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Steven T Wright

6 months ago

Feature: Gather the tropes

Valkyria Chronicles 4 review

When it first came out a decade ago, Valkyria Chronicles came off as a delightfully odd duck: a sort of doe-eyed strategy JRPG that gave the Western-dominated strategy genre a much-needed taste of pastel anime charm. But its hybrid of third-person movement with turn-based tactics was relegated to consoles until a PC release in 2016. Now, for better or worse, Valkyria Chronicles 4 offers a…

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1 year ago

Feature: Never more than the sum of its parts

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom review

Most RPGs cast you as an intrepid interloper, the Only One Who Can Help a series of desperate quest-givers beset by increasingly elaborate problems. Personally, I’ve gotten a little sick of piloting a party of unlikely heroes as they roam from ruined land to ruined land in search of these conundrums, slaying worthy foes and draining tombs of ancient loot. When the scourge of the…

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Feature: welcome to the club

How Doki Doki Literature Club’s subversive satire explores the power of visual novels

What if your favorite game got removed from Steam, but nobody seemed to notice? That’s what happened to Muv-Luv Alternative, a nigh-hundred-hour visual novel from Japanese developers Age that some have called the magnum opus of the genre. It’s currently the highest-rated title on the Visual Novel Database, barely eclipsing the better-known Steins;Gate. But in January, the censored non-18+ version of the game disappeared from…

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Feature: Sphear of influences

Lost Sphear review

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a ragtag group of orphans wake up one day and decide to slay some monsters, as all small-town gangs are wont to do. This is the opening of Lost Sphear. After bonking some bunny-mutants to death in a nearby field, they discover that their idyllic hometown has blinked out of existence, replaced by a gaping white void.…

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Feature: A charming throwback

A Hat In Time review

Where Yooka-Laylee attempted to revive Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie formula, A Hat in Time [official site] strikes at a different vein of nostalgia. The 3D platformer attempts to split the difference between the open-ended adventuring of Super Mario 64 and the more guided point-by-point platforming of Super Mario Galaxy. The result is a work of obvious grace and imagination that never attempts to rise above its obvious…

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Feature: Danganronpa 101

Danganronpa: the murder mystery visual novel series in a class of its own

Bear with me if you've heard this one before: Danganronpa [official site] is a game about teenagers locked in a high school, driven to murder one another by a robotic bear. A tale as old as time. The eye-catching premise partly explains how the series has captured the attention of even those who would shy away from the majority of visual novels. The third game…

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