These are my thoughts on some games I've played over the last few months, in no particular order.
The microgames of WarioWare paired with the cute and self-aware irreverence of Undertale (featuring skeletons just to complete the analogy). I really like the vibe here. The one surprising thing about the game is that a lot of it isn't the WarioWare-style microgames. There's a old style adventure game bridging between the somewhat rare microgame segments. That part can be tedious. I'd like to see a sequel that de-emphasizes this aspect of the game and leans harder into the microgames. Still a lot of fun though. It had me laughing out loud.
One of my favorite things to do in a game is to refine my skill. I like to throw myself against a challenge over and over until I finally overcome it. I think a lot about an old PS2 game that I never hear anyone talk about anymore: Stuntman. You played a stunt driver going from movie to movie taking on-the-fly direction as you pulled the stunts needed for various movie scenes. I don't hear people talking about that game, but it was a favorite of mine. This is that but with an art style that screams "Japanese video game!" I'm pretty sure this isn't Japanese, but it could pass. Lots of fun to be had here. I look forward to getting deeper into it and refining my times!
More than any game I've tried, this game reminds me of Symphony of the Night. That's one of my favorites, so I'm excited to play more of this. It feels right in all the ways Symphony did.
The destruction is so cool. Not too sure about the game they've wrapped around it. It's neat, but setting up a route to race out of a level once I start destroying stuff wouldn't be my first choice of activity. I want to take my time and bask in the destruction.
A really charming and fun Souls-like. It's stripped down, but it has the stuff it needs to get the job done. I want to play more of this.
A competent but boring open-world game that boils down to a big to-do list in the form of a giant map littered with icons. It looks nice, but I'm bored with this kind of game.
I just finished Dark Pictures: Little Hope a few weeks back. That was fun, but the story was weird and I didn't buy any of the character interactions. This one feels much more natural, although it's still a cheesy teen slasher flick. I'm here for it.
Persona 5 Royal
Slick, stylish, and beautiful. Tedious and not very fun to play. A soundtrack that parks itself in your head well after the meter runs out.
I wish I liked this one more, but it needs a lot of polish. Some better sign-posting would be nice too. I don't want literal signposts, but I need something more than the game is giving me to tell me what to do next. The levels are just random hallways and rooms connected together with tons of dead-ends. I can't tell if I'm missing something or if someone just banged these out really quick in Unity and left all the parts where they landed. The description on the game's Steam page says it wants to be Metroid Prime. I want it to be too, but it's not there yet.
Dread Delusion and Lunacid
I'm lumping these together because they're both first-person RPGs that call out King's Field as an influence. Dread Delusion has a fun surreal art style but feels a bit more aimless. Both games have you wondering around a fair bit, but I felt the pain of it more in Dread Delusion. Something about the sparseness of the world and the same-ness of the environments I've been going through so far makes me feel this game is the thinner of the two, even though I'm pretty sure it's the one that has been "released" while Lunacid is still in early access. It's cool and I want to play more, but I'm not in love.
Lunacid feels different. There's something about the darkness of it. Everything is darker. I'm spending a lot of time in tight corridors. It's a lot different from the bright environments of Dread Delusion, and I like it. I feel like I'm really discovering in this game. I'm poking at walls and finding things the game wants me to think I wasn't supposed to find. Yesterday, I found an item that was very surprising, and I'm exciting to see how it fits into this game. When I level up in Dread Delusion, it doesn't really feel like anything has changed. In Lunacid, I feel like my character is actually progressing. There's a lot I'm excited about here.
I love what this game is in my head, but I'm not sold yet on what it is in reality. Because of the way I play games, I'm scared to death about the prospect of trying to come back to this game in four months when I remember I want to play more of it but don't remember anything that happened in it. I hope the game has a mechanism to ease me back in at that point, but very few games actually do have something like that. When that day comes, I'm probably going to feel like I need to restart... and there's zero chance I actually do that. The anxiety about the way this game will fit into my life fills me with dread even while I've enjoyed my time with the game so far.
Update: Played a bit more of this to grab a screenshot for this post, and another layer has opened up. I'm all the way in now. Part of it was that I learned the game will use controller vibration to give you hints. I was playing with keyboard and mouse, so I hadn't been getting these at all. It would be nice if it communicated this to you.
This Metroidvania is just really well executed. Moving around feels great. The unlockable abilities are paced well, and I haven't felt stuck so far. Just a nice experience with fun art and a cute cat helping you find your way, at least in the early parts.
Midnight Fight Express
The Arkham Asylum combat works in an isometric game. I thought this was going to be great, but I think it will be ultimately forgettable. I nearly forgot to include it here!
South of the Circle
Neat game but not especially fun to play. I like the way it flips back and forth between time periods. I feel like my character often walks in a direction other than the one I'm pressing. I played about 45 minutes, and I don't feel the need to play any more.
My Friend Pedro
A flashy action game that's a bit awkward to play. Maybe it would get better if I gave myself time to get more used to pulling off the tricks, but I don't think I have the patience. The pull just isn't there. The environments and enemies are pretty boring, and there are only so many different setups I need to experience of shooting two dudes at the same time in bullet time.
This is another one that I'm in love with the idea of but not yet the game. I'll give it some more time. I've just played a few minutes at this point.
Tedious and zen at the same time. I love it and hate it. It feels like I'm wasting time when I play it, but I can also relax. It's a nice balance of creativity plus prescribed objectives. Seems like it was made by people who don't quite know what suburban houses are like... or maybe this is just what they're like somewhere else besides where I'm from.
Astalon and Phoenotopia
Both of these were good, but they weren't good enough for the prices they're charging right now. This has nothing to do with the games and more to do with how I play games. I like to sample everything, which means I don't pay very much for most games. These are games I enjoyed but probably won't ever finished. I might like to have them around and play more when they are cheaper. Both quality games but neither is a real standout.
The worst thing about Phoenotopia is that I can neither pronounce nor spell its name. 😅
Betrayal at Club Low
This one was a surprise. I went in expecting nothing. Actually, based on the... scrappiness of the interface, I expected this to be janky. It isn't. It's simple but polished. It's a point-and-click adventure with some tabletop RPG-style dice-rolling mechanics laid on top. The dice rolling is surprisingly deep. You're allowed two re-rolls per action, and you can select which dice to re-roll. Outcomes on the dice can add other rules as well like allowing you to re-roll opponent dice or swap results with your opponent. The art style is funky. It almost looks like it doesn't all belong together, but it works. If you want something quirky and charming as heck, this is a good choice.