658 Published Reviews
Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the DruidsXbox Series X
If Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was as vast and interesting as many seasons of Game of Thrones, think of Wrath of the Druids as the forthcoming House of the Dragon spinoff. It’s not going to change anyone’s minds, but if you were still on board, it’s exciting to return to that world.
The MediumXbox Series X
While The Medium’s design stumbles are disappointing, its human characters and gorgeous world are ultimately the things that stuck with me. Once I finally made it to the end of the road, I immediately restarted the campaign to experience all of the narrative breadcrumbs with the newfound clarity of the ending in mind, which is the sign of an effective story.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret FairyPS5
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a strong entry in the series and is an improvement on the previous game. It introduces new mechanics that fit well within the context of the story without feeling like they were forcibly implemented just for the sake of it, while also refining existing core gameplay elements.
Ultimately, Outcasters mostly seems ready to settle into its niche that it’s created. It’s not designed to be the killer app that reels in a mass of new players, but it should attract some. Better yet, since it launched directly into Stadia Pro, it’s there on day one for the folks who are already the most committed.
It’s hard to imagine going back to playing as Peter after stepping into Miles’ shoes. Bashing a heavy enemy to the ground with venom after he’s gotten in your way, cloaking yourself out of trouble and then ambushing enemies from a new angle, and even just the joy of some Spider-Man 2-esque traversal challenges all make for a great time.
I loved its characters, humor, and willingness to balance complete absurdity with utter sincerity. And even though the battle system would occasionally trip over its own feet, I still adored watching my crew beat the hell out of some weirdos, grow a little bit closer, and celebrate their victory with karaoke back at the pub.
While it’s sure to be overshadowed by the excellent pair of Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a wonderful platformer and a strong part of what makes the PS5’s launch lineup arguably the best in video game history. The aesthetic beauty, incredible use of music, and wealth of unlockables overshadow some of the finicky control issues.
Sakuna: Of Rice and RuinSwitch
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin is ultimately a charming and fun adventure. The farming mechanics could have been explained more explicitly, but once everything clicks, you come to appreciate how well both the farming simulation and sidescrolling action adventure aspects complement each other. Sakuna starts off as a spoiled goddess with no concern for anyone but herself.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IVPS4
It does have pacing issues, and players may get lost if they didn’t experience the arcs in Liberl and Crossbell. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is still a solid game though, despite the stumble in the second act, and is a viable option for those itching to play an epic, immersive JRPG.
Remothered: Broken PorcelainPC
I don’t blame Stormind Games for sensing that urgency, but it seems obvious now to me, and perhaps to the team, that a more polished Remothered: Broken Porcelain is a better proposition than the version we got, rushed to the store before it was ready. Remothered: Broken Porcelain doesn’t deserve to be your Halloween stream of 2020, but give the team some time and they may be able to piece it back together.
Mafia: Definitive EditionPC
Mafia: Definitive Edition is a curiosity. Newcomers to the game will find here a soft landing via a strong narrative and gameplay that will readily welcome them. Meanwhile, veterans will find enough changes to make another visit to Lost Heaven worth their while, though whether they will be pleased with the modernization is a separate question entirely.
While the game is certainly not perfect, for the developers’ second attempt at an RTS, Iron Harvest has a lot of potential. Once the multiplayer, competitive, and co-op features are added, Iron Harvest is sure to become a staple of the RTS genre.
13 Sentinels: Aegis RimPS4
In any case, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is absolutely wonderful all around. Each of the 13 protagonists gets relatively equal screen time, and they’re all brought to life by both the great English and Japanese voice tracks. You’re sure to have your favorites, but it’s incredibly satisfying to see how each of their stories intersects through time and space and coalesces into the battle for mankind against the alien invaders. This is one adventure you simply don’t want to miss.
Ultimately, Wasteland 3 succeeds on its narrative, choice system, strong characters, and compelling factions. It stumbles in its lifeless world, inconsistent presentation, familiar gameplay, and technical side – it often feels like a snow-themed reskin of Wasteland 2, with many of that title’s limitations and janky systems. Nonetheless, designer Brian Fargo has here made the best post-apocalyptic RPG since Fallout: New Vegas.
Square Enix heavily marketed the title as a games-as-a-service affair, so a long road is ahead. With a substantial amount of new content in the future, as well as some variety in mission objectives, Marvel’s Avengers could be worth a player’s time and effort. At the very least, the roughly 8-10 hour campaign is worth experiencing if only for the amazing portrayal of Kamala Khan. Right now, though, you may want to steer clear until more updates arrive.
Ultimately, this game does the bare minimum to qualify as an investigation game. Almost all the portions of the murder mystery plot fall flat. However, it does deliver an incredible collection of stories about the citizens of modern-day Paris.
For such young actors, the cast of Stranger Things completely blows other performances out of the water. The finale has to be some of the finest television I’ve seen in a long time, shattering all my expectations. I’d recommend leaving breathing time in order to appreciate it fully as a standalone episode. Stranger Things might have risen to fame as a binge-show and a cheap gimmick to experience nostalgia, but its visceral performances, thoughtful screenwriting, and attention to cultural phenomena prove that there’s more to it than initially meets the eye.
Part of Bloodstained’s slightly too convoluted lore is that Miriam has been inexplicably asleep for the past 10 years. She begins her story by getting an earful of exposition, then is attacked by a squid with teeth, starts kicking ass, and basically never stops. It’s easy to interpret as allegorical, maybe even autobiographical — after being missing for a decade, IGA is back and ready to stretch his legs. If this was the intent, he’s being too modest.
The Sinking CityPC
There’s so much wonderful potential in this game that its flaws are all the more maddening. I wished that it had followed Call of Cthulhu in abandoning combat altogether and just used its larger space and considerably more nuanced investigation system to tell a great story. But it seems I’ll have to keep waiting for the perfect Lovecraft game
In calling its new game simply Samurai Shodown, SNK has made an honest declaration rather than a crass attempt to curry favor. This game is not a Samurai Shodown remake, nor is it truly a soft reboot. It is an old warrior returned after years of pilgrimage, its name newly earned and seasoned, its skills acuminated to a point so fine it’s invisible to the naked eye.
Judgment is, like the Yakuza games that came before it and all true cities, intimidatingly permeable. From the outside, it will seem strange and forbidding, something you’ll never truly be a part of. But like city life, all it takes is a willingness to step outside and join the arterial flow of its citizens going back and forth, waiting for their dates outside the beer garden, or waving hello to someone they’re seen before but whose name they don’t even know. I’m from Kamurocho at this point, but even if you’re not, Judgment welcomes you.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth3DS
The merits and flaws of Persona Q2 are exactly what you’d expect from the series. It’s delivering the same mechanics which are alternately tedious, punishing and strategically exciting and the chance to have a host of dysfunctional heroes tease, flirt and ultimately fight alongside each other. Like Endgame, Q2 is both a fitting finale but also a look forward.
Playing Rage 2 is infuriating. Despite the exemplary action and fluid controls, the shooter is cluttered with core design flaws that impeded my enjoyment. There is a damn good game buried underneath the low stakes story that’s filled with cutscenes that are interrupted by other cutscenes meant to explain a new character’s contrived backstory, and set in a world that lacks personality. Unfortunately, what we got is Avalanche’s Rage 2. Any game bearing id’s legacy should be all-play and no work, yet Rage 2 is too much work with not enough play.
While Observation is spectacularly stylish, its base mechanics don’t quite have the same level of polish. It’s easy to get stuck on a puzzle when there’s little explanation of how to proceed. I spent far too long cruising around the space station with the instructions to look for damage because I didn’t know exactly what damage the game wanted me to report back on. The game is even more linear than it appears to be.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of GilgamechSwitch
Add in some surprisingly good plot twists and emotional arcs and SteamWorld Quest is a game that storied RPG developers like Atlus and Square Enix could be proud of. The fact that this is Image & Form’s first outing in the genre begs the question of what exciting adventure the developers will rush headlong into next.