March 2023:
For the last 3 years, this game was too much of a reminder of my ex for me. I should get down on my knees & give thanks that the Tekken8 trailers are triggering nostalgia, instead of triggering resentment and PTSD aftershocks 🫣. Tekken7 convinced me to buy my first gaming console, since middle school, to bond with my gamer gf. I absolutely wasn’t ready for her to show me her own “Rage Drive” (more people should talk about how domestic abuse is statistically higher in lgbt relationships)

🌕 🌕 🌕 🌖
3.75 OUTTA 7 MOONS
Instead of thinking of this game as an RPG, look at this game like a collect-a-thon platformer with mature themes. That way, it has a better chance of exceeding your expectations.
[AMOUNT OF MY LIFE SPENT PLAYING THIS GAME: 133 hours]
😈The “demon” characters are based on characters from myths & religions from across the globe. I like that about this game.
The music tho—especially the tracks are less rock-oriented—really special. The ethereal & eerie sounds really carried this game at times.
There is a certain level of strategy needed to win each combat encounter. After the 30th time encountering the same goblin in the game’s turn-based combat, it’s no secret which type of attack is its weakness. I’be considered replaying this game on its Hard difficulty setting, because without enough of a struggle, this game can feel like soul sucking busywork, and less like a game.
The classic art of Kazuma Kaneko brought me into Shin Megami Tensei in the summer of 2021. SMT’s reputation for presenting philosophical themes intrigued me. The sadistic game design (status effects vs healing, the cost to do anything (heal, upgrades, time-investment, NPCs that trick & steal from you)) of SMT3NOCTURNE made that experience reflect the exploitation found in modern society. That impressed me, compared to the “realism” of other video games I’ve played.
SMT5 is defanged in those regards. While its approach to combat compensates for being less unforgiving by becoming more flexible & visually interesting, your enemies are rarely more advanced. You will ‘solve’ every non-boss combat encounter early on, removing the satisfaction of strategic problem solving. When defeating opponents is as one-dimensional as discovering their elemental weakness(es), the gameplay itself feels as hollow as it’s human characters.
The humor of the “demons”, and the small number of side quests that showcase the humanity they possess, can’t carry this game alone, but occasionally they made it all feel worth it for me. As your needs change along your adventure, creating new demons fused from those already in your beastiary is interesting. It wasn’t uncommon for the urge to upgrade to be the most motivating factor for me, because unfortunately, you shouldn’t count on the story to do that for you.
The verticality of the sandbox levels and frustrating map design stands in for older SMT games’ dungeon crawler heritage, for better and for worse, depending on how much fun you derive from usually barren mazes, which sometimes look great, sprinkled with collectibles that weren’t worth the effort in the end.
SMT remains a gaming experience unlike any other. But while the financial success of SMT5–the least challenging entry in the mainline series, which released to a world full of millions of players that loved Atlus’ Persona 5–is a victory for a studio that has historically struggled commercially, players familiar with the series expected this game to raise the bar for engaging mature stories with unparalleled turn-based combat.
A few of the short stories contained in the sidequests contain more impactful writing than the game itself. Good luck finding them amongst the unoriginal fetch quests. Good luck finding anything on the intentionally inscrutable map (thas that “SMT Bullshit that, for many, defines the series). Instead of thinking of this game as an RPG, look at this game like a collect-a-thon platformer with mature themes. That way, it has a better chance of exceeding your expectations.
The mainline SMT games hadn’t been on home consoles in 15 years. This game achieves a lot to bring the series in line with what people expect from an RPG today. It feels unfair that this game isn’t at least a 4/7 for me. From my very limited experience with the RPG genre, only Like A Dragon had a story that didn’t disappoint. For context, I consider this story a 2.5/7.
And the other mainline SMT I’ve played—NOCTURNE—gets a 4/7.
It’s unrealistic to expect a video game to have all the answers to the existential questions it wrestles with. Nocturne coats its plot in an ambiguous haze of environmental subtext, which isn’t present in the latest entry.
There was a statement, made by either the games’s producer or director, that SMTV would deal with contemporary social ills in this game. For whatever reason, not much of that made it into the game. What little there is can be found in side quests. The social commentary ends up being boiled down to the simplistic black and white thinking of ‘law vs chaos’. If I didn’t know about the unfulfilled aspirations of the game, I would have concluded that the current staff missed the point of what SMT s about. The first SHIN Megami Tensei game (1992) is perhaps the entry that incorporates a metaphorical analysis of modern day Japanese society best.

🤖 🤖 🤖 🤖 🤖 🌗
5.5 OUTTA 7 SENTINELS
Someone said they wished they could wipe their mind of any memory of this game, so they could experience it again for the first time. Full of far out moments.
🚫Don’t read any more reviews for this game🚫
Play it knowing as little about it as possible. Almost everyone whose game opinions I respect enjoyed their time with this one.

🧛🏻‍♀️ 🧛🏻‍♀️ 🧛🏻‍♀️ 🧛🏻‍♀️ 🧛🏻‍♀️
5 outta 7 pairs of fangs
-of the 17 characters (as of January 2023), 11 are girls. If you mainly play as fem characters in fighting games, you may be pleased with the cast. We like the magician in blue jeans, the ghost-in-the-shell nun, the shy nun, the moon princess (vampire), the vampire cat, the katana-wielding human pinball with the 40” ponytail. We like dat
-Some people are turned off by Melty Blood’s characters being dressed in everyday clothing, but we think what they’re really saying is “FULLY-CLOTHED anime girls don’t excite me.” We don’t need no sex to sell some violence lmao. The main vampire girl inna long sleeve turtleneck shirt straight stuntin on you Fashionova hoes
-there’s no fighting game we’re aware of that contains a less annoying character roster. There are 3 characters I’m almost never in the mood to fight: sigma zoner Vlov, the grappler, and the tiny girl who likes to do cocaine and kung fu. They’re not annoying because they blurt out the same annoying thing every time a certain move happens, it’s the frequently set on fire, and getting mollywopped by Miyako. I love the sound it makes when you block Vlov’s icicle projectiles 🥰
-the first Melty Blood’s OST is some of my favorite video game music. this game supposedly will be updated so OG Melty music is playable 🥵. There’s a reason all fighting game channels on YouTube use the Melty Blood Character Select theme
-the banter between characters ranges from Oscar Wilde/Anne Rice old school vampire shit to high schoolers with crushes on each other being weird.
All things considered, this is my favorite fighting game.

2019

This review contains spoilers

SEVEN ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️STARS
SEVERAL STIRS 🥣
Can mental health services be automated using artificial intelligence in an ethical way? Is technology able to improve the quality of healthcare supplied by corporations? How does the mental health of the people that create new technologies affect us as end users?
ELIZA’s a very polished visual novel. The care shown to so many small details across the scope of this small game is glorious. Being the last game made by Zachtronics, a small developer game known for titles that feature engineering-flavored game mechanics, it’s no surprise that ELIZA is a well-oiled novella. If you click to advance the dialog before the voice actor finishes speaking, it doesn’t abruptly skip over the last words, like some VNs do.
Even though the paintings of the characters aren’t animated at all, they come to life through great writing and realistic performances. While a character pauses to find the write words to say between sentences may say “umm” without that word being included in the onscreen text. There’s a conversational believability to how lines are spoken that brings the voice actors’ performances closer to feeling like a movie.
Many people have criticized ELIZA’s length. I can see how it could fly by for some. For me, the game was like a good book; I often stopped progressing the dialog to ponder the moral quandaries presented. That gave the game a contemplative richness. Who criticizes great games for being too short? Are the joys of poetry lost on them as well?
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW 🚨
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(however, if you’ve read a bit about what’s it’s like working for tech companies—which the protagonist does—or game companies, this will come as no surprise)
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I do like how the game deals with Burnout. I think it in the Kotaku review that I saw the protagonist described as “depressed,” and the reviewer felt that the this game has little new to say about depression. I see this game as not specifically intending to speak about depression, rather, it contains depictions of depressive symptoms within modern professional culture: It’s talking about burnout.
Also, it was cool that a character was into making music using modular synthesizers. I am too!

This game is perfect, but perfection isn’t always compelling. And that’s good too. This is a game I would play between about 20 minutes, or until I got stuck, put it down & return to it 3 months later. The creator’s vision is highly cohesive, and at no point does the game feel light on creative inspiration. The puzzles offered me just the right amount of challenge: I’d get stumped here and there, but wasn’t compelled to look up hints. When I’d get stumped, I’d leave it alone and return to it whenever I felt like it. You too might finish this without hints, if you don’t rush it, like I did. The hand drawn art looks done with colored pencils, I enjoyed savoring my time with it—looking at the drawings and enjoying the art.. is that ‘gameplay’? ☺️ This game sometimes served as a palette cleanser—when I wanted to play a video game, but nothing I owned was speaking to me, this would. progressing in GOROGOA by a few inches was often a nice counterpoint to the narrative-driven games (my normal).
GOROGOA’s creator says “ What do I like about puzzles? I think it has to do with the idea that there is hidden structure or meaning in the world. That if you can look at an ordinary piece of the world and rearrange the parts of it in just the right way, you would discover some hidden structure.”
The story of this game presents itself within the meditations on creativity and wonder, from the mundane to the mystical.

SIX ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STAR GAME
6/5❗️
wasn’t expecting this at all.
I use game controllers like I use paintbrushes: loose and vibey. Precision platforming has never been my thing. But this bish rite here??!?!
going into this, I knew EVEN THE OCEAN had been criticized as being “preachy,” but not much else. I didn’t know it was going to make me “feel” like I’m capable of clearing megaman levels.
The art: the sidescrolling background illustrations, the platforming level design. Larry David voice Pretttty good. The visuals have an autumnal, unfussy cuteness. However, the people in the game don’t look cute—they look real.
The depictions of our natural world are the most adorable looking parts of this game. The world is magical place, and the depictions of how we treat our world, and each other, are the ugliest parts of this game.
Our protagonist is a technician starting her first day working for the city’s power plants. The 2D platforming occurs while she is on the job. Our hero is a young woman of color risking her life to save her hometown, Whiteforge, from odd occurrences that seem related to the energy these power plants are generating.
And that is why this game is not very popular. It seems that much of the same Games Media that praised Anodyne 1, was not tryna fuck with a real game talking bout real shit. This is the reason why, for years, Capcom was not tryna release those Ace Attorney games, here in the west, that depicted the normalized racism of British people in the 1900s—it’s not prudent to impugn the status quo. “Go woke go broke” they say.
If I recall correctly, in this game, all the main characters (antagonists notwithstanding) are brown, and both relationships given screen time are homo. That resembles my daily life, and perhaps that’s why this game is literally $3 on steam at the time of this writing (i paid the $20 for it on switch, and was a lil saddened that my new favorite game is available at 80% off, and may be relegated to ‘hidden gem’ status, like so many works of art I adore).
Another reason this game will make you uncomfortable is its spirituality. Instead of enemies to kill, your health bar is your ongoing challenge, which begins half light/half dark. Bulbs of light or dark energy shift the balance and you die when you are 100% light or dark. People hate games symbolically about aspiring to find balance within self & within community. Maybe a game about the next mass shooting is more to their liking?
Yeah. So this is New Age Megaman Ferngully, featuring a heavily lgbt cast. 🤯 To make a game with all these ideas figuring prominently sounds unwieldy. That’s why it such a triumph. Analgesic Productions got their chakras aligned all the fucking way down and pulled it off.
I want more bravery from my games, in a world where every big game studio’s toxic culture is being brought to light, I commend those who not only aren’t on that fuck shit, but are making art to inspire kids (FYI this game is still a PG-rated experience) to do better than we have done. That’s love!
P.S. the gameplay is fun af! Figuring out how to navigate certain parts didn’t take more than 3 or 4 attempts. Now I’m over here wondering what other puzzle platformers I might vibe with. But I ain’t gon lie, by the last fourth of the game I did adjust the settings to make it less impenetrable for me. The accessibility options in this game are brazy: if you don’t have time for platform hopping, you can make our hero float through the platforming…or choose story mode and skip them all together. The devs already knew that this was a story worth telling, with or without the gameplay. 🕊
Portraying the complexity of the human condition through a most inclusive lens: 5/5
Speaking truth to power: 5/5
Being written more like a good book/play/film, rather than a video game: 4.5/5
Menu design sometimes being lowkey frustrating: yes
Nuanced sense of humor: very yes

SEVEN ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STAR GAME
it’s perfect 🤍 we get 3 chapters from a graphic novel video game that looks into someone’s crippling depression. Feelings of being depleted & anxiety are portrayed, to great effect, by the tone evoked by the pencil strokes of the game’s author/artist, Ida. A success of the team that brought Ida’s drawings to life is how cleverly the game’s UI elements are seamlessly integrated into the panels of comic art. The mechanics of the game are intuitive. Advancing through the chapters is graceful, compared to the visual novel “gameplay” of the monotony of repeatedly clicking the same button to advance a game’s story. I haven’t played many games on this small scale that impress by how polished they are.
You can feel the love and angst that went into making this.
I’m glad that people who are able to relate to the themes of ‘Stilstand’ will be reminded that they are not alone in their struggles.

Playing this in small doses, I was able to enjoy the company of a nice gaggle of personalities in this cozy murder mystery for about half a year. I do wish there was a way to select which song you listen to while solving the many picross puzzles that advance the plot. Having a few more 🎶 selections would’ve been nice when the sounds and your mood don’t vibe. The game’s music is made by Noriyuki Iwadare, who composed the music of Phoenix Wright 😭. I was pleased with the four chapters, each being a murder case for your hero to solve.

SEVEN ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STAR GAME
Since I hadn’t seen the gamer side of my gf, and wanting to bond in a new way as the honeymoon phase ended, I got a PS4pro around thanksgiving 2018. Together, we mainly played fighting games, and Phoenix Wright. Mutazione was one of the first games I played til the end on my own.
The visuals look like art made by layering construction paper, but the characters are so far from flat. A teenager, traveling by boat to the island of her sickly shaman grandfather, is our player character. Before he transitions from his body, he—and the island itself—have life lessons to teach. Through spending time with the people of the island, we get a poetic all-ages adventure about what makes being alive beautiful.
You may be pleasantly surprised to know gardening plays a special role in this experience. This game has something to say about our relationships to nature and the divine.
🤍

SEVEN ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STAR GAME
she would watch me play this game on my phone, and think to herself, “what a goofy happy goofball you are! when no one else is around, you’re even more childish than me—and I’m a floating disembodied bighead baby with antlers who needs help with my homework. Actually…you are childish around other people, but without the idiotic excitement this game brings out of you.”

🌀🌀🌀🌀🌀🌗
5.5 outta 7 SPIRE SPIRALZ
(March 2, 2023: 455 hours)
This card game game is beloved because it gradually blooms as you experiment, learning how combinations of cards can work, for better and for worse.
This was my first deckbuilding game.
About a month of play went by before I understood enough to make it to the first boss. If you’re new to deckbuilding games, like I was, don’t let the learning curve discourage you. Watching gameplay videos will show you strategy ideas to inspire your future runs, like so many of us, will enjoy playing for hundreds of hours.
This game can eat hours. One run can last 40 to 200 minutes. So be mindful of this one’s addictive quality!
August 2022 update: I started playing THE WATCHER character. I had tried months before, but it wasn’t clicking. Now that I know what I’m doing even more so, learning her DIVINATION (!!) mechanics has been a joy, and she’s tied for my favorite, of the four, character to play as. I think it’s cool that she’s designed to use various versions of mindfulness to engage her foes.

🚨LOVELY GAME ALERT🚨
ABOUT AN ELF is full of boppin dembow beats, politecore trap music, occasional violin, a magical world brought to life with flawless art pop stylings (held back only by the budget of this game’s two-person (‼️‼️) development team) and 🔍 clue-based combat (I love guessing games!).
⚡️
it’s about an elf too: she’s adorable, charming, approachable, delusional, with dreams of an elftopian promised land. She reminds me of one of my favorite people IRL, and if you’re lucky, it’ll hit like that for you too! Elf princess Dam is accompanied by Roland, feline hero-in-training. Wasn’t expecting there to be totally heartwarming moments along their adventure, but yup. They’re here tho!
💦
About An Elf reimagines the fantasy adventure paradigm of many classic RPGs as a visual novel with free-associative guesswork being it’s core combat gameplay mechanic. Win by correctly matching a visual clue with one of your elemental magic affinity of your weapons. For example, does a video of a goldfish mean you should select water magic or fire magic?
So blessed this work of art exists. Issa vibe.
👀 Watch the trailer
ELF LOVE
🤍🧚🏿‍♀️

This’ll be updated after I conclude my second play
-a resource management game set in a future world
-a ‘survival’ game
-the gameplay screenshots can’t convey the style contained in this game
-saw the end in 6-8 hours & hoping my second play has more to show me
-current favorite game of 2022