG fans looking for more games in the genre might enjoy Granblue Fantasy: Relink, but there are too many other better options for non-diehard JRPG fans to recommend the game.
I loved this game when it first released on the PS2. It felt almost too cool for console gaming, too crisp for the era in question. Even now, Reload carries a timeless charm that keeps me engaged. The battle system has been polished, the visuals are totally overhauled, and the game is bigger than ever. There’s pacing problems to be sure, and the gameplay loop isn’t for everyone. Plus, fans of certain versions will find this edition somewhat lacking in features. But maybe that’s okay? I’d rather judge this game on what it is, rather than what it isn’t. And Persona 3 Reload is an excellent evolution of a PS2 classic that fans new and old will almost certainly love.
The secrets that unravel about Don Turnipchino Sr and the legacy Turnip Boy give the story a fun, sweet twist. This humorous playful universe doesn’t take itself too seriously, making it a genuinely entertaining adventure. The cute and silly characters, as well as the tasks and quest that unravel in the short time and distance, are just enough to make it a fun game. Although it has its ups and downs, at the end it aligns with the overall direction of the story of an anti-hero root vegetable in a quest to defeat the corruption of institutions.
All in all, BlazBlue Entropy Effect is a fun experience with slick combat. I just wish it felt like the BlazBlue title meant something. Right now, it seems like an unrelated game got put under the BlazBlue umbrella for marketing purposes. Oh well, at least Taokaka is still fun to play.