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2018 In Review

Looking back on the year, there are some games that I will never understand. Some may think that this is because I am overly critical, and they are most likely correct in some regard. I am also extremely aware of my own tastes and I know that, when I am unable to understand a game, that likely means I cannot glean any particular pleasure satisfaction from it. So when writing this list, I have done so with some very specific criteria in mind: it is highly subjective and reflects the titles that I have played in 2018, which means it is ultimately limited in exposure and scope. However, the games featured also represent the sort of year that I have experienced- one where I have avoided major, landmark titles in favor of more niche experiences. Likewise, this will feature several titles that existed before 2018, and that's okay. I try to be as fiscally responsible as possible, which sometimes means not picking up games the day they release.

Lastly, I'm the sort of person who feels…
Recent posts

Looping Paths and Directional Influence in Salt and Sanctuary

Chances are, if you are a video games enthusiast, you likely don't need me to tell you what a looping path is. If you're a video game developer, the notion of explaining such a fundamental part of environmental design may seem laughable. Many exploration, adventure, and role-playing titles utilize this technique in order to create satisfying gameplay loops out of their game worlds, rather than just their gameplay mechanics and systems. It is one of the textbook ways to perpetuate a feeling of momentum within a video game world, making sure traversal does not become tedious by slicing off chunks of backtracking.

However, playing Salt and Sanctuary for the first time on the Nintendo Switch has spurred me to discuss this design element, as that game in particular is one of the most impressive examples of looping path design I have seen in recent memory. For those unfamiliar with the term, a looping path is when an environment is designed to loop back upon itself via the opening o…

Iterative Improvements in RPGs Part 1: Spectrobes

In terms of variations upon the foundations of role-playing games, the monster-catching sub-genre is arguably one of the more appealing and accessible of the bunch. Claiming ownership of a party member is an enticing prospect, but the ability to customize both the individual and whole party, as well as the completionist mindset, allow for multiple layers of enjoyment. This sub-genre is one that has been around for a while, some games utilizing the concept as more of a combat motif, while the more recognizable titles use the idea to inform their aesthetic, narrative structure, and longevity. While we can all agree that the wildly popular and long-standing Shin Megami Tensei series acts as both the face of the sub-genre and a shining example of player accessibility and universal appeal, many other titles have risen to challenge and attempt to profit off of the monster-catching framework. Some, like Digimon, offer unique combination methods and multiple character routes, while others, li…

Tried and True and Tired Tradition

Hand of Fate 2 plays nothing like any other Role-playing game I have encountered, yet very clearly is a Role-playing game. The depth of its combat mechanics and the variations that it layers atop the foundations of its progression and narrative structure are smart and nuanced. The way it challenges the player to continuously achieve and succeed while tackling its chapters is commendable. The difficulty present in its scenarios is intense and unyielding. These phrases could be applied to a number of different titles, and this has something to do with the nature of personality in video games.

Super Mario Odyssey: An Action RPG of Mythic Proportions

For a long period of time, I believed that Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door was as close to perfect as a Mario RPG could get. Its turn-based, action-command combat, light and varied atmosphere, and translation of many fundamental mechanics found in the Super Mario platformers into Role-playing concepts were just delightful, and the game served as a perfect entry point for a fledgling Role-playing fan. That being said, I understand how some contemporary gamers might look back on this title and scoff. With more recent Paper Mario titles being focused on aesthetically gorgeous titles that unfortunately lack in substance, the modern Nintendo fan might not understand why a Role-playing game with customization, multiple levels of depth, and a heartfelt story might be so appealing. Some might even find Paper Mario's turn-based combat a relic, favoring Super Paper Mario's action-platforming approach instead.

It seems Nintendo may feel the same, because the reveal that Mario would …

Thoroughness in Ys Book I and II

Flashback twenty-four years ago: it's 1990 and the RPG is a fledgling concept. The introduction of a console with the first-ever CD-ROM peripheral allowed expanse material to be brought to the TurboGrafx-16- in specific,  titles like Ys Book I and II. Revolutionary for its time, Ys featured action-based gameplay with role-playing elements, a pounding soundtrack, and a surprisingly in-depth story.

With Ys VIII's recent release on Steam and the increased exposure of the series thanks to its imminent release on Switch, it is as good a time as any to evaluate what makes Falcom's signature Role-playing series so unique. Like many of its kind, however, Ys has undergone several improvements and changes throughout the years. This feature will take a look at some of the best parts of Ys Book I and II, highlighting why it is still holds up in its base form almost a quarter of a century later.

Examing Fatal Flaws in Child of Light

As a sendoff to the month of May, in which we sought to examine narratives and narrative elements in Role-playing games, I thought it would be proper to write a critical analysis article for a video game. This is a review and revisit of Child of Light.

The year is 2014, and Ubisoft Montreal is in the mood for something a bit different. While the Japanese Role-playing genre is alive and well, the western front largely relies on big-budget, high-investment immersive sims in order to fill that same void. Some independent developers create their own unique titles, but a high-profile Role-playing game utilizing classic gameplay is an alien thing.