Follow the video game industry closely enough and you’ll hear a common refrain. Something to the effect that it’s a miracle any video game gets made, regardless of quality. Ensuing explanations cite a myriad of ways that development could have, and may well have, gone off the rails. Bearing this in mind, it’s astounding that Axiom Verge is the product of a sole individual: Tom Happ of Las Vegas. Never mind the fact that it’s a nigh-perfect action-adventure experience, paying homage to Metroid and many other classic influences while introducing mechanics that differentiate itself. Originally released March 31, 2015 for the PlayStation 4, it has since been ported to numerous platforms, including the Switch, where I played it last week. Continue reading Axiom Verge [Switch] – Review
Now that I’ve completed Golf Story, I’m ready to join the chorus of voices singing its praises. Truly, for about a week following its September 28 release my Twitter timeline was thriving with positive word-of-mouth. Unable to resist the zeitgeist, and having come into an Amazon gift card that made the decision even easier, I teed up. The game is a charming story-driven RPG based around golf instead of swords and sorcery. Despite not being an avid virtual golfer, the act of golfing was immediately familiar and I was quickly making shots that had me replicating Tiger Woods’ fist pumps. My skills improved between outings as I participated in the bevy of sidequests that doled out experience and not-so-subtly doubled as training sessions. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the hubbub around it, I thought this was a fantastic game and couldn’t put it down. Continue reading Golf Story [Switch] – Review
As a fan of Japanese RPGs, Project Octopath Traveler was one of the most intriguing games shown during Nintendo’s Switch reveal in January. Even though it was a brief trailer, we learned that Square Enix was supporting the platform with a previously unannounced RPG, a gorgeous looking one at that. Details have been scant since that January event but after last week’s Nintendo Direct, a demo was released. Now that I’ve had hands-on time with the game, I’m more confident it’s right up my alley. Continue reading Project Octopath Traveler [Switch] – Demo Impressions
With the rise in popularity of roguelikes in the last decade I’m almost embarrassed to admit the time I’ve spent with Has-Been Heroes constitutes my most consequential experience with the genre. Developed by Finnish studio Frozenbyte and published by GameTrust, it caught my eye when I saw it on the shelf; a physical Switch game for $20… why not? Going in blind I was earnestly hoping for a JRPG like experience but I was intrigued by the purported blend of action and strategy elements. However, my enjoyment quickly tapered off as I came to grips with the intense difficulty. After persisting for a couple hours, everything clicked and I began to survive longer and unlock more. It’s a difficult game with high odds for bad runs but when everything falls into place, it’s immensely satisfying.
Continue reading Has-Been Heroes [Switch] – Review
Despite its status as a modern indie darling and years of rereleases and enhancements, I hadn’t played Cave Story until I picked up Cave Story + for the Switch. Boy was I missing out! First released for the PC in 2004, it was culmination of years of Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya’s spare time. That fact alone made me admire it as an inspirational game but what’s as impressive is how well polished and entertaining it is. Multiple storylines and background details were presented in frequent cutscenes that kept me wanting to play a little bit longer. And not just for new story revelations, it was a genuinely fun run ‘n’ gun platformer. It’s the video game equivalent of a page-turner if there ever was one. Continue reading Cave Story + [Switch] – Review
Satisfied with my completion of Breath of the Wild, I was free to singularly devote time to another game on the Switch. Next in the queue: I Am Setsuna.
Originally released for the PlayStation 4 and Vita in early 2016, Square Enix announced I Am Setsuna would be a launch title for the Switch shortly before the platform’s launch. The game was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a newly minted subsidiary of Square Enix with the primary intent of creating RPGs inspired by classics from the 1990s. The story and characters were fairly rote although a series of late game reveals caught me by surprise. Narrative and dialogue were compelling to the end, as was the soundtrack, which I’d go beyond and describe as exceptional! Lastly, the gameplay was immediately familiar thanks to the implementation of the Active Time Battle system. Considering the studio’s narrow purpose, I Am Setsuna was a success, albeit unambitious. Continue reading I Am Setsuna [Switch] – Review
How cliché, yet how apt that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a breath of fresh air. The series remains one of the most prestigious in video games but after thirty years, has grown formulaic, stagnant even. Accordingly, it was no surprise when this entry underwent a traditionally extended development cycle before eventually releasing on two platforms (just like Twilight Princess on both counts). What is surprising is how with this entry Nintendo managed to remain true to the core tenants of the series, while bucking tradition in ways that resulted in a game that seems fresh, yet consistent.
At work were an array of gameplay systems and mechanics that coalesced perfectly, forming rewarding gameplay loops of exploration and experimentation. For me, this truly was a game where it wasn’t about the destination, it was about the journey. I’d begin every session with a specific goal in mind but like clockwork, wound up distracted by a million other fulfilling tasks. Hyrule was absolutely enormous but it was packed to the gills with worthwhile things to do. Continue reading The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Switch] – Review