The title of this article says it all. Rad custom art by @Alex_Connolly!
August Total: 36
1 – Marvel Puzzle Quest, Android
My one and only mobile jam. PLAYING DAILY
2 – The Ascent, XBX Game Pass covered on So Videogames episode 244
This isometric twin-stick shooter with a cyberpunk theme started strong and it grabbed me immediately, but extended play revealed it to be more shallow and repetitive than I had first hoped. The story was thin, there’s not much loot to fiddle with, the overworld is too large and tedious to deal with… The graphics and aesthetics are on point, but it just couldn’t keep my attention. I’m guessing the next game from this team will be fucking killer. DELETED.
3 – Sea Salt, Switch
Imagine Pikmin but with a Cthulhu theme and Lovecraft-inspired monsters and you’ve got Sea Salt. I loved this one when it first dropped but it was buggy — I wasn’t able to finish it so I put it on pause. Seems like it’s now been patched, and I happily rolled credits. This is one of my favorite Lovecraft-themed games of all time, for sure. FINISHED. RECOMMENDED!
4 – Picross S3, Switch
It’s what I play when I’m too tired for anything else. A few puzzles before bed usually fit the bill! STILL PLAYING. RECOMMENDED!
5 – Foreclosed, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 245
This second-person cyberpunk-themed action/stealth game has a comic-book style presentation and it caught my eye with some of the graphic design, but WOW, it is miserable to play. The script and writing seem like they were done by non-English speakers, the camera is way, way too close to the character and the camera swings WILDLY around. It’s nearly impossible to shoot with any accuracy, and I’m often looking at the ceiling or floor when I’m just trying to aim. It’s so bad, it literally made me nauseous. I have NO idea how this got approved… there may be a good game here somewhere, but this is in no way ready for prime time. DELETED WITH PREJUDICE.
6 – Fortnite, PS5
Not playing a lot since I maxed out the rewards, but I did tune in for the Ariana Grande concert. It was… okay? It looked pretty neat when she was performing, but it was shorter than expected and it didn’t seem to have an ending, it just dumped people back onto a map where they were stuck flying around on unicorns until they quit the “match”. This lack of a real finale was truly baffling. Also, seeing the MLK historical event pop up was super random, but honestly, pretty cool. PLAYING OCCASIONALLY.
7 – Skydrift Infinity, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 245
An airborne racing game featuring some cool-looking airplanes with the standard weapon/boost options that most kart-style racers have. It does exactly what one would expect — no more, no less. DID NOT FINISH.
8 – Mousebot: Escape from Catlab, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 245
This is a simple, cute title where the player drives a wheeled mousebot through tracks while collecting cheeses and avoiding traps. Good for kids or those looking for a very straightforward experience, I’d say? DID NOT FINISH.
9 – Bone Marrow, Switch covered on So Videogames episode 245
Ratalaika got me again!! This game looks like some sort of fantasy-themed Threes which it basically is, but it explains nothing about how the combat works and sometimes things happen and I’m not sure why? Maybe I’d like it if I actually understood what the hell was going on, but I was just shifting things and seeing what would result with little purpose. DELETED.
10 – Fort Triumph, XBX review by Jeff Ortloff
This is a weird one. It’s a top-down turn-based tactics title like a fantasy-themed XCOM, but there’s also some overworld exploration while competing against AI opponents who are stealing resources out from under you. The graphics are okay and the gameplay mechanics are solid enough, but it didn’t gel into anything really noteworthy to me. I had fun for a couple of hours but once I put it down, I didn’t want to come back to it. DID NOT FINISH.
11 – A Monster’s Expedition, Switch review by Sparky Clarkson
This cute puzzler is all about pushing/rolling logs in certain ways to help a monster traverse a series of small islands. I love the way it looks and the chillax’d vibe, but my brain isn’t great with these kinds of puzzles and that’s 100% of what the game is. It’s really well-done, but just not for me. DID NOT FINISH.
12 – Pathfinder: Kingmaker, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 245
This is a pretty epic-feeling RPG with strong writing and the ability to play both realtime and turn-based. It’s a little too granular when it comes to its D&D inspirations — who cares about casting something once per day for a radius of 6′ around the nearest party member, give me a spell with some oomph! — and a lot of the loot feels worthless (so many one-use potions!) but overall it was pretty cool. Didn’t have time to finish it due to review responsibilities, but I think this is good stuff. DID NOT FINISH.
13 – Boyfriend Dungeon, XBX Game Pass my review
Not gonna lie, I’d dig this one more if it was about dating women and not dudes BUT putting that aside, it’s pretty solid. The combo of realtime dungeon action and dating sim elements is a good one, the music rocks, the writing is (mostly) solid, and the art is strong. It stumbles a bit with combat that’s a bit too basic and one really poorly-handled character, but overall it’s a lot of fun. FINISHED.
14 – Islanders, Switch covered on So Videogames episode 246
I like the idea of placing structures on small islands as a puzzle-game sort of experience — it’s super chill and has no real punitive measures to it until you run out of stuff to place, but it just didn’t grab me. Putting the pieces down felt a little foo finicky and I’m not much of a play-for-high-score guy to start with, so… DID NOT FINISH.
15 – Curious Expedition 2, Switch
Started this and then hit an impassable bug in the tutorial. Will come back to it. PAUSED.
16 – Aliens: Fireteam Elite, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 247
Oh, Aliens. When will this IP ever get a killer game? (Sorry, not an Isolation fan here.) It’s super basic and repetitive, the shooting doesn’t feel great, and I was kinda bored with it after just one day. Sigh. STILL PLAYING WITH THE FAM… FOR NOW.
17 – Witchspring3 Re: Fine -The Story of Eirudy, Switch covered on So Videogames episode 246
This RPG got its start on mobile, and it kinda shows. The graphics are cute but the systems are confusing an overcomplicated, and I get the feeling that there might have been some microtransactions (now gone) that led to these designs. With a more thorough rework, this one might be okay. DID NOT FINISH.
18 – CyberHive, Switch
This looked like a cute little base management sim but it ended up being a super-janky cash-in with most of the budget seeming to go towards a few pieces of artwork depicting cute anime girls. DELETED.
19 – From Orbit, Switch
This game has absolutely no tutorial, and it really needed one. The gist is that you’re a spaceship that lands somewhere and needs resources, but there are little soldiers that transform (not sure to what end) and it’s unclear what resources do what, and it was way too common to have combat happening off-screen. Give me a break, I’m not going to find a wiki or play detective to figure this out if you don’t even attempt to explain anything. DELETED.
20 – Recompile, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 246
This Tron-inspired open world metroidvania starts strong with great visuals and a great premise set inside a computer system that’s gone rogue, but it lacks direction, is too difficult to navigate, and has some absurd difficulty spikes. With a little rebalancing and some more polish, this would be a killer game. Unfortunately, as it stands, it’s a little too prickly to be fully embraced. DELETED.
21 – Space Marshals, Switch
A pretty simple top-down shooting/stealth game but IT NAILS WHAT IT’S DOING. It’s polished, the systems work, it’s got a fair amount of variety, and it provides a really good time. A project like this is a great example that shows how far focusing on your core elements and doing them well will get you. STILL PLAYING. RECOMMENDED!
22 – Spelunker HD Deluxe, Switch covered on So Videogames episode 246
This 2D remaster would be a great arcade-style diversion if the character didn’t fucking DIE from fall damage that an infant could survive, unharmed. Misjudge a jump by one pixel, and DIE. Walk onto a platform from one pixel too high and DIE. Walk into a small indentation on the ground and DIE. Fucking come on, this is SO irritating. I don’t know how anyone can play this and not go insane. DELETED.
23 – Cloud Gardens, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 247
A really interesting, chill project that asks players to plant seeds and grow them on abandoned buildings in a post-apocalyptic setting. I was into it for a day but there are a lot of levels and after a while it felt like I was doing the same thing over and over with little variation. DID NOT FINISH.
24 – Robolife: Days With Aino, PC covered on So Videogames episode 247
This is an adults-only visual novel that features a scientist finding an abandoned android who must be repaired and trained. The art is excellent and the script is well-done. The training aspect is solid — it’s entertaining to send the android, Aino, to jobs and see her various skills improve. A variety of sidequests open up and there are lots of tasks to accomplish. It’s pretty entyertaining overall and it had no trouble keeping my interest. My only issue is that there are several instances where the main character (male, of course) takes advantage of female characters that are unconscious or incapacitated in some way. I am in no way a fan of non-consensual content like this, and these creeptastic bits skeeved me out pretty good. And honestly, I think this game would still be great (perhaps even better?) without any of the explicit stuff. It’s above average for an AO title in basically all respects and I could see it being really popular on consoles if the lewdness was gone. STILL PLAYING.
25 – Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 247
This roguelike deckbuilder is clean and streamlined, but the graphics are on the WoW side and it feels a bit too basic, maybe? I did a couple runs and bounced — there was nothing here that compelled me to keep playing. DELETED.
26 – Black Book, XBX covered on So Videogames episode 247
What if The Witcher 3, but with a young girl in Russia using visual novel and deckbuilder mechanics? Spoiler: I love this game. Main character Vasilisa is super hardcore — her fiancee dies, so she makes a deal with the devil to bring him back, and she pauses before doing this Not At All. This launches her on a truly epic quest (waaaaaay longer and more detailed than I was expecting) and along the way the developers stuff this game to the gills with tons and tons of Slavic folktales and myths. The perspectives shown in the script are fascinating and feel totally unlike anything we’d get from an American or Japanese developer. I am learning a lot about a whole new mythology, the gameplay is great, and I love the characters. This game is awesome! STILL PLAYING. RECOMMENDED!
27 – Murder Mystery Machine, Switch
Solve murder cases by finding clues and then stringing them together in a ‘mental map’ sort of mechanic to trigger new clues or deductions. It’s pretty cool and the Switch port is great. That said, sometimes the logic needed to press forward is a little too finicky… I’ve had to use the in-game clue system, like.. a LOT of times. STILL PLAYING.
28 – Super Animal Royale, PS5
It’s a cutesy 2D battle royale with anthropomorphic animal avatars. No room in my life for another one of these right now, but it’s neat to see another stab at the genre that isn’t just a reskinned PUBG or Fortnite. DELETED.
29 – Golf Club Wasteland, PS5
This unusual gem blends golf mechanics with courses made from the remnants of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and tosses in a surprisingly touching story to top it off. It’s… kinda great? FINISHED. RECOMMENDED!
30 – Mahluk, PS5
A pretty basic action-platformer that looks cool in screenshots but really has nothing to recommend it otherwise. DELETED.
31 – Jett: the Far Shore, PS5
Under embargo. No comment!
32 – Mom Hid My Game! 2, Switch
This is a series of absurdist micro-puzzles that only take a minute or two to solve — help a poor kid get his 3DS back from a mom who wants him to study instead. It’s light, it’s goofy, and it’s a really fun time. FINISHED. RECOMMENDED!
33 – Townscaper, Switch
This is not really a game in the traditional sense, but rather, a creation tool or ‘digital toy’. Players click on the screen to create structures that automatically connect and reshape themselves — houses, bridges, towers, and so on. It’s as chill as can be, and it’s kinda neat to see what things will pop up and how the game will make it all cohere. It was fun for about an hour, but I moved on pretty soon after that since there wasn’t anything to do other than build the town. IT’S NOT REALLY A TRADITIONAL GAME, BUT IT IS NEAT.
34 – Dice Legacy, Switch
Under embargo. No comment, sorry!
35 – Zoffice, XBX
This is a neat little vignette about a woman coming to work in an office that’s still doing business in the zombie apocalypse. It looks great, it’s funny, and it’s pretty charming. It’s also… about ten minutes long. I was having a great time, thought I had finished the first level, and then credits rolled. I have no problem with short games, but this is like SHORT. I wish there had been at least 2-3 more ‘levels’ like the first, but nada. Hopefully this will encourage the dev to do more! FINISHED.
36 – Rustler, XBX
Apparently this is like a medieval GTA, but the game was totally unresponsive. Couldn’t get past the title screen! So much for QA, I guess… ON PAUSE. I’M SURE A PATCH IS COMING… I HOPE?
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