Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception Review

Utawarerumono is one of those series that became a huge hit in Japan but never graced us with its presence in the west. For most, their exposure was through a fan translation of the visual novel or from checking out the anime adaptations. It’s a series I hold in high regard having played the original, appreciating how could blend different gameplay elements but never feeling like a mess.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth released in Japan a year apart from each other, acting as sequels to the original visual novel released back in 2002. I was excited when I heard Atlus announced they were localizing both entries for western audiences, marking the first time the series has ever been seen over here. I had heard great things about these games from those I knew who imported them, so I was more than ready to get my hands on it. Continue reading

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Toukiden 2 Review

To me, Toukiden 1 was a brilliant but flawed game. Here was something I really wanted from the genre: a story-driven experience utilizing the Monster Hunter formula. On the other hand, it fell too deep into the hole of repetition and didn’t go far enough to differentiate itself.

The enhanced re-release Toukiden Kiwami rapidly expanded on the formula and provided a far greater amount of everything – storytelling, Oni, Mitama, equipment, and more. I had a better time with it due to the way it tried to fill in all the empty spaces that left the previous version a fairly hollow adventure. Continue reading

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey Review

To me, the Atelier series has been great in turning on the charm and putting me into a much better mood as I play it. It’s almost therapeutic in how it pulls me in close and wraps around me like a warm blanket. The fact the stories never get too serious makes a lot of my cares and stresses melt away the more I play.

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey does a brilliant job at this thanks in large part to its very likeable cast. Although each character has their own backstory and motivation, they all play off each other so well. Gust has continously managed to do this despite having to introduce a largely new cast of characters, though it’s not always seamless. This is easily the biggest game Gust has ever made, both in sheer size and the amount of content to indulge in, but does it stick the landing? Continue reading

Nioh Review

Nioh takes direct inspiration from the Souls series – there’s no doubt about that. While other titles have tried their best to emulate those games, this one builds upon that foundation and creates an experience that is virtually unmatched. While Souls can at times feel slow and plodding, Nioh cranks the energy level to the breaking point while delivering an absurd supply of content to keep you busy.

The story takes place during the late Sengoku era of Japan in the 1600s. The Queen of England is hell bent on obtaining the fabled Philosopher’s Stone to the point that she goes to war with Spain in order to procure it. But there’s something even more malevolent happening.  Continue reading

Criminal Girls: Invite Only Review

Criminal Girls: Invite Only takes place in the wonderful land of Hell. You, the voiceless protagonist, have been hired on as Warden of a group of girls who, for one reason or another, find themselves imprisoned in the afterlife.

As a result, they each must go through a “Redemption Program” to learn the error of their ways, escape eternal damnation, and earn their way towards rejoining the land of the living. As you might expect, the journey won’t be an easy one. Continue reading

Atelier Shallie Plus Review

When I received my advanced review copy of Atelier Shallie Plus, I was more than a little enthusiastic. Sure, I’ve grown to become a big fan of the Atelier series, but there was another reason I was looking forward to spending time with this game once again. A thing I love doing during my day job is spending some time before work or during lunch just reclining my chair back in my car and playing on my Vita.

There’s just something incredibly relaxing about being able to take an RPG experience like the one Atelier delivers on the go with me wherever I happen to be. It’s essentially the perfect platform for it. But at the same time, it made me wonder how much longer I would be able to experience this on a dedicated gaming handheld. Continue reading

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization Review

Let me say upfront that I am a big fan of Sword Art Online. While others may enjoy trashing the series for the directions it goes at times, I fell in love with the high stakes drama it presented for viewers. While .hack had some characters falling into comas if they encountered a certain person, Sword Art Online had thousands of people locked into an MMORPG, fighting for their very existence.

.hack//Sign came close with a main character who is unable to log off, but when people in SAO died in the game, they died in real life. To me, this is an amazing concept that had me hooked from the beginning. My love may have tapered off a little with Sword Art Online II, but I am always eager for something to renew my enjoyment.

But even though Sword Art Online takes place inside an MMORPG, this experience hasn’t transitioned well to video games. Hollow Fragment had a huge translation problem, while Lost Song fell into a hole of mediocrity. Does Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization have what it takes to set it apart from its disappointing brethren? Yes and no. Continue reading