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 →

Maize Review

Maize is a weird little game that blends a bunch of genres together while defying their individual norms. It’s an adventure game, but it either hints at or blatantly tells you what items will later be used for. It’s a walking simulator, but you actually do stuff other than walking (including a bizarre dancing minigame at one point). It’s a comedy game, but there’s also an underlying sense of mystery in the early parts of the game. It’s character-driven, but you never actually meet several of the more important characters beyond reading their passive-aggressive post-it exchanges littered throughout levels. Really, it’s all of these things and none of them, and yet explaining exactly what makes Maize such an entertaining game would require getting into details about specific scenes so as to potentially spoil/ruin them for those sensitive to that sort of thing. Maize is one of those consistently surprising types of games, and while I originally missed its PC release, I’m glad the console release finally brought it to my attention. Read more →

Shantae: Pirate Queen’s Quest (DLC) Review

Half-Genie Hero’s DLC is one of those things that I was really looking forward to, but that I came into with reservations. The reasons for this mostly hinged on the gameplay that I’d seen before release involving pirate queen Risky, the DLC’s playable character, fighting off waves of her own Tinkerbats in the game’s first level despite that not making a great deal of sense. On the surface, it appeared to be a lazy way of not having to change things up too much from the base game, but I decided to give the DLC a chance anyway, and it managed to flit back and forth between validating and debunking my initial gut feeling. Pirate Queen’s Quest has redeeming elements, such as a great final boss fight and some Risky hijinks that subtly manage to pull her back a bit from the uncomfortably senseless malice she showed in the base game (which felt wrong after the events of Pirate’s Curse), and the upgrade mechanics really allow you to break the game in an entertaining way, but the chest placement and overall lack of an interesting plot or story resolution hold it back in a big way. If you’re already crazy about the series, this is an obvious “buy” regardless. If you’re not, it’s probably best to wait for a sale. Read more →

Nidhogg 2 Review

The first Nidhogg is a game that I didn’t get around to playing until I had already beaten Nidhogg 2, which means that I got to judge it entirely on its own merits in addition to later being able to compare the two. I was surprised by how much I liked Nidhogg 2 despite it being the polar opposite of what I typically look for in a game—this is primarily a party game designed for multiplayer first and foremost, though the single-player has been fleshed out a bit from the first entry to make for a more robust experience. Still, games are my preferred method of avoiding people, and my view of games like this is generally that they exist as bait for the kind of Youtubers whose video thumbnails consist of them making a ridiculous face, so it’s saying something that I found myself holding my controller in a white knuckle grip and getting mad at little pixel art cartoon guys. Read more →

Pyre Mini-review

It’s probably best to start this off by explaining that I make a serious attempt to finish every game I start, but always give myself the option of quitting anything purchased with my own money (games I’ve received a key for naturally get a bit more effort because of the expectations behind them, but even they aren’t entirely immune). That this is an option I’ve only exercised a small handful of times out of the 300+ reviews up on this site speaks to the grating nature of the few left unfinished, and Pyre definitely deserves its place in that ignominious pile; while other critics may drool over this game for their own subjective reasons, my experience with it is one of constant irritation over its confused design. Every potential positive is overwhelmed by an accompanying negative, such as how the more elaborate and explained story compared to previous games ends up wasting a ton of time with meaningless trash-tier conversations that accomplish nothing. There are supposedly multiple endings and story branches, and yet the gameplay loop that gets you there is painfully simple and underwhelming, the kind of thing that became almost unbearably repetitive even in the few hours I spent with the game. The combat “rites” that play out like an e-sport are a lot like a short game of NBA Jam, but rules and limitations are sprung on you in the middle of games, and story happenings greatly limit your agency as far as who you choose to use and how their stats end up being impacted by the arbitrary decision of which area to travel through. Pyre is a (Super)giant waste of time, energy, and money featuring gameplay so irrevocably interwoven into trends of its time that history is unlikely to treat it as kindly as Bastion and Transistor. Read more →

Art Of Gravity Review

Puzzle games are always a bit difficult to write about; since they’re focused more on mechanics than story, half of the stuff that I tend to focus on in my reviews is immediately off the table. Art Of Gravity makes things even more difficult because a lot of what I wrote about the developer’s previous game Zenge remains true here. You still pick up on the gameplay mechanics through clever level design that teaches you through doing rather than forcing you to go through a bunch of dry tutorials. There are still numerous mechanics gradually introduced and elaborated on at a decent pace. This game also costs a dollar. Of course, Art Of Gravity has its own unique mechanics unlike those in Zenge, and the goal of each level is also different in that it’s more of a physics puzzle where the goal is to shoot spheres at blocks in such a way that all of the level’s blocks are destroyed (I think this is what I like so much about this game—it speaks to both my love of puzzles and my love of wanton destruction). I suppose one obvious difference between the two games is that I played this one on a PC rather than on my phone; whereas Zenge had an Android version that I picked up, Art Of Gravity is iDevice-exclusive on mobile, and my old iPhone 4 falls well below the iPhone 5S or better requirement needed to actually run the game. Read more →

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