Reviews

Life is Strange 2 Episode 1: Roads Review

Dontnod released the original Life is Strange to critical acclaim in 2015, and since the conclusion of Max and Chloe’s tale fans have been eagerly awaiting the second season of the narrative series. After three years, a prequel, and a free episode starring a different protagonist, Life is Strange 2 has finally released its first episode, ‘Roads’. The second season is off to a very strong start and benefits from the new characters and scenery.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Review

It has been over nine years since the last mainline Dragon Quest game made its way Westward. Since Dragon Quest IX, we've missed out on the Japanese-only MMO entry Dragon Quest X, but in recent years there’s been a renewed sense of life in the franchise with titles like Dragon Quest Heroes and Dragon Quest Builders. While these spin-off titles still carry the spirit of the Dragon Quest series, they haven’t been the classic menu-based RPGs that the franchise is built upon. The wait is finally over, though, as Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is finally releasing on PlayStation 4 and PC.

The Legend of Final Fantasy VI Review

I can’t help but to love fan-made video game books. They are purely works of passion, created by people who absolutely loves the games they’re writing about. Third Editions is a relatively new game books publishing house, giving a number of writers a new platform to write their dream book and market it to the world. Third Editions has a number of interesting books already under its belt, including offerings about Bioshock and Metal Gear Solid, but today we’re taking a look at one of the books from the company’s RPG collection: The Legend of Final Fantasy VI.

Nepenthe Review

Nepenthe is strange. It’s a strange game to play, with a strange but successful Kickstarter campaign. The creation of one man with a bunch of watercolor pencils and a dream, it’s truly a difficult game to describe. It feels like playing through a child’s idea for an RPG, with all the whimsy and confusion that comes with it. If anything, Nepenthe is a testament to the creativity the budding indie market allows to grow within it, even if that creativity comes at a cost of playability.

Code: Realize ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ Review

In previous years, the Vita has been a bastion for visual novel and otome game fans. As Sony’s portable because home to a number of niche Japanese games, equally niche publishers started picking up Vita exclusive visual novels to localize. Nowadays, though, the Vita’s lifespan is winding down, and many of these previously exclusive titles are now making the jump to Sony’s home console. Code: Realize ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ is one of these platform jumping titles, and has one of the better representations of the otome genre, is definitely worth the attention of the wider user base of the PS4.

Mercenaries Saga Chronicles Review

Currently, there’s not a lot of SRPG offerings on the Switch. While we’re still waiting for new Fire Emblem Switch news and sitting on a port of Disgaea 5, those that have already played NISA’s tactical game on the PS4 have been left with a strategic drought on Nintendo’s console. Circle Entertainment is looking to end that drought, though, with Mercenaries Saga Chronicles, a collection of three strategy RPGs for a budget price.

Subsurface Circular Review

Mike Bithell is a bit of a well-known name in the indie developer field. The creator of Thomas Was Alone and Sound, he manages to create compelling stories with unusual subjects, such as literal blocks. Now, Bithell is trying a new format with Bithell shorts, games that are shorter and a lot more compact than the (admittedly not very long) games he usually makes. The first game of his shorts collection is Subsurface Circular, a sci-fi text adventure.

Dragon Quest Builders Switch Review

Late in 2016, Square Enix released the spin-off title Dragon Quest Builders to the West. While the easiest way to describe the title is 'Dragon Quest mixed with Minecraft', it's a bit more than that, with Builders having a more in-depth story but also a few more limitations on the building aspects of the game. We reviewed the PlayStation 4 version when it first launched, and Kyle enjoyed his time with the game. Now, Dragon Quest Builders has made it to the Switch. While this might be a straight port of previous versions of Builders, the flexibility that the Switch provides makes this the definitive way to play.

Darkest Dungeon Review

I’m out of torches, and the dungeon is getting dark. I only have two rooms left to explore, but I have no clue what’s ahead. My party is hurt and stressed out, with my Highwayman slinging insults at my party as a result of the intense stress he’s under, in turn putting pressure on the other party members and making them perform less adequately in fights. My Arbelist almost died earlier in the run, and an unlucky hit can easily kill her, who also happens to be my best character. I could retreat with this bag full of loot, but a mission failure will only stress out my characters more, and leave them unusable for a week or two as they recover from their dungeon delve. So what do I do? Push forward and risk the physical and mental health of my characters, or retreat and take the failure and the consequences of that?

Fire Emblem Warriors Switch Review

Koei Tecmo is as well-known for their spin-off games for other IPs as they are for Dynasty Warriors. The company has taken The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest, amongst other IPs, and provided their own Musou-flavored spins on them with Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes, to overall good results. Now, we have Fire Emblem Warriors, the unlikely mix of the SRPG series melded with that hack-and-slash, mow down everything before you Dynasty Warriors gameplay.

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition Review

Back in 2012, Obsidian Entertainment started a Kickstarter campaign for Pillars of Eternity, a new isometric RPG meant to be the spiritual successor to BioWare’s classic Infinity Engine games (Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment being the most well-known among them). The Kickstarter turned out to be a massive success, and Pillars of Eternity was released a few years later in 2015. Now, the well-received RPG is making the jump to consoles with Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition.

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator Review

What Dream Daddy has to offer is pretty good, but ultimately it feels just a bit unfinished. It feels like this visual novel could have used a bit more time in the oven, fleshing out events and backstories, and providing proper epilogues for the Dads. For a visual novel subgenre that's underrepresented in the West, Dream Daddy is a decent title worth your time, but I can't shake the feeling that it could have easily been so much more.
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Features

The Banner Saga 3 Preview

At the end of The Banner Saga 2, the pieces are set in place for the end of the world. A group of travelers prepares to step into the ever-encroaching darkness, hoping to stop the end of the world, while another fights desperately to protect the people who were placed in their care. The Banner Saga 3 marks the end of Stoic Studio’s epic trilogy, and it aims to raise the stakes higher than ever before as the story of the residents of Skogr and the mysterious Valka Juno come to a close.

The Banner Saga and the Pain of Choice

Hundreds of helpless, innocent people placed their lives in their hands, and I’ve failed them. They were killed by thieves, massacred by the dredge, drowned and starved to death. I tried to help everyone I came across, and in doing so forfeited the lives of many, due to rebellions and a lack of food. Some of the dead are dear friends and family, others nameless faces that followed me in hope of a safe future, but regardless their blood is solely on my hands.

Pokemon Quest (Switch) Impressions

Pokemon Quest has just been released on the Nintendo Switch and will be getting a release on smartphones in later this month. As a ‘free-to-start’ title, people may be worried that Pokemon Quest may be a bit tedious, or turn into a ‘pay-to-win’ experience. Pokemon Quest more or less follows its Pokemon ‘free-to-start’ predecessors, though, which means that it quickly becomes a grind and waiting for stamina to recover… but if you buy the most expensive bundle, it’ll become a much more palatable experience.

In Defense of Fetch Quests

When people think of sidequests, they often only think of the ones that offer an interesting narrative or character motivation. Whether it’s beating up a bunch of thugs to get a kid’s video game back in Yakuza 0, or taking down a mighty djinn in The Witcher 3, people will often point to these games as shining examples of what sidequests should be. Many RPGs’ side content gets held up to The Witcher 3’s high storytelling standards in particular, and often players come away disappointed that most games have more typical, fetch quest style sidequests in comparison.

Returning to Pokemon Go: Is it Worth it?

Like many, I jumped on the Pokemon Go train when it first released. There were a lot of problems with the mobile title at the time (how could Niantic not expect so many to download the game?), but it was still a blast to go outside and see a swath of people walking around, looking for rare monsters and Gyms changing hands every minute. Eventually, a lot of people got sick of the constant issues and the limited number of Pokemon to catch and dropped off... and I did as well. But recently the third generation of Pokemon have been added to the game, and I decided to give the game another try.

Mobile Moments: Pocket Mortys

This time we're looking at the Rick and Morty Pokemon clone, Pocket Mortys. Pocket Mortys is by no means a new game—it originally released in January 2016, two years ago, and for free no less! I remember my boyfriend playing the game when it first released on his tablet, and the screams of Mortys fighting each other filled the air and haunted my dreams. I decided to give the game a try myself for Mobile Moments, because it seems like the perfect title for RPG fans to have on the go… and a lot of people love Rick and Morty to boot.

Branching Path: Elizabeth Henges' Top 10 Games of 2017

2017 sure was a fantastic year for video games, wasn't it? No matter what genre you're a fan of, you're likely to have at least one fantastic game released that you'll love. It's been pretty great for RPGs too… but I don't think I have the stamina to play a bunch of RPGs in a row like my fellow writers. I need a palette cleanser! The fact that I found it difficult to narrow my list down to ten games this year, where oftentimes I can have trouble filling GOTY lists with ten titles signals to me how great this year really was for video games.

The Game-Breaking Glory of Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy V may not be my favorite title in the series, but it's the one I find most interesting. It takes the class system from Final Fantasy III and refines it, making it easier to experiment with various classes while keeping most of them useful for the entire story. A lot of the design decisions around the game are interesting as well, allowing you to try some really unusual party set-ups and even break the difficulty in crazy ways.

Mobile Moments: Solitairica

Ever just want a mobile RPG to play for a few moments here or there? I love my portables as much as the next person, but I have trouble bringing it everywhere I go—namely, it’s pretty hard to pull out and play during lulls in the workday. But my phone is always there, and I find myself gravitating more towards mobile games for what I used portable systems to fill my time with. But, it’s not exactly easy to sift through the dirt for a diamond… that’s where Mobile Moments comes in! Mobile Moments will take a seemingly random mobile RPG from the Google Play Store and I’ll play it, and tell you if it’s worth your precious storage space.

Fire Emblem Warriors Switch Preview

Fire Emblem Warriors isn't exactly the game I expected from the series. Being strategy RPGs, Fire Emblem games are slow, methodic, and require strategy to survive. A lot of Musou titles, on the other hand, has you cutting down swathes of enemies with ease, rushing about and quickly cutting down foes to finish the stage. The two series seem mismatched for each other, but judging by what I've been able to play so far, Fire Emblem Warriors meshes the two together very well and promises to be a great title for Fire Emblem fans.

Mobile Moments: A Girl Adrift

Ever just want a mobile RPG to play for a few moments here or there? I love my 3DS as much as the next person, but I have trouble bringing it everywhere I go—namely, it’s pretty hard to pull out and play during lulls in the workday. But my phone is always there, and I find myself gravitating more towards mobile games for what I used portable systems to fill my time with. But, it’s not exactly easy to sift through the dirt for a diamond… that’s where Mobile Moments comes in!

Terra Battle 2 Overview and Impressions

The original Terra Battle released three years ago, and many were pleased with how the title brought unique strategic gameplay to mobile devices. Now, Terra Battle 2 has released, and I'm sure you're wondering how Mistwalker and Silicon Studio's newest game stacks up to the original. There are a few more changes in Terra Battle 2 from the original than you may expect, and while not all of these changes are for the better, there's some potential for improvement.

I played Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire so you don't have to

When I first saw Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire in the Google Play Store, I immediately wrote it off as one of those weird scam apps. You know, the ones that clearly rip off Sonic or Mario or another popular series to get unsuspecting people to download it and then bombard them with premium purchases and banner ads until they uninstall the app. When I found out that A New Empire was a legitimate, Square Enix endorsed release, curiosity got the better of me.

News

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver Super Music Collection Available on iTunes

A few Pokemon soundtracks have been making it onto iTunes lately, starting first with the Pokemon X and Y Super Sound Collection and Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen Super Music Collection. Today marks the addition of the Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver Super Music Collection to the growing musical list.  This massive soundtrack is jam-packed with 270 songs from the DS games, and covers every track from the game's opening to its ending scenes.