Friday, May 25, 2018

"Ikaruga" Switch Review

"Ikaruga" is one of those standbys that pop up again and again on successive console generations. Until it finally gets ported onto your new console, you have trouble getting rid of your previous-gen machines. Now that "Ikaruga" has blasted its way onto the Switch, PS3s and Xbox 360s are even more outmoded.

Since its 2001 release in arcades, "Ikaruga" has been nearly universally hailed as one of the finest bullet hell shooters ever created. A natural advancement from the humble beginnings of "Galaga" and "Life Force," the integration of a still-mesmerizing 3D world makes you feel as though you are plunging headlong into deep space, obliterating wave after wave of formation-swarming attack ships.

Punishing difficulty level is the order of the day, but lower levels allow non-masochistic gamers to endure the thrills on less-challenging iterations. To get the full experience, though, you need to crank it up to the highest unlocked difficulty and endure the bombardment of painful defeats, controller-smashing obstructions and thrilling triumphs in order to evolve and conquer the formidable challenges.

The gradual breakthroughs that accompany the trials are what make "Ikaruga" fun, but the mesmerizing swirl of interstellar death machines gunning to take you out are what make the game memorable regardless of how successful you are.

Scoop this one up when you can, take your whipping like a good gamer and keep the game on your console as the punishing security blanket that will make it that much tougher to ever get rid of your Switch.
Publisher provided review code.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Framed Collection" Switch Review

The two "Framed" games were mobile sensations, and both find a suitable home on the Switch as a compilation. The pairing makes sense because the narratives are so closely tied that they feel more like enmeshed parts of one another rather than prequel and sequel.

The stylistic presentation is a cross between comic strips and film noir. Looking at a grid of panels with interlocking backgrounds and characters following preset paths, you rearrange the pieces to allow the story to continue.

The satisfaction of success after trial and error comes from watching your protagonist narrowly avoid capture as he slinks into stairwells, clocks enemies by opening doors and sneaks past near-capture to slink away unnoticed.

Pure, unmitigated puzzle-solving is the order of the day, with answers always just out of reach, only to reveal themselves to you as obvious from the get-go once you maneuver them into place.

A well-calibrated tour de force of conception, design and execution, "Framed Collection" lives up to its billing and has much to offer to those who were intrigued with the concept but couldn't bring themselves to cough up $5 for a mobile game. Now it feels as though it's found its true home on the bright, beautiful screen of the Switch,
Publisher provided review code.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"Monster Slayers" Review

A roguelike deck-building card RPG, "Monster Slayers" is meant for "Hearthstone" fans looking for a meatier, story-based experience.

Melding traditional JRPG trappings with strategic tenets of tabletop gaming, you guide your unknown hero to renown and heroism as you strive to rescue the realm by becoming a beast-hunting dynamo.

For a budget title, the bevy of features that come with the initial offering -- there is also a stream of DLC to come -- are impressive. The iterative nature of the game allows for vastly different experiences on every playthrough, challenging to piece together your party and vary your techniques to play to your group's strengths each time out.

New decks added to the mix exponentially increase your capabilities and options available, and beating the base game unlocks a legendary mode geared to challenge the most adroit players.

A tinkerer's dream, "Monster Slayer" gives you all sorts of options for statistic buffs, attack and defense boosts and specials for the various archetypes at your disposal. While some may find the structure too rigid, those who delve into its depths will find much to adore and appreciate in this fantastic find of a beast.
Publisher provided review code.

Monday, May 21, 2018

"Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Deluxier Edition" Review

Video games have always been audio/visual representations of the sorts of visions that gamers once had to represent only with their imaginations and note-taking. "Knights of Pen and Paper" brings that influence full circle, going full meta by rendering the act of fantasizing and note-taking as the visuals of the game itself.

Originally released on computer and mobile platforms in 2012, the game marches to consoles in evolved form in a "+1 Deluxier Edition" that stays true to its roots. Your party members sit at a table, playing a "Dungeons & Dragons"-like RPG, with dice rolls and you as the dungeon master determining the adventures played out on the top portion of the screen.

Lighthearted, easygoing charm emanates out of every pixel on which the nostalgia-tinged throwback is built. The inherent goofiness of watching actual knights, mages and archers hunkering down for tabletop gaming never loses its incongruous gawk factor.

Also, battles, character interactions and storytelling prods genre conventions in a knowing, winking manner. A geeky game made by geeks for geeks, this revamped "Knights of Pen and Paper" is a new version of an old game that strives for timelessness in all its quirky actions.

Publisher provided review code.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Omensight" Review

The action-mystery genre is one of the more underserved and most bristling with untapped potential in all of gamedom. Bubbling with creativity and bold strokes, "Omensight" seeks to make up for that shortfall, even if its ambition is somewhat greater than its reach.

With shades of 'Psychonauts" and "Majora's Mask," the game is steeped in a dark, brooding murder mystery with enough twists and turns as a page-turner.

Using a time-travel mechanice to re-examine characters' action patterns during repeating same-day loops, you scour scenes an timelines for clues in order to conjure the evidence you'll need to advance the story.

A visual dynamo, "Omensight" leaves a stark, consistent impression with its look from the outset, and continues to push down the path on which it sets throughout. Pulling no punches when it comes to traveling dark, sinister paths, the storytelling carries the same boldness.

Some fine-tuning in mechanics and menu navigation could have made the game more accessible and engrossing, but the product as it stands is impressive enough to turn heads. If you're seeking a game that tests your clue-gathering and critical thinking, "Omensight" is more than up to the task.
Publisher provided review code.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"The Fall" Switch Review

All roads in indie gaming seem to lead to the Switch these days, and "The Fall" continues the steady stream of games that made splashes on other platforms in previous years and have been reborn on Nintendo's new console.

Bolstered with top-flight storytelling, an elegant visual style and tight gameplay, "The Fall" has been making true believers since its 2014 release.

You play as ARID, a female sentient artificial intelligence powered by a robosuit. Tasked to protect a human pilot whose comatose body is wearing the sui, you use all resources at your disposal to pursue your directives while juggling aspects of your humanity and self-determination.

Puzzle-solving, combat and navigation skills are the parameters that dictate your success or failure, and the more you dig into the game's intricacies, the quicker the success you are likely to find. Resonant plot twists, a dark, brooding cyberpunk storytelling style and haunting visuals establish the game as a meaty, challenging undertaking that lives up to its mature billing in impressive fashion.

"The Fall" continues its rise with its new platform, fitting in nicely with other dynamic creative expressions of its ilk.
Publisher provided review code.