The accessibility of smaller, low budget video games gives developers the opportunity to tell unique stories and give players novel experiences. Simply put, every now and then, players will see a game with a premise that they just haven’t seen before. Divination will be that kind of game for many players, as it is essentially a fortune teller simulator.
Divination takes place in a dystopian world in which players control a fortune teller who uses ancient runes to help their clients. The cyberpunk style paired with visuals that look like they belong in a gothic graphic novel makes for a unique experience. The visual novel-esque presentation will appeal to a niche group, but everything comes together to work effectively. The clients are varied and unique, and some have some genuinely interesting situations for players to iron out. There are quite a few endings, and players will likely get to see many since the experience is so short.
While the characters and premise are interesting, there simply isn’t much depth that can be had in a 30 minute game. It’s neat for what it is, but it is incredibly shallow, and will result in players wanting someone else to take this concept and flesh it out more. Still, for only $5, it’s an experience that might be worth checking out for those who are intrigued. Just don’t expect to be blown away by this one.
2022 has already been an impressive year when it comes to beat ‘em up games. With strong titles like Dawn of Monsters and Young Souls leading the way for many other competent games in the genre, this is simply one of the best years for fans. Samurai Riot: Definitive Edition is a solid game that follows the lead of the genre heavy hitters that come before it.
I’m going to get this out of the way first, because gameplay is the most important element in this genre. Samurai Riot doesn’t have the strongest gameplay when it comes to beat ‘em ups. It isn’t bad by any means, but players will find themselves fighting the same, recycled enemies through and sometimes the experience will feel stale. The enemies are damage sponges, and even in coop, they take a frustrating amount of time to defeat, which only pads the playtime. Still, the different characters offer variety in gameplay styles, which makes the shortcomings a little easier to forgive.
While the gameplay is just average, Samurai Riot does have an interesting system in which player choice influences the story, which is certainly rare in this genre. The controls also handle well, making it easy to swallow the generic gameplay. The visuals are nice, but the characters could admittedly use a little more work on the animations. Altogether, this is a decent fighter that won’t astound, but will give genre fans something to chew on until the next great game comes around.
Wonder Boy Collection
How much content you are getting in the Wonder Boy Collection is actually dependent on if you buy the digital or limited physical release. The limited physical release includes two more games in the packages, which is a shame because both of those games are excellent in this franchise. Still, digital adopters won’t be disappointed, as this collection still has four enjoyable classic titles.
Players will have access to the original Wonder Boy, which is a solid arcade title even today. It’s not particularly long, but newcomers will spend some extra time trying to learn all the mechanics of the game and mastering it. Wonder Boy In Monster Land and Wonder Boy in Monster World are both longer, more colorful entries, but they haven’t aged especially well. They are still enjoyable, but the lack of some quality of life adjustments can make them frustrating. Finally, there is Monster World IV, my favorite in the bundle, with bright colors, refined mechanics, and an excellent soundtrack.
All of the games run well too. They don’t suffer from any input lag like some remasters do. The sound design is all upbeat, and most of the tunes are upbeat and stick to the player. It includes a few new additions, like filters, galleries, and the option to rewind. Most of these are nice, but the rewind option is the only real new quality of life feature.
These games are far from perfect, but this is a nice little collection that is worth checking out for arcade enthusiasts. All in all they play like the games they are – some of the best games from their time, even if they have been lapped by other platformers in the decades since their release. If anyone wants retro, colorful, and cute arcade games, it’s hard to do much better.
TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity
TOKOYO absolutely surprised me with its clean gameplay and lovely visuals. It’s a strange, short roguelite game in which players try to quickly climb a tower before time runs out. Failure means trying again in a newly generated tower.
It’s mainly a platformer, and the jumping feels great throughout. The controls are responsive and TOKOYO isn’t unfair. It can be difficult, and sometimes the randomly generated layouts are unforgiving, but that’s part of the appeal. Trying to overcome new challenges that don’t always follow the rules keeps players on their toes, and the short runs will keep players coming back for more.
The combat is mostly nonexistent, though every character does have a special that is capable of clearing the screen of enemies and obstacles and make arun easier. Plenty of strategy goes into when to use these abilities, adding to the game’s depth. Players won’t improve their characters as there aren’t any RPG elements here. If players want to scratch an arcade itch and try to climb a tower in a single run while chasing high scores, this game is ideal.
Townscaper is a lovely and relaxing town building game that I reviewed late last year. It feels more like a toy than a game, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Cloud Gardens brings a similar experience to the Switch, with a relaxing sandbox mode that allows players to mix beauty and life with decaying landscapes.
Players will create lovely dioramas with dystopian flair. The sandbox mode certainly is relaxing, but if players do want a bit of gameplay thrown in, there is a brief campaign that gives players more direction on what to build. The puzzles aren’t difficult, but they will keep your brain active through the entire experience.
The graphics aren’t super intensive, but they have a nice style that makes the game look lovely. The ambient sound and soundtrack come together to soothe the ears, making Cloud Gardens one of the most zen experiences possible on the Switch.