Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch

In spite of how it is both the game’s visual presentation and the presence of Studio Ghibli that ought to attract many players towards Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, that audience is likely to quickly discover there is far more to the title than those two elements. Even if firmly grounded on some of the genre’s traditions, it is an RPG that puts considerable effort into not falling victim to them, and it succeeds in that regard via a charming battle system boosted by thousands of party-building possibilities, the character development it unearths in the interactions between its two worlds, and – most of all – in the fantastic synergy between the hearts of its plot and spirit, which gives support to an adventure that delicately merges fantasy with reality; humor with tragedy; despair with hope; and what is violent enough to bring devastation with that is pure enough to deliver restoration.

Full Post

Luigi’s Mansion 3

As it stands, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is bound to go down as turning point, for it feels like the precise moment when a franchise that was once seen as a secondary property showed it had the absolute right to exist alongside the biggest brands of the company responsible for its creation. In all regards, it leaves absolutely nothing to be desired when compared to its most popular and critically acclaimed peers. It has music and, especially, visuals that confirm it was a project in which a lot of money was invested; it has a scope that, locked within the confines of a hotel, is able to evoke values of grandeur that are usually reserved to adventures that are much more expansive; and it fills up its considerable size with quality gameplay that continuously surprises through the entirety of its length. It is, by all means, a gaming epic; one that, true to the nature of its protagonist, is built with unexpected tools like a vacuum cleaner, a doppelganger made of jelly, and tons of charmingly funny horror.

Full Post

A Hat In Time

A Hat in Time is remarkable and its arrival on the Nintendo Switch is rather suiting. After all, its encounter with the system marks the confluence between the company that played a major role in establishing the parameters that would define the 3-D platforming genre and an independent developer who, certainly as a result of having grown up playing the delightful products of that creative streak, paid a homage to the numerous classic experiences that were born out of that venture by packing them together into something new and bringing the result to both a young generation of gamers and a horde of nostalgic players that longed for the return of an absent format. In both cases, it is highly likely the two camps will be happy with what they will find in A Hat in Time, as the game feels modern enough to dodge criticisms regarding outdated vices whilst still coming off as a clear consequence of a mixture of titles that are, for the most part, far into the past.

Full Post

Yooka-Laylee And The Impossible Lair

While in the original adventure the long-lost brilliant spark of the classic Rare games shared a lot of space with instances when lack of polish came to the forefront, in Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair that creative light is much more consistent. Consequently, even if it is completely understandable that the sequel may initially be seen with some disappointment due to how it does not tackle the overlooked format fans expect out of the franchise, it ends up being extremely satisfying. After all, not only is it a joy to see Playtonic rebelliously reclaim with style the Donkey Kong Country gameplay that a huge part of its staff was responsible for creating, but it is also a delight to watch it come to fruition via a structure that is highly original, sprinkling – quite creatively – a bit of the freedom of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a lot of the exploration component of most adventure games into a genre whose presentation tends to stick to very strict patterns. Hopefully, other developers are paying attention and Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair will mark the beginning of a new trend in overworld design.

Full Post

Ori And The Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest is, by all means, an utter joy to play through. It has stunning detailed visuals that give life to a pulsating forest filled with beauty. It boasts a remarkable soundtrack packed with noteworthy tunes of gorgeous instrumentation. It tells an unforgettable story of a highly emotional nature. It offers gameplay that mutually encompasses the grand exploratory aspirations of Metroidvania titles and the excitement of focused platforming segments. And it sports a level of challenge that pushes players to their limit while hardly leading them to frustration thanks to a brilliant check point system. In its many ventures into the genre in recent years, it is arguable the indie scene has produced a few adventures that do better and are more impressive in a few of those areas. None of them, however, are as balanced in each category as Ori and the Blind Forest is. As a result, one can confidently say that the gameplay style it explores has never been used in a product that is so universally appealing.

Full Post

Untitled Goose Game

Yet, from a brighter point of view, the inevitable desire for more that will come when players get to the end of Untitled Goose Game is a testament to its greatness. Because, surely, the idea of being an obnoxious goose running around a village and unleashing chaos all over the place is, by itself, unique enough to catch the eye of anyone who bumps into it. However, concepts are ultimately only as great as their materialization, and, in the case of the effort by indie developer House House, it gains shape in a way that is smart, humorous, and charming. Untitled Goose Game is clever in the sandbox-like presentation of its gameplay, which turns the village into an empty canvas onto which the protagonist can paint masterpieces on the theme of being a jerk; it is hilarious in the combination of its visuals, soundtrack, and animation; and it is lovely because if there is one creature that can get away with being an asshole while still retaining its funny aura, it is certainly a goose.

Full Post

Inside

As a whole, Inside may be a game that undeniably chooses to walk quite closely to its predecessor, Limbo; after all, it uses many of the same strategies to muster a level of tension and darkness that is almost suffocating. At the same time, however, it is able to move beyond it quite smartly, whether it is in the elimination of harmful level-design vices, in the expansion of its puzzle-solving component, or in the creation of an intriguing setting whose imposing questions are given answers that are haunting in their vagueness. Thanks to those qualities, Inside succeeds in being an experience that pulls audiences into its grasp due to a brutal atmosphere, but that convinces them to stay through the way its gripping gameplay and cruel setting are linked by an immaculate synergy that works towards simultaneously augmenting the impact each one of them has, creating a journey that is equally relentless in wonder and horror.

Full Post

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

The main problems Fire Emblem: Three Houses carries are certainly those that come forward due to its expanded focus on the franchise’s extremely valuable social component, a move that, on one hand, greatly increases its size and the impact of its plot, but that, on the other, turns a big slice of its gameplay hours into a chore. Regardless of that partial misstep, the title is nothing short of a major achievement in content and storytelling goodness; in those two areas, whether through three branches that display vastly different perspectives on the same general tale or via borderline infinite options of character growth, Three Houses offers more than anyone could have possibly expected, and it does so with the confidence of a property that knows – more than any other – how to mix heart and strategy into a stunningly uniform fabric.

Full Post

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is a game that embraces each and every kind of player who has an appreciation for the franchise it celebrates: those who love Nintendo’s magical touch for coming up with some great platforming; the ones that like to perform speed runs or have their game-playing skills tested to their utter limit by ridiculously tough stages; audiences who find amusement in watching the gimmicks of automatic and musical courses unfold; and folks who want to experience what fellow gamers who like to wear their Shigeru Miyamoto hats will come up with. And that goodness comes in piles that are virtually endless. Although immensely entertaining for both the camps who lean towards playing or creating, the game comes off as particularly spectacular to fans who like to do a bit of the two. In that context, Super Mario Maker 2 is capable of orchestrating an infinite loop of excellence, for one activity inevitably feeds into the other, as creation leads to curiosity about what others are up to and going through some platforming fatally gives way to new level-design ideas. As a consequence, even if a few punctual improvements could have been made, there is no denying that the game succeeds in not just paying homage to what is perhaps the greatest gaming franchise of all time, but also to the fans who have been witnesses to its unlikely run of sustained greatness.

Full Post

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

There are plenty of complaints that can be throw at Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Save for the lack of polish exhibited by its wild jumps in difficulty, though, none of them are significant enough to hold the title back; and even in that case, it is possible to look on the bright side to see this excellent remake as a racing title that contains a magnitude of challenge that succeeds in pushing even the most skilled players to the very edge of their abilities. Everywhere else, the title shines as one of the strongest entries in the genre, achieving notable positions in the amount of content it sports, in the sheer depth of its demanding mechanics, and in the impressive variety of modes it has. And due to those awe-inspiring qualities, the frustrations that are bound to rise from the occasional encounters with absurd AI behavior are likely to come off as situations that can be overlooked in favor of the chance to appreciate the considerable achievement in kart racing that Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is.

Full Post