Ahoy, Joy+Sticks readers!
January was good to me. I was able to not only plow through the “To Play” list I laid out for myself last month, but also have enough extra time to revisit some of my favorites.
I’m in a bit of a “new game lull” right now, especially when you consider that the only console I really play anymore is the Nintendo Switch, but my wallet is truly thankful. There are some exciting titles coming out for the Switch in the next few months, like Dark Souls Remastered, Hyrule Warriors, and a completely unexpected spin-off of ARK: Survival Evolved in the style of Minecraft that I still don’t know how I feel about, called PixARK.
Something exciting that happened this month is that a game streaming app called Rainway launched in beta. Everyone I’ve told about it usually says something like “doesn’t Steam already do that?” but what’s exciting about Rainway is that you can stream games from away from home, on a phone, and their ultimate goal is also to get it approved for use on the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, I still can’t get the thing to work on my system. It’s only just launched in beta, after all, but the team has been working really hard to get all of the bugs squashed. I just hope it eventually comes to the Switch! Could you imagine?
Without further ado, here’s what I played last month, what I’m playing now, and what I want to play next.
— Stephen, Joy+Sticks Editor
This game blew my expectations out of the water. Seriously. The music, the story, the writing, the dialogue, the replay value, all of it was an A+ for me. I loved it so much that I made my best friend buy it, and then I wrote an article about why you should as well. Check it out here.
I was so ready to like this game. The premise was really cool, and I loved that it seemed to take cues from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (still one of my favorite games of all-time). But the performance of the game was crappy, which makes me sad for Tequila Works, the game’s publisher, because it basically solidifies them as a company that consistently puts out games that run poorly. RiME I could understand, a little, but this one has no excuse. It’s not very pretty, it’s not very complex, and yet moving through the mansion in the game is clunky and frustrating. Not to mention, the story isn’t very good, and the writing is even worse.
Another let down, but only because the narrative left something (everything, really) to be desired, and the controls were downright awful. That said, the game runs extraordinarily well, and the world is absolutely beautiful, even if it does feel cramped and tiny most of the time. Being pretty and running well is only half the battle, though, and I just wish this game had less to say. It might have been a really moving experience, if it didn’t try sohard to explain away what little mystery there is in this world, let alone pushing—begging, really—the player to care.
As if I haven’t already played this game enough, I’m revising it for the third time. My name is Graham, and I’m the owner of a hilltop farm now. I’m unsure about who I’m going to marry this go around, or whether or not this playthrough will even carry me that far, but it’s nice to feel new in this world again. I really love this game.
I’ve hit some kind of a wall with this game. It’s beautiful and charming, don’t get me wrong, but just like my experience with Oceanhord: Monster of Uncharted Seas (which, you’ll be interested to know, shares a publisher with Blossom Tales), its Zelda influences are working against it. I feel like I’ve played this game before, and I’ve heard this story before. Not that that’s really that bad, because it does a really good job of capturing the magic of its predecessors, it’s just that I’m losing interest in the face of such innovations as, say, Breath of the Wild. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like I’m trying to trade in my iPhone for a Nokia, for nostalgia’s sake. There are obvious reasons why we’ve moved on.
There’s really no way to “finish” these, per se, but I’ve been visiting them a lot lately. Splatoon 2 always make me feel like a gaming god, as if I have some modicum of skill, and Rocket League reminds me that, well, I ain’t sh*t. In this way, these two work to balance each other out for me, while at the same time offering short bursts of gameplay that I always appreciate as a sort of break from other longer more demanding titles.
It’s back! After all the crap I’ve talked about this game, you’d think I’d stay far, far away from it. Well, the folks at Tequila Works are smart because they (or maybe just Sony?) will be making RiME one of the many free games to play for PlayStation Plus members. Not to mention, there’s talk of a huge patch making its way to the Nintendo Switch. So, who knows? Maybe Tequila Works can make a comeback? We’ll see!
This one’s been on my wish list for quite some time, but the price never seemed quite right. Well, last week they had a weekend sale that made it just $10, and my amazing boyfriend decided to surprise me with a copy. I’ve heard lots of good things about this game, so I’m really excited. I love puzzles, so I imagine I’ll enjoy it. Fingers crossed!
I admit, with a great deal of shame, that I’ve never played this game, nor its predecessor, ICO. My first exposure to a Fumito Ueda game was The Last Guardian, which came out in 2016, and I fell head-over-heels in love with it, and with Trico specifically. I was absolutely enamored with the haunting game world, and many people have told me that if I liked The Last Guardian, I’d really like ICO, and Shadow of the Colossus. I’d considered finding a way to play them, but now I’m being afforded the rare opportunity to not only gain new context for a game I love but to play its predecessor in a way that makes it feel brand new, both figuratively and literally. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that lots of reviewers are calling Shadow of the Colossus one of the greatest remasters ever.
This game looks gorgeous, and the main character looks so cute, but I remain hesitant about it since the last two or three new games I picked up on the Switch have let me down. That said, from what I’ve seen about Fe so far, it looks like a game I’d really love. EA Games usually doesn’t disappoint, but there’s always time for a first, so whatever Fe has in store for me, I’m looking forward to at least having the opportunity to explore what looks to be a rich and beautiful new world, and get to know a charming new character.
What have you played recently? What are you playing now? What’s got you hyped? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on Instagram and Twitter.