Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Featuring a lackluster beginning in Spyro the Dragon, a much improved sequel in Ripto’s Rage, and one of the era’s most expansive takes on the genre in Year of the Dragon, Spyro Reignited Trilogy ends up being a mixed bag that provides an interesting look at how the franchise went from a naive shot at 3-D platforming to a fully realized concept that was able to stand up to the likes of Banjo-Kazooie, Mario, Crash, Donkey Kong, and Rayman. To further accentuate the contrast between its good and bad aspects, even the best two titles of the package stumble on crucial matters like controls, loading screens, and frustrating design choices. Nonetheless, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a worthy purchase to anyone who either has fond memories of the dragon or to those that have no nostalgia regarding the hero but that crave for a rebirth of the 3-D platforming genre. In the case of the first group, they will be happy to see classics that were a key part of their childhood be resurrected with so much care for visuals and music. Meanwhile, gamers that fall into the second category will discover at least two flawed but entertaining gems that prove that even if mascots are a relic of the past and 3-D platformers are far from having the importance they once held, the gameplay style still holds up quite nicely.

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Little Nightmares II

Little Nightmares II does little to expand on what was established by its predecessor, hence coming off as a much lighter breath of originality; furthermore, it inherits many of that game’s problems, including trial-and-error patterns as well as a short length. However, its horror is so gripping; its atmosphere is so tense; its monsters are so grotesque; its gameplay is so engaging in its simplicity; and the violent moments it contains are so unexpectedly brutal that it is impossible not to be hooked. Little Nightmares II, like its title implies, is a disturbing sequence of small self-contained horrors that unfold in multiple locations. They make players wish looking away was possible, but the fact their lives are on the line means they have to keep starring at the utter unfolding horror. Likewise, they cause one to hope unplugging and waking up from the bad dreams were a possibility, but the desire to get to the bottom of the title’s ridiculously well-constructed lore and world will simply not allow the cowardly way out to be taken. As such, the only option is to keep on digging deeper and deeper, facing the horrific situations contained within as they come up and delighting at the fact that, despite residual issues, the world has been given a second glimpse into the rotten fairy-tale storybook which houses the universe of Little Nightmares.

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Immortals Fenyx Rising

Despite ultimately being a more compact version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, problems like these indicate that Immortals Fenyx Rising is biting off more than it can chew. Or maybe, in the end, the shortcomings that punctuate it serve to show that a little bit of extra development time would have allowed plenty of opportunities for some of its ideas to mature into a more full-fledged state. Nonetheless, the game comes out of its daunting endeavor – the one of replicating the experience provided by one of the greatest adventures of all time – with pretty good results, overall unsurprisingly falling far below the quality threshold of its source of inspiration but at the same time being able to outdo it slightly in a couple of aspects. Immortals Fenyx Rising is not Breath of the Wild, but it is fun, charming, challenging, and clever. It imitates Nintendo’s untouchable franchise more effectively than nearly all of those that attempted such lunacy before it, and due to that it is the perfect slice of The Legend of Zelda goodness for fans to endure the long winters that usually separate the main releases of the franchise. More than a side-dish, however, Ubisoft’s effort is simply a very good game on its own right, for even though it copies much more than it creates, its formula is just impossible to resist and its approach towards Greek mythology is undeniably quite well-done.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is ultimately the blueprint for all modern RPGs that seek to evolve while remaining true to the genre’s traditions. Even though the size of its overworld is certainly important for that success and Bethesda’s achievement in building it cannot be overlooked, this is – when it is all said and done – not an adventure that thrives solely because it takes place in a huge explorable landscape, but because it employs such scenario impressively well: using it to construct an alternative reality that other than incredibly deep also happens to be stunningly believable. Behind all of those positive characteristics lies the title’s true major victory: the freedom it puts in the hands of players. After all, if the intent of role-playing games is to allow the participants to choose their own paths and be whoever it is they feel like, then The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the true realization of that ideal. From flawless hero to dirty criminal, all options are on the table, and even if this is a quest vaguely centered on the fight against a particularly evil dragon, the journey contained here can take whatever form those who are in control choose to give to it.

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Guacamelee 2

In its mixture of light, yet engaging, Metroidvania level design with combats that nod to the beat ’em up genre and platforming segments that demand both skill and precision, Guacamelee 2 follows on the footsteps of its predecessor towards bringing a very unique take on a genre that is often visited by indie developers. And in that context, its references to Mexican culture – which walk hand in hand with the wrestling-themed spirit of its battles, heroes, and world – end up being the finishing touch; a final layer of charm that makes the adventure of Juan as lovable as it is challenging. Thanks to those qualities, Guacamelee 2 is an excellent addition to the Nintendo Switch library, and even though it is true that it suffers a bit from not doing enough new things to create separation in relation to its predecessor, the game is ideal to those who want more of the same. And whether they tackle the quest alone or alongside another three friends, fans of the original are bound to have a good time.

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Dark Souls

Sure, Dark Souls is quite hard, but it keeps players coming back for more regardless of how much it drives them to the edge of breaking, and such a balance is only possible because the game thrives with such intensity in so many areas: its combat is simple, but stunningly clever in how it turns even the most basic battles into affairs that require calculation; the design of its labyrinthine world is unparalleled; its lore is mysterious and alluring; its atmosphere is heavy and gripping; its lack of linearity is daunting; and even its smallest details hold originality, as matters such as death, punishment, as well as saving are approached from unique angles. The conclusion is that Dark Souls is not yet another great game that only happens to be extra famous because it is very tough. Dark Souls is a game that sets high standards of its own in various fields, and although difficulty and learning curve are among them, they are far from being the only ones; in fact, they might be the least important of the bunch.

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Ori And The Will Of The Wisps

Many of the shortcomings displayed by Ori and the Will of the Wisps can be traced back to its predecessor. Much like its successes, the game’s little failures come from the fact it has naturally inherited a good slice of the soul of its progenitor. However, given that connection is, especially in the storyline department, a little too close to comfort, this second effort by Moon Studios does not generate the same level of impact delivered by its prequel. It is not that Ori and the Will of the Wisps is devoid of improvements. In fact, the additional degree of freedom given to players thanks to its looser structure goes a long way towards making its adventure more enjoyable, and other marginal tweaks also make it display solid evolution. But the bottom line is that extreme familiarity ends up slightly clouding those advances, and even if the game is still firmly in the upper echelon of its genre due to its beauty, heart, cleverness, and smoothness, its force is somewhat diminished.

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CrossCode

For that reason, CrossCode is more of a charming and notably inventive homage to 16-bit RPGs – especially those with a knack for action – than a game that walks the same halls as other giants of the genre. Even though its gameplay is a magical combination of fast-paced and flashy combats with audacious puzzle-design, the innovative value of its setting ends up doing it more harm than good, as the title punctually struggles to make Lea’s journey in the fictional MMO of CrossWorlds feel as special and meaningful as it actually is. As such, even if easy to applaud, CrossCode does not carry enough of the elusive magical luster that takes the best tales of the gaming medium to the hard-to-reach level of greatness.

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Paper Mario: The Origami King

There are blatant improvements to the story, but the development of the script feels undercooked at several points; there is a lot of great design to be found in the exploration of the overworld, but there is an unnecessary simplicity restricting what Mario can do; and there may even be value to be extracted out of its puzzle-based battle system, but combats are so straightforward, easy, and pointless that it feels like they are there more as an obligation than as an actual creative decision. The result is an enjoyable, charming, and funny adventure game whose remaining RPG gameplay comes off as empty and unnecessary, and stuck in this uncomfortable position of not fully committing to any of the facets that it tries to embrace, The Origami King could have never matched the golden days of the franchise. However, for what it is worth, the game is the saga’s best entry to be released ever since it began to move away from its glorious and distant start.

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Civilization VI

It is such cyclical nature that leads to the popular one-more-turn syndrome, a famous condition that makes entries of the franchise frequently impossible to put down. There is always something about to happen, and behind one achievement there is sure to be yet another moment of glorious human progress to be unlocked; in victory and in defeat, then, Civilization VI is incredibly fulfilling. Given the enormous concept it sets out to turn into a game, the saga is probably eternally destined to punctually be too large for its own good and to feature a fabric of mechanics too vast to be entirely balanced. However, Civilization VI is so engaging that it is hard to think the evolution of society throughout thousands of years could be represented in a way that is as alluring, complete, and fun.

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