If you were to ask me to describe The Witcher 3 in as few words as possible, I would know exactly what to say.
It’s a commitment.
Without a doubt this is one of my favourite RPG games out there, but it is not to be taken lightly. The Witcher 3 boasts an enormous open world with so much to explore, a wealth of characters to meet and assist, many beasts and monsters for you to defeat, and a rich lore that truly gives the impression that you are in a living, breathing world.
I first got my hands on game in 2015, and I sunk a fair number of hours into it, before getting distracted by other games .. I made a second attempt to tackle the game in 2016, where I met the same distracted fate… fast forward to 2020, and the incredible Netflix adaptation of the original novel by Andrzej Sapkowski, I had recaptured the urge to play this incomplete adventure – no excuses!
I actually put myself on a ban of any other games whilst playing The Witcher – I wasn’t about to risk getting distracted again! But there doesn’t seem to be any chance of that happening. After watching the series, I have found myself with a newfound appreciation and understanding for so many of the characters and even the politics of the world.
There are many different ways for you to play. Besides the fact that this is one of those RPGs that will quite often give you big decisions to make, which will have certain consequences somewhere down the line, there’s also a number of different ways to go about developing your character, Geralt. Different armour types, runes to attach to weapons and armour for different effects, five different combat spells which you can develop as you level up, bombs, potions, oils, many other things you can enhance or change as you level up Geralt – there are many tricks up his sleeves.
The characters and cultures that you will come across are astounding in how much life they seem to have. Excellent voice acting throughout the game offers a real immersion into the world. The Skellige Isles region would have to be my favourite place as the Norse inspired culture observed there has been crafted so meticulously, I find it fascinating to explore the different settlements, interacting with the Jarls and their people, observing their customs, and trying to solve the issues that seem to be plaguing every island.
Another aspect of the game that I like is the limitation of fast travel. As opposed to being able to fast travel at any time, you can only travel from signpost to signpost, so only from specific points. This means that you are encouraged to journey through the world on foot (or horseback) and discover all the different points of interest that are lurking in the wilderness.
For anyone who hasn’t played The Witcher 3 and is thinking about it – I can’t recommend enough watching the Netflix series before you play! I feel that it really enhanced my experience of the game for me, so hopefully it will do the same for others.
Here is a game that I fell in love with instantly. It was brought to us by Level 5, the same studio that brought us Dark Cloud and it’s sequel, two of my favourite childhood games.
Ni No Kuni II takes part in a beautifully crafted world full of characters just as whimsical as the kingdoms that they are found in. The game follows the story of Prince Evan, as he travels across the world, meeting the denizens and the leaders of the world, and building a brand new kingdom after a coup forced him to relinquish his title and escape his lifelong home.
Another great aspect has to be the combat – I personally find it very satisfying, the connections between this and the combat systems of Level 5’s previous games seem quite clear to me. Each of the party members have their own weapons specialties, and they can use both melee and ranged weapons. For example, Evan uses swords and wands in combat. There are also different status effects that can be inflicted to party members and monsters, as well as elemental affinities which weapons can be imbued with to deal extra damage to monsters who are weak to particular elements. All combat is real-time, no turn-based moves – you will be running about the battlefield, blocking, dodging, and landing blows to take down your opponents.
One small downside to the combat (and this is actually the only thing I can think of to complain about) is the camera once you are locked on to an enemy. I guess you could say it’s not entirely intuitive, and you may still need to rely on your thumb to give you the best angle. My expectation would be for the camera to be better at keeping the enemy relatively centred on screen whilst locked on, but unfortunately it is still quite free, to the point where locking on sometimes feels somewhat pointless.
Another key element of the game is the kingdom building. Not too far into the game, Evan’s brand new kingdom is established, leaving you with a fledgling empire to run. Money will be accrued over time for you to spend on your kingdom, building and improving the various facilities, deciding who amongst your citizens should work where, and investing money into research which can be carried out at certain facilities, all of which have some measure of benefit to gameplay.
Of course, Evan wasn’t traveling across the world with all of these citizens just waiting for him to pick a nice spot for them to settle – once you have founded your kingdom, you will spend a lot of the game finding new people, accepting their side quests, and recruiting them so that you may benefit from their skills. There are so many different citizens to unlock, and the means to unlock them vary greatly.
I couldn’t possibly not mention the fact that there is a certain… sense of humour found throughout Ni No. And that sense of humour is … bad puns. I’m talking about the kind that you still can’t help but laugh at, even though they’re bad! This is usually seen in the names of the characters, most notably the Dogfolk who have an Asian twist to their culture. You will come across such characters as Hau Ling, Ya Pi, and even Bao Wao … as bad as they are, I still love them.
Areas to explore, a kingdom to build, citizens to recruit, side quests to complete, and tainted monsters to defeat. There’s simply no shortage of things for you to do in Ni No Kuni II. I always have such a good time playing, so I can definitely recommend you give it a try if you haven’t already.
Well I am very late to the party for this game – I just recently picked this game up as a cheap little bargain, and my heart has been totally captured by its charm!
I played Tomodachi Life all those years ago when that came out, and I liked it a lot for all of its quirky gameplay, which is what made me originally want to play Miitopia. However I never actually got round to buying the game at any point, and it soon became a forgotten desire in the back of my mind.
But it was brought back to my attention recently when a Youtuber that I watch regularly was doing a play-through series … It only took me a few minutes of watching to realise that I needed to go and find this game somewhere so I could play it myself!
The premise of the game is that it is a casual fantasy RPG where you basically control who all of the characters are by way of assigning Miis. You can either create the Miis from scratch, take them from your 3DS’ user list or your friends list, and you can even access Mii Central where lots of Miis created by other players are stored for you to use as you see fit. This can lead to some rather amusing situations as there are a lot of really good creations out there, and equally there are some really bad ones! You could make you family and friends, or you could make beloved characters from your favourite games and TV shows. Your imagination (and the Mii maker) is your limit!
Miitopia sports a Final Fantasy-esque job system, with the added bonus of some rather zany options, which certainly make for a varied party. And while you travel as a party of up to four Miis, during battle you will only have direct control over your main character. The rest of the team will act on their own accord, but the AI does seem to be quite intelligent when it comes to choosing what to do.
As well as the jobs, each of your party members will also have a personality trait for you to choose. Each trait has different quirks, and some of them pair up particularly well with certain jobs. For example, a stubborn Mii can brace himself to take minimal damage from an incoming attack, and can also decide that they can do better after attacking an enemy and repeat the attack – this goes perfectly with the Warrior class!
One of the more charming aspects of this game is the friendship system. After each successful day of adventuring, your Miis will bunker down in an Inn for a good night’s sleep. Two Miis can share a room, which will increase their bond. Random events can also increase friendship, as well as helpful activities in battle such as healing. Eventually as your friendship level with another Mii increases, they will both unlock new abilities in battle which are so fun and quirky – from showing off by dealing extra damage, lending a hand to attack alongside each other, expressing concern when the other has been hurt, and even going on a rampage when they have been knocked out! These little bits are so fun to watch, and I couldn’t need any more encouragement to grow the friendships of my team to watch the cute chaos ensue when they go up against the monsters of the world.
But friendship isn’t the only thing that can come about in Miitopia … Miis can fall out and quarrel as well. There are certain actions and events which can cause annoyance between the affected party members, and if this happens often enough, it may turn into a full on quarrel. When two party members are quarreling, they may interrupt each other’s attacks, deciding that they can do a better job, and they might even get into a full-on fight … right on top of the enemy! This particular situation deals a little bit of damage to both of the party members and major damage to the enemy who got caught in the middle! It’s possible for Miis to put aside their differences and forgive each other, at which point they can continue to build up their friendship.
The plot of the game is fairly standard for a fantasy RPG – the main antagonist is the Dark Lord (who you also choose the identity of), and he has stolen the faces of the people who live in Miitopia! He then puts these faces on the monsters that roam the lands, and it is your job to hunt down these monsters and rescue the faces of the people! It’s another fun quirk of the game, to see all of these faces on the monsters.
I wouldn’t personally say that there is a whole lot of challenge to the game, but it doesn’t need to be challenging – the charm and personality make this game a pleasure to play through.
2020 is here at last and I would say it’s going to be an interesting year for gaming, with the next generation of console gaming drawing closer every day, and some great titles due for release across the year.
But what about 2019? We had some good games right? Here is my personal pick of the best 2019 releases that I have managed to get my hands on.
Without a doubt the best free game that I have come across, Dauntless is just a lot of fun to play with your friends, hunting large, hulking behemoths together. I have talked a number of friends into playing it and we always have a great time going on hunts together! It’s the one free game that has me coming back for more and more, so it certainly has some staying power.
I talked about Dauntless earlier in the year in my review post, which you can find here.
Wargroove was a spontaneous little purchase on the Switch which I absolutely did not regret. It’s the kind of game that you can sink a couple of yours of amusement into, put it down, then return months later and still have just as much fun.
For any that played Advance Wars on the good old Gameboy Advance, you will immediately recognise the format of the game. It’s a simple turn-based tactical base-capturing game. The idea is to either destroy the enemy base or wipe out the commander.
It features a fantasy setting, which is always a quick way into my good books. Multiple races, lots of units, a campaign to tackle, a fun arcade mode, and even the opportunity to make your own campaign missions.
Wargroove is simple, easy to pick up, surprisingly challenging in places, and always fun.
Cadence Of Hyrule
I never played Crypt Of The Necrodancer, but when I saw that they were releasing a game that crossed over with The Legend Of Zelda, I knew I would have to give it a go!
It certainly proves challenging at times, but it’s always fun to play, especially with the fantastic disco/Zelda soundtrack! Sometimes I enjoy a track so much, I actually struggle to move on to a new area.
It’s only a short game, but full of fun, and extra mayhem available if you try your hand at co-op mode!
Greedfall was a great pick up this year, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. With a fantasy setting focused on colonising a recently discovered island, it certainly provides unique gameplay! I have enjoyed what I have seen so far of the environment, story elements and characters, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the game has to offer.
There is plenty more fun for me to have with this however, as I am no where near completing it – Greedfall is just one of the games that I must get back to soon.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Of course Luigi was going to make it to this list! This was one of the games I was most looking forward to getting this year. Even though it was only released on Halloween, I have already sunk a lot of hours into exploring the haunted hotel that Luigi finds himself and his friends trapped in.
It just doesn’t get old – vacuuming up ghosts, slamming them around the room, sucking up anything that isn’t nailed down!
If you want to read my thoughts on Luigi’s Mansion 3, you can check out my post here.
The Outer Worlds
This is one that actually slipped under my radar, and I only heard about it about a week before it was due for release. The first thing I heard was that it was made by the team who are responsible for bringing us Fallout New Vegas. So naturally I then immediately read any article I could find about this game, and the decision was made.
I had to buy it.
The Outer Worlds is just fun to play, no question about it. It has everything – great humour, fun characters, a wacky world, weird weapons … I love this game, is what I’m trying to say.
To see my in-depth thoughts, check out my review post here.
Pokémon Sword And Shield
I’m sure no one is surprised to see this here, especially given my recent Nuzlocke entries.
Pokémon Shield was my choice of the two (it’s all about those exclusives!), and I have a lot of good things to say about it.
Pokémon is a franchise that is very close to my heart, so I’m always going to give the new games a go. There may have been backlash from some, but you’ll find none from me. It’s everything I wanted from a new Pokémon game – well, almost everything.
And of course we have now had the announcement of incoming DLC for these titles, a Poké-first as far as I am aware! I’m sure the idea of DLC in a Pokémon game will also bring mixed reviews to long time fans, but I will reserve judgement until I have played it myself.
If you want to read my full review, have a look at the post here.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Without a doubt, I would place Three Houses as my Game Of The Year. I have put the most time into it by a total landslide, I never get bored of it, and I just love everything about it!
The game features so many unique characters, and I have enjoyed getting to know all of them, and it’s great to see how they react to each other in special cut scenes that you unlock as their relationships improve throughout the game.
There have been lots of tactic based games that I have enjoyed over the years, but it’s easy for me to say that this is my favourite out of any of them.
I still haven’t completed the game as there are still two different story lines for me to experience, but I can’t wait to do so and see the differences between each one!
If you want to read my original review post, you can see it here.
I have played the Smash Bros. series since Melee on the Gamecube – I was instantly taken with it back then, and here and now in the present day, I’m pleased to say that Smash Bros. have only grown to loftier heights.
One of the things that I love about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is how it caters to so many people. If you’re a newcomer to the series, or a beginner with fighting games in general, then you can very quickly get the hang of the simple controls and features of the game. If you’re a returning fan then this new installment to the series is just more of what you already love, with the added bonus of every single fighter that has featured so far in the series.
This will most likely always be my favourite series of fighting games, there’s just something so fun about taking some of your favourite characters from gaming and pitting them against each other to see who comes out on top! And let’s not forget about the abundance of items that will randomly spawn on the stages for you to use! Some items can absolutely change the tide of the battle in your favour, so it’s important to know what they do and how they can help you!
One thing that I really missed from the previous installment on the Wii U is the story mode. I was so pleased to see the return of a story mode in Ultimate, I have easily spent hours and hours on this! A dramatic intro cut scene shows all of the fighters being deleted by a mysterious force made of light – all of the fighters except Kirby, who managed to escape on his Warp Star just in time. As Kirby you will travel through the world defeating evil spirits, and rescuing the fighters. Everyone you rescue will be added to your roster, so if Kirby doesn’t do much for you as a character, you won’t be stuck with him for long.
There were number of new fighters added to the roster for Ultimate, such as the long-awaited Ridley, the fiery Incineroar, super cool squid-kid Inkling, and the most adorable addition to date – Isabelle!
One small thing I like to do is collect the different costumes for the custom Mii Fighters. There are so many different options, most of which are referencing characters from various games. It can be a lot of fun to make your own characters this way, as if the roster wasn’t already big enough for us!
Playing by yourself, playing with your friends, either locally or online … no matter how you play, this is a fun game for everyone!
I barely even know where to start with Sword and Shield, the latest installment to the Pokémon series. I have a lot to say about them, so I guess I should start somewhere!
First, let’s talk about the theme.Sword and Shield are set in the region of Galar, which is inspired by the UK! As a Brit, it means there are lots of little nods here and there that I find quite amusing to say the least, and other things that I just find very satisfying to see.
From the very beginning I could immediately feel a sense of English countryside, starting off in the sleepy village of Postwick, moving onto Wedgehurst, the aesthetic was captured perfectly with the fields of crops, and grazing Wooloo (the sheep Pokémon!), and the villages and towns themselves hold a certain charm which I think reflects that of the rural countryside villages we see here in the UK perfectly.
And this aesthetic just grows more and more the further into the region you go! We have a town which seems to have taken inspiration from our famous landmark, Stonehenge, and it also has a Geoglyph on the hillside (a large design/pattern on the ground usually formed by chalk, small stones or other such materials) which is something that can be found surprisingly often in England, usually in the shape of a horse!
The PokémonCentres also have their own English charm added to them. They have a quaint decorated exterior which seems to fit in just about wherever you would find one, but it’s the interior that impressed me the most. I was simply shocked to walk inside for the first time and see on the left hand side of the room … a pub! Every PokémonCentre has its own little pub, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the tiny pictures of the berries on the taps!
The town names are another thing which I feel have been perfectly captured – I genuinely could be at home looking around for nearby villages to visit! Postwick, Circhester, Hulbury, Stow-On-Side, Wyndon … all you need to do is have a look around the UK on Google Maps, and you’ll see just how well these fit the theme.
The next thing I would like to talk about is some of the new features that I have come across so far! First, let’s talk about the updated mechanics for wild Pokémon. It seems as though Game Freak have taken the classic mechanics of the main games, the new mechanics introduced in the Let’s Go titles, and put them together to make a fantastic combination. Wild Pokémon will pop up in the grass, and they also react to you in different ways. Some will walk up to you with curiosity, others will charge at you and commence battle! And more still will flee as soon as they see you, you’ll have to sneak up to these flighty fellows! And besides these, you’ll also see an exclamation mark followed by rustling in the grass as you pass through – if you run into that small patch, you’ll find yourself in a classic random battle! Furthermore, you can even whistle or sound your bicycle’s bell to attract the attention of Pokémon – even those who might be flying in the skies above you!
Next on the list is the Wild Area. My goodness … I can hardly pull myself away from this new area! This is the first time that us fans have experienced such an overwhelmingly large area in a Pokémon game. The Wild Area has plenty of Pokémon for you to track down and catch – with a hefty level range! You have to keep your wits about you, otherwise you could find yourself being wiped out by one of these powerhouses.
A big part of the Wild Area is the dens which are scattered across the plains. You will occasionally spot glowing beams of light piercing the sky – these are emitted from the previously mentioned dens, and if you journey to one of these, you will be able to enter a raid battle! I have to say, I really, really enjoy these. Four players will take one Pokémon into battle against an enormous wild Pokémon – a Dynamax Pokémon. It is possible for one trainer to dynamax their Pokémon, but this will only last for three turns. There are many things to gain from completing these – besides the chance to catch a Pokémon that you might not be able to find easily otherwise, you will also get a nice haul of items, including a TR or two, an item which is used to teach your Pokémon a new move, but it breaks after one use (a throwback to the old school games where TMs weren’t unlimited use).
The last feature I want to mention is the camping. While you’re travelling, you can set up camp and let your team run around for a bit of fresh air. While in camp, you can observe them as they plod along, occasionally interacting with each other, you can throw a ball about for them to either catch and bring back to you, or kick around, you can take a toy out which seems to encourage a bit of rough-house play, and finally you can get cooking to feed yourself and your team! This is something I really enjoy – it’s just so fun to watch as you and your lead Pokémon take that suspenseful first taste, and then react in awe at the taste of your concoction! One of the benefits of doing this is a nice experience boost for your party, as well as any fainted Pokémon being revitalised enough to carry on for another battle!
With this new generation comes a whole host of new Pokémon for fans to discover. So far, I have been totally bowled over by the designs of these Pokémon … for the most part at least.
There have been some incredibly solid designs, and so many of them fit the theme perfectly. From squirrels to foxes, sheep to ravens … We even have Pokémon that have been inspired by Welsh Corgis, Vikings, knights, and even tea pots! This is just a small number of examples though, there are so many more that I could mention!
Next thing on my list is the GymChallenge. In a Pokémon game there are usually two main goals. Catch as many Pokémon as you can to complete your Pokédex, and defeat all the Gym Leaders and then the Elite Four. Sun and Moon saw a brief switch-up from this regular format through the Island Challenge, but otherwise the format is largely the same throughout the main series games.
I don’t know how controversial this opinion will be, but here it is: this is the best Gym Challenge I have ever faced.
I love everything about it. It is introduced to us as a rather exclusive, but nationally adored event (a rather obvious parallel with real-world sports). In order to enter, you must be endorsed, and we receive our endorsement from the champion. Every challenger is to have their own number for their uniform, and yes, you will be wearing a uniform. The Gyms themselves are massive stadiums! They must be tackled in a specific and official order with no deviations, and each Gym has a Mission for you to complete before challenging the Leader.
The best thing is without a doubt the battles with the Gym Leaders. The battle takes place in the main stadium, with endless crowds watching and cheering – they even react to the battle! The soundtrack is just out of this world, I get so swept up in it. And then once the Gym Leader has one Pokémon left … time for Dynamax! Not only that, but the crowd goes wild with excitement, and the soundtrack actually changes as the crowd sings along! You can also Dynamax at any point in this battle, but it only lasts for three turns, so choose carefully!
The way that the challenge is set out makes me think of the anime and how the Pokémon League is usually depicted – I always felt that was how it should be presented and that the games sometimes fell short of that. I may not have completed my copy of Shield just yet, but so far I have not been disappointed.
There has been a fair amount of complaint amongst fans in the run up to release day. I have seen complaints about the choice to not include all Pokémon, about the lack of innovation in the graphics, the shortness of the routes and the story in general.
I have to admit that while I understand and respect these opinions, I can’t say that I share them. It is a shame that not all Pokémon have been included, but at the end of the day, there are 400 Pokémon available for us to catch and train. That’s more than enough for me, I know I will spend plenty of time hunting them down and training up my favourites. It will be sad to see that certain Pokes didn’t make the cut, but I can still appreciate what we have been given.
I really can’t find an issue with the graphics personally – I think the environment is absolutely gorgeous. I have seen mentions about how the trainers and Pokémon pop up onto the screen as you get close to them, so that they don’t need to be rendered the entire time, and it just doesn’t bug me. They appear on screen in a very smooth way, so as not to be too jarring.
I can see why people are annoyed at the length of the routes, some of them are admittedly short. This hasn’t stopped me from spending plenty of time in each one though – with so many different Pokémon to come across, particularly with the changing weather, there is plenty of reason to hang around, see what you can find, and even to return to places that you have already been to! I have literally spent hours in the Wild Area catching anything I hadn’t already found.
There are only two things that really bother me, the first being the battle background when you are indoors. The outside and the stadiums have fantastic backgrounds that make you feel as though you’re really battling out there! But if you battle inside a building, it is a strange, hazy background which does break the immersion. It’s somewhat disappointing to see, considering they were able to achieve this with Pokémon Coliseum on the Gamecube.
The other thing that bugs me is the lack of a feature that was done so well in Let’s Go, that I really hoped it would be a reoccurring feature. You can’t pick a Pokémon to follow you around anymore! It feels like the foundation was there, with the wild Pokémon roaming around the world, but the feature itself wasn’t implemented.
My final word is that while this may have been a disappointing entry for some Pokémon fans, it ticked all the right boxes for myself personally, so PokémonSword and Shield get my full recommendation.
Fallout 4 for me was the pinnacle of the Fallout franchise. Many would say that New Vegas is more deserving of this title – and I understand why! It is an excellent game, but my personal opinion is that Fallout 4 delivers what I want from the franchise in just about every area.
The game itself is so crisp and smooth in comparison to the previous entries to the series, and the world is much larger as well – I haven’t even explored all of it as of yet!
A huge world full of unique characters, desolate ruins, and environmental story-telling (a specialty of Bethesda), there is simply so much to see while you’re travelling the wasteland that is now The Commonwealth. I really enjoyed the story revolving around finding your missing son, who was kidnapped from their cryo-chamber! Watching the event from your own chamber as the a mysterious man murders your spouse, steals your infant child, and then taunts you inches away from your face through the glass … it is a very powerful introduction to this story-filled game.
There are a number of factions for you to meet and interact with, and it will be necessary to befriend them in order to complete your goal of finding your son – but you can’t befriend them all! The Commonwealth is a dangerous place, full of raiders, mutated monsters, and rumours of the mysterious Institute have everyone on edge.
One of the things I was most excited for was the Settlement mechanic! The junk that you pick up around the Fallout universe has been mostly useless up until now – you can break these items down at your settlement to get hold of resources, which you can then use to make all sorts of buildings, contraptions, and many other things. I have spent a lot of time building nice, well-defended settlements for the people of The Commonwealth to live out their days in peace and safety!
Of course another thing to comment on would be the companion characters that you come across – they are certainly an important part of the game, as I’m sure most people who play prefer to travel with one! They’re definitely unique characters amongst themselves, and I’m not just saying that because one of them is a dog!
You can really play this game however you see fit, with dialogue choices that help to form your personality, not to mention the story choices you make that will affect various people you meet. And with the many, many perks that you can adopt upon levelling up, you really can make any kind of character that you want to!
The game only got better with each installment of DLC that was released – particularly Far Harbour, Nuka-World, and Automatron. All three provided extra story, and lots of fun for me. Automatron allowed you to build your own robots which could then be your companions, and Far Harbour and Nuka-World both gave us entirely new areas to discover and explore, with new enemies and factions to kill/befriend!
I don’t really think you can go wrong with this game, it definitely gets my recommendation! (It certainly helps that it’s very cheap to buy these days!)