Michelle Bryant

@fawkesfire

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Reviewed a game
PC
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
Reviewed: May 30, 2021
9.00

FFXIV: Heavensward is the first expansion of ARR - and it does much to flesh out and find a cohesive story for the player to sink their teeth into. It takes us to Coerthas, and ultimately Ishgard, a location mentioned but not shown until that point. Here, we’re thrown into a thousand year war between man and dragon, where one side doesn’t even remember how and why it started. This puts the player character front and center to try to resolve it between the two sides. Characterization is leagues better than ARR - Lady Iceheart is an interesting anti-hero, Estinien (my favorite NPC) is jaded but willing to do what it takes to protect his people, and Alphinaud has to rapidly realize his limitations and overcome them. Further, Aymeric and his story is heart breaking and hopeful. Haurchefant breaks my heart. Nidhogg as the primary antagonist of the story isn’t resolved on the bulk of the expansion, however. Instead, Heavensward has you resolve the corruption of the Ishgardian church instead.


I live for this kind of storytelling. Heavensward feels like high fantasy storytelling. It has grandiose scale - this isn’t a personal fight between you and one person responsible for one specific ill - you are in essence in opposition to an entire foundation and institution, seeking to right generational wrongs committed out of greed and hate. That’s my jam.

As for game play, this expansion introduces the Machinist, Dark Knight, and Astrologian, and those three jobs are much needed additions to the roster of jobs available. My major gripe with Heavensward is that it introduced the Aether currents to the game, and those are one of the most annoying things I’ve dealt with in an MMO. I hated the same collecting mechanic in every assassin’s creed game I ever played and I continue to hate it in every other game. Jumping puzzles are genuinely a hindrance to my enjoyment of any game.

With that being my only real major gripe with the game, I have to say that Heavensward really set the bar for me for other expansions going forward. I was invested in the story - and I found it to be extremely enjoyable. Heavensward is the moment when the writing in FFXIV picked up and became better than what was presented in ARR.

Reviewed a game
PC
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Reviewed: May 28, 2021
7.50

A Realm Reborn on it’s own is a decent canvas. What I appreciate about it, is that it does much to set up the following stories of the following expansions. In terms of MMOs it’s the first where I closely paid attention to the story I was engaging in, where with others I more or less ignored the story because it wasn’t compelling. Not so with A Real Reborn. For the most part it DOES make narrative sense, though in comparison to the subsequent storylines of the expansions, it’s left pretty weak. It’s a decent base game, though it definitely feels rushed in moments.

Still, it is far richer than others, and it deserves respect for the complete overhaul that took place to make it a more palatable experience. For that, I would recommend FFXIV to long time MMO players who are struggling to find something worth their time. A Realm Reborn may not be the most enjoyable experience, but it creates a strong foundation.

Reviewed a game
PC
FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers
Reviewed: May 26, 2021
8.50

I’ll go back and review the other expansions and base game for FFXIV, but I just finished 5.0. I know there’s other patches - in fact I’m now around 5.4 I think.

I have heard the superlative thrown around that Shadowbringers is the “best FF game to date” and I have to say: I disagree with that sentiment. I would say the first 1/3 of Shadowbringers is terribly boring and not exceptionally interesting. There were certainly moments that had my attention, but overall I was stuck in the mindset of “this is what everyone is praising?”

But then I hit Il Mheg. And everything after. With the introduction of Emet-Selch as a character proper in this expansion, I found myself complete hooked into what was happening. As his story, his struggles came to light I found myself deeply empathizing with him, even as I found his actions monstrous. His motivations were painfully human, and I found myself desperately hoping that any other conclusion than the one we got would happen. I didn’t cry, but I was pretty damn emotional. It’s been a week and I’m still thinking about it. Every time I run Amaurot for those damn tomestones I get painfully sad.

While I would say Shadowbringers is strong, it is not the best FF game to date - it’s first two zones outside the Crystarium are dull and boring. It DOES, however, have one of the most compelling and interesting antagonists I’ve seen to date in a video game. If nothing else, I would recommend the expansion on the strength of how Emet-Selch is written as a counterpoint to your own character. He is a deeply effective foil through which hard concepts are explored. The old adage - “every villain is the hero of their own story” has never felt more appropriate a summary.

Reviewed a game
Switch
FINAL FANTASY XV POCKET EDITION HD
Reviewed: May 13, 2021
8.50

So this game was originally released as a mobile game in order to get people to still experience FFXV. I can respect that.

I do think it's a great way of distilling a sprawling Final Fantasy experience down to the main story, and I find it a fun little time. The art style is a little rough to look at, but it's not awful. It has a charm.

In terms of story, I really like FFXV. It's an interesting take on the FF formula, and the relationships between the main characters is really compelling for me. The chemistry between the main four boys is really good, and I felt invested in their stories. The main romance is kind of stale for me, but there's some interesting things there. The overall conflict is also very interesting.

Overall, this is a really nice little way of engaging with and experiencing the story of this sprawling FF game without having to invest into all the side quests and experiences, and especially is great on the Switch system as a handheld experience.

Reviewed a game
Switch
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Reviewed: May 13, 2021
9.00

Man, it's Animal Crossing. It's wholesome, relaxing, and enjoyable. I could write a lot about the timing of it being released at the beginning of the Pandemic lock down, but I'm not gonna. We all know.


My only complaint is still new Brewster.

Reviewed a game
Switch
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
9.50

In terms of Fire Emblem titles, this one is very strong. The story is extremely interesting and engaging. I’ve so far played 2 out of 4 routes, and while I’ll go back from time to time to finish out my playthrough of all available routes eventually, I feel I can say that the routes do a great job of making you sympathetic to each lord, their goals, and their world views. I played Golden Deer first (still my favorite), and then followed it with Blue Lions, and I enjoy the fact that both routes give you a different facet of the history of Fodlan.


Overall, the story is fabulous, the gameplay is pretty tight, and I would say this is one of the very strongest Fire Emblem titles in recent memory. It’s not without it’s flaws though - Byleth is quite possibly one of the worst protagonists that IntSys has come up with to date (Corrin is the Absolute Worst), and I am frustrated with the current strategy of having the most bland and cookie cutter protagonist possible so fans can project as much as they want onto them. I want a protagonist with an actual personality, please. Further, some of the storylines fall flat or play into unfortunate tropes that just leave a bad taste in my mouth. There’s some weird shenanigans with the final pairings too, but I won’t dig into that too far.


This is still a good game, and very accessible for new players and challenging enough for long time players.

Reviewed a game
Switch
Pokémon Sword
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
7.80

People have lots of opinions about this game, and mine is that it rehashes the same tired Pokémon formula that I’m frankly exhausted of, but the addition of the Wild Area was interesting. I frankly dislike the Gigantimaxing gimmick, though I have disliked most of the Battle Exclusive forms that have been introduced over the course of the Pokémon franchise. Overall, it’s ok - I like some of the Galar forms, I like the Wild Area, and I like the cooking mini game. I just wish it all was a little more fleshed out. The expansion is interesting, but not enough to excite me. Overall, it’s a fine game, but not enough to be truly exciting.

Added a game to Wishlist
Reviewed a game
Switch
Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
7.50

In terms of the tried and true Pokémon formula, this one has some interesting quirks on the system. It's a much more relaxed experience than other Pokémon titles, but in that aspect it presents literally no challenge. That can be a benefit in some ways - especially if you're looking for just an enjoyable, relaxing time. If you're a hardcore Pokémon fan who looks for a challenge this one isn't it. It's geared almost exclusively toward casual Pokémon fans and children, and there's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, it just requires a tempered expectation.

Reviewed a game
X360
Devil May Cry 4
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
8.00

This was my first foray into the world of DMC, and I really enjoyed it. Nero is an adorable edgy anime boy protagonist and I love it purely for the corny factor. The actual battle system/style is really fun, but honestly the story super kinda sucks. It's fine, but it doesn't make a lot of sense and is pretty weak. Pretty sure it would collapse like a wet paper towel. Also, why the hell is Dante in it for like 5 minutes. Give me more Dante content, god. Nero is fine as a protagonist but Dante slaps.

Reviewed a game
PS4
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
9.50

I'm an admitted life long Final Fantasy VII fangirl, so I'm heavily biased in this review. Just needed to state that immediately.

I loved this game. I loved the attention to detail. I loved actually spending time in Midgar, and getting invested in characters that I already knew were going to die. I knew what would happen and my heart was broken anyway. I loved it. I loved that Cloud got to be a bit more expressive than we are used to seeing him in Final Fantasy media. He's awkward and kinda self conscious. He got to dress in drag and it wasn't entirely played for laughs - it was an honest expression of joy and I love that. I loved that Tifa really does feel like the "Girl Next Door" and you can really see that she's yearning for Cloud. I love that we can see how much pain Barret carries and how much Aerith is a balm for Cloud's awkwardness. I really loved the characterization of everyone.

This is an incredibly satisfying and gratifying experience. I was sad to not be able to continue the story once I reached the end.

What I loved less, however, was the game play loop of every major moment being a boss fight with ever escalating stakes - especially in the last few hours. I was furious to have to go through Dark Souls-esque boss fight after boss fight with each having ever increased difficulty, with my hands literally aching from the button mashing (I'm not a very tactical player. Offense all the way). I didn't super love the ending, or the implications it creates. I also don't love the final boss fight from a story perspective, but in terms of gameplay it was super, super satisfying to finally beat them.

I'm tentatively excited to see where the story goes, but the changes make me nervous as to what the story will end up becoming.

Reviewed a game
3DS
Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
8.00

In terms of remakes, it's a solid one, but ultimately it relies on the tried and true and kinda boring Pokémon gameplay loop that at this point is pretty stale. It doesn't really add anything new to the formula, besides updated graphics. Still, I really love the zany story of Sapphire and Ruby, so it was fun to revisit it.

Reviewed a game
3DS
Pokemon Moon
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
9.50

Pokémon Sun and Moon was a really enjoyable experience. The new day/night cycle was really fun and I liked the new Alolan forms a lot. The story was decent but not extremely engaging, and overall, I enjoyed it a lot. Also, Rowlet is probably one of the best designed starters that Game Freak have designed since the original 3, so credit where credit is due for that.

Reviewed a game
3DS
Pokemon Ultra Moon
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
7.00

This is essentially a rehashing of Pokémon Moon with some new content thrown in, and while it's fun, the fact that it's a repackaged rehash of the previous game is vaguely annoying. It's still fun, but the gameplay loop of Pokémon feels a bit stale when you're literally revisiting the same story for the second time with a little bit of extra stuff thrown in.

Reviewed a game
3DS
Pokemon X
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
8.30

This was a fun time, but I breezed through it. It's definitely "easy" compared to other Pokémon titles, but I really like the overall experience. Pokémon X had a very interesting setting and story, and I liked a lot of the Pokémon introduced in the title. This is a solid Pokémon game, though it went by extremely fast (no more than 3 days), and for that lack of challenge I find it to be a good time but not a necessary one.

Reviewed a game
3DS
Pokémon Yellow Special Pikachu Edition
Reviewed: May 11, 2021
9.00

a solid port of an amazingly well done game. It's probably the most difficult of all of the gameboy Pokemon games I played as a kid, and this is a really well done and nostalgic time. Highly recommend playing it if you get the chance.

Added a game to Wishlist
Added a game to Wishlist