## general thoughts
i really wanted to love this game, but i only liked it. as a (nearly) solo developed indie game, you can get really well executed clear vision on projects like this. emphasis on can. my general impression of this game is that the core developer drew inspiration from too many different sources and ended up with something perfectly tailored for themselves, but not necessarily others.
the game balance in particular is all out of wack, and i had to turn the game down to easy because i was spending far too much time in "random" battles. speaking of that, the game doesn't have random battles, but it literally roadblocks and ambushes you with enemies constantly. especially since XP grind isn't a thing in this game, i'd love more chances to avoid combat and save my energy for the bosses. i initially enjoyed the boss fights, but playing on easy mode made almost every fight trivial, yet i had a hard time being motivated to go back on that.
## what i played
i did a lot of the side quests, but not all of them. i didn't do any of the "post game" stuff. i recruited all 12 party members. i played for about 45 hours.
## the short version
> i don't regret buying, playing, or finishing the game, but i can't see this as "an indie masterpiece" or new best JRPG by any metric from myself. it's a solid 3/5 game for me.
## pros
+ 12 playable characters
+ despite being set in a single nation, neighboring countries and even continents are relevant to the story
+ music is generally good
+ art is generally good
+ lots of "quality of life" changes compared to older JRPGs
+ not too much backtracking
+ lots of characters involved in political struggle, war, and fighting god
## cons
- crafting is tedious (but skippable on easy mode)
- "no random battles" is true but the game has a massive amount of forced battles anyway
- level and map design is not good
- sometimes the perspective on the art is a little wonky
- mech combat is completely unique from on-foot combat, and nowhere near as good
- leveling system is horrible for folks with choice paralysis like me
- too many systems to learn with little payoff
- difficulty curve looks like a sine wave
- localization can feel dry
- a character complains about how growing up rich actually sucks because his sister got raped into a coma by a group of poor people
- i'm not kidding btw

Where to start. I didn't play this in its era. This was my first time ever playing the game.
First, it barely works on a Windows 10 PC. I had to install a few mods just to get the graphics to render at a reasonable resolution and also scale the UI a bit. Plus there's a massive issue with the default renderer making the game unbearably dark and hard to see.
The game freezes constantly when I enter menus, and there's zero checkpointing, so make sure you remember your quicksave and quickload keys.
The games systems are woefully underexplained and hard to manage. I didn't realize I'd been upgrading myself incorrectly with augmentations until well over halfway through, and you can't change your mind later.
Skill points are too hard to come by, and rewards feel very small, especially early on. Eventually I accidentally found an infinite skill points glitch, which I abused to max out every stat. Amazing how much better the pistol feels especially at level 4 vs level 1. It's like aiming drunk vs being Revolver Ocelot lol.
Much of this game is just wandering around hoping you don't suck with a gun, or trying to slap enemies on the ass with a baton because for some weird reason that's their crit spot.
The game is not very large, and is mostly linear, yet I found myself constantly lost. This map design is not it. And the maps are all static, relying on you to use a compass to get anywhere, if you even have one. I get that this is a "simulation" type game so maybe that's just not for me.
Managing your inventory was not super fun, and I found myself doing it a lot. Manually arranging items in a grid is just tedious lol, and the game really hurts if you have "I might need this later" syndrome.
Strangely enough, Deus Ex: Invisible War was my first DX game. I then played Human Revolution and eventually Mankind Divided (plus that phone game Deus Ex GO; surprisingly good). I eventually tried this based on the recommendation from a friend, but honestly I'm not really sure that PC games from 2000 hold up so well, in my opinion.
It's really not the graphics, those are actually kinda fun once you get it rendering correctly. The game design is dated, the controls are monstrous, and the whole game just feels like you're an awkward failson rather than the most elite genetically engineered agent ever lol.
I could maybe see this game being fun the second time around, once you know where everything is and what to do, but I had an awful time fumbling my way thru it.
I can see why by the standards of 2000 this was cool, but I think anyone still playing and enjoying it probably has some nostalgia fueling their run.

This game rocks. Perfect aesthetic, great music, tight platforming. I beat the game and got the true ending in ~3 hours. There's also two bonus characters, and 100% completion if I wanted to spend more time with it. The story is serviceable but the real point is OMG I'm playing a 3D platformer with an anthropomorphized animal!! I love this game.

This review contains spoilers

This game feels like an alternate universe version of Pokémon Legends: Arceus that failed to stick the landing.
I played this game primarily in docked mode, where the framerate goes between bad and nearly unplayable.
Yeah, there's glitches too, but that didn't bother me as much.
The "open world" of this game is frankly awful. You can go basically anywhere from the beginning, but there's a pretty clear level progression that if you don't follow, you'll end up massively overleveled and bored for most of the game.
I would prefer they just went back to Sword/Shield style with a mostly linear game with fine tuning, and then a few big areas for endgame repeated play.
Or if the next game keeps this open world style, they either need some kind of level scaling to keep the game from getting too boring, or at least show us the recommended level of each quest so we don't go too far over them and get bored.
The graphics are extremely dull, the game is filled with repeated textures and massive amounts of empty space. And they're still going for a frankly awful lighting/rendering style. Everything has a sick white sheen, like a plastic figure. It looks nasty. I really wish they'd go for a more cartoony/cel-shaded look. Flat shading with outlines would really help give life to these fantasy creatures, I think.
The writing is over the top. Characters talk so much, and the game is eager to wrestle control away from you, and make you read countless text boxes stating the obvious. I know this is a game for children, but surely they would benefit from something more concise as well. Also, the cutscenes are quite dynamic. Lots of movement and lip syncing... but no voice acting. I think it's fine the game doesn't have voice acting, but it feels out of place with how the rest of the presentation. And they could at least have a "beep beep beep" voice system, like so many RPGs of yore.
I really wish they had fully copied the stealth-action catching system of Legends: Arceus. The catch rates are absolutely abysmal in this game. Even a lv.19 Magikarp will repeatedly wiggle out of a great ball lol.
The gyms all have a unique and awful minigame before the overly easy gym leader battle. The star bases have an offensively boring and easy minigame that is repeated before each one (5). The Titan Pokémon are at least a bit more interesting.
Oh, and the game makes you think "school" will be important but then you spend the entire game on summer break!! What gives. A complete waste with all that school build up at the beginning. And to make matters worse, you're forced to wear a school uniform! So there's literally only 4 outfit choices in the game. Everything else is accessories.
The new monster are cute, and Tinkaton is just lovely. The battle music is great, though some of the overworld music is overly in-your-face and becomes grating.
Where this game really shines is final area. I will keep spoilers about this area very light, but if you're sensitive, you should stop reading now.
AREA ZERO IS SO COOL. You get to team up with 3 other Pokémon trainers and actually form an adventuring party. If you've seen Annihilation, this definitely takes some inspiration from Area X, which is awesome. In this area the geometry is strange and the Pokémon are stranger. The story finally takes an interesting twist, and you have to go through a few challenging battles. Also the music rocks in this area. I was blown away. It's too bad the game doesn't get this mindblowing until 30+ hours in, and then it's gone in a few more hours.
This game needed more time in development, a better sense of direction for the player, and better art direction. This could've been "Breath of the Wild" for Pokémon, but instead it feels like an unpolished bag of ideas. I still have hope for Pokémon's future, but that's primarily because 2022's Pokémon Legends: Arceus shows that the same studio already knows how to handle some of these ideas better. The games were developed in parallel, so hopefully they'll fully understand what they need to improve for next time. BUT, the sales of Scarlet/Violet are off the charts compared to PL:A, so who knows if they'll actually get the message.

A promising new direction for Pokémon.
The new stealth-action Pokémon catching system is a breath of fresh air, in what is one of the most sluggish turn-based game series I can think of.
I want to be clear: I love Pokémon dearly, but I think the games have grown stale.
The boss battles are a little weird, but otherwise I love the various zones you can wander around in.
The game is like a bunch of mini open worlds, in the style of Mario Odyssey. Being able to see Pokémon on the map, and even get into 1v2 or 1v3 battles is incredibly exciting.
This game does a lot to shake up the formula, and most of it lands.
I don't really care for the feudal Japan isekai setting, but it's mostly ignorable.
The fashion is still pretty good in this game, and collecting monsters is better than ever.

A complete misunderstanding of what made the first Bayonetta game fun
When I think of Bayonetta, I think of fast, fluid combat. There's a lot going on, but the signature "Witch Time" mechanic of temporary slow motion when dodging an attack with precise timing allows you to embody the hero: seeing thru the chaos and enacting an elegant balet of fists, feet, and bullets.
Sadly, I don't think the directors of Bayonetta 3 and agree on that as the core of the Bayonetta series. It seems that they were more caught up in the spectacle of Bayonetta.
The game opens with a literal apocalypse, and abruptly thrusts you into a story where multiverse theory is real, and new protagonist Viola can hop between universes to battle Singularity, a villain who is absorbing power from every universe in order to challenge Paradiso & Inferno (Heaven & Hell).
In the opening moments of the game, Manhattan is completely destroyed by a cataclysmic wave created by an enormous kaiju-sized aquatic beast. Many games would wait a bit to up the ante like this, but Bayonetta 3 starts at "11" and doesn't let up.
I did not enjoy the pacing of the story because of this. The stakes immediately feel at max and never let up, causing no single moment to actually feel important.
From a gameplay perspective, it honestly feels like Platinum has become bored of the bread & butter smooth combat they're known for. A massive amount of this game is the player controlling either boss-sized beasts (which move as slowly and unresponsivly as you would imagine), or full-on Godzilla-sized kaiju creatures.
The first two Bayonetta games had their occasional frustrating QTEs that could result in instant death, as well as novelty levels based on shmup games and driving games of old. I never liked these levels, but someone at Platinum sure does.
Bayonetta 3 features:
• 1v1 skyscraper-sized kaiju fighting game (and you have to play it twice)
• A stealth minigame featuring Jeanne that plays out like a mediocre Xbox Live Arcade game
• Several different "shmup" sections that are completely inscrutable (some are "airplane" style and others are "on rails")
• A rhythm game during a boss fight
• A "treasure hunt" game with a proximity sensor, with absolutely no explanation
The game is constantly name-dropping weird things that are never really explained, but also not interesting. I'm definitely a "show, don't tell" kind of person when it comes to stories, but I was frequently confused and uninterested in this game due to the amount of "Arch-Eve" and "Arch-Adam" nonsense being spewn.
Another thing about pacing: these weird mini-games popup in so many missions I lost count. They are frequently used as the capstone verse of a chapter to make a boss fight feel "epic", but given how boring these modes are it feels more like a punishment than an epic finale.
In short, I do not recommend anyone play this game. And frankly, I'm confused as to how it currently has an 88/100 on Metacritic. I've seen many people say the game is "fantastic" until the story gets bad, but frankly I didn't like this game from the opening hours thru the finale. It's just not fun and not what people expect out of a Bayonetta game.
TO THAT END, I really wanna talk about the story and go into spoiler territory:
Serious spoiler territory starts now
Um, so you may have heard by now that Bayonetta falls in love with Luka, the bumbling moron who follows her around in the first two games and is infatuated with her.
Unfortunately, this is true, and the setup for it is basically nonexistent.
One of the main story concepts of this game is watching Bayonettas from other universes die, and Luka has a tender moment with Bayonetta as she's dying and being dragged to hell. Luka holds her in his arms and comforts her, and she eats it up like a romanceable little lady, in stark contrast to her behavior in the other games.
I knew about this ahead of time, so I was bracing for it rather than taken by surprise. It's really stupid and feels like it was written by someone who wishes they could marry Bayonetta, and who imagines Luka as the self-insert character.
Also, Luka is actually extremely powerful in this game. It's hinted at early on but eventually everyone realizes he can transform into a crystal werewolf thing that beats the crap out of Bayonetta with ease. He has some weird narration about how he's always felt useless or something and this power grew in him. Like what a weird character arc no one was asking for.
Which, let's back up and talk about Bayonetta's sexuality for a moment. When the first game came out, it was highly criticized for the hypersexual portrayal of Bayonetta. This was at a time when Feminist Frequency was highly relevant, and the male gaze was the phrase of the day.
Many people suggested that Bayonetta's design is that of pure sexual fetish: she's basically a walking sexy British dominatrix witch action figure.
I tend to think this is a pretty accurate assessment of Bayonetta's design, but a new opinion started to emerge around the time of Bayonetta 2. In that game, her BFF Jeanne is hinted at being her lesbian lover (they go out shopping together and talk about going home together... also Jeanne sacrifices herself to save Bayonetta in the early game, and much of the story content is Bayonetta literally going thru actual Hell to save Jeanne; y'know, just "gal pal" stuff).
So there was a new popular head canon of Bayonetta as the lesbian witch full of female empowerment.
I tend to think that her repeated humilation of Luka in the first game is less of "I'm not into men" and more of "I'm a dominatrix lol", but perhaps some people saw it as an affirmation of her sapphic-only love interests.
I personally think this is nothing more than a head canon, and that what sapphic quality the Bayonetta series has is just more of a result of Bayonetta's hyper sexuality and all the combat-capable protagonists being women.
This is not to say that I dislike the head canon. I think it's cool if you see a super hot woman kicking ass and you're like "it me, the power lesbian". That's cool and I'm happy for you. I just don't think the creators of Bayonetta ever had that in mind, and I think Bayonetta's newfound love for Luka is more evidence of that.
And OMG I completely forgot the other thing about her love for Luka. Well, now we're going neck deep into massive endgame spoilers for Bayonetta 3, btw.
The new main character Viola is literally Bayonetta and Luka's daughter from another timeline lol.
And Bayonetta "passes on" the family name to Viola, who is referred to as Viola Bayonetta by Rodin at the end of the game, where she's seen wearing Bayonetta's glasses and Luka's scarf before going out to hunt demons.
For me, the story has never been a motivating or key factor for the series, so I don't really care. It just feels like more mediocre decoration as I expected.
The real issue for me is that the core gameplay is just embarrassingly NOT THERE and constantly replaced with half polished mini games.
Based on timing from announcement to release, Bayonetta 2 was in development for around 2 years, whereas Bayonetta 3 took 5 years. I feel like they must've had some internal development hell with this game, because it is jam packed full of ideas and feels incredibly disjointed.
Random note: I uploaded my score after beating the game and apparenlty I had the 23rd fastest run on "standard" difficulty. Kinda surprised to see that, since I wasn't really trying too hard lol.
ANYWAY there's so much more I could write about this game, but it's an actual miracle if you've read this far, so I'm going to wrap this up.
PLEASE go play a better character action game instead:
• Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PC)
• Devil May Cry 5 (multiple platforms)
• Bayonetta 1 (Switch)
• Nier: Automata (multiple platforms)
THE WITCH HUNTS ARE OVER
ADDENDUM: I've been informed that Bayonetta's original designer (who is a woman) may have intended Bayonetta to be a lesbian from her initial creation. I wouldn't be surprised if this was de-emphasized from her character strategically due to misogyny and a desire to reach a "larger" (more cishet male) audience. My interpretation of Bayonetta's lesbian sexuality as a head canon is not meant to be offensive to Bayonetta's original designer, but as a contrast of people's interpretations of some ambiguous presentation in the games.

2016

i finally beat doom (2016)! i got the game when it came out, and upgraded to a 1440p 144hz monitor. it was the first game i'd seen above 60hz, and i was enamored when i saw it at my friend's house.
idk exactly why it took me so long to finish this game. i put it down twice, despite never feeling burnt out or annoyed with it. other games just kept getting in the way.
glad that i listened to my friend and picked the game back up. it's over the top and great.
while the entire game didn't live up the absurd excitement i got from the first couple missions, it was still very fun. i even liked the ending lol.
loses half a star for the difficult map system and the clunky and unnecessary weapon upgrade mechanics.

Like a bite-sized Super Mario Odyssey. This collect-a-thon features 6 unique "worlds" that are actually rooms in an early 1990s house.
The 2D characters look fantastic, and the 3D backdrops are whimsical and fun to explore. The traversal mechanics are quite good, and I rarely cursed the controls. There's a great sense of exploration, and you're constantly finding something, which makes this game very rewarding to play.
My main complaint is the camera doesn't follow the player at all normally, and doesn't follow well if you enable it. To work around this issue, I mapped Jump to R so I could jump while moving and rotating the camera. Also, the game does a poor job explaining how the timing is meant to work for gliding. You press Jump, the immediately press and hold Jump. Unlike many platformers, holding Jump does not make you jump higher.
The story was pretty weird but mostly not super important.

Gorgeous visuals.
I wish I had something else positive to say.
The pacing is horrible, and your Navi-esque sidekick is perhaps the worst I've ever experienced. I assume I never made it out of the tutorial section of the game, because everything was nearly 100% linear and 100% boring.
Puzzles were basically nonexistent, and the combat wasn't interesting either. Hard to call what I was doing "exploration" either.
Perhaps this game gets better later, but I didn't have the patience to find out.

Not quite as good as the prequel. Leans a little too hard into the cheesy aspects and the QTEs. Still a good game, though.
Almost 100% standalone. You could play the games in either order, really.

Uchikoshi did it again! A wacky and grotesque murder-filled detective adventure game visual novel that is unforgettable.

### What is it?
It's like a life simulation game mixed with a narrative heavy RPG. Kind of like Disco Elysium. No combat, just dialogue choices and different environmental interactions.
Each day you roll a number of dice when you wake up. You choose which dice rolls go to which actions you take that day. You have to balance condition, energy, money, and a few other resources as you do tasks.
You are an android emulating the consciousness of a real-life human. You live on a space station and deal with life under extreme interplanetary space capitalism.
### What I liked
+ World is believable and engrossing
+ The character art is really nice
+ Music sets the tone really well
+ Lots of freedom with how to approach things
+ Cycle-based (one "day") time system lets stories take time to unfold naturally
+ Failure is handled well and is very interesting (reminds me of Dungeon World)
### What I didn't like
- Awkward controls (obviously designed for mouse input)
- Sluggish framerate
### More thoughts
I could not stop playing this game. It's relatively short, like 10 hours if you're a completionist. It was really engaging to me, and I liked every ending I was able to get. I stayed up late last night and cried a bit during the endings. Definitely the hit narrative RPG game of the year for me.
It's also on Game Pass, so check it out there if you can. It's on most platforms, so give it a shot!

Weird decisions as always, with Shantae.
"Definitive Mode" is actually hard mode, and "Legacy Mode" is the normal difficulty.
This was really confusing, and I eventually restarted the game on the normal difficulty.
This meant the game was quite easy, so I challenged myself by doing most of the game without using potions.
In typical Shantae fashion, the increased attack speed game mechanic causes it to be harder and harder to attack airborne enemies/items as you level up, because the animations become shorter. A game like this desperately needs an auto-attack feature when you hold the attack button, but they used that keybind to do a mostly useless attack instead.
For most of the game the music was banging, the art looked nice, and the exploration felt fine. Bosses were a bit on the easy side mostly.
Then the game took a complete turn. There's a timed section where you have to defeat like... 30 waves of enemies or something in "5m 30s"... but you actually get time back after each wave. The first couple times I did it, I ran out of time completely :( After looking up advice, you're apparently meant to spam your magic dances (full screen attacks, often with obnoxious screen shake). After switching to that strategy, I finished the area with 4m 30s on the clock. Wow.
The next boss was literally a puzzle that just shot projectiles at you. There were 6 brains on screen, and you had to figure out the exact order to hit them in or they reset. Do this 3 times, and you're good. Pretty terrible boss design honestly.
And for the true final boss? It was two phases, and had an absurdly large health pool compared to the others. Bosses do NOT have visible health bars (boo!), so I had NO IDEA how close I was getting. I already broke my "no items" rule during the timed section so I could eat MP potions, and in this fight I used items to keep my HP up so I could face tank.
The second phase of the boss fight took place over a pit, and you had to jump between moving rocks to hit glowing weak points on a giant boss. Again, the best strategy was to just spam dance moves. The screen shake honestly became sickening from doing the same move repeatedly.
So the game definitely left me with a sour taste in my mouth at the end. It's too bad because I definitely liked aspects of it, especially the recurring fights against Risky Boots.
One final note: the game series still feels a bit too horny for suspiciously youthful characters, and body diversity is low. Most characters have gigantic spherical tits with bikini tops and their entire midriff showing. I'm no prude, but honestly the character design here is pretty copy/paste as it has always been. And I'll never not be creeped out by co-creator Matt Bozon saying that Shantae "has no official age, but we consider her an adult in every game". Feels like some pedo shit to me, chief.
The animated cutscenes were cool, by the way. Very well done.
Should you play it? Eh, it's on sale on Switch and decent enough. It took me about 8.5 hours to beat, and I mostly enjoyed it. Too bad the last 1-1.5 hours were a drag.

Cute art, fun tunes, but frustrating gameplay. Someone mashed up an old school adventure game with a platformer/lite Metroidvania game.
The combat is janky and annoying, though easy. The game gives you checkpoints in every room, but does not restore health if you die.
The real problem is that you have to collect items and combine them and constantly backtrack. It's exhausting and tedious. I looked up a guide for a bit but eventually got bored.

Every single character is obnoxious. The writing is cliche. The characters all felt like silly tropes. Just another high school harem VN. I mistakenly thought this was a thriller game, but I guess that's later in the trilogy. I made it like 5 hours and I can't deal with it any more.