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Played in 2023
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I read curse's killer review and my reaction was "oh I gotta pick this up immediately"
1. What a soundscape...that music...with those gun fx...with all those dumbos' walkie-talkie distorted screams and panicked one-liners (SHIT!!!)...not to mention that music...
2. The visual design of these levels is so incredibly my jam—lay my body to rest in these hallowed halls
3. I didn't realize how much your bullet time gauge restores on kills and went through almost half of the game severely underutilizing it, sweating and swearing at how hard each level was (and still loving every second). Then after I had that forehead slap moment it felt like I'd ascended to divinity
4. I heap mountains of praise on the idea of 1 gun = 1 magazine, and when you’re out of ammo automatically nicking guns off the ground (or sidearms right out of enemies’ holsters!)
oh and before I forget: holy god that music!
Lunar takes my prize for Pleasant Surprise JRPG, with a special emphasis on the "pleasant" cause this is nothing but an easygoing time all around. Everything’s nicely balanced; the magic and item economy is simple but designed such that I was regularly using both; the pacing of towns and dungeons felt just right
It’s a lovely little world they’ve put together here, with a surprising amount of detail. The translation is a bit sophomoric, but I didn’t mind as it also managed to pretty regularly put a smile on my face. And the voice acting is so atrocious that it makes the full circle around to being charming
There’s also some surprisingly forward thinking design decisions here that keep it from ever feeling sloggy too, like just saying nope to random encounters and allowing you to save anywhere anytime. And lastly, it’s amazing how much a simple thing like adding x-y positioning to your party and enemies in the turn-based battles can make even simple encounters much more engaging. Looking forward to the sequel
One of the more beautiful games I’ve played, and a thing that feels like it was destined to find me at this precise moment of my life, as I grapple with the recent passing of my dad. This gentle journey through the most bittersweet and bucolic post-apocalypse I’ve seen, armed with nothing but a camera, a field recorder, and a bicycle: this is what I needed
Everything in Season is poetry. The familiar world tinged with a hint of magic. The far-reaching thoughts of the main character as she opens her eyes to the life, culture, and history of her surroundings. The understated character work and voice acting. The richly layered thematic material. Here is a game deeply concerned with memory and loss, while always keeping a hopeful, if anxious, eye toward the future. I love the tone that’s captured here so much
Games like this often focus on their writing, their art, their vibes, but Season deserves recognition for the mechanics on display as well. Whipping out a device and capturing a moment feels effortless, and the world has been assembled with such fastidious care that every shot I took felt like a minor masterpiece. I cannot overstate how important this was. Compared to a game like Umurangi, where I rarely felt like I’d actually taken a “good” picture, Season made me feel like a photographic genius. The lighting and composition always fall right into place like magic. I walked away from this thinking “gee maybe I should take up photography!” (I won’t). And although at the start of the game I was worried that assembling the scrapbook might get old and tedious, it never did. I loved finding new ways to arrange the elements of each page, I loved the mix of open-ended and goal-oriented pages, and it was a really special moment to flip back through the whole thing at the end
And then there’s the bicycle: it was such a simple and rich joy to just coast across this world. I also loved how my fingers would actually get a bit tired when biking up hills from having to pump the triggers filled with DualSense tension
I was hoping for just a little bit more from the ending, but this is dangerously close to a perfect game to me