9 Games Rated and Reviewed

PS4
Dark Souls III
Reviewed: Feb 12, 2022
9.40

What is there to say about Dark Souls? You’ll either love or hate it, but often a mix of both. I was still a relative newcomer to the Souls series when I jumped into this one (beat and loved Bloodborne, put about 30ish hours into DS1 so far) but after a few hours in, I got hooked. And now after putting 200+ hours in I can say it’s probably my favorite of the Souls games I’ve played.

It’s world design isn’t as intricately connected as DS1 and it’s combat isn’t quite as smooth and stylish as Bloodborne, but it took enough from both of those worlds to make a very expansive and satisfying Souls and overall RPG experience. The areas I find it excels beyond the others is its amazing array of epic and unique bosses, and it’s endless amount of customization it offers through its hundreds of weapons/armor/spells to experiment with. As a lover of deep RPG a mechanics (Divinity 2 & The Witcher are some of my favorites), this truly scratches that itch. The build options are just limitless, and the exploration is as fantastic as expected. After I beat the main game I immediately jumped into the DLC and had a great time playing through those too. This game is just full of secrets you want to uncover, whether it’s an awesome new weapon, a wild new boss, or even a bit more lore to wrap you deeper into the story and world.

As for the difficulty, yeah it’s still gonna wreck you plenty. Lots of fast and aggressive enemies, a handful of obnoxiously frustrating areas, and a few bosses that are almost guaranteed to cause some rage quitting. I find it harder than Bloodborne as your character doesn’t have quite the speed or agility needed for some of the more aggressive enemies, but in some ways I’ve found it easier than Dark Souls 1, as the level design and quality of life upgrades make it a little more forgiving and approachable. Overall it felt pretty balanced, with enough great bosses and interesting areas to keep you engaged through the end.

I could go on forever about this game but I’ll end it there. For someone newer to the Souls genre, I think it’s a great place to start. Not as aggressive as Bloodborne, but a little more streamlined and smoother than Dark Souls 1 (from my somewhat limited experience). It definitely did a great job of finally making me a true fanboy of the Souls genre.

PS4
Ghost of Tsushima
Reviewed: Jan 22, 2022
9.30

Fantastic gaming experience. The best way I can describe the game is a breath of fresh air. The core gameplay is definitely nothing new (stealth action adventure), but the game design is so gorgeous and crafted with such attention to detail with the mechanics adding just enough new twists to the formula that it makes the whole experience truly engaging through the end. It’s also one of the only games I’ve played recently where I was actually emotionally invested in the characters and the story actually made me feel real emotions. It’s such a simple and grounded story of protecting your homeland, that it’s so much more affecting and authentic than the typical “save the world, use magic, etc” from 90% of other similar titles.

The combat, while taking cues from the Assassin’s Creed and Arkham games has enough of its own identity to feel fresh. Fighting is satisfying and visceral, with multiple stances that you have to learn and switch between, as well as new abilities and trick weapons you can add to your arsenal. The boss duels are truly epic and exciting, feeling very cinematic but also genuinely challenging at times. Also the challenging of enemies to a one on one stand-off is unique and keeps the enemy encounters interesting.

The world design is where things truly shine. Just spending time to ride freely around Tsushima is such a joy on its own. I really appreciate that they removed mini maps and most of the HUD and just let you explore and find cues from the environment. It’s one of the few games my wife genuinely enjoyed watching me play because it was just so pretty to look at.

The story like I mentioned is quite a shining element as well. Dealing with death, honor, and family obligations/disputes makes it feel genuine and relatable. It had enough twists and turns through the play through that I was conflicted but satisfied with its bittersweet ending. It was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions that I don’t normally get from action/adventure games.

With all that said, it’s certainly not a perfect game, with a lot of the same old “open world checklist” gimmicks that drag it down after a while. Sneaking through and conquering enemy camps is fun the first dozen or so times, until you realize there’s like a hundred of them and many of them start to feel recycled. It just becomes a chore after a while. With that said though, the game does provide a healthy amount of armor, stances, techniques, gear, etc to work towards getting so the grinding does feel quite rewarding for dozens of hours.

Overall, a really memorable and satisfying experience that I highly recommend. While still a little overly grindy at times, the combat is a lot of fun, the story is engaging, and the world is just too gorgeous to not want to get immersed in.



PS4
Bloodborne
Reviewed: Jan 10, 2022
9.30

Really amazing game. First Soulsborne game I’ve beaten, and I’d say probably the most fun/accessible of all the ones I’ve played. After playing maybe 20 hours of Dark Souls and a ton of hours of Nioh 2, I was encouraged to give this one a try. Very glad I did. It seems to have the best of both of those games in one tight package. It has the super fast and buttery smooth combat that I loved about Nioh, but also the amazing level design and deep lore that you can expect from a Souls game. The story seemed a little more clear and engaging than Dark Souls, as you’re basically just a hunter taking down monsters as the night progresses and becomes more of a nightmare. Cool simple concept with lots of depth if you look for it.

I also find it a little easier than Dark Souls games once you adjust to the speed of the combat. In the Souls games it feels like the level design is the main enemy, while in Bloodborne, it’s mainly just the enemies you have to worry about, so you can just focus on improving your skills and leveling up to conquer the map. It’s not until the endgame when you start encountering super difficult levels that kill you just for having the audacity to exist in them. Bosses are fun and varied, and most of them are manageable to beat solo. Also I appreciate that the game isn’t super long. Dark Souls feels very sprawling and ambiguous with its story/progression, Nioh just felt endless, but Bloodborne feels paced quite well. Took me about 60 hours taking my time to beat the main story along with all the optional areas/bosses, etc., though it went by fast as the progression and exploration are quite addicting.

Can’t think of many cons really, it’s extremely polished, and it’s basically accomplishing exactly what it’s designed to do. Only thing that really upset me was when I beat the game it immediately dumped me into New Game+ and I lost access to every area I had previously unlocked. This wouldn’t be a huge deal but when trying to play the DLC I had to replay a decent chunk of the game. I wish the game gave me a warning about NG+ or the DLC being difficult to access after beating the game. Bummer. Also one other thing that did bother me a bit, in comparison to the Souls games, there’s definitely less customization options or opportunities. No real magic, less weapon and armor sets, and without an option to respec, it does make it difficult to try out different weapons later in the game after you’ve already invested a bunch of resources into leveling your current weapon. It basically encourages you to pick and weapon and stick to it for your whole play through. Which makes every weapon viable and unique which I appreciate, but it’s also really hard to switch to a shiny new toy if it doesn’t match your stats. Not a huge deal, but in comparison to the flexibility and fun of DS3, it is a bit of a letdown.

To sum up, the game is scary, exhilarating, at times frustrating, but overall very addicting and satisfying to play. It did a great job of sucking me into the Soulsborne series and is definitely a top PS4 game for me.

PS4
God of War
Reviewed: Dec 3, 2021
9.20

Great experience with this one. Originally I had started it but wasn’t really engaged by the combat, but I gave it another go and I’m glad I did. I definitely see why this is seen as one of the best games on PS4. Graphics are gorgeous, I’m not usually into hack and slash, but the combat is deep and interesting enough to keep it engaging and reasonably challenging. Story starts off slow, but after so many hours spent with these two characters you really get to understand both of their perspectives and needs and you do get connected to them. All of the characters in the game are pretty grounded and interesting/entertaining. Gameplay gets pretty addicting (battle, find loot, solve puzzles, beat boss, repeat) and the story is paced well enough that I was actually engaged through the full 30-40 hours I put in it until the end.

However boss variety is pretty limited, and I felt like the skill progression system was kind of unbalanced as I kept gaining so many experience points and skills so quickly I barely had time to learn and appreciate the last skill. Also it would be really nice if the camera was further back during battle so you could actually see more of the battlefield. Makes it awkward to fight multiple enemies. And the end does feel a bit anticlimactic, as it becomes clear it’s the first part of a larger story. Not necessarily a bad thing, as it just leaves me wanting to really play the next one and see where the story and characters go.

Overall, an amazingly made game, with a couple of things that could be polished, but generally fun action and a satisfying story to keep you playing until the end.

Switch
Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition
Reviewed: Sep 23, 2021
9.60

What an amazing game. One of my favorites on the Switch. I was hesitant to play a dense isometric rpg, but after giving it a shot for a couple hours I got hooked and didn’t put it down until 100+ hours later. It’s so amazingly crafted, with endless depth and options and a fantastic battle system. My wife isn’t much of a gamer but she enjoys board games, chess, Age of Empires style games, and once I introduced her to this she fell in love with it too. We ended up picking it up on PS4 so we could play in co-op - unfortunately Switch doesn’t have co-op :(

The customization is just so engaging, and makes for great multiple play-throughs. My two other favorite games on the system are Witcher and BotW, which although this is different as it isn’t action based, it provides the same or deeper level of engaging exploration, and deep open world fun.

Literally the only small cons I have are I wish the characters could run (they just lightly jog and there’s a lot of world to explore) and the inventory management can be a little clunky. But otherwise a near perfect gaming experience.


Switch
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Reviewed: Dec 15, 2020
8.70
Surprisingly fun, addictive, and just very well made game. I was initially turned off by the Rabbids (remind me of Minions) and by the turn based style. But once you get the hang of the gameplay, it’s actually really fun and engaging. Also quite challenging. You really need to think strategically as you get further along. Enemies and bosses are unique and challenging, and the characters all slowly gain all sorts of cool abilities and weapons as you progress, graphics are great and the character animations are all very charming and well done. I actually couldn’t put this game down until I finished it (which is rare for me) and I was bummed it wasn’t longer (about 20-25 hours). But fortunately there’s also DLC with Donkey Kong which is pretty great too. Small cons for me, the progression is pretty linear, and while the level design has some decent puzzles to solve in between battles, it felt a little lackluster to explore. The battles, bosses, and character upgrading are really the star. And honestly I wish the campaign was a little longer, but that might just be me. Small nitpicks! Overall a real blast to play and definitely a hidden underrated gem.
Switch
Astral Chain
Reviewed: Nov 16, 2020
8.40
Fun & engaging game. Graphics are awesome and the combat is fun (once you get the hang of it). Lots of high action and fast pacing for most of the game, with some sections of pretty mild “detective” work to break up the pacing. Story is decent, characters are all pretty solid and varied. Music is high energy and over the top but actually quite fitting. The combat system is really the center stage of the game, and while it can take some time to adjust to controlling two characters at once, it does get pretty intuitive and rhythmic after a while. It’s pretty fun to switch between your legions and pick your favorite one to battle with. Story overall took me around 20hrs to complete, then they offer some pretty fun post game content that’s essentially little side missions/battles. Some cons for me were mostly during the “detective” portions of the game. The “investigating” you have to do is just so simplistic and even patronizing in how easy it is. It definitely feels tacked on after the developers spent all their time building the combat system. There were moments that dragged a bit as some missions felt repetitive or too much like errands. But then you’d end up in a crazy boss battle that was really fun and engaging so you’d quickly forget the more bland moments. I also wish the hero character would speak at least a little. Felt odd to have his team constantly communicating with him/her for them to just be completed silent the whole time. Also not being able to save mid mission was a little annoying. Not really big issues, just minor gripes. Overall the game is beautiful and action packed. Combat system is very unique, deep, and really pretty fun. Don’t expect too much from the story or side missions, but that’s not the meat of the game. Enjoy it for the visuals and mindless fun of the crazy battles.
Switch
Super Mario Odyssey
Reviewed: Nov 10, 2020
9.10
Fantastically fun game and perfect introduction to the Switch. Instant classic. First 5 hours of playing I didn’t stop smiling. It’s bursting with creativity and joyful mechanics and level design. Beautiful graphics and excellent music. Cappy is a welcome addition to the Mario world, giving Mario more movement options and adding the fun addition of “possessing” a fun variety of enemies & creatures. Once I started playing I didn’t stop for the full 15hr main story. Each level is so fun and interesting that I was always compelled to see what the next environment was, in addition to the new creatures I could play as and the new outfits I could collect. It really does feel like the ultimate spiritual sequel to Mario 64. The ending is also a surprise and a blast. Only little cons for me are that some of the levels are a little more linear and less inventive than others. Not that linear is bad in a Mario game (some of the linear levels were amazing) but I personally fell in love with the more open world levels as they just felt like massive playgrounds. So when it would switch back to more linear levels I felt it lost a bit of the fun (if every level was as big and full as the Sand level I’d be in heaven). There’s roughly 15 levels/worlds but to me only half were truly memorable. No real duds, just lots of good ones and a few truly fantastic ones. Also I didn’t feel compelled enough to continue collecting the nearly 1000 moons scattered across the levels as it just felt repetitive after a while. There is a pretty solid amount of post game stuff to do, some of which is really fun. But after about 20hrs total I put the game away satisfied and haven’t really missed it. It’s an immaculately designed Mario game, though it felt like it teased at a more open world and I just wish it was that a bit more. Less of the short levels and a few more of the massive open playground levels would have made it a 10/10 for me.
Switch
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition
Reviewed: Nov 9, 2020
9.40
Incredible and immersive gaming experience, even on the Switch. I was very hesitant initially playing it, as the graphics and controls were pretty rough on the Switch. But with the later patches to it that gave the ability to tweak the graphics and controls to more pleasing levels, it really took off as an unbeatable action RPG. Being able to take this game anywhere made me easily sink 100+ hours into it. The main story is interesting enough, though the endless amount of fleshed out side quests and monster contracts really make sure you always feel compelled to pick up and play. The freedom and customization of your ability points and the slow and satisfying process of scouring the world to collect the best armor and weapons is also half the fun for me. The combat is solid, not the best from the genre, but with the depth of options in how you can approach it make it always pretty interesting and satisfying. All the decisions you make throughout the game that lead to different outcomes makes it pretty replayable too. Only cons I would say are the controls can be a bit clunky at times, and sometimes the pacing and overall deluge of quests and customization systems can be overwhelming and even at times a bit frustrating. Small gripes however, for in the end one of the best action RPGs I've ever played. Included DLC is also great and adds dozens more hours of gameplay.