Kirby And The Forgotten Land

Unlike other games that marked the tridimensional debut of major Nintendo franchises, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is not revolutionary; in fact, it does not even attempt to push the series’ basic formula forward in any significant way, emerging – therefore – like a 3-D take on the gameplay exhibited by the pink puffball’s most traditional outings. To anyone who expected the title to represent some sort of major break for the property, that evaluation may be disappointing, but the bottom line is that Kirby and the Forgotten Land is as great as a straightforward Kirby game can be, and it qualifies as one of the franchise’s best moments for a myriad of great reasons. As such, even if it does not use its leap to shake the franchise to its core, it deserves a boatload of praise for being a joyful, amusing, and well-designed platformer. And when it comes to Kirby, it is hard to ask for anything different or better.

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Triangle Strategy

Triangle Strategy is an amazing gift to fans of the strategy genre. It is a take on the format that smartly brings, to plot development, the role-playing that is usually exclusively present in the battlefield. By doing so, it paves the way to a journey that can unfold in multiple ways according to how players interact with its morality framework. Throw into the mix a great battle system where position and strategy rule the day, a quest that is highly replayable thanks to its various branches and multiple outcomes, a fantastic plot filled with moral grayness and tough choices, as well as spectacular production values, and the result is a classic that will be loved by anyone who does not mind wordy games. Part interactive visual novel and part strategic delight, Triangle Strategy is Square Enix firing on all cylinders; and tactical RPGs should henceforth look at it as an example of the genre working at its best.

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OlliOlli World

OlliOlli World is a rare treasure. On one hand, it feels like an excellent large scale project due to its extremely high production values and its staggering amount of content. On the other, it is a game that boasts clear indie sensibilities in terms of simplicity and creativity. Its mixture of sidecrolling platforming with skating is unique, and the game smartly grounds it on the good-old addictive chase for high scores that has always accompanied efforts of the kind. The focus on that aspect could have been detrimental to a crowd of youngsters and even older beginners who are likely to be drawn by the game’s colorfully charming art style, but OlliOlli World circumvents that pitfall with mastery, offering a joyful adventure that can be cleared by anyone whilst reserving plenty of challenge and competition to extreme thrill-seekers. With so much success on such distinct fronts, it is not absurd to claim the gaming industry has not produced many scoring-based games that are this deep, accessible, and fun.

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Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a game that implements much needed changes to a property that was stale in some areas and regressing in others. It carries a plot that, despite hitting on a few Pokémon cliches, is refreshing thanks to the unique setting that surrounds it. It has a surprisingly satisfying degree of challenge, which was a trait that the series’ latest entries sadly lacked. It exhibits astounding synergy between story, gameplay, and design, as the research-based setup of the quest works as a perfect companion to the pleasant but not overwhelming vastness of Hisui. And more than bringing the joy of exploration back to the franchise, it assembles an open world unlike anything the property had before it. Not everything in it is excellent. Yet, compared to what it does right, its stumbles are minimal, because the level of life it breathes into one of gaming’s most beloved franchises has immeasurable value. If before it the franchise was a progressively stagnant product that showed no wish to advance, after it the possibility that the series will abandon inertia to fulfill its wonderful potential needs to be considered, because Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels a whole lot like the first step in that direction.

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Chicory: A Colorful Tale

Chicory: A Colorful Tale has got it all. Simple yet memorable visuals that allow gamers to play the role of artistic directors and add colors as well as other visual details to the mixture; a nice soundtrack that captures the quest’s relaxed nature while rising to the occasion during its dramatic moments; creative puzzles that make great use of the brush; a co-op mode that lets an extra player join in to do some painting; and a powerful message. Its most important asset, however, is certainly the nigh miraculous synergy it creates between theme and gameplay, since the discussion on mental health that carries its story and involves its two main characters is beautifully materialized in many of its mechanics, which balance challenge and relaxation to show that with the right sort of support and kind words of encouragement troubles can be overcome.

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Return Of The Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn manages to be simultaneously daunting and enticing from the get go thanks to how it drops players aboard an abandoned ship with nothing but a magical stop watch, a book containing some helpful information, and the task of figuring out the individual fates of every one of the vessel’s sixty missing passengers. From there, the title uses a smartly designed combination of storytelling, gameplay features, and visual clues to let gamers – at their own chosen pace – slowly unravel the mystery at hand. Like most good indie efforts, Return of the Obra Dinn uses its tight limitations in its favor, doing a lot with the little it has available. And like the very best of those games, it takes full advantage of a completely original premise that would have no place outside the independent scene, creating – in the process – an investigative quest that propels the format to new heights.

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Death’s Door

The verdict is that the best word to describe Death’s Door is competent. It absolutely thrives in graphics, music, and theme; in fact, as far as those fronts are concerned, the game is up there with the best efforts the indie scene has ever produced. Elsewhere, however, it is solid but never truly brilliant or remarkable. Its dungeons have a clever nonlinear structure, but the puzzles that they house never go beyond decent. The rogue-like framework of its open environments has thrill, challenge, and even a couple of clever twists of its own, but it does not break expectations in any way. And its story, which gets off to a great start thanks to the setting it sits on, crumbles under its weight as the finish line approaches. Yet, it is undeniable that in that mixture, Death’s Door builds a strong identity. After all, it is not every day that players get to experience a quest that throws dungeons filled with puzzles and rogue-like combat segments into a Gothic world that seems to have been built to contain a standard adventure game. The result may not always be awe-inspiring, but it certainly has enough muscle to entertain while it lasts.

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Disco Elysium

As a role-playing game that completely shuns combat to focus exclusively on dialogue trees, Disco Elysium is certainly not for everyone, especially considering its philosophical inclinations and literary pretensions. Yet, anybody with a love for story-based titles is likely not just to fall in love with the game, but also perceive it as the full maturation of a trend that has been prevalent for quite a while; one in which gamers are given a high level of control over what characters will do, how they will act, and how they will solve the problems that are thrown their way. Disco Elysium can be dark, depressing, disgusting, political, psychological, and also surprisingly hilarious due to some of its more extravagant dialogue choices. Besides, more than any of the games that came before it and also aimed to change players’ experience according to the choices they make, it brilliantly succeeds in radically altering the flow of its textual core between playthroughs thanks to a smart, simple, and effective system of stat checks. Because of that, Disco Elysium takes that type of gameplay to an unforeseen level, and after its arrival, any title that tries to let gamers influence the environment that surrounds them will have to be measured against the rather elevated bar that it has set.

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The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds could have been better. Given the size of its action role-playing peers, its quest and world could be a little bigger. Moreover, wishing for improvements in enemy variety and punctual technical details would not be too much. Nevertheless, with it, Obsidian successfully birthed an alluring universe for some thrilling sci-fi adventures. It is a realm that has room for moral ambiguity, dark humor, social commentary, enticing drama, colorful alien worlds, as well as various factions fighting for power. And in it, gamers will not only engage in some fun shootouts, but also be forced to make choices that can be surprisingly hard. For those reasons, The Outer Worlds is a must-play for anyone who has a love for grand adventures that take place in a rich world full of dialogues, stories, and missions. After all, even if it jumps on the bandwagon of a genre that is home to some of the most epic adventures the gaming industry has ever produced, the title successfully squeezes in to find a place for itself, using its mixture of action-packed gameplay and solid world-building to pull players into the grip of its complex and dynamic corporate future.

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Metroid Dread

There are points that could have been improved, but Metroid Dread is a rare combination of Nintendo’s usual nearly untouchable level of polish and design cleverness with old-school gaming staples like brutally challenging bosses and the absence of any sort of handholding. In other words, it is precisely what devoted fans of the property had been waiting for. Meanwhile, to those outside that tight circle, the quest works to prove that even if the genre the franchise originated is now overpopulated by efforts that used its basics as a trampoline to various creative ideas, the presence of this pioneering saga remains essential. After all, although its offspring have done quite well in carrying the torch, the truth is no other game delivers the type of experience found in Metroid. And for that reason, it is absolutely delightful to have it return in such a spectacular shape. All players can do now is hope that, this time around, Samus has come back with the intention of sticking around for good.

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