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With its many surprises, Darkwood is a title with immeasurable depth that will keep horror fans gripped until the very end. An important focus on narrative-driven gameplay kept me hooked and desperate for answers. A horrifying aesthetic with spooky soundscapes plays with our instincts and terrifies the senses. When the title boasted "a horror game without jump-scares", I initially rolled my eyes. Most titles incorporate some kind of jump-scare to get a cheap reaction out of players. Even tastefully done jump-scares feel cheap to me because I'm not actually "scared," I'm just surprised. Darkwood succeeds where many other titles fail. It's a heart-racing experience that any horror fan worth their salt should attempt to survive.
When compared to the other entries in the series, Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a major low point. The various changes that improve on the formula are outweighed by other design choices that actively hurt the title's overall appeal. The actual combat still has some of the magic the series is known for, and even if online co-op is barely there unless you coordinate with others beforehand, the game is still fun to play with friends. If you're new to the series, playing Iron Rain won't be so bad, but if you've already killed bugs several times before, this title won't be able to scratch that itch again.
Old School Musical is worth checking out for rhythm fans, especially those who adore chiptune music. The tracks are plentiful, especially once you conquer the second storyline, and each tune rocks. The controls are easy enough to master that anyone can jump in, and while the story can be all over the place in terms of tone, it remains satisfying once you beat the game. So long as you stay away from co-op, you'll have a good time with Old School Musical.
As stated in the beginning, Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is hampered by a lack of content. The five different storyline paths are fine, but the presence of only two tables hurts the game. The two tables are designed well, even if they're similar to one another, and the ease with which one can achieve high scores makes it encouraging for both pinball newcomers and veterans alike. At the moment, you need to be a huge franchise fan to pick up this title, but if you're a pinball fan who doesn't mind the overly suggestive look and the ridiculous story, Peach Ball is worth checking out if it goes on sale.
Even if Away: Journey to the Unexpected weren't a roguelike, it still has issues that would put it in mediocre territory. The main melee combat would be awful, the level designs would be boring, and the boss fights wouldn't be exciting. While some people may be fine with that, the forced repetitive nature of the roguelike makes Away feel unnecessarily padded, especially since parts of the title are too forgiving for the genre. It may look nice most of the time, and the story is so off the wall that it's endearing, but Away should only be on your radar if you can purchase it on sale and don't mind its baggage.
On that note, there's little you can get from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II that you couldn't get from other titles that likewise do it better. The narrative is winding and confusing, the characters are off-putting, and the visuals are a sore sight for the eyes. While the music and gameplay show some glimmers of promise, they ultimately end up feeling lifeless and overcomplicated, respectively. At the end of the day, Trails of Cold Steel II ends up feeling like a middle-of-the-road shonen anime that's a little too scatter-brained, and you have to slog through the off-screen battles.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a very strong contender for the best Fire Emblem game. Pretty much every change to the systems is a smashing success, the storyline is fun and engaging, the characters are likeable, and the presentation is excellent. It's possible that the combat changes won't work for every fan of the franchise, but they feel like the series' strengths have been refined, without the plot weaknesses that hurt Fates. Three Houses is a must-have for tactical gamers, fans of the franchise, or anyone who's looking for a solid JRPG on the Switch.
Neptunia Shooter gets the core mechanics right for an 8-bit shooter, and it adds bullet hell mechanics and character-switching to spice things up. It's length also isn't a bother due to the lack of continues, stretching out a very short experience to a more acceptable one for the $5 price tag. What makes the game feel hollow is its bare-bones approach, including the lack of music and a dearth of enemy variety. If you're willing to overlook this, you'll find Neptunia Shooter to be decent enough for a quick spin. If you're expecting something grand with the trademark Neptunia charm, you'll come away disappointed.
If you dismiss the more apparent flaws, then you'll find The Wizards: Enhanced Edition to be an average adventure title. The quest itself plays out fine and enemies are fun to defeat, even if they don't pose too much trouble. However, the accuracy issues are simply too great that they transform what could be a game-changing VR wizard experience into an exercise in flailing limbs. It isn't a terrible game, but don't expect something top-tier in the VR space.
Run the Fan does a good job of running with its concept. It's a simple game in execution, and it may not be the flashiest title, but it provides some good challenge without feeling impossible. It may not have anything beyond its campaign mode, but the level size is decent, and the fact that there's no other puzzle game like it on the Switch makes it intriguing. Given the title's very low price of $4, puzzle fans can enjoy Run The Fan as a good appetizer leading up to meatier puzzle fare.
Woodpunk is mechanically sound in the roguelike and twin-stick shooter elements that it mashes together. Its presentation is fine, and the difficulty is much higher than expected. It doesn't do anything that could be considered unique, and the co-op feels rather imbalanced. While Woodpunk may not be the first game to run to for a roguelike twin-stick shooter fix, it's a safe enough title that you won't feel so bad for giving it a shot.
American Fugitive is fine if you can overlook its slew of flaws. From shaky AI to an overzealous crime detection system and spotty controls, there's enough here to make one quit the game rather quickly. It helps that the core aspect of the open-world gameplay and the small town setting are enough to keep some people interested. If you really want a throwback to the old GTA system, then this will do, but don't expect something as polished and varied as Retro City Rampage.
Playing through the games on offer in the Castlevania Anniversary Collection is somewhat like opening a time capsule. Those old enough to remember the original releases of these titles will enjoy going through them again, while players who grew up on PlayStation and Xbox get to enjoy these classics as they were meant to be played. Either way, there is plenty of value here for your gaming dollar.
The Switch already has a number of terrific fighting games, and Blazblue: CentralFiction Special Edition is certainly in the upper portion of that list. The more offense-minded system, along with the different control styles, make it great for fighting fans of all skill levels, and the deluge of modes means that it can take a very long time before you come close to exhausting it all. The best part is that relatively little gets sacrificed in the port, so there's nothing to reacclimate yourself should you decide to play this on multiple platforms. In short, CentralFiction is a must-have for fighting fans.
All in all, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is a great port of a good game. While it's not necessarily innovative, it is well executed and uniquely presented, something that still holds up well after almost 10 years since its original release. Not everything in the title has aged well, but it still plays and works as well as intended. The only letdown is the price tag of $30 when the Warmastered Edition arrived for $20 on all other platforms almost three years ago. In any case, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is a great game that's worth experiencing for the first time – or once again on the Switch.