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

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

5 Exciting Independent Games from PlayStation Experience 2016

PlayStation Experience has to personally be my favorite event of the year. Don’t get me wrong – I have been going to E3 since 2011 and have loved my time there as well, but for different reasons.

A lot of it has to do with meeting up with the rest of the staff and industry people that I’ve interacted with online and in person. It’s being able to attend these amazing press conferences that are excited to be a part of in person. But that week is mostly dedicated to the big dogs in the business. I have been attending PlayStation Experience since its inception back in 2014. Continue reading

Yomawari: Night Alone Review

My face turned completely pale. I wasn’t even two minutes into the game and I witnessed one of the most shocking moments I have seen in a long time. I cursed under my breath as I silently continued on; my expectations thrown out the window as I was captivated with what I may have to deal with next.

This is the type of experience Yomawari: Night Alone delivers shortly into its main story. The nameless protagonist, a young girl, takes her dog Poro for a walk one night. However, the girl suddenly loses sight of him.

Soon after, she comes across her older sister in the nearby park, who promises to help find their companion. She goes off in search of Poro and tells the young girl to close her eyes and hide behind a nearby bush. But after a few hours of waiting, the innocent girl notices she is once again all alone. Continue reading