Summon Night 5 was a wonderful surprise when I played it last year. It was a highly charming and incredibly fun SRPG that engaged me far more than any other game in the genre has. Summon Night 6 reaffirmed why I enjoyed Summon Night in the first place and am ready to call it my favorite SRPG series. Summon Night 6 has its flaws (namely that its plot and characters are dependent on series nostalgia that western gamers do not have) but was a thoroughly enjoyable game that only makes me desire Summon Night 1-4 in English more than ever.
This slick otome game won me over with its fantastic voice acting and off-kilter characters. What I liked best was that the game never forgot that it was, first and foremost, a thriller. Even with periodic anime hijinks, Collar X Malice maintained the presence of danger throughout its course. Collar X Malice was a tensely enjoyable ride that genre fans simply cannot go wrong with.
When I first played Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom years ago, it became my benchmark by which all other otome games would be judged. Well, Kyoto Winds is the director's cut that took an already fantastic game and made it absolutely sublime. If you only play one otome game in your life, make it Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. Not only is it the absolute best otome game I've ever played, but I think it has the power to change recalcitrant minds about the genre.
Words simply cannot express why I loved The Last Birdling so much. It feels so empty saying that the storytelling, art direction, music, and everything else coalesced soaringly into an arresting experience that emotionally affected me more than any game has in years. The last time a game hit an emotional wellspring like this was 2011's To the Moon, but the Last Birdling filled me with a greater variety of complex and visceral emotions. The Last Birdling joins a very exclusive "I can count on one hand" list of games that have genuinely made me shed a tear throughout my lifelong gaming history.
2017 has been an amazing year of music for me. The new albums by Darkest Hour, DragonForce, and Burial Mound (one of my favorite local bands) absolutely slayed, and the debut album by prog-metal supergroup Sons of Apollo inspired something completely new, and even out of character, in me that I never knew I had. And among this company of giants is Efe Tozan and his incredibly evocative soundtrack for The Last Birdling. A huge reason why the game was such a visceral experience for me was the music. Words cannot describe how much the music moved me, both within the game and while listening to it outside of the game. The melancholy title theme has been stuck in my head since I first heard it and shows no sign of leaving. Truly a wonderful soundtrack.
I loved Fighting Fantasy gamebooks as a child. Their vivid narratives and incredible illustrations left an indelible mark on my psyche. So, imagine my disappointment when a game based around three classic titles from the series took away the very things I love about the series and replaced them with slapdash visuals, terse text, and gameplay that feels like a cheap board game. I know the whole "it ruined my childhood" thing is a stupidly whiny "first world problems" Internet catchphrase worthy of scorn, but Fighting Fantasy Legends made a mockery of something I held dear in my childhood. Forget about this putrid landfill that is Fighting Fantasy Legends and play the infinitely better Sorcery! games by inkle. Or better yet, go to your local library and check out a good book instead.