I fell absolutely head over heels in love with this game from the moment I booted up the demo for the first time. It is weird, ugly, gorgeous, clunky, satisfying and ten other adjectives that will contradict each other, because Clash revels in that contradiction and not bending to anything but the unique rule(s) of this world.
I was being reminded of the original Nier a lot with this game, not only with soundtrack similarities, which certainly play its part, both being absolutely unique and outstandingly beautiful but also the general mix of riveting storytelling and characters with at times rough execution that will undoubtely scare off a lot of players reflected in the low critics scores. Also Godhand comes to mind, filling out the gameplay side of this analogy. All of these facts also make it absolutely ripe to simmer and manifest as a hidden gem and cult classic guaranteed to become someones favorite game of all time.
All the criticism out there of this game is probably very valid, but this is this kind of game that when it clicks, it fucking clicks, which is what happened for me and I love this game to pieces without any reservation.

Can't wait for multiverse narratives to die in a fire.
Bayonetta 3 is a good action game but a huge step down for the Bayonetta franchise and perhaps the biggest disappointment I have ever felt in a game. Not only is the story an incoherent, embarrassing mess (not that the other two had a high bar to overcome), but unfortunately the gameplay is completely bogged down with the new focus on summoning gigantic monsters in every battle, which creates a clusterfuck of visual clutter and takes the fun and speed out of the otherwise flawless combat system with great new weapon additions.
Platinum really had to sign a monkey's paw deal with Nintendo it seems. On the one hand the franchise was saved, but on the other hand it was confined to the shackles of technological jail that are Nintendo's consoles, meaning that Bayonetta 3 might actually look and feel worse than Bayonetta 1 on the 360 did, which is such a bummer.
I am not hopeful at all for the future of Bayonetta, unfortunately. The story and character decisions did its part, certainly, but most importantly it feels like I have lost the confidence in the belief that Platinum has a coherent vision for the franchise and knows what the strengths are, because Bayonetta 3 certainly did not play to them.

Requiem plays it safe as far as sequels go and continues right where the first game left of. Even if it features more sprawling and detailed environments, it is the type of sequel where I won't remember in a years time what was part of the first game and what was the second game. This isn't a bad thing at all, ultimately I also enjoyed it about equally as Innocence, even if it has nice improvements in combat and character variety.
Where I would have wished for more refinement are the puzzles and some of the rat sections. It happened multiple times that a puzzle or general progression hinged on me noticing an interaction circle somewhere or not missing a crucial piece of dialog that is not repeated, leading to me banging my head against the wall in trial-and-error, not seeing the specific solution to a problem the game wants me to see to progress.
The rats are the bread and butter of A Plague Tale and offer a great twist on stealth mechanics. The tech is honestly impressive, but unfortunately not waterproof. The organic nature of the rat system often led to infuriating frustration where some rogue rats would still be on a cleared path, killing Amecia, you being centimeters away from a light source still dying trying to make one step forward or rats being on a path they are not supposed to be due to some mechanics I won't spoil, leading to the need for wasting a fire pot to clear a tiny patch of rats, alerting all the enemies. These were minor frustrations but were what ultimately held me back from enjoying it more than Innocence.
In the end though, A Plague Tale is incredibly easy to recommend, which hasn't changed with Requiem, offering a tight narrative with impressive set-pieces and digestable stealth gameplay, even I, a person with very very limited patience for any stealth in games, could arrange myself with. It's the little AA sibling of Uncharted and The Last of Us and is just as enjoyable, even if obviously not as refined.

Still just as exhilarating as it was when I first played it as a teenager on release. With this replay I could finally remedy a big regret of my gaming career: Actually beating the final boss and finishing the game on hard difficulty, which I just couldn't do in 2013, as the difficulty spike was just too brutal.
In the years after its release Rising became a cult classic and with good reason - the game is not only a phenomenal action game with some of the best uses of music in combat but is also infinitely quotable through the narrative in between that doesn't overstay its welcome.
There are definitely some rough edges where the game pulls you away from what the fun part is by introducing various stealth sections to somehow prove that it is a Metal Gear game, I guess. And the weapons and items you get are really not that interesting at the best and annoyingly clunky and useless at the worst, providing some unnecessary fat in an otherwise remarkably lean experience. At the end I don't feel like faulting the game for anything, though. It is so full of character and charm, that it just gets away with it, cementing itself as one of my favorite games of all time.

I just can't. After ten hours I don't feel enough of a drive to keep playing. For me the Xenoblade games are bad examples of maximalist design at this point. Creating quality not by elegant subtraction but by addition of more and more systems and dimensions of complexity to the point of legitimately feeling like parody of itself to me.
I could stand Xenoblade 3 for longer than the first one due to an interesting story hook and early development, but my god the sheer spam of new systems, menues, and mechanics truly made my head hurt, killing any drive to play further - hearing how much more is to come, hailed as a positive aspect. This made me realize that the series is definitively not for me, despite my best efforts which greatly disappoints me because of the excitement seemingly everyone else has for the franchise and my absolute adoration of Xenogears and the hope of some DNA of that transfering over.
The baseline combat is so clunky and uninteresting to me that I can't stomach pushing through that for 90 more hours, not even starting on the incredibly annoying line repetitions and dull environments fully covered in ever respawning loot and enemies. I read that that this makes the game feel alive and dynamic while it did the complete opposite for me feeling like a wasteland entirely populated by procedurally generated content. As a level designer the terrain navigation truly shocked me with how clunky and unpolished it is. You constantly run into slopes you are expected to awkwardly jump your way up while other ledges are not accessible to you while being only slightly above your jump height, adding to the feeling of procedural generation, lacking the affordances and clean communication of intentional level design.
This is all pretty much rambling about how this game just isn't for me in the end, recognizing that it's obviously not a bad game, it's just rare that a game in a genre I usually really enjoy so completely goes against anything I value in games and I am envious of everyone able to fall in love with the games in this series, I wish I was one of them.

Not a perfect game, but I still adore everything about it. Beautiful and terrifying, the pinnacle of the Sam Barlow FMV detective genre, leaving the shackles of unlocking a puzzle box bit by bit with notebook at the side and instead diving fully into the madness of cinematography and filmmaking, while also crafting a masterclass in narrative design in the process.

Well, there went my weekend. Cult of the Lamb has one of the most addictive gameplay loops I have encountered in a while and this could have been devastating if presented in an endless time sink common in the genres blended here. Instead, this game feels perfectly trimmed and polished to respect the player's time. The game oozes style in the whole presentation, from all the brilliant UI work to a banging soundtrack. And the gameplay is there to back it up, nailing pretty much everything it is going for. Honestly, I can't find many faults with this game, it is an incredible achievement only minorly weighed down by some of the tedium around the base building aspect and even that is stretching it.

Man, this game is so interesting and I am really glad I finally decided to play it on a whim without really knowing what it was about.
The narrative structure is fascinating and generally works incredibly well with the story it tells, stitching together roadtrips with vignettes featuring a distinct cast of characters. These vignettes offer great variety in settings and tones and the narrative puzzle revealed bit by bit through these character moments is genuinely interesting to follow because you never know for sure what you will get with each new vignette. I really can't say enough nice things about the narrative design, structure and gameplay loop of Road 96.
So... why this score?

Well, I didn't talk about the actual contents of the game yet. Road 96 is unabashedly political through every fiber of its narrative. And therein lies the problem. I adore games willing to take on politics and having the guts to stand for something.
The politics of Road 96 are messy and not supported or conveyed by the most amazing writing I have seen around, to be generous. The chosen characters and their roles in the world are certainly diverse and interesting, but it often dips into territories you wouldn't go with as the player, lacking the meaningful application of player agency and the hamfisted parallels to the real world are played for laughs and irony for the most part but can't help but reveal the superficial depth we can expect from its handling of politics. The performances are emotional for sure in key moments, but also really do not stand out as anything but servicable for the most part.
The main issue I had around the narrative problems was the lack of reactivity or guidance from characters and the game on what my decisions mean. Disappointing a staunch anarchist by choosing the moderate dialogue option got me a disappointed one-liner but...okay? There are generally three options you get, 1. everyone for themselves, 2. fuck the system 3. go vote pwease, which seem to accumulate in the background for something...maybe? I am not sure if there are even any consequences to these flavor choices you make, maybe it's so seamless that I didn't notice, but in any case there is just this total lack of bite and reaction to every choice because of this, leaving the player in this ambigous space where they just play along until credits roll.
Maybe, that's just me. It is still absolutely worth it to play this game, I can't emphasize this enough, Road 96 fascinates me to no end and it has a lot going for it, if you are at all on the fence about it, I will absolutely recommend it, at the very least you will find a lot to like, maybe even dismissing my criticisms, in which case this game could be loved by a lot of people, I believe.

The defining achievement of Neon White seems to be turning people with no speedrunning or highscore-chasing ambitions around to do just that. That's certainly the case with me.
I didn't chase for the global leaderboards, shaving off milliseconds, but I made it a mission to get every Ace medal and collectible in every level, because doing that is less of a challenge to perfectly take each corner but instead distinct puzzle solving of how to use the tools available to you to get to a seemingly unreachable spot or solve the alternative path that is highlighted in the built-in hint system.
The reason why I was striving for the completion of every challenge is the excellent game feel and fantastic soundtrack, effortlessly putting you into a flow state within seconds. You also quickly learn that you can rely on the game being fair to you, gradually increasing the intensity but never forcing you to beat your head against a wall or requiring pixel perfect precision.
The writing I unfortunately didn't care for at all, it is -very much- woven out of internet culture, memes and tropes and while it combined with the voice acting probably evokes a semi ironic nostalgia for beloved english anime dubs, it certainly failed to make me care for the characters at all and the little vignettes that you unlock by collecting gifts in the levels felt hollow and pointless for the most part unfortunately.
This would normally be a bigger deal breaker for me than it actually ended up being, just because of the strength of all the surrounding elements. It is just so unbelievably fun and I can't help but love Neon White in its entirety because of that.

This game is so weirdly good. The setting is an absolute star here, feeling so totally opposed but also perfectly natural to the cutesy Kirby presentation and doing a lot of heavy lifting in pushing and pulling this game into a unique and fresh direction. The combat is unexpectedly nuanced with decently deep mechanics on many of the available forms and a fantastic upgrade system turns these abilities into fascinating variations. An ability fusion system like in Kirby 64 would have probably cemented this into a masterpiece for me, though. Maybe next time. Still, this was an absolutely delightful time and I really hope this is a stepping stone for the future of Kirby.


What looks like a nostalgia-driven Zelda clone on the surface turns out be so much more than that or rather invokes the nostalgia in more creative ways than you would expect. It calls back on the era of extensive game manuals and obtuse game mechanics and channels the experience of playing imported games in languages you don't understand, which is such a specific but untapped experience that is wonderfully translated into a fully formed puzzle-adventure. It is to many parts a player knowledge based puzzle box of figuring out the possibility space and (mechanical) language of the game more often than not feeling closer to an Outer Wilds, The Witness or Fez than its more obvious surface level Zelda or Dark Souls inspirations.
It isn't perfect, though. Hiding all the basic elements of your game and putting tutorials behind obscure scribbles on manual pages leads to many magical revelations but can easily in turn leave you stumped at what to do or how to interpret something when you don't know what the full possibility space of the game is yet. The more traditional meat of the game, mainly the combat never truly felt as responsive or fun as I wanted and there is an overall clunkyness in interactions with the world through weird perspective issues caused by the isometric camera, annoying inventory management and floaty combat. Nevertheless I would probably universally recommend this game to anyone even remotely interested. The in-game manual and related puzzle mechanics are such cool systems and breath of fresh air that absolutely need to be experienced. Even if you don't have nostalgia for this era of games and the surrounding games culture of reading manuals and importing japanese games, Tunic will make sure that you wish that you experienced that era.

A Memoir Blue is an absolutely gorgeous game that is brave enough to tell exactly the story it wants to tell and nothing more in the hour it will take you to finish this. Unfortunately, the story it tells (or rather shows, as this game plays out entirely without words) is rather shallow and toothless and the audio-visual presentation does the heavy lifting to make this an absolutely worthwhile package in the end anyway.


Norco absolutely rules. One of the best written games I have ever played, feauturing a gorgeously realized and mesmerizing setting so confident in every step that you can't help but be sucked into the fever dream it is presenting. I stopped playing the demo after 10 minutes because I knew immediately that this would be amazing and I am glad I was right. Feels right at home next to a Kentucky Route Zero and Disco Elysium, which completes an interesting trifecta of games to recommend if you have played any one of these.

This was borderline unplayable for me at the time of writing. Tender Claws has banked maximum good will with the first one and especially The Under Presents, so I will wait out some patches and return to it when it is hopefully more stable in terms of glitches and bugs, because what little I played of it definitely had potential.