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Every Game I Finished in 2019

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Graphic: XMetalWolf

I know, it’s kinda late, we’re already through over half the year, a year which has seen quite a bit of turmoil what with a global pandemic and all. But hey, being stuck in the confines of your home gives the best opportunity to that backlog that for every player only seems to ever increase rather than go down. And so, I present to you all, every game I finished last year because this one ain’t yet over.

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Ace Academy

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Screenshot: PixelFade
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This is going to be a long article so since I had already jotted down my thoughts for this title previously ( and the next few as well), I’m just gonna link those thoughts here.


Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

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Screenshot: Nihon Falcom
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Same as before, thoughts here.


The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC

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Screenshot: Nihon Falcom
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And once again, thoughts here.


Re:Maid

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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One more to the list of links, thoughts on the title here.


Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation

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Screenshot: Nintendo
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Just three more links to go (including this one).


Lego Batman: The Videogame

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Screenshot: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
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This one was my first Lego video game, the rest of my thoughts are here.


Megatagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies

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Screenshot: Idea Factory
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Finally, the last link is here, this is one I wrote quite recently in fact.


Shuyan Saga

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Screenshot: Lofty Sky Entertainment
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This one was a pretty short game, it was originally made for mobiles and then ported to PC without altering the control scheme, meaning that the game is entirely controlled via the mouse. While a bit annoying, it wasn’t too much of a hassle considering the title clocks at about 3 to 4 hrs max. The game is mostly a VN with a few combat sections interspersed throughout. Combat comes in two flavours, top-down sections against multiple foes and 3rd Person 1v1 duels. Different clicks and gestures of the mouse allow for various strikes coupled with blocking and countering techniques. It’s a pretty fun system if, as mentioned, a bit awkward on PC. Story-wise, the tale’s pretty standard stuff elevated through some great art and full English voice acting.

If you’re up for a short fun classic martial arts adventure, then give Shuyan Saga a shot.

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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

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Image: Activision
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Not much to say here, it’s a pretty standard 3rd Person action game. The swinging was nice and having both a good and evil Spider-man ending was pretty nice, gave me them Infamous vibes. The game’s not too long either, around 10 or hours tops.

If you’re looking for some decent filler in-between longer/intense games and you like Spider-man, you could do a lot worse than Web of Shadows. Unfortunately, the game isn’t available on online storefronts anymore. You could hunt down a physical copy but honestly, it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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Oh boy, where to start with this one. As I write this piece, I have finally completed every Trails game that is available in English including the two Japan-only Crossbell games via fan translations. My journey with this series began at the beginning of 2019 with Trails in the Sky FC and as much I loved that game, SC is even better. It marks one of 4 games that I personally consider to be 10/10 masterpieces because even though it may not be perfect, the beauty and heart of its epic tale, its charming characters and wonderful world shine as brightly as the sun.

The strengths of FC are carried forward handily in SC and the game utilizes the strong foundation it laid down in the previous game to the best extent possible. Estelle makes for a fantastic protagonist and seeing her grow and mature over the course of these two games has been one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had in games yet. The core of SC’s tale is all about Estelle and her relationship with Joshua and build-up of it all which culminates in around the 6th chapter brought tears to my eyes. It was an absolutely beautiful moment both in its content and execution. Not to say the rest of the cast don’t shine as well, really, while the extent may vary, every single member of Sky’s fairly massive cast gets their moment and each one felt more impactful than the last. Never have I come to love a cast so much so as the folks in this adventure.

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Trails in the Sky SC is hands down one of the best games I’ve ever played and cemented my love for the series and Falcom.


Fearless Fantasy

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Screenshot: Enter Skies
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This is another game ported directly from mobile with no change to its control scheme whatsoever thus making for so certain awkward fights. Still, the combat was pretty fun, it’s a basic turn-based system except for the fact that every action requires gestures such as tapping the orbs in rhythm or tracing paths. Perfectly completing these gestures enhances your attacks while failing to do so takes things in the opposite direction.

Its tale is standard RPG only compressed down to like 4-5 hrs and with a fairly weird presentation. I actually got this one for free and I liked what I played so I guess I can give it a recommendation if you’re looking for something cheap, short, generally fun and weird.

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Pokemon White Version

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Graphic: Nintendo
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This game’s been a long time coming. Pokemon has been with me since my childhood and while I always followed the series since that time I’ve ever had a DS and thus missed out on the 4th and 5th generations. Luckily, I did get a 3DS and got back to the games for the following two generations and now finally, 9 years after they released, I made my journey through the Unova region.

And, well, it’s a Pokemon game. But I love the core formula of Pokemon so of course, I enjoyed my time here. Plus, Unova was a pretty cool region to explore, I especially loved the cities, the pseudo-3d graphics did a solid job making them feel grand. The story was also pretty interesting, this has never been Pokemon’s strong point but White does an admirable job with Team Plasma and N, the latter really being the stand out point. Overall, story-wise, I’d rank it 2nd right after SM.

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And that’s it, the rest, as stated above, is regular Pokemon. Catching, battling, training and aiming to be the very best like no one ever was.


Evoland

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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Honestly, this game’s more cool concept than an actual game. It’s really short, clocking in at 3 hours and not a particularly strong experience when it comes to the gameplay mechanics or its tale.

However, I said the concept was cool and indeed it very much is, probably the main thing that makes Evoland worth playing. For those who don’t know, the game starts off with Gameboy graphics, a top-down view and within just a small strip with two treasure chests, once you collect those chests the strip opens and a larger world feels your screen, As you began to explore, the graphics start to become better, the world gains colour and you eventually shift to the 3rd dimension. Combat also changes, going from 2D Zelda to 3D Zelda to an FF style turn-based system. It’s a pretty unique experience seeing the game “evolve” before your eyes and if that sounds interesting enough to you, then the game might just be worth the try.

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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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After the above entry, I’m you expected to see Sky the 3rd pop up as you scrolled down, well, I’m sorry to say to but it’s not on this list. Sky SC provided a very solid conclusion to its tale and since I’d heard the 3rd game was outside the norm of the Trails structure, I decided to hold off playing it and instead jump into the series’s latest arc and most modern games with the first Cold Steel.

The game was a unique one in the series for me as it was the only one I consider to truly be all set-up. While other Trails games definitely take time to establish threads and characters that will only pay off in later instalments, they also have their own standalone narrative than begins and ends within the game itself. However, CS 1 was the exception, the central narrative was something that would only pay-off come CS 2 and this game instead was far more focused on building up the world of Erebonia and the students of Class VII.

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I’d honestly describe CS as a slice-of-life game with a dash of political machinations and high stake missions relegated to the end of each of its in-game months. Those latter points work to establish the growing tensions in Erebonia though the actual fallout of such only comes in at the very end of the game. The rest of the time time, you’ll be studying, helping out the perpetually overworked Towa and getting closer to all your classmates. CS is about how these kids come together as a group and how that experience enriches their character.

I know CS as a series is divisive among fans but I enjoyed the lax pace presented here. It was great getting to know about the various towns, cities and cultures in Erebonia along with your classmates and the many other friendly faces that populate the halls of Thors Military Academy. In fact, CS has by far the best implementation of NPCs within the franchise with students and faculty of Thors. Not only were they all fun to get to know and decently developed but their relevance and development is continually expanded upon as the series goes on and some of the events in CS3 really made me happy that I took the time to get to know them all.

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The combat in CS is also the most fun yet with the new link system heavily improving the pace of battles and its options. Also, dungeons have maps now, which is by far and away the greatest improvement in the series.

So, anyway, Trails is an amazing franchise and if you haven’t, I urge you to give it a shot.

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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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You play as Monkey with a big staff as you journey to the west with your companion Trip, beating the crap out of various kinds of robots that are unlucky enough to stand in your way.

Enslaved is a very competently made game. The adventure narrative is fun, combat is challenging and intense, the game looks great especially considering its age and Trip and Monkey are an enjoyable pair with strong chemistry. It’s a great AAA romp that executes very facet of the norm very well but never goes beyond it. It’s a good game and one I would easily recommend to fans of 3rd Person Action games though there won’t be anything memorable to stay with you after the credits roll.

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Homefront

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Screenshot: Deep Silver
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Everything I said above about Enslaved is very much true for Homefront as well, only this time, it’s for a 1st person rather than 3rd Person Character action game. It’s well made, fun to play and also fairly short if you really like FPS games then Homefront will provide a solid few hours of entertainment with its campaign.


 

Tales of Berseria

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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So this is a bit of a special game for me. I actually bought the game quite a while back since I got a good price for it and just hoped that my pretty shit laptop would run it at 3o FPS with all the settings at their lowest. Unfortunately, it was not to be for no matter what I tried, a slideshow was all I could achieve. And so, I hit the uninstall button and let this Tale sink to the bottoms of my Steam library.

Que XX years later title sequence and I was finally able to get my self a pretty decent gaming laptop. It was on the low end of the power range but for the first time ever, I had a PC with a dedicated Graphics card and to christen the new girl, I loaded up a game that I’ve been wanting to play for ages, that is Tales of Berseria. And it did not disappoint.

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Berseria is my fourth Tales game, after Xillia, Graces F and Zesiria (didn’t finish this one) and has cemented itself as the best of the lot. While I had issues with the combat being sorta button mashy, the fast pace and flashy animations helped to keep things good. I admit that, as I usually do, only played as the protagonist which in this case is Velvet who succumbs the most to that style of gameplay. There was one particular fight where I switched around a bit and found the others to be more on the technical side. But either way, combat was still a step down from Graces F which is the system it stems from.

While the combat may have been a bit weak, the rest of the game more than made for it. The whole villainous protagonist as a concept was something I looked forward to quite a bit and was pretty happy with the overall execution of it. I’ve loved the cast of all the Tales games so far and Berseria is no exception. They’re all quite interesting to get to know and their journeys throughout the main tale were wonderful to witness. Their chemistry with each other, highlighted through the game’s skits, was a joy to see unfold especially when Magilou was in the mix. Berseria’s story was also the strongest of the games I’d played, it utilized its tropes well both in terms of playing them straight and twisting expectations. It was a darker and more personal journey than any of the other and when the credits rolled I had a smile on my face and slightly blurry vision.

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Watch Dogs

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Screenshot: Ubisoft
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I have mixed feelings on this one, on one hand, I really enjoyed the setting and concept, underused though they may be and the campaign had some pretty fun parts in terms of activities and setpieces. On the other hand, the story was bland, Aiden lacked any compelling quality as a protagonist and while the gunplay and driving were competent enough, I found myself frustrated at various points throughout the game.

Going back to the first line though, the whole idea of utilizing magic hacking to control a variety of systems was basic but honestly, really cool to mess with. It added a nice layer of freshness to the game’s more rudimentary open-world design and is something I hope the latter games expand upon.

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While I don’t think Watch Dogs is a bad game by any means, it was disappointing and there are much better open-world offerings out there to dedicate time to this one, heck, I only played it since I had gotten it for free.


Assassin’s Creed Unity

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Screenshot: Ubisoft
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Unity marks the franchise’s first foray into the PS4/Xbox One generation of games and the technical achievements here are quite strong. While I realize that the game was plagued with issues on that front upon release, playing it in 2019 was a pretty amicable experience. 18th century Paris was a sight to behold and crowds of people scrawling about the streets was impressive as well though kinda annoying at times.

While the overall structure of Unity falls in line with previous titles, the variety of approaches presented by missions, the lack of forced stealth and a couple of revamps to combat easily make this one the best AC game to play yet. The protagonist Arno was also fairly charming though the plot he finds himself is relatively less so. Arno’s romance with his childhood friend and current Templar was a central thread of this tale but one that felt woefully undercooked, dulling the impact of emotionally charged moments later in the game. There’s another principle character who suffers a similar weakness by the plot though the climax of that particular thread makes up for the shortcomings in its moment to moment execution.

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Even with the substandard story, I loved my time traversing around the streets of Paris and it makes me a bit sad knowing that the series veers off from its traditional style after Syndicate.


Batman: The Enemy Within

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Screenshot: Athlon Games
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Batman: The Enemy Within is the second season of Telltale’s excellent Batman tale and it keeps up the quality handily. What I loved about Season 1 was that it took established pieces of Batman lore and flipped them providing a whole new context for the Dark Knight’s crusade against crime and Bruce’s struggle to come to terms with it. S2 continues playing on established conventions with Joker who takes on a more central role in the story.

It’s an intriguing adventure with a particularly strong final episode and like the first season gives equal import to the struggles of both Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s hard to say more on the great points of the narrative without spoiling the main conceit so I’m just gonna say if you’re a fan of the Caped Crusader then you gotta play this game and the first season as well.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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Oft hailed as of the greatest games to come out this generation, The Witcher 3 marked the end of CD Projekt Red’s trilogy with an absolute bang, bringing the series to incredible heights of success. Now, although this game is here, I’ve not played the other two (and I suspect I’m not alone in this) so I can’t really say whether my experience would have been enhanced or not by the fact. What I can say though, is that the Witcher 3 lives up to the hype.

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first, combat took a bit used to and find a solid rhythm but even when I did what I found was acceptable enough but pales in comparison to the rest of the game it exists in. I felt the game was kinda bloated as well, the sheer number of quests gave rise to a large disparity in quality and honestly when it comes down it, I’d recommend just sticking to the main and secondary quest along with some witcher contracts.

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The rest of the game was just great. The main story did a fantastic job of showcasing and fleshing out Ciri as a character and her relationship with Geralt, both of which flow well into building up the grand finale. The secondary quest storylines were also equally strong with the Bloody Baron and Kingmaker being my favourites. The world and lore feel vast and rich and riding Roach through the game many beautiful vistas is quite the experience. The attention to detail is something that is prevalent throughout the entire game made my playthrough quite the spectacular journey.

The Witcher 3 is an incredible game and one I’m glad I was finally able to experience after hearing so much about.

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God Eater Resurrection

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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God Eater Resurrection is an enhanced port of an enhanced port of the game that launched the series. I played God Eater Burst a long time and very much loved the game so it was exciting to get back into the franchise after so long.

While it had been quite a while, I quickly got into the swing of things as I booted up Ressurection and all the memories of Burst came flooding back. The story and cast of God Eater may fall pretty heavily into anime cliches and tropes but I had grown to love both all the same so it was great to be back in action and kicking Aragami ass with the 1st Unit.

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Combat was largely the same as Burst with a couple of new weapon types and a new mechanic called Devour styles. While the new weapons seemed cool, I stuck to my short sword which had carried me through thick and thin back in Burst and continued to do so here. The new mechanic on the other instantly became part of combat repertoire with the quick and air devours, in particular, seeing a ton of use.

The newly added Ressurection story arc was fairly solid and dealt with the aftermath of the game’s first story arc. The presentation of this arc was also a bit different, mirroring the style of the sequel which was an interesting little tidbit for me.

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I loved God Eater Burst for its fast-paced combat against massive foes, giant weapons that can freely switch between ranged and melee, cheesy but nonetheless intriguing storyline and the colourful folks that make the Fenrir Far East Branch, and Ressurection redelivered all of that and then some.


Oxenfree

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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Oxenfree was a really good game that I think did everything it could right and had a really beautiful aesthetic and a strong atmosphere. The characters and writing were really good as well and I thought the central narrative and mystery was well done. And yet, despite ticking all those boxes and despite having so many strong elements, I never really came to love Oxenfree.

Everything I said above is how I truly feel about the game but one a personal level the game never quite clicked with me. I enjoyed the experience it provided and I have a lot of respect for what the game is and what it achieves and do believe that it is a game that people should try out. However, after finishing the adventure, I just felt kinda meh about the whole thing and had no desire to go back even though a single playthrough was quite short. If I had to really give a reason I’d say that I guess I couldn’t really connect with the themes and narrative at the forefront even if I could understand and empathize with what was being shown.

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Still, as I said, I do think it is a great game and hopefully, others will come to love it in a way I couldn’t.


Yakuza 0

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Screenshot: XMetalWolf
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Weird, wacky, epic, melodramatic and full of heart, each and all of these apply to Yakuza 0 and the absolutely unique experience it brings to the table.

Yakuza is basically Japanese GTA if GTA was actually super fun to play, had a great story and cast and was filled with an insane variety of things to do that actually have a purpose and form an interconnected web which feeds into each other to create a far more riveting and rewarding time.

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Yakuza 0 is a wild ride through and through combining a serious and dramatic story of what it means to be a Yakuza and the pride that the position entails with spending hours trying to grab prizes at claw machines, investing way too much time in Pocket Cars, starting your own real estate business or cabaret club, helping some kid to buy porn, pretending to be the producer for a commercial, teaching a dominatrix how to dominate and so, so much more.

The central narrative is an awesome and heartfelt journey with some incredibly emotionally charged fights and the bustling town of Kabukicho is absolutely filled with a crazy variety of things to do and people to meet. Altogether it’s an experience so densely packed that you’d probably go crazy trying to see it all and heck might be willing to do so anyway.

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Yakuza 0 was my introduction to this wonderful franchise and is possibly one of the best introductions I’ve ever had. There was truly not a greater game to end my run in 2019 that this beautiful creation.

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