The title of this article says it all, but I would like to give credit where credit is due and say that this piece was ultimately inspired by @CoreyMotley and @StephenTotilo. Custom art by @Alex_Connolly!
March Total: 43
1. One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, PS4
I don’t watch a lot of anime, but my son and I gave this series a shot and we ended up watching both seasons. The main character — as suggested in the title — defeats every opponent with just one punch, so the devs got clever and put the player in the role of an up-and-comer who is helped out by the titular hero now and then. It’s a great way to solve the issue of an invincible hero, so that bullet was dodged… Unfortunately, the combat (and this is basically a fighting game) is janky as fuck, the graphics are flat and the character creator is awful. I liked it on one level because I liked the show, but looking at it strictly as a game? The key parts are junk and it’s hard to ignore that. Did not finish. Deleted.
2. Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android
Nothing new to report here, this is my regular mobile fix. Playing daily.
3. Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars (preview), Xbox One
This Vamp-themed game is a blend of turn-based strategy and 4X-ish territory control. Players start with a single castle, grab some nearby land, recruit troops and go forth to conquer the surrounding areas while growing their army as they go. There’s also some skill tree growth and a card-based element. It’s a fine idea but what it’s lacking for me is personality — the graphics are small and generic, and it feels more like pushing pieces around on a board than going on a grand campaign with charismatic bloodsuckers. It’s still in preview so there’s time for it to grow and develop, I’ll keep an eye on it. Deleted.
4. Picross S2, Switch
I’m almost done with it, but the endgame puzzles are getting tough. My man @BobbyBlackwolf has been my guru and I admire his high-level skills, but it’s a struggle for me now. It’s ironic because I like playing the game but I don’t need high difficulty or “boss” puzzles. I don’t come to this for challenge, I’m here for chilling out. Still chipping away at it before bed. Did not finish. Still playing.
5. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, PS4
Started this one in February and poured a TON of time into it, loving every minute. The base campaign is a lot longer than expected, and I’ve been doing random non-story missions with the wife in co-op as well. Once I rolled credits on the campaign I started the recent DLC which adds a new class. The class (Tech Priest) is great and the add-on seemed to start out as a brand-new storyline, but the devs lapsed into repeated content halfway through. Not cool, but I still love this game overall. I put it on pause to hit other things but I will definitely come back to it and just chip away at the random missions for fun, which is something I almost never do! Finished. RECOMMENDED! My review.
6. Skull Rogue, Switch
I pride myself on being willing to take a shot on random indies, but sometimes it backfires. This game is absolutely awful — awkward controls, no explanation of any systems, I couldn’t tell what equipment was better or worse when picked up, and the combat is garbage. As far as I can tell, whoever makes contact first will stunlock the other to death, but given that the player is usually outnumbered, I can’t see a way to win. It looked cute in screenshots, but I noped out of this after maybe three minutes. Did not finish. Deleted.
7. Tempest, PS4
Why is it so hard to make a good pirate game? It seems like it would be the easiest thing in the world with all the material developers have to work with, and yet we have so few that are worth a damn. Add this one to the pile of clunkers. Tempest is such a poor effort it’s laughable – the tutorial is so impossibly bad that I couldn’t even figure out how to get past the second part. Did not finish. Deleted.
8. Alder’s Blood (demo), Switch
I Kickstarted this blend of XCOM and Bloodborne and requested a copy of the Switch version for my backer reward. I had no idea they were releasing a “prequel” demo on the eShop, but I was happy to jump in and get a taste, and what I found left me a little cold. The tutorial instructions were horribly unclear and it took several deaths and restarts before I could figure out for myself what the hell was going on. The graphics and text were also tiny and unpleasant. I’m still interested in this, but after that sampling I think I would rather play this on PS4 and hope the full game has a better tutorial. Deleted. Eugene Sax’s preview.
9. Glass Masquerade, Switch
This relaxed puzzler is about reassembling the shards of stained glass windows on clock faces. Started it in earnest last month and I’m four puzzles away from the end. Did not finish. Still playing.
10. Final Fantasy VII Remake (demo), PS4
I played the original FF7 when it was new, but I don’t have any precious memories of it, and I’ve been sort of over FF in general for a while now. Even so, it was hard not to be curious about this remake that’s been a loooooooong time coming, and IMO it didn’t disappoint. Obviously the graphics are fucking bananas. The whole reworking of the mechanics, the camera viewpoint… basically everything was really impressive. I mean, even the fact that both Cloud and Barrett looked pretty cool was, in itself, a triumph. The demo got a little goofy when it tried to introduce what seemed like EVERY mechanic in the game in a very short period of time, though. It was too much info too quickly, but I have no doubt that concern will be alleviated in the full release. I wasn’t sure I’d care about it at all, but after that demo I have to admit that Squeenix got me pretty curious and I’ll likely play it, though I’ll probably treat it like an all-new experience instead of comparing every micro-detail to the original and writing an essay on What They Did Wrong. Looking forward to it, I think! Deleted.
11. Skybolt Zack (demo), Switch
This is a rhythm-based platformer-ish title wherethe main character uses rocket fists to boost-punch his way from object to object with the goal of stringing up combos. Not a bad idea, but the game features three differently-colored items (red/green/blue) to manage and I found it too hard to remember which button was assigned which color when the pressure was on, not to mention managing boost-dashing and double-jumping on grey items. It’s a solid idea but a bit too complicated for its own good. Deleted.
12. Grizzland, Switch
This hyper-minimalist black-and-white metroidvania gets off to a poor start with a confusing tutorial, but once the actual adventure starts, it’s pretty intriguing. The player is made up of maybe 14 pixels and must gather water for a tree. Once watered, the tree opens up the next floor above (the pattern repeats) and the player finds new challenges and tasks. The melee is too janky and I lost my patience with it, but I appreciate what it was going for. Did not finish. Deleted.
13. Fortnite, PS4
I have to admit, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit this season. I’m not a huge fan of the featured skins and the challenges really piled up when I took a break for a while – it feels a bit overwhelming to look at my to-do list. My schedule has also changed during the current pandemic times, so it’s (ironically!) been tough to find time to play. Still Playing tho. Just less.
14. Brotherhood United (demo), Switch
A 2D side-scrolling game where pixel guys shoot other pixel guys. No sale. Deleted.
15. The Legend of Dark Witch (demo), Switch
A basic 2D platformer with little girl-style anime characters and some sort of level up system, perhaps Mega Man-like? Hard to tell from the demo. No sale. Deleted.
16. Bucket Knight (demo), Switch
A 2D platformer with a CRT-style screen curvature and a small knight wearing a bucket on his head carrying a gun. It seemed to be going for some sort of arcade-like vibe but it’s one of those games where the devs only communicate through vague iconography, so I’m not really sure what the hook was supposed to be. No sale. Deleted.
17. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, Switch
Started this one in February and put it aside for a bit to tackle other games, but it’s pretty great and I do want to finish it. Unfortunately, I forgot what I was doing and I got stuck in the ‘haunted house’ area which sucks because every haunted house in every game sucks – it’s a rule. I did get past it and I’m pretty sure I’m in endgame, but now I need to go around and collect a billion items before I can wrap it up… A real drag!! I’ll finish it, but I hate when games pull that eleventh-hour collect-a-thon crap. Did not finish. Still playing. RECOMMENDED.
18. Murder By Numbers, Switch
This title takes a foundation of picross and wraps it in a murder-mystery visual novel. I completed the first case and enjoyed it well enough… The writing is fine and the art is decent, even if the crotches of each character are bizarrely long and the main character inexplicably wears a necktie for a belt. I’ll come back to it. Did not finish.
19. Last Encounter, Switch
This top-down spaceship shooter seemed to suggest interesting mechanics with ‘cloned’ pilots and ship customization, but the gameplay was too arcadey and the level designs were wack. Did not finish. Deleted.
20. Ego Protocol: Remastered, Switch
Cool concept here — take a tiny robot and guide him through 2D puzzle rooms that are arranged in a grid. The rooms can be shifted in rows or columns to create a path. I was sold on this idea but the controls were really unintuitive and it was hard to play. Frustration ramped up fast with this one. Did not finish. Deleted.
21. Mousecraft, Switch
Combine Lemmings and Tetris and you get Mousecraft. It didn’t grab me, but if that combo sounds good to you, it’s a great fit on the Switch. Did not finish. Deleted.
22. Hair Mower 3D, Switch
The trailer was mega cute, featuring a little dude that mows hair off of shapes floating in space. It def seemed like the kind of offbeat indie that would catch my attention, and it did. Unfortunately, I kept expecting the formula to evolve over time and… it did not. Too simple. Did not finish. Deleted.
23. Vertical Drop Heroes HD, Switch
A super janky low-budget indie. Supposed to be a vertically-oriented roguelikeish sort of thing, but it was just terrible. Did not finish. Deleted.
24. Iron Crypticle, Switch
A top-down twin-stick shooter that seems intended for co-op. I forgot that I was playing it while I was still playing it. Did not finish. Deleted.
25. Rift Keeper, Switch
A 2D roguelike action-platformer. Tiny graphics, terrible mechanics, bad combat. Did not finish. Deleted.
26. Broken Lines, Switch
This is a squad-based tactics game with an alternate-universe WWII story. The graphics are a little murky and small on the Switch (play it on PC if you can) but I love the everybody-goes-at-the-same-time style of combat, reminiscent of something like Frozen Synapse. The story and characters seem super interesting, as well. I got distracted by other things I had to do for review, but I definitely want to come back to this one and see it through. Did not finish. Still Playing.
27. The Binding of Isaac, Switch
I know there are a lot of folks who swear by this one, but I’ve bounced off of it every time I’ve tried it. Still, I wanted to give it another shot. It’s a roguelike with progression and lots of the elements that I like in a rogue! This thing should be my jam! But no… This is maybe the 3rd or 4th time I’ve tried to get into it and it just doesn’t click. Calling it good on this one now. It ain’t meant to be. Did not finish. Deleted.
28. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, Switch
It’s been a while since I’ve played a fighter and the idea of an all-female cast was appealing to me, but the combat engine in this one is too simple to be enjoyable. I’m nowhere near being a top-level player but I can hold my own, and this stripped-down system feels like it has no depth and no nuance to it. I got bored pretty quick and started looking for something with a little more oomph. See #39. Finished with a few different characters and then deleted. Darren Forman’s review.
29. The Curious Expedition, Switch
This 2D turn-based roguelike is basically a boardgame with dice-rolling mechanics, bartering and resource management. I really like it for the most part, but the theme of mostly white explorers going to foreign lands and stealing stuff from the indigenous people raises some questions. To be fair, not ALL the explorers are white and the devs tell me you don’t NEED to steal stuff to win the game, but the mechanics and strategies aren’t well explained in the game, so I can’t vouch for how easy it is to do since stealing has such clear and obvious rewards. Also, I got to the endgame and had NO IDEA how to finish the final quest so I had to win in a non-optimal way, which was a huge bummer. I really like 75% of it, but it needs some fine-tuning and to be a little more transparent with some of the mechanics. Finished. My review.
30. Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories, PS4
I was a big fan of the PS2’s Disaster Report games back in the day, so I was stoked about this one. I tried the demo on PS4 and thought it had potential, but I’m playing the full version now and I can’t quit it fast enough. My full review is coming soon but for now I’ll just say that it’s just A Mess. Avoid. Did not finish.
31. Phantasy Star Online 2 Beta, Xbox One
Fantastic character creator here. Any game that lets me design a tall, plus-sized woman who has knives attached to her feet is a huge thumbs up in my book. After spending an hour getting my avatar right, I did a few quests but didn’t have the raw time that seems to be required to really get into this one. I would like to come back to it but I don’t have a lot of room in my life for ongoing timesinks right now… Paused.
32. Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf, Android
This one is bizarre. I first tried it on Switch a while ago and found it horrible. It felt clunky, the systems were poorly explained, it looked ugly… I didn’t put much time into it. I downloaded it on my phone without realizing it was the same game and was shocked to find the mobile version to be a far better experience. It’s turn-based tactics with a card system that controls movement and attack, and it all just makes a lot more sense on a phone. The graphics are better, the interface is better… it’s just better all-around. Looking forward to getting further in. Did not finish. Still playing.
33. Devious Dungeon 2, Switch
Janky 2D action-platformer. Did not finish. Deleted.
34. Forest Home, Switch
It’s one of those games where you draw a colored line from one dot to another and have to figure out the optimal path when you have several colors on the screen at the same time. However, it has a three-star system (fuck those!) and apparently no way to undo lines if you make a mistake? Seems sort of user-unfriendly. Did not finish. Deleted.
35. Control: The Foundation, PS4
It may not be mindblowing or move the story forward much, but The Foundation is more Control and I wanted more Control. If you want more Control, this is it. And by IT, I mean more Control. Finished. My review.
36. In Other Waters, Switch
This narrative-based indie has a fascinating premise — players take the role of an AI inside an aquatic exploration suit. However, the game is based entirely on looking at a UI overlaying a map with loads of buttons and toggles. It’s extremely unintuitive and the design doesn’t do a lot in terms of cueing players or teaching them the systems. My first few sessions were very frustrating – I often got stuck with no idea how to progress or any clue what I was doing wrong. I may give it a second chance but for right now, I need some space. Did not finish.
37. Necroworm demo, Switch
This one’s got a lot in common with #34, and every three-star rating system can get fucked. Was not convinced to pop for the full version. Deleted.
38. Poly Puzzle, Switch
An interesting little game where the player is given a field of polygon shards and must rotate them until they all line up correctly and form a picture. A neat idea but it’s super fiddly in practice – I almost finish every puzzle but then get annoyed and use a cheat button to finish as I’m always just a hair off in the proper alignment. If it was a little more forgiving, I’d probably have stuck with it. Did not finish. Deleted.
39. Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, PS4
After playing #28 I was still in the mood for a good fighter. Street Fighter V‘s all-in-one Champion Edition was on sale, so I went for it. I used to be a pretty fair hand at SF in my younger years, so while my timing is slower and my strats are rusty these days, it still felt good to jump in and flex some mental muscles that I haven’t used in a while. Plus, Poison! RECOMMENDED! Brian Theisen’s review.
40. Bleeding Edge, Xbox One
I loved the Bleeding Edge beta when it hit XBO last month, and the full version is now on Game Pass. haven’t spent much time with it but I LOVE the cast of characters and the team-based third-person action feels like a good fit. Looking forward to digging deeper into this one. Still playing.
41. Vampire: the Masquerade – Coteries of New York, Switch
2020 is turning out to be a strong year for visual novels! This one, based on the White Wolf property, is a doozy. GREAT art, strong writing, lots of choices and relationships (but it’s not a dating sim). I’ve been glued to it every night before bed… This is easily one of the best , most engaging VNs I’ve played in quite a while. Did not finish. Still playing. RECOMMENDED! Josh Tolentino’s review.
42. The Complex, PS4
Wales Interactive has picked another winner. This FMV is filled with narrative choices and great performances, and the story — a nanomachine outbreak — feels eerily prescient to current times. I finished it twice with radically different endings and will go back for a third. Wales is singlehandedly restoring the viability of FMV games, and this is another feather in their cap. Finished. RECOMMENDED!
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
bradgallaway a t gmail dot com