i wish i liked signalis more. but i feel like a lot of the enjoyment i got from it was just from it being in a genre i love, which is only recently getting a resurgence, and not from the choices the game actually makes.
the game is inspired by a lot of fantastic media. resident evil (the remake of 1 in particular), silent hill (mostly 1 and 2), evangelion, the shining, lovecraft, and more. i can tell because it won't shut up about it. i'm not opposed to wearing your inspirations on your sleeve, but this game does it so blatantly and so frequently that it distracts me from the game i'm supposed to be playing and enjoying, and makes me thinks of other things i like better instead. yes, signalis, i remember the part in resident evil where jill plays moonlight sonata on a piano to open a secret passage. that was a cool moment. you aren't recapturing that by putting a piano in one of the save rooms and playing moonlight sonata in the background, because it's not tied to anything, it has no relevance, you're not doing a new twist on it. you're just making a reference to a game you like. yes, signalis, i recognize the carpet from the shining. yes, signalis, i remember angela from silent hill 2. yes, signalis, i've seen end of evangelion. can we make our own thing now? the worst of it is the blatant, absolutely shameless lifting of an entire major area from silent hill, taking its mechanical gimmick, its aesthetic, and even its name. the game even has the nerve to recycle an entire major plot moment from SH2 in that area. there is a line between "cute reference" and "borderline plagiarism" and signalis crosses it.
signalis strikes me as a game made by people who like a lot of things, but don't understand why they like the things they like. they like the resident evil remake, a game where some downed enemies will eventually get back up unless their bodies are burned, and need to be killed again in a stronger form. but they wanted to one-up that mechanic, so now EVERY enemy gets up unless burned, infinite times, which discourages combat too much. stealth quickly becomes the dominant strategy, slowing the pace of the game down and leading to the player stockpiling way too much ammo and healing. by the time i reached the final boss, my item box was stuffed with dozens of healing items and bullets for every gun, and i'd never touched any of those guns aside from the pistol, and maybe the shotgun once or twice. it's not that the game is too easy once you've figured it out, it's that it's too easy to figure out. enemy encounters should be as much of a puzzle as any door code or wall safe combination.
maybe the biggest offender is the save system. resident evil requires you to spend an ink ribbon to save for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is pacing. in a game where every bullet/healing item is precious, the player is gonna wanna save often to lock in their progress. by tying your ability to save to a resource, the game keeps you from ducking into a save room every 30 seconds and slowing the game to a crawl. it also means that if you wanna savescum to try a room over and over until you can do it without spending bullets or healing, then it'll at least cost you a save ribbon, probably two since you're gonna wanna save again after your perfect run. it's another thing the designer has to balance, but the effort is worth it.
signalis takes the easy way out and allows infinite free saves. so if you wanna play safe, which you SHOULD because that's the name of the game, then you'll shatter the game's pacing by saving after every single room clear. you'll savescum rooms over and over until you get by without taking a hit, then you'll save again, and it won't cost you anything. call that exploitative if you want, but we already had a mechanic that stopped players from playing this way nearly 30 years ago in the original resident evil for ps1, and signalis fails to learn from that despite constantly referencing that game. even the resident evil 2 remake, which had free saving, still had a hardcore mode which brought back the ink ribbons. i wish signalis' hard mode did the same, instead of just lazily increasing enemy health and damage.
also, for god's sake, why do the defensive items take up an item slot? and why can't i have a stun rod and the flashlight equipped at the same time? REmake doesn't make you give up an item slot to carry a taser, and silent hill doesn't bar you from using melee weapons if you have your flashlight out. this is just a stupid, misguided attempt to make inventory management more intense, when what it actually does is make stun rods worthless to carry around, force you to run back to the item box every time you wanna go through a dark room, and make the theoretically cool in-game screenshot item a waste of time and inventory space.
the story is fine, but it takes a lot of skill to pull off this sort of lain-esque, stream of consciousness, highly interpretive storytelling, and i don't think signalis sticks the landing. there's only one Serial Experiments Lain, and that's for good reason. i'm not sure even david lynch could put "Image Intentionally Left Blank" where a cutscene would normally go and make it work. i understand the story fine, but it's trying way too hard with its presentation. simple in-engine sequences would be much more effective than the 15 different styles of cutscene this game cycles through, especially the amateurish-looking anime ones that are way too clean and pretty for such a grungy, rusty, bloody game. though i suppose i haven't seen many games before which have such explicit lesbian overtones. depending on who you are, that element might hit hard.
if i weren't such a junkie for Scary Hallway Logistics Simulators, i'd probably be more down on this game. when i actually think about it, so much bad comes to mind. but even if it's fucked up, inferior resident evil, it's still resident evil, which i'll never stop finding fun. and given this game was made almost entirely by just two people, it's a monumental achievement. i just wish it were a better game.

everyone praises hollow knight for its sheer amount of content, but that strikes me as backward. the biggest issue with hollow knight by far is pacing. put simply, the game is too long. way, way too long. let me put it this way: super metroid has about 14 core power-ups which are necessary to complete the game without sequence breaks, and that game is about 8 hours long. hollow knight has about 6 necessary power-ups, and it's about 25 hours minimum. in other words, in super metroid, you're getting a meaningful upgrade on average every 30 minutes to an hour, whereas in hollow knight, it's every 4+ hours.
in a genre centered around exploration, you need that exploration to feel rewarding. most of the time, you can get away with small rewards, like missile packs in super metroid. but the player needs to feel as though scouring areas will lead to meaningful progress, or at least incremental boosts in power that add up over the course of those areas (an individual missile pack isn't much, but 3 of them from one area is great). in hollow knight, you go massive stretches of time with nothing. even the filler stuff, equivalent to missile packs, is usually pointless. money mostly unlocks benches and fast travel points, so you could remove those fees and just remove money as a mechanic and the game would hardly change. lots of stuff you find is also only used to trade in for more money. most of the equippable charms are useless, so those are a bust. grubs also mostly only get you money, the big rewards only coming in increments of grubs rescued, and most of those big rewards are also useless (because a lot of them are also just money). at absolute best, you find weapon upgrade materials or health upgrades, which are so rare as to, again, be stretched extremely thin across the game. all this results in hours of wandering around, finding new places and seeing new things, but nevertheless feeling like you've gotten nothing done.
the game world is too big. WAY too big. ludicrously big. there is no reason for it to be this big. i expect backtracking in a metroidvania, but this is way over the line. if i know where i'm going and how to get there, it should not take 20 minutes to do so, plain and simple. this isn't helped by the controls being built for snappy, precise boss combat rather than exploration. in super metroid, you can fling samus slingshot-style with crazy momentum, use cool walljump tricks to get places faster, cool skill-based movement tricks like that. because the game is built for speed and navigation first and foremost, not combat. in hollow knight, you slowly plod along at a mild jog, no run button or anything. you have a dash, but it's short, and you have to spam it if you wanna get places. you have one powerup which is like the shinespark from metroid, but you have to stand in place and charge it, and it can only go left or right in a straight line. whereas shinesparks could go in 8 directions, be used anywhere so long as you built up the speed, and even be stored for a short time. because hollow knight is a game made by people who thought they wanted to make a metroidvania, when what they actually wanted to make was a boss rush hack and slash, so they built a boss rush hack and slash character and stuffed it into a world three times bigger than even fast fuck samus would know what to do with. complete mismatch. no wonder all the major expansion content was boss rush content.
the map system is also bizarre and bad. i'm glad they tried something interesting with it, but it sucks. not getting to lock in any of my progress in charting out an area until i've found a special NPC in each one contributes massively to the feeling of non-progress. and why in god's name do i need to equip a charm to have my position pinpointed on the map? why do i have to spend a valuable charm slot on a basic feature like that? it feels like they were trying so hard to shake up the map system and make it something interesting that they forced themselves to try and fix what wasn't broken.
the combat is simple but fun. the platforming challenges are satisfying. the aesthetics are generally beautiful, though a bit too samey. there is something here. clearly a lot of passion and talent went into this game, and i don't recommend against playing it or anything like that. but it's fundamentally and deeply misguided. the aesthetics, atmosphere, and bosses are compensating hard for basically everything else being bad and ill-considered. hopefully silksong makes serious changes.

fun game that's horribly shackled by trying to be too many things at once. when you actually get to sit down and fight bosses, the thing the game was obviously designed around, it's very enjoyable. but most of the time, you're playing Dollar Store Tenchu, cheesing encounters and minibosses with the game's broken awful stealth system.
as an action game, it lacks the sort of depth, clarity, and consistency that makes games like DMC and Bayonetta great. it's fun and rewarding to conquer bosses most of the time, but things like there being only one universal indicator for three different types of attacks with mutually exclusive counters mean hits can feel cheap. you either play aggressive like the game wants you to and accept that sometimes you'll take random hits off the enemy's erratic, poorly telegraphed attacks, or pigeonhole yourself into an excessively defensive and boring playstyle where you constantly pass up easy damage because there's a 5% chance they cancel their recovery frames into a highly punishing combo.
encounters are far too "question and answer." the solution to animal bosses isn't to form a strategy around their attacks and properties to get the edge. the solution to animal bosses is the firecrackers, because animals are weak to firecrackers and lose a ton of posture from them. the solution to the Snake Eyes minibosses isn't skill, it's picking up sabimaru, because they're weak to sabimaru's poison and get stunlocked by the blade instantly. the solution to the mega hard optional endgame boss isn't mastery of the mechanics, it's the max whistle upgrade that stunlocks it for lore reasons. these types of easy solutions make sense in the (early) souls games, where action is much less of a focus compared to exploration and outwitting opponents, but in a game closer to Ninja Gaiden than Demon's Souls, it sucks.
and what's worse is, it's not even consistent. the game will hype up the spear, emphasize over and over that it strips armor from enemies, give you the spear, and then put you up against an enemy literally called Armored Warrior who can't take health damage because he's covered in iron. the solution? not the spear. the spear can't do anything to him, because that's not the "answer" to his fight. if anything, the axe is better against him, a weapon advertised for its use against WOODEN shields (and obnoxiously, the only real way to deal with said wooden shields). and once that happens, you're never gonna trust that any weapon does what it says, or want to experiment with anything. the spear IS effective against one of the hardest bosses in the game though, if you parry one specific attack, then use the spear while the boss is knocked down, for some reason. despite that boss not being armored in any way. and that's not even getting into the hyper-specific lightning reversal move, useful in exactly three fights, one of which is basically a cutscene boss where you can't fail the reversal, and the other two have one lightning move each.
Sekiro is fun, but it doesn't excel at anything it tries, and oftentimes outright fails at things it tries. if you want an over the top boss rush swordfight game, play Furi. if you want a ninja stealth game, play Tenchu. if you want a ninja action game, play Ninja Gaiden. if you want an exploration game in a big interconnected world, play Dark Souls.

The absolute rock bottom of the Persona series, and one of the worst Megaten games as a whole. Every bit of gristle and texture that Persona 3 used to make its otherwise simple combat system meaningful is gone, in favor of being more "convenient." The three distinct types of physical damage are condensed into a single generic type, reducing depth and overemphasizing physical weaknesses/resistances. You now get extra turns from AoE attacks even if one of the enemies you hit isn't weak or is already knocked down, meaning you can mindlessly spam weaknesses without caring about getting your own attacks reflected back at you by half the enemy mob. The reworking of the Shuffle Time system means you can gain immense, completely broken advantages like full level-ups or skills you shouldn't know for the next 10-20 hours, just because you got lucky. Dungeon floors are nothing but long, empty, randomly generated hallways with chests and enemies. And of course, the lack of direct party control that lent so much to P3 mechanically and thematically, is gone, because too many babies who couldn't be bothered to learn the tactics system complained about it.
That's beyond the story being glacially paced, nonsensical, and populated almost entirely by unlikable characters. The pace was already bad in the vanilla game, and Golden goes ahead and adds terrible terrible filler sequences, like your group for some reason forming a band to play a concert at the mall, which is immediately forgotten about after it happens and does nothing but waste an hour of your time. The plot constantly requires characters to act like complete idiots who can't put 2 and 2 together, don't follow up on plot threads until they suddenly become sentient several hours afterward, and never explain anything to anyone until there's basically a gun to their head. Almost every character is intolerable, from Chie screaming constantly and never once coming across as if she even likes her friends, to the only words coming out of Yosuke's mouth ever being "me horny" or "haha ur gay," to Teddie making me want to rip my head off every time he speaks. And of the more likable characters, like Kanji or Nanako, the game basically treats them like garbage.
Social links are STILL bad. They had issues in 3, but they were a brand new major series mechanic, and you would assume those issues would be addressed. Instead, they're worse. They're STILL walkthrough bait, since even a single wrong dialogue choice can sabotage a 100+ hour playthrough and keep you from completing all social links. They're STILL completely scripted and linear, meaning you can form a rank 10 bond with someone even while treating them terribly. They're STILL mostly padding where the first five out of ten ranks are completely worthless nothing scenes. Except now, you can't even reverse the links anymore. Nobody ever gets upset at you. Nothing bad you do to them will ever have consequences. You can get to rank 6 of a link, see someone cry their eyes out about their emotional problems, then abandon them for the next 80 hours of playtime, and they'll never once say anything about how you left them to rot, let alone reverse the bond. And now the stories themselves are decent at best. P3 had some bad social links, but at least it had high points to balance them out.
Thematically, the game hates you. If you have any real criticisms of the society in which you live, then at best, it thinks you're a confused and immature person who needs to figure yourself out. At worst, it thinks you're a misanthropic jackass who should be forcibly removed. Every character starts out wondering if maybe the society and conditions into which they were born are unfair, and they end by making the beautiful realization that, no, actually, they should just suck it up and deal with it. And then it has the gall to have scene after scene where the main characters call the majority of humanity sheeple who refuse to acknowledge the truth. It would rather say that everyone is just dumb because they love TV and that's what's wrong with society, than that maybe people's problems come from the Walmart that just moved into town and is crushing the life out of the local economy. That's what you get.
I give it an extra half star for the visuals being nice and some of the music being pretty good. Other than that, this game blows so fucking bad. Play a real Shin Megami Tensei game like Nocturne or Strange Journey.

This game was unfinished on release with clearly cut multiplayer content, no playable Vergil, and a lack of extra features. The latter two were then sold back to us at a premium, unless you're on PC, where Special Edition has not been released and may never be. If you bought this game on the most powerful platform, where it will spend most of its lifetime, you only get Vergil as DLC. The rest of the Special Edition features, including turbo mode? Yeah you can go fuck yourself if you wanted those. Shoulda bought a PS5, asshole.
The core combat is as good as it's ever been if not better, but the content practice and various flaws (like having no character select after clearing the game, meaning you ALWAYS have to play V even if you have no interest in his playstyle) mean I would rather replay 1, 3, or 4 much more often.

The best DMC game. Sorry 5babs, this one's got more SOUL.

I'm mad they stopped making oldschool Castlevanias but I can't be too mad since they ended on the best action platformer ever made

The original is one of the greatest action games of all time, but with a few glaring blemishes that hold it back from being as good as it should be.
This game fixes all of those blemishes, but then stumbles in recreating the action. Enemies are poorly balanced and become absurd damage sponges without Umbran Climax. Fights lack visual clarity, especially the Lumen Sage boss fights where an entire Godzilla movie is happening in the background, obscuring the actual fight and the boss' telegraphs. Healing items no longer count against your rank, meaning you can and should shove them down your gullet constantly, trivializing the game and pushing the player into bad habits. And a myriad of other problems.
Trying to truly master this game on the same level as the first is a waste of your time, because it's ridiculously simple to get platinum ranks on the highest difficulty, but borderline impossible to get pure platinums. They prioritized the spectacle of the first playthrough over the quality of subsequent playthroughs. Which hurts, because there's so much cool content in this game that would be wonderful to explore in a game that felt better to sink a lot of time into. The massive number of weapons, the big roster of playable characters, and the whole extra "build your own challenge" co-op gamemode make this one of the most content-rich action games ever, but I will never get the most out of any of it.
If you're a low-key action game fan who wants to play a game through once on normal mode, have fun, and put it down, Bayo 2 is absolutely a better game than 1 for you. And I still like this game a lot, the core of what I love in the first game is still here. But it ain't "one of the best ever" tier like the first, and I think that's a shame, because it 1000% could have been.

There is no other game on this earth that makes me feel the same way as playing I-No in Strive. Unfortunately, Ramlethal is also in the game.


The most revolutionary and astounding integration of gameplay and story that I have ever seen. This game is still years ahead of its time. Hades is in the paddling pool by comparison. The worldbuilding is incredible, every single character is great, and the game will force you to choose which one you're willing to wrench away from yourself, with a thousand different considerations for who, when, and why, and every single time, it will have a massive impact on how you engage with the gameplay.
Some people are turned away by the sportsball gameplay, but it's absolutely core to the way the game works. If it were pure story, it wouldn't work. And for what the gameplay is, I think it's pretty damn good. The only real, serious flaw is that the AI is highly exploitable. They can and will walk into hazards over and over, and you can trick them into doing it for easy wins, which can trivialize the consequences that wins and losses are meant to have.
But that's a drop in the bucket. The game is a goddamn masterpiece. Which is why it sold the absolute worst of any of Supergiant's games, is available on the least platforms of any of their games, is the only one of their games not to have a physical release, and has been completely eclipsed by Hades, a game that doesn't have 1/10th the bravery as Pyre.

The only thing you could possibly call a flaw in this game is that the PC version was a bit lazy in terms of fixing up the textures, so some things look a bit weird if you squint, and some audio was screwed up. Other than that, this is the single best horror game ever made. Maybe one of the Silent Hills is scarier, but none of them have this level of mechanical depth and tension. They also do not have Barry Burton.

There is no other game on this earth that makes me feel the same way as playing Falco in Melee. Unfortunately, Marth is also in the game.

One of the best action games of all time. Almost everything is perfectly considered. Immense depth combined with one of the most likable protagonists in any game, with music and aesthetics perfectly suited to the vibe.
All that really holds it back from a perfect score is the incomprehensible story, and the few areas where the design considerations falter. There's just a few fights, a few sections, where things are weighted too far toward "cool spectacle for a first playthrough" at the expense of being frustrating or overlong. And some of the QTEs are annoying.

One of the most expressive and satisfying level curves in any game. Extremely good worldbuilding, main quest, and themes. My current favorite game of all time.
Three primary flaws:
1. The game is bad at explaining itself. How stats and skills work, how enchantment works, and so on are poorly elaborated on. I have 100+ hours and still get blindsided by the particulars of magic at times.
2. Jank. It's an old game. OpenMW helps, but there's some things you just can't fix.
3. The expansion content leaves a lot to be desired. Given that both expansions are meant to be played after the main game, the enemies' damage is cranked so far through the roof that you can be swinging an ancient blade of the gods, forged in the heavens by the immortal deity of war and enchanted with the most powerful magicks in the realm, and do maybe 1/5 of a sewer goblin's healthbar. Then the goblin one shots you. And unlike the base game, these expansions are heavy on combat. You will be in those sewers a lot. The stories of the expansions are good and continue on with the main game's themes well, but console commands get extremely tempting.