850 Reviews liked by Detchibe

I adore when rhythm games just make shit up to sound cool.
Sure, you could say those robots are just dancing ballet, but it'd be way more dope if we pretend its actually the new upcoming dance style of "japanese mech jazz".

This is the only game I beat in one sitting this year and my general impression went from "did we discover the first enjoyable cinematic platformer?" to "dang this is way spicier than it initially lets on". Slaps the player over the head with Themes without a modicum of trust, and might be better off with this approach, as it allows for an incredibly brisk pace without waffling parts. A jolly fun time whenever there's a multitasking sequence, and the general perspective switching is quite well done too. For real though, I expected good and I'm still surprised how much I ended up digging this. A must play if you have strong feelings about certain Danganronpa V3 twist.

“The youth wields his swords with the same immediacy as drawing breath. The youth wields his swords as if they were the meaning of life itself. The youth wields his swords, seeking the moon far above this changing world—”
This is a bit of a generous or maybe guilty 5* on my part, but F/SR was just such a highly anticipated delight from start to finish and I feel the need to express my affections adequately. A Koei Tecmo musou-like grounded in the mysticism and historical reverence of the Fate franchise with a sprinkle of setting-significant morality. This writer is not entirely unfamiliar with Fate properties, admittedly I intended to finish at least the Saber route of F/SN prior to F/SR’s launch though time slipped away. While it’s fair to say the moment to moment fetchquest-iness of the mission based narrative quickly becomes somewhat meandering long before one can confidently skip through content for the sake of completion, F/SR excels in the development of its storied cast and all creative endeavours (visual cohesion and aesthetics, score, and design), with the highlight being the bond formed between a troubled man and the Servant at his side.
A little warning, there will be some spoiler material below to better discuss one of my new favourite characters, particularly a full spoiler description of his arc and one of the game’s endings. This writing is mainly directed towards either those who have played to completion already or those who don’t intend to play at all to freely infodump to.
To admittedly brush over a highly significant chapter of history, F/SR seats itself firmly within blossoming Edo period Japan some time after the bloody Shimabara Rebellion capping off the Sengoku era, a time of societal stability and peace after years of conflict. We follow Miyamoto Iori, a diligent swordsman making ends meet through odd jobs while further perfecting the teachings of his late master of which he is the sole disciple, and being doted on by fellow local Kaya, a bright young girl raised alongside him and adopted into another family. Destiny calls when Iori is chosen to play a role in the Waxing Moon Ritual, a battle far greater than himself in which magically adept Mages clamour at a chance for a wish to be granted, each paired with a Servant of a predestined class; historical legends with such influence and strength in life, they are given a chance in death to fulfil the ideals of another. Though this is typical Fate preamble, it’s the background setting and the Waxing Moon itself that creates such a fantastic contextual narrative to an age of pacifism.
It’s when Iori is almost slain and he makes a fervent wish to live that Saber is summoned forth, and his peaceful days are tainted forever.
“Perhaps that child knew his fate, that he would be just another corpse by dawn.”
For an action game sourced from what can arguably be said by many to be the most iconic visual novel written, its narrative presentation is grounded in its influence with dialogue delivered alongside portrait illustration cut-ins interspersed with shockingly well animated full motion cutscenes. I understand many “anime” games follow this typical formula, but the skill of the voice cast and textured quality of artist Rei Wataru’s artwork on display keeps F/SR engaging. Hibiku Yamamura brings an energetic and competitive voice with the ability to express a most gentle sadness as Saber, though the standout role has to be Nobuhiko Okamoto’s as the tragic Chiemon, Iori’s mirror and Master of Lancer in the Ritual. I cannot praise his talent enough, bringing to life a man consumed by flames desperate to burn the world himself, his low and graveled tone impeccably matched to his appearance and personal story.
On the note of other cast members, the Masters and Servants debuting in this work are compelling at best and apathetic at worst, falling along a spectrum of quality from the level of Iori, Saber, Chiemon, Caster, and Shousetsu, to underdeveloped and poorly utilised characters like Dorothea Coyett, Zheng Chenggong, and Rider. The latter three, to remain somewhat spoiler free, remain aimless at best or take on incredibly out of character streaks at worst, kind of middling around the sides of the other characters without ever achieving the same agency or depth; Zheng is particularly guilty of this as he ping pongs in several directions yet doesn’t develop nor reach a satisfying conclusion, which was particularly disappointing as I had high hopes for his own arc from previews before release.
While they often don’t express themselves well with the 3D models that are reminiscent of F/SR’s seventh gen predecessors, artist and designer Rei Wataru’s illustrated portraits absolutely carry the game’s presentation. The brightly designed cast I see is commonly agreed to be the title’s highlight, each character being rendered in a traditional textured art style with bold splashes of colour. Wataru has improved much since providing a character design for Fate/Grand Order, as well as working concurrently alongside F/SN’s development on an ongoing manga adaptation of an arc from the aforementioned mobile release, boasting some of the most beautiful cover illustrations I’ve seen in the industry. Their artwork feels right at home married to Fate imagery and its intricately designed Servants, and I’ve been overjoyed to see them share some additional sketches of F/SN’s cast over on twitter. If you’re a fan I really recommend checking out a gallery of the design works as well as the famitsu artist interview which includes some behind the scenes concept artwork; I really love how unique Iori appeared once upon a time!
“Honour in taking others’ lives ended in my time. No more war, only the path of peace remains. The battle fever has broken.”
While F/SR carries the legacy of bread and butter Normal Attack Into Heavy Attack combo structure of most musou, the implementation of the narratively significant sword styles of Niten Ichi-ryū adds some seasoning as well as the way it motivates the player to carefully consider which heavy attack to use; choosing an anti-personnel AOE finisher can be an embarrassment at worst and a waste of time at best when faced against a single target. The organic realisation of each sword style over the course of the storyline reflects protagonist Iori’s honing of his posthumous master’s teachings, as well as his own personal journey and realisation of his ideals, though even I admit this does add little to the overall enjoyment of combat.
I see a common criticism of the sword styles is that you’re funnelled into using what is the most broken combination, that being padding your HP with the ridiculous amount of rations you’re provided to optimise the Void style and abusing the riposte reactions. I can’t deny this, as I really only bounced around between Wind, Void, and Earth styles for shielded opponents, crowd control, and encounters which demanded defensive play (battle recollections in which you face stronger past opponents get really cruel later on) respectively. Something I feel goes unmentioned though is the Afterglow effect, which grants Iori a certain effect when transitioning from one stance to another after some time of synergy, rewarding deft no-damage play with a small contextual buff. The system encourages jumping between postures to receive their effects, enhancing what could be your favourite into something greater.
It’s true that at times combat can feel quite mindless though, and I feel what keeps me engaged more often than not is the enemy design and quality of general battle animations, though the real star is the incredible score. The soundscape is romantic and heroic, accompanying Iori with both the violence he faces and the few quiet moments of peace he experiences. Some of my standouts have to be “Every Day is a Good Day”, the theme of his own Mage’s domicile, and the swelling “Swords and Confidants”, a pinpoint pang straight to my heart.
“He was so upstanding, so willing to listen. But at times, he’d suddenly go silent.”
I’ve talked a bit about Iori but elaborated little, so let’s get into that now. Another warning that spoilers will be present regarding both him and Saber as well as one of the endings available on a second playthrough.
From our first impression of Iori, we see a magically unskilled rōnin pursued for his life by a samurai of some nobility and an undoubtedly supernatural armoured entity, painting him as somewhat defenceless, crossing swords with forces way outside both his own realm of possibility and level of skill. This is the only moment where we see Iori utterly outclassed, later encounters see him weakened by external circumstances such as Assassin’s toxin, otherwise he matches the blows delivered to him every single time; I had read criticism online regarding F/SN’s presentation of Iori’s strength disputed with Kinoko Nasu’s claim that Masters were stronger the further into history one travels, though I cannot confirm the veracity of that tidbit myself. My point is that Iori remains symbolically stronger for having summoned forth Saber to save his life, for reasons other than the obvious.
He remains a straight-laced stern man for a majority of social encounters, really only breaking his frown in the presence of Kaya or in the face of Saber’s more playful antics. He instead pours all his effort and attention into the practice of his swordplay to the point of starving himself, forever pursuing an impossible ideal and being left wanting. This is a fantastic early game window into his true nature as both a person and fighter, a subtlety Saber begins to cotton on to following his mastery of the Fire stance; one that pointedly gains more power once Iori is at critically low health. It’s through Saber expressing interest at studying the Niten Ichi-ryū style and Iori admiring, or rather scrutinising, Saber’s own swordplay that we see their relationship deepen and an intimacy between them grow, sharing their pasts and memories through dreams in addition to spending almost every waking moment beside each other. Alongside the visual direction, their bond is definitely what makes this game so special, and I’ve seen them skyrocket to the top of Type Moon tierlists among friends.
In the ending to one’s first playthrough (following an insanely cool last boss encounter that massively overshadows another) and additional dialogue available in playing through once again, more light is shed on Iori’s inner disquiet. The Ritual is over and the sun rises as he ferries Kaya home safely in his arms, yet he remains ultimately unsatisfied with this outcome. If such a tranquil scene displeases him, what more could he possibly desire?
“I once saw a sword that reminded me of the moon. There is no other reason.”
Musashi talks offhand of something dwelling inside our protagonist, and as more light is shed on Iori’s truth Saber notes how his blood churns when faced against stronger opponents, and grows concerned with his attachment to combat during what should be an era of peace. There are times where they’re even tainted by Iori’s orders, returning pleased to have eradicated many in his stead and praised for doing so. It all culminates in the mastery of the Fire stance once more, in which Iori spiritually sheds what he perceives as his excess. He reveals that his kindness and consideration for others is all just a facade, a mere strategy to better fight and even kill with.
It’s through this transcendence shown to us only through a second playthrough that ties together F/SN’s compelling character narrative. His encounter with both the Ritual and Saber themself grants him a window to something beyond what he’s been taught, a fated event which could only climax in a heartbreaking duel bathed in moonlight. Outpacing his master with a rival’s iconic technique and claiming the Waxing Moon for himself, Saber draws their sword against him upon learning of his terrifying ideal: to continue the Ritual for ages to come, drawing warriors of great strength so he might slay them himself and stand atop a mound of their corpses. For Iori, surviving the Ritual was never the goal, and what he truly wished for was endless bloodshed in his wake.
His life ends with a sword demon wearing his face having been outwitted by his closest companion, dying a foolish rōnin born between eras chasing a past of historically informed glorified slaughter that was forever out of his reach. I really do just love Iori’s pretence as the do-good protagonist betrayed entirely by what has slowly been blossoming deep within his soul since he was a child, and how Saber’s own past is this beautifully poetic reply to his argument.
“As a sword, I could go no further… But haven’t I been blessed with a true friend?”
I could go on waxing poetic about ludonarrative harmony and how the player is just as unsatisfied with the NG ending as Iori which pushes him further over the brink of destruction, but I wager I’ve already looked far too much into this game already. To touch on something I couldn’t find space for, I liked the way F/SN challenged pre established narrative tropes and themes present across the Fate franchise, and how the property’s own perception of those from history and myth can taint the truth. I warmly anticipate how these additions to the large pool of characters might be utilised in future appearances, and though I vowed to never take a gacha seriously again, I remain terrified that I may break my self-imposed F/GO ban if Saber makes an appearance. If you like Musashi you’ll like this game, though her appearances got kind of annoying towards the end.
Crazy Edo period gay sex!

Having just beaten it last night, I'm still chewing on Talos Principle 2 and what it brings, but I think I'm coming off more underwhelmed than I hoped.
Did Nintendo bite these devs? Which virulent strain hit the puzzle design? TP 2 brings great assortment of toys to play with, yet only a few of the new mechanics are given space to be incorporated in the core set of puzzle building blocks. On the other hand, it isn't even able to sustain the variety throughout the whole thing as the gimmick of one of the islands is "uhh moving walls I guess", while the last island is just a gallery of slightly obscure mechanical gotchas without a binding theme. What's there is enjoyable, but TP2 left me CRAVING for some sort of mechanical escalation, and I don't usually look for hardass cosmic brain puzzles from these games. A Gehenna-style DLC might actually fix this, will be looking forward to that.
There's a lot to like about writing of the game too, but I've got my misgivings. TP2 takes anthropological approach and puts you in the entire society of cool philosophizing robots. You get to travel with a neat crew of explorers, who could easily just end up as mouthpieces for their specific themes and perspectives, but the power of good dialogue and voice acting fashions them as quite lovable bunch. The posture and worldview you establish through conversations comes back shaping the world in a few surprising ways, which was a really nice touch. Unfortunately, I'm overall not so high on this aspect either as the game just feels too courteous, I guess? I've clearly chosen the path that aligns with the views of the author so I've not really felt like my position was disputed enough, the challenge was never postulated in anything but brief qualms. The mood ended up almost toxically positive, which I didn't vibe with too much. Maybe I'm just the part of the problem, as the game's writing would put it. But overall it's a lot like the puzzles – slick, with some edges sanded off.
A few more points to mention:
1. Serious Sam: The Second Encounter is one of the first games I bought for my first computer and likely the first PC game I finished. Despite all my misgivings with TP2, it was fucking nice to play another game from Croteam so many years later whose massive environments are still so full of Croteam's charm. Hope these people continue to make games for 20 more years.
2. I love tetris bridges! There are a lot of tetris bridges in this game yet it still wasn't enough. I'd play an entire game that's just tetris bridges.
3. The cat sanctuary is so sweet I got a little teary eyed.

I've been looking for an arcade racer to sink my teeth into while waiting for the release of some of my personal highly anticipated titles (Aero GPX, Victory Heat Rally, Over Jump Rally, SPGP Super Polygon Grand Prix, check all those out BTW) and Inertial Drift was one that I had eyeballed for a bit since I first saw that I missed it as a free game on Epic. After finally taking my chances on it now I'm a bit flummoxed.
The drift system is unique, using the right stick to control your drift in conjunction with your regular steering, stampering the brake and gas to fine-tune each turn on the fly. I only played for about an hour before coming to terms with how much I wasn't enjoying that, and a lot of my distaste comes from its presentation wearing me down along with its central mechanic.
Maybe it's my own personal fatigue with the overarching neon drape that has permeated the indie racing genre as of late, but the first thing that bored me before any of the gameplay did was its visuals. Its nothingburger Story Mode consists of playing the same track 5 times before moving on to the next and the whole thing is over in the blink of an eye. Its central race mode is a bore as it can only consist of 1v1s with no collision, therefore no slipstreaming, and ultimately no proper means of engaging your rivals, which makes its strange preference, no, insistance on Tokyo Xtreme Racer-type rival score attack matches seem more obvious. All of this is not to mention how slippery and unsatisfying its central drift mechanic becomes, especially under stress; all of it made to feel insulting as your HUD is spamclogged with pseudo-motivational dialogue from your rivals that shows up every time you eat shit. Seeing "Wow, you totally OWNED that turn!" from a Picrew looking avatar pop up in my peripheral vision every time I eat a rail makes me all the more agitated as I wonder if it's the game trying to make me not feel bad or if it's just reading my gameplay totally wrong. Either way I got so annoyed by that after the 20th time that I just uninstalled it to make the voices go away. Maybe Inertial Drift is a game that means more than it lets on, and I would say it's even more the fault of my own for it not falling within my personal aesthetic preferences, but I still firmly believe you have better options if you want to play an arcade racer today.

Calling something "good with friends" is often the cruelest thing you can ever say about a multiplayer game. Yeah, you can have fun with friends in basically anything, it turns out friends are good, not Phasmophobia. And it's so easy to see that in Lethal Company, especially from the outside looking in - some bullshit lame horror coop horror game to scream at, acting as the new steam flavour of the month game to merely moisturise the slip and slide of socialisation.
Despite the resemblance, Lethal Company is not that. Flavour of the month, maybe, but versus the thousand souless PC games out there of it's breed it's truly closer to something like Dokapon Kingdom and hell, Dark Souls, for the kinds of emotion and socialisation it brings up.
Because truly, Lethal Company is a game about having a really shit job. There's no real sugarcoating it. It's a game about being explicitly underpaid for dangerous, tedius work salvaging objects from ugly factories, where the corporation you work under and the true majesty of visiting planets and experiencing it's fauna are so stripped back and corporatised that you don't even notice it. This setting and the gameplay really sets out a very clever vibe for the game, as frankly, it on it's own, is almost deliberately not fun, but it is a wonderful way of building up a camraderie between players and really get into the boots of a worker in a bad job slacking and goofing off a bit. On my first playthrough with friends I found some extraodinary catharsis in one of the gang spending some of our quota on a jukebox playing license free music and just having a jam for a while, and likewise, a good haul which takes some of the pressure off others is appreciated, and the "man in the chair" - the guy left behind at the ship to deal with doors, turrets etc, feels both valued as part of the team, but also themselves lonely, tense, awaiting their friend's safe return.
It is also, as a more obvious point, very funny. Basically every run of this game you'll make something funny will happen. A comrade fumbles a wonky jump to their death based on bad information. You walk just inside the range of your comrade's voice to hear them screaming for help for half a second. You watch as the man in the chair as a giant red dot slowly bears down on your comrade, try to warn them and then see the red dot taking delight in eating them, and there's so much more. It's surprising really as a game with so little going on in gameplay and so limited in variety of stuff that it keeps on bringing up new stupid shit to happen.
Its rarely legitimately scary, even in the rare case you're alone amongst monsters with all your friends dead. The stakes established are just set too low, the animations a bit too goofy for the intensity to ever feel too much. And that kinda folds back in on that "shit job" thematic of the whole thing. Being almost indifferent to the surprising variety of monsters, seeing them as much as obstacles as hell demons that want to eat your face, is ultimately part of the job. Yes, the fourth angel from Evangelion wandering around whilst you slowly crouchwalk across the map to your ship is tense, but almost amusingly tense. Gotta roll with it.
It's a delightful experience, really. If you wanted to you could linger on how cobbled together the whole thing feels right now and how limited the actual gameplay really is, but they do nothing to take away from the truly great times Lethal Company sparks. The closest a game will ever get to being on the last day of your christmas contract with debenhams and just slacking with the other temps, giving people discounts on their items for no good reason and occasionally the weeping angels from doctor who come out with a giant spider and they're in the ONE hallway that leads back to the exit and Ernesto is dead, damn.

extremely interesting concept and worldbuilding but i got soft-locked on one save even from earlier loads, so started a fresh save, only to be unable to load into the third 'world' without crashing

like obra dinn after the invention of color TV

every fucking item is booby trapped and im not kidding