I've never felt so compelled to play through such a bad game to completion. The situations in the game are nicely varied and the dialogue options can be highly amusing and were just enough to pull me through to see what came next.
But the act of playing the game was almost painful. With the base speed of the main character, traversing the world can be akin to wading through a swamp unless you permanently hold down the run button, in which case it feels like Yakety Sax should be playing in the background - there's just no happy medium. At one point in the game you're forced to give an old lady a piggyback which slows everything down to a crawl but even then I swear that was faster than just walking normally.
Less painful and more pointless, there are also hunger/thirst/bladder meters for you to manage (even though nothing actually happens as a result of letting any of these get too low). There's a moral points system that doesn't affect anything, and while the dialogue choices can be hilarious it's all window dressing - there is exactly one time in the game where your decisions have any impact.
And there's a whole host of other issues. I wasn't super fussed by framerate problems or other technical hitches, but the audio design might be some of the worst I've experiences in a game. Footsteps drown out every other sound, the world feels lifeless and dialogue snippets repeat constantly while sounding completely out of place. Everything just feels so lifeless - I'm not expecting a sweeping score and I know there will be some occasions where silence has more impact, but there needed some kind of atmospheric background noise.
But then you get moments where you accuse someone of arson in front of a whole town while wearing frilled cowboy chaps and tall chef hat with a tengu mask strapped to your face with pink sunglasses underneath which almost make the experience worth it. Almost. That's what the 2nd star is for I guess.

My first experience of a Boku no Natsuyasumi style game and it's one that that I found incredibly endearing, even without knowing much about Shin-chan or the characters in that series beforehand
It's not the most complex thing I've played in my life but it doesn't need to be - the simplicity works in its favour, as you go through each day exploring, maybe collecting things (maybe not) and catching up with the townsfolk dealing with their daily dose of dinosaur distractions. It's a game that really worked an in-game day or two at a time, just feeling yourself inhabit an area, admiring the scenery and eating enough Chocobi to get through the day without collapsing from exhaustion. Altogether a lovely summer evening game eked out over a week or two.

The Pikmin platformer that Nintendo wishes they'd made.
That's a little unfair to Tinykin though, as it manages to stand out on its own merits - it's a genuinely good 3D collectathon platformer that looks and runs brilliantly and pulls you in with large, detailed but rarely overwhelming level design filled with interesting scenarios and some quite fun dialogue with the world's inhabitants. The game is also smart enough to realise that dealing with enemies can actually be a chore in this type of game and as such just does away with them which really helps the flow and allows for more exploration.
I'm a bit of a sucker for games where you play as a little guy in a large setting (especially a homestead) so I think this was always going to do well with me but it turned out to probably be my favourite game of the year so far.

The same detective work I really enjoyed from Her Story but for whatever reason I couldn't really get into the story or characters as much.
Perhaps the mystery of it all was spoiled a bit by knowing some of the real life events it is seemingly inspired by quite well and working a lot of things out after just a handful of clips. Or maybe it was the conceit of this being specifically hacked webcam and other video feeds rather than just a set of police interviews as per Barlow's last work that felt more forced and didn't sit as logically in my brain.
Still, I think it's well worth playing as there really aren't many other experiences like it out there, and I do love games where taking your own notes on pen and paper is a benefit.

In my mind the current peak of the 'choose your own path' interactive movie genre'. I was immediately drawn in by a more grounded story, while the amount of different paths for each character is really impressive - sure, there will always be funnel points as that's the reality of limited time/budget but care is taken for these to feel natural and not forced and there are far fewer 'illusion of choice' decisions than you may be used to.
There's been a fair bit of divisiveness on the art style but I thought it really fit, making things feel more like a graphic novel and having time pause while making decisions is far less jarring than in other similar titles.
It's obviously not a perfect game (no such thing exists) - for example, some of the voicework could do with a little more TLC - but I felt like I played through a really good tv show and had a great time doing so.

2022

At its best when you're exploring a hub - jumping around, finding new routes, interacting with the various residents of the locale and helping (or hindering) their day. When the game becomes more linear, especially where you're eluding or killing enemies, it just didn't seem as much fun thanks to you feline freedoms being more limited in where you can go and what you can interact with.
Still, the cat's cute and it's never not nice just to make a little meow every now and then.

Simple but very effective little puzzle platformer. Honestly, more games should let you throw your own head around.

Pretty good overall but there were a few too many annoying things about it for me to be fully whisked away by the stories, setting and people you meet along the way
Navigating through the menus on a controller was a bit of a chore and speaking of UI, following the dialogue and stories wasn't a great experience and came through a bit 'wall of text-y', requiring some passages to be re-read before working out who said what. Also towards the end of the game it felt like I was just waiting around a lot with nothing to really do until certain timers expired on other events. This is partially due to how easy the game becomes once you have a few upgrades under your belt, including one where you can reroll all your remaining dice at any point once per cycle which kind of trivialises the checks.
On a more positive note, the stories themselves were engaging, introducing you to interesting characters and scenarios. And there was a nice 'just one more turn' feeling (at least until around two thirds in) to see where things progressed with each action I performed and how it would affect various story arcs. The game hooks you in at the beginning really well too, putting you under some time constraints making you feel like you have to choices on what avenues to go down really matter, an illusion which does unfortunately evaporate as time progresses.

Some aspects of the game aren't as streamlined as they could be but overall it's a neat twist on the hidden object game formula with a high quality voice work and a selection of simple but touching narratives

A nice and relaxing diversion but while solving each conundrum is enjoyable the puzzles never really step out of first gear and I found that the time limit was barely even noticeable given how quickly you can blast through each scenario. I'm hoping that recently announced updates and DLC can test that grey matter just a tiny bit more but at the moment it's a pretty good way to while away an evening.

Very short and the puzzles aren't exactly head scratchers but it also looks gorgeous, feels incredibly relaxing and is free. I'd love to see more from the devs in the future, as this delightfully warm 15 minute hug of a game was a better overall experience than some bigger titles I've played this year.

First time I've played this since I wore out the demo disc as a child and minus some very slightly fiddly controls it really holds up. Difficulty ramps up nicely and the music goes hard, a hidden gem of the original Playstation's library.

There's a more to Supraland than meets the eye - on first glance you might get hints of a Steam asset swap special but persevere just a few minutes and you realise you're in for a bit of a treat as you leave your little town and fully enter a literal sandbox filled with puzzles and platforming. You're handed upgrades at a steady pace and the challenge ramps up at a decent rate while you explore a surprisingly intricate and aesthetically pleasing world.
Unfortunately, the last couple of hours were a bit of a slog to get through thanks to an increased level of already pretty tedious combat towards the end of the game. This was amplified a little by something outside of the game's control - illness - and my patience definitely started to wear thin when I reached a massive difficulty spike just before the final boss. I also had a glitch where a very important environmental asset just would not load at all, so had to Macgyver my way around that which was way too mentally taxing for the state I was in.
But it seems harsh to criticise a game for me being unwell - I still had a good time with Supraland overall and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a 3D Metroidvania puzzle fix. You just need to be aware that it's a much longer game than it might look on the surface

A mixed bag really. The setting and cultural subject matter aren't your usual fare, focusing on and telling stories from Hindu mythology which are narrated (along with the main story) really quite compellingly by
Durga and Vishnu. I also really appreciate the design of the world and while the platforming can be standard fare, the game always manages to look good while you're traversing temples, jungles and deserts.
On the flip side though there's the combat, which is fine but there's not a lot of weight to your actions and hitboxes can be a little all over the shop. There are attempts to vary up encounters with different weapons and choosing which elements are assigned to them, but it doesn't really change much as you end up getting into repetitive spam fights quite regularly.
As mentioned earlier, I really quite enjoyed being told the various stories in the game, the main one is slightly basic, and there are far too many times where climactic-looking events just happen and you're thrown into a completely different section of the game. And while I don't mind where the game's main story ends up going, it ends far too abruptly.

A decent lazy afternoon game that looks nice and feels pretty cosy to play but it's lacks anything really intriguing to keep you thinking about it after playing, as well as throwing you out of the experience a little with noticeable English localisation issues.