Omega Quintet Review

Call it superstition, but I always like my first review of a new year to be somewhat indicative of that year. That’s one of the reasons I had intended Omega Quintet to be that first review—to say that I’m out of my element here is an understatement, as this isn’t only a game heavily inspired by anime (which I’ve never been into outside of the token Cowboy Bebops and Ghost in the Shells), but also one that has heavy visual novel elements. Pushing outside of my comfort zone wasn’t the only reason playing through Omega Quintet was so appealing, though. Actually, I went around looking for reviews to see if it was worth my time, only to discover a vast canyon separating those who enjoy the game and those who hate it. Some people were sanctimoniously finger-wagging, of course, while others more familiar with the niche spoke favorably of it because of course they did. Lost in all of that noise was the answer to the single nagging question I had: is Omega Quintet actually a good game or not? Having now played through it for myself, I can confidently answer that question with a “sometimes yes, sometimes no.” There are truly enjoyable parts to this game, ones that have nothing to do with the unabashed fan service, but the fact that I managed to play through and review a different game as the first of this year because of the sheer amount of busywork standing between prospective players and the real ending makes it difficult to recommend. Still, I walked away from Omega Quintet’s practically unprecedented tedium with a lot of positive feelings intact, and that’s unheard of given how much emphasis I put on pacing. The game is just too adorably lighthearted and unashamed of itself to possibly hold a grudge against it. Read more →

Battle Chasers: Nightwar Review

The thing about Battle Chasers: Nightwar that initially caught my eye was its turn-based jRPG combat. I’ve played a lot of games over the years, but the gaming period I’m most nostalgic about is the 16-bit era of jRPGs, back when Squaresoft ruled the roost and a million recognizable series were only just getting off the ground. The thing about those games that made them so good is that the basic traits inherent to the genre had already been established, so developers were either spending their time polishing things to a mirror sheen or challenging gamer expectations with their own divergent approaches. The reason I bring this up is that the same thing seems to happen every so often with modern developers, leading to surprising, quality games that are instantly familiar and yet totally unique. That’s Battle Chasers: Nightwar in a nutshell. Read more →

Cosmic Star Heroine Review

As a refresher, I didn’t care for Breath of Death VII or Cthulhu Saves the World despite all the praise I’ve seen both receive, and that’s kept me from delving into the Penny Arcade games that developer Zeboyd Games produced after those first two. Every video about Cosmic Star Heroine intrigued me, though, with it seeming to draw inspiration from best-game-ever Chrono Trigger while putting its own spin on things, and so I bought it with the intention of seeing how it stacks up against some of my favorites in the genre. Its opening few hours proved mildly amusing, if a bit underwhelming given my high expectations, but the game soon after won me over in a big way to the point where countless softlocks, bugs, and typos couldn’t stop me from playing. While the way you get into combat is reminiscent of the encounters in Chrono Trigger, its biggest takeaway from that game is instead rock-solid pacing that avoids wasting your time with nonsense padding, and there are a handful of features taken from other games that are equally welcome. All of this coalesces into something that’s simultaneously a brilliant homage to classic jRPGs and strong entry in the genre in its own right. Read more →

Lost Odyssey Review

I first played through Lost Odyssey around the time it came out, and several parts of that first playthrough stuck out so much for one reason or another that I was able to remember entire sections despite it being ~9 years later at this point. Most notably, I remembered the game being filled with brilliant little stories that fleshed out the game world far beyond that of most jRPGs and caused the game’s actual story to look pathetic by way of comparison. I also remembered that all of the characters get split up at one point late in the game, so I made sure to engage in soulless grinding to make things a little more palatable. At the end of the day, Lost Odyssey is a massively bipolar game that oscillates between brilliance and stupidity to such an extent that it’s simultaneously both highly enjoyable and undeniably aggravating to play, and while it’s definitely the kind of game that’s easy to recommend, it’s also the kind of thing that’s best run through only once and then left as a fond memory. Read more →

Cthulhu Saves the World Review

It’s depressing the number of times I’ve covered the first game in a series, only to then leave the sequel (or unrelated followup in Cthulhu Saves the World’s case) untouched. Call it a bad habit. In my defense, though, it’s only been 4 months since I reviewed Breath of Death VII. That’s quite a bit more defensible than the 3 and a half years it’s been since I reviewed King Arthur: The Role-Playing RPG and its spinoff despite owning the sequel for even longer than that. I think part of the problem is one of expectations; it’s easy for a sequel to play things safe and end up feeling like the same game, just like it’s easy for a game to diverge so much from its predecessor that it fails to embrace the things that made the first game worthwhile in the first place. The latter is what’s seen Lost Horizon 2 sit idly on my desktop for the past few months, while the former is why I had to force myself to jump into Cthulhu Saves the World—I was expecting more of the same, and while I was pleasantly surprised by the number of things that were improved on since the previous game, the biggest problems remain unchanged and render a sizable portion of the game a tedious slog through yet more mazes. Read more →

I Am Setsuna Review

Chrono Trigger is easily one of my favorite games, not to mention a gateway drug that compelled me to get a Playstation 1 (for Chrono Cross, naturally) and subsequently discover all kinds of brilliant gems I had missed out on, so it piqued my interest when I Am Setsuna’s store page claimed to have been inspired by it. That’s a lofty claim, after all, especially in a world of endless Final Fantasy games where many jRPG developers seem to have lost track of what made their genre enjoyable in the first place. There have been occasional exceptions to that such as Chaos Rings 2 and other games that I similarly fell in love with, but Square-Enix pulled the plug on many Chaos Rings games not too long ago, effectively erasing them from existence outside of piracy. Giving money to something they published after that was a painful proposition. Still, curiosity outweighed my better judgment and I decided to give this game a try anyway. I’m glad I did—I Am Setsuna has its moments of being enjoyable—but the poor writing was enough to ruin the whole experience by the end and cause me to question why this game falls so short. Read more →

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