Good evening! Thanks to a public menace, called the Omicron variant, many people are remaining indoors whenever possible. Fortunately, video games can keep us safe and entertained while everyone waits through the surge. I took the time to whittle through my gaming backlog from 2021 again. Hopefully, I can be done with the 2021 gaming slate by the end of March. That's my goal, but we'll see what happens. Here's a handful of short reviews to help you narrow down a huge abundance of video games. Enjoy!
Let's start with KeyWe, a speed run game with co-op gameplay and puzzles. It features two kiwis who are running a post office. You might think it’s a game for kids, but don’t jump to conclusions. KeyWe is way too difficult for younger kids. It’s a surprisingly difficult game because the missions have a limited amount of time with many tasks. Despite some frustrating elements, KeyWe is very entertaining and a lot different than most games. It’s oddly addictive with variable missions and a highly competitive spirit. Losing a mission isn’t a particularly big deal. You’ll just repeat the mission and try again. Plus, the kiwis are super cute and you can give them different outfits in the form of hats, backpacks, sunglasses, colorful feathers, and other accessories.
Should you bother to purchase this game? I recommend it on the Nintendo Switch. KeyWe plays really well in handheld mode and it might look impressive on the new Switch OLED model. You don’t have to be an expert with puzzles, but a decent amount of patience is necessary. Keep in mind, the game doesn’t have consequences for repeating a mission. Amazon and GameStop are selling KeyWe for $20, so this might be a good opportunity to grab it on sale.
If you're searching for a new take on the horror genre, Apsulov: End of Gods might be a good choice. It’s a unique horror game that takes elements from Norse mythology in a sci-fi setting. Apsulov is a mixed bag with positive and negative components. It’s quite scary with an unusually disturbing spin on the Norse Gods with bizarre creatures and phenomenons. The story includes a fascinating mystery and a handful of twists that will keep players guessing. Overall, stealth mechanics work effectively and it doesn’t have annoying inventory management from other horror games. However, the controls and combat are frustratingly clunky. You’ll probably die several times because traversal and command prompts are unresponsive. Also, this game probably won’t be a good idea for people who have seizure disorders or photosensitivity. It’s full of dark rooms with remarkably bright lights.
Absulov might be a decent horror experience for gamers who want legitimate scares, but keep your expectations in check because objectives are unclear and the gameplay isn’t perfect. It’s only $29.99, which is pretty reasonable for a modern release.
The Star Wars Jedi Knight Collection is a retro throwback to the early 2000s. It includes Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight Academy. Both of these games are fun hack and slash adventures from the Star Wars extended universe. However, neither game holds up very well on today’s standards. As expected, the animation looks outdated and the gameplay doesn’t feel particularly smooth. You can use cheat codes, but I wouldn’t say they improve the overall game. Basically, this duo suffers from a common issue of their generation. PC games from the early 2000s don’t adapt well to consoles. They’re buggy, clunky, and unimpressive on a visual level.
Even if you’re a Star Wars fan, I don’t recommend this collection for current gen consoles. You might be able to play it reasonably well on a PC, but I wouldn’t guarantee anything.
Mystery games are sparse and the latest Hercule Poirot title is a notable release from last year. It covers his early years as a PI, which is why it’s called The First Cases. This game is primarily a point and click adventure with dialogue boxes and some character movement through the environment. It doesn’t have any combat. Players have to find clues, hidden objects, and other quest items. The First Cases has potential to be refreshing in a world that’s stuffed with first person shooters and RPGs, but it has too many problems. It’s a broken game and I’m not sure if anyone can reach the end. I encountered numerous errors that stopped my progression through the story. That means I had to delete my save file and start at the beginning again. Eventually, I gave up.
This game has interesting mystery elements, but it’s barely functional. I can’t recommend a broken game. Mystery fans will need to find something else. The developers should have delayed this release. Gamers feel inconvenienced by delays, but they serve a purpose.
Chernobylite is a post-apocalyptic game that takes place in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Gamers might feel vibes from the Metro series and the upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sequel. This game includes a combination of exploration, combat, and life simulator elements. In general, Chernobylite is underwhelming in nearly every way, shape, and form. I would say it’s one of the most disappointing games from 2021. The environment is barren, the combat is awkward, the missions are repetitive, the plot is confusing, and the simulator elements feel like chores. For some reason, it wasn’t optimized for the latest console generation and that might be a red flag.
Overall, you can skip this game. I don’t feel good about being negative, but gaming isn’t free and this product doesn’t match the competition.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are the latest remakes in Nintendo's lineup. Lately, every new Pokémon game is controversial among the hardcore fan base. I don’t care because the remakes of Diamond and Pearl are pretty good. They’re fun, charming, and a laid back excuse to take a break and explore the environment. Besides, who can resist all of those adorable pokémon? Usually, I hate turn based games, but the formula always works for the Pokémon series. I must admit, this remake duo is somewhat weaker than Sword and Shield. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl require considerably more grinding, which feels like an outdated style of gameplay. Also, the chibi style characters look a bit alarming. It’s a strange choice in art direction. Ultimately, the new Pokémon games remain a strong entry in the franchise and they should please mainstream audiences.
Should you spend valuable time and money on these games? Of course! Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are a blast! Do you need both copies? I’m not sure about that part. You might want to look up the list of exclusive pokémon for both games. I played through both copies and the second time felt like a repetitive grind. By the way, don’t be ashamed of guides and walkthroughs. I recommend using guides and YouTube videos to get through some of the locations and puzzles. It makes the experience quicker and less confusing.
Many gamers waited twenty years for a new entry in the Metroid series. Samus is back for one more treacherous adventure in outer space. I have a controversial take on this game. Metroid Dread was a strong contender of Game of the Year, but I find it totally overrated. Granted, I don’t have a talent for metroidvanias. This game has really interesting animation and a sprawling environment, but the gameplay is downright frustrating. The map is useless, many of the boss fights seem impossible, the platforming requires exact precision, and the new E.M.M.I robots are super annoying. You’ll probably die frequently and backtrack a long ways. Good luck, everybody!
I don’t believe mainstream gamers will enjoy Metroid Dread very much. It’s just way too hard. Competitive gamers who really enjoy difficult challenges are the target audience for this release. If you prefer the most difficult setting on most games, then I recommend going for it.
Tales of Arise is a popular JRPG that came out in 2021. It appears to take place in a Medieval fantasy world. I have mixed thoughts about this game. On the positive side, it has an expansive open world, a really good skill tree, and a unique style of combat. However, the characters and story feel pretty weak compared to the gameplay. This JRPG runs anywhere between forty and sixty hours to complete and I felt burned out after a while. I think gamers are going to feel divided about this one. Some people will probably enjoy a deep dive into the lengthy campaign. Other gamers will become disinterested after several hours. It’s completely fine, but I didn’t feel compelled to keep playing past a certain point.
Here’s the hard part. Should you bother to play Tales of Arise? I suppose it depends. You definitely need to be a huge fan of JRPGs and open world settings. Maybe watch for sales. I don’t think you need to spend $60 on this game. If fifty hours sounds too long, I recommend playing something else.
There you go! I played these games to help you narrow down some choices. After all, nobody has enough time and money to play every game in a given year. What games are sitting in your backlog? Are you looking forward to any new games this year? Leave a comment. I’ll give you another round of game reviews in February. For a while, 2o22 is going to be a slow year for gaming. Horizon Forbidden West is coming out next month and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the main release in March. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was supposed to release in April, but it’s undergoing delays. So, this might be a good year to whittle away at the 2021 backlog. Be really careful, guys. This Omicron variant is the most contagious strain yet. Take care of yourselves and come back again next week. Cheers!
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