I’m Kinglink and I’m here to do the short reviews for June 2020.
Basically for new viewers, this is essentially just various games that I think you should hear about for any reason. I’ve tried to hand-select many of these as games I want to talk about that either don’t get discussed enough or that I feel like I have to call out. I’ll quickly go through a bunch of them and tell you what’s good and what I dislike. I’ve put in my time on most of these so… let’s get started.
Chapters are available so if I’m talking about a game you aren’t interested in, consider skipping to the next one.
Let’s start with Bleed 2. This is a game I just picked up to get a feel for it and a few hours later I had finished the game. It’s a ridiculously fun arcade-style shooter in the style of Contra. With a couple of interesting mechanics about using your sword to slash away bullets of a certain color.
The level design, bosses, and gameplay are well done. The controls take a short amount of time to get used to but aside from jump on the right trigger, and the katana slice on the right bumper, it’s pretty normal, and after playing it for an hour it’s clear the controls are correct. The pacing of the game is fluid and almost every encounter in the game is interesting. There are also a few style changes to the game that keep the entire experience fresh.
On the other hand, it’s pretty short especially on normal difficulty, though there are five unlockable characters, bonus modes, and now even an endless mode. I put in about 4 hours but if you want to beat the game on a harder difficulty or with each unlockable character, most of which play differently, then you’ll probably get far more time out of this.
The game is only 10 bucks, so it’s worth a look especially if it’s on sale, but the style and gameplay were good enough to pay full price.
Speaking of short and cheap games, we have The Framed Collection, this is a compilation of two mobile games which mostly involve players switching, and rotating panels as a character runs through scenes. The concept is pretty inventive and the artwork can be great.
The puzzles are a little on the easy side, though a couple near the end, especially in the second game were interesting, and there are some very clever tricks for Framed 2 that the original Framed misses out on.
The story though is a bit lacking, and again the experience is short. I got all the achievements here in under 3 hours with almost no hints, but I enjoyed this game a lot, and I think most people will have a good time with it.
This is also about 10 bucks on Steam, it’s currently on sale as I write this for 4. I think people should check this one out, especially if you like puzzle games with strange concepts. Though you can also consider getting this on mobile as that is what it was designed for.
Detroit: Become Human. I picked this game up because I wanted to talk about David Cage, and how he uses choices in his games. This is an essential David Cage game, and I think this is the studio’s best work to date. This is a look at the potentially near future where Androids exist and the game questions what rights should they have. If a machine is capable of producing sentient thought is it right to force it to do our whim. This is something I’ve thought of as a programmer.
The concept of Detroit: Become Human is very solid and I think the fact that you play as androids enhances the game, especially with the robotic movement of the controls. The writing shifts from great to terrible at times, though usually on the positive side of the scale but there are some real forced moments as well, mostly with the character of Todd, if you don’t know him yet… you will. I used a bit of that footage in my previous video on the game.
But this is perhaps David Cage at his best. The story here made me think far more than Heavy Rain did. The gameplay felt appropriate and interesting and the way the game looks at the decision trees as well made it a joy to play.
My only real issue here was with the Epic Games Store and a lack of achievement on that platform. Neither is an issue with the game, but more the ecosystem I played it on. The good news is this game just released on Steam so you can pick up a copy there, or on Ps4 if you prefer achievements, but anyone who likes a good story should play Detroit: Become Human at some point.
Many of the concepts also have a timeliness to 2020 and the current protests but not in a way that dates the game to be about this year as it was made over four years ago, though I think there’s an appropriateness to this being released right now.
Then there’s Hand of Fate 2, this is a deck-building rogue-lite I guess. I think that’s the right genre, but when I hear that genre I think more Slay the Spire. Instead, this is a game where you play a card game with a variety of quests or modules. Players bring in their deck of cards to be mixed with the module that you’re playing and each module or quest is different.
A big piece of each quest and story is the layouts of cards, as well as a flow to their story usually involving players having to reach a point, accomplish some goal, or find a specific card. Since the player brings some cards, they can change how the journey goes, but the main story to the quest is locked in.
Hand of Fate 2 though is also heavily in that rogue-lite area. Each attempt at the same map, even with the same cards is randomized and players will be challenged on how to accomplish the goals set forth. There’s always a good twist that makes each level feel different than the rest of the game.
The combat here is still pretty hard from the first game, the experience though is great if you can get into it. About halfway through this game, the difficulty seems to spike upwards. I do want to play more, though, because there are not many games like this and I enjoy the board game aspects of it but it can be a little bit of a slog.
Next up we have Headlander and this is a game from Double Fine Productions. This is an inventive Metroidvania. The concept is you’re a head that can attach to robots and take over bodies, which means if you see an interesting character, you can pull off their head and you then have a new body. That alone is a really interesting concept and I think I can recommend Headlander based on a single feature.
Yet… I keep hearing how funny and great the story is.. I’m going to disagree. When you can hear the game, the humor can be funny at times, but it’s more punny, aka dad jokes. Knock knock, who’s there, cow goes, cow goes who, No cow goes moo. Your life is better now. I love dad jokes obviously, but I know some people, aka my daughter hates dad jokes, which only makes them punnier to me.
Also, it’s hard to hear the story or follow it as it just pops up and disappears at random times. The experience here isn’t perfect, and the story is lacking. The gameplay is top-notch and I wish they could have delivered a full product but I still heavily recommend this game just for how inventive the concept is and how fun it is to take over enemies.
Then there’s Mortal Kombat 11. I’ve played almost every Netherrealms game, from the terrible to the amazing, and between. However, the last few games have been on a downward trajectory. I think Injustice was fresh, Mortal Kombat X was great, but Injustice 2 feels like they searched for new ways to get as many microtransactions out of players… so what about Mortal Kombat 11?
Well, let’s start with the combat which feels good. There’s a system to build a fighter, where you pick and choose what attacks and abilities you’ll have. It’s a way to keep the game a little fresher, but I don’t think it makes as big a difference as it could have. The fighting system is great. Especially when playing against other opponents.
The reason to fight has gotten weaker. The story is lacking especially early on, and it feels like it’s groping for reasons for these characters to fight, turning to a time travel story. The tower system is similar to Injustice 2 but this time they feel entirely too random. I liked having a theme to all the towers in Injustice 2, but that’s not here.
The AI is still pretty bad meaning cheap in Mortal Kombat 11, which isn’t new for the series. You’re better off to just let the AI fight for you in the single-player, which is what you’re seeing on the screen right now. But then that makes this an idle game to farm loot, so what’s the point? That might work for other games but for a 60 dollar title, people are saying to let it farm loot by itself… Jesus.
My big complaint on Mortal Kombat 11 is that it makes it feel like a mobile game, and I want to stress FEELS. It’s very grindy, and they have a microtransaction currency, though it is limited to what you can buy. Then you also can just autoplay and get loot and all this crap. These aren’t things that should be said about a 60 dollar title, this is a console game and it should feel better. But from that experience, I also then look down on buying characters, and it’s because everything feels like a cash grab. This isn’t the way it should be.
Truthfully Mortal Kombat 11 isn’t a mobile game or a cash grab in those ways, but the problem is it FEELS like a casino, it FEELS like it’s a cash grab, it FEELS cheap and it’s all choices that need to be fixed in the franchise.
With that out of the way, I do want to commend the online which is still good, it seems pretty active, at least I could find games, and when there’s a reason to play Mortal Kombat 11, it’s a good game, it’s just… outside of online, there are not many reasons to play this.
Mortal Kombat 11 is better than Injustice 2, the game avoids modifying the superb fighting, but the AI is still a mess, the grind is the worst it’s ever been, and the characters are bland. Injustice 2 really showed how bad it could get, Mortal Kombat 11 is better,but it’s still weak. If you want to play online, grab Mortal Kombat 11, but otherwise, this is probably skippable, sadly.
Sorry about the length of this segment, but I obviously had a lot to say and I didn’t want to spend a whole review on just this game, and thus the short format.
Speaking of games that disappointed… well, I played a lot of The Crew 2 and what a disappointment. So the original The Crew game was touted as a game where you can drive across America and play with friends and experience the land. It sounded cool but I never picked it up, so I wanted to give the sequel a try. Got it, and after the refund period ran out I realized just how bad it was.
The Crew 2 does allow you to drive from Maine to California non-stop if you want and it does take quite a while to make that trip. The Crew 2 also presents the ability to drive trucks, cars, boats, planes, and more. Too bad none of it is that exciting. I like the concept of having a ton of different events in The Crew 2, but every event feels like it’s a mini-game rather than a full experience. Everything is just a race of a different type, except for the Aerobatics discipline which I finally decided is pretty terrible after playing it for a couple of hours.
My real complaint about The Crew 2 is how the game expects players to play. It’s just a grind to grind and where Mortal Kombat 11 was grindy, The Crew 2 is terrible. You’re supposed to grind, get parts to your car, get more powerful, win races easier, get more parts, do slightly harder races repeat, repeat, repeat. This could work as a concept but the driving isn’t that fun, and when you start moving to boats or rally modes, the experience feels far worse. Some races I wouldn’t even try because I didn’t like the courses.
This is a mindless treadmill with short bursts of excitement when you try a new discipline but then you quickly find yourself having to grind again. If they had half the content and twice the quality, this might have been great. As it is, it’s not even good in my opinion.
There are microtransactions too and in this case, they feel more like what Ubisoft hopes people will pay for content. I just really dislike grind and microtransactions especially in full-price games and that’s really what the Crew offers. I’ve recently replaced this in my rotation with Grid 2019, and they feel on par with each other though I do prefer Grid 2019.
Ni No Kuni 2. Before this game, I was about to just give up on JRPGs completely. I didn’t have fun with them, I didn’t like the grind, I didn’t like the bad stories, and I didn’t like the experience of that genre.
Ni No Kuni 2 is everything I love about JRPGs, It reminds me why I was a fan of the genre and why I will always be a fan of JRPGs. I did a full video on how it handles optional parts of the game, but this time I want to talk about the main game. The story here is extremely compelling and kept me entertained from beginning to end. The gameplay and combat are smooth, and the characters are all likable. I didn’t stop playing this game for the entire two or three weeks I played through it.
The art is beautiful, the designs of the character are great, and, man, there’s so much here that will reawaken a love of JRPGS. There’s small nitpicks, and a few features that didn’t click like the higgidlies but what was great is I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by ignoring parts of the game.
Also, the game is easy for the entire time. I played on Expert for almost the whole game and didn’t even struggle. If you level up a bit even that struggle would be gone.
Yet the kingdom building, recruitment quests, and more feel so good I can forgive almost any issues here. There are just moments of absolute joy that last for hours because so many features in Ni No Kuni 2 are perfect.
I can’t recommend Ni No Kuni 2 enough and if you are interested in JRPGs this is the one to play. Ni No Kuni 2 is a joyous experience. If you’re interested in more information on the game I’ll link my previous video at the end of this video.
This is also the reason I’m playing Persona 4 Golden right now, and I can’t review it yet but it’s also pretty freaking good. I’ll have something about that before long.
Katamari Damacy: Reroll. This is another fantastic game, which was originally on the PS2 and it’s kind of obvious from what you see on the screen. This is a rerelease in my opinion where they took one of the best and most unique PS2 titles and released it on PC and Switch.
The entire game has the player rolling up objects to make bigger katamaris, or bigger balls if you want to hear me say that. Then your father, The King of All Cosmos judges your work, and if it’s big enough you move to the next level. It’s a rather simple game.
But this is a series that is near and dear to my heart. It’s stuck with me for over 15 years and worth playing for anyone. It’s just a bizarre and unique experience. I do have a video that tries to explain why it’s stuck with me for 15 years and I’ll link that at the end as well.
If you’re a fan of strange games, check out Katamari Damacy: Reroll, there’s nothing else like it.
Finally, we come to a group of games. So I’m working on a piece and I grabbed a bunch of games to try out. Let’s go through them, I’m sure you’ll figure out the theme.
First up, we have Double Dragon Trilogy, this is a port of the old Double Dragons arcade machines. I grew up playing the first game in the arcade and the other two on NES, I wanted to remember how awesome the arcade versions were.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia in my mind, or maybe this is a bad port but Double Dragon Trilogy feels extremely clunky and I just couldn’t enjoy myself with it. It’s also possible the games were never great, but I think there’s something off on the controls here.
Double Dragon Trilogy is also extremely hard and not very fun. I think it’s the perfect game to show how bad arcade games were at just trying to gobble quarters, which it does. But there’s something off about it.
Then there’s Double Dragon Neon. This is the attempt to kind of modernize Double Dragon and feels more like something that might be for the SNES rather than an NES.
It’s certainly different, and I played through it and enjoyed myself enough, but honestly… Double Dragon Neon isn’t great, and I think it didn’t click with fans for a few reasons. The biggest one is it’s going for a retro remake feel for a series that never looked like this. Personally, I think they could have done better.
The experience is fun, and there’s a few moments of general enjoyment but overall I played through it, and I don’t think I’ll play through it again. It’s not exactly a huge hit, and there’s something off about it.
Speaking of remakes in a different style… Double Dragon 4 is here, and this was made by Arc Systems Works, the people who make Guilty Gear, so they know how to make a fighting game and this is the classical style of Double Dragon. So what went wrong.
Double Dragon 4 just feels like it’s about to spam the most powerful moves you can find. The difficulty can be high, the instant death and dying from falling off a platform makes the game suck, and the experience in general here is weak.
I like the idea that the player can play through the game with any character in the game, but that is unlocked after beating the game and the side mission and at that point, it’s too late. I didn’t like the game up to that point. There’s just … something off about it.
So yes the theme was Double Dragon. All three Double Dragon games gave me issues and I’m surprised I didn’t find one I could recommend, though Neon came the closest. Of course, I played those games because…
Streets of Rage 4 is out. I admittedly am more a fan of the Capcom classic Final Fight, but Streets of Rage 4 is everything I wanted to see. It’s fun, inventive, and has revived the arcade game for me.
The combat is excellent, the music feels like something from the Genesis era, and the game is extremely well made and just looks gorgeous. Everything about Streets of Rage 4 works, and I can recommend this to anyone who enjoys Beat Em’ Ups.
I’m not kidding when I said this revived the Arcade games for me. I dislike arcade games on PC, I just played through Raiden, and several Metal Slug games, and… the quarter gobbling aspects lose something when you get infinite continues.
But Streets of Rage 4 found a way to fix many of these problems. You restart a level when you continue. Also, your score matters, and there’s a combo system for you to rack up huge points. All of this produces a better game and the experience here is superb.
If you are interested in this series or genre pick up Streets of Rage 4, it’s worth it.
I have a ton to say about Beat ‘em ups and Streets of Rage 4. The reason I played all three Double Dragons and more is that I wanted to figure out what made Streets of Rage 4 fun. As such I have a video next week that will dive into this and answer why I think I didn’t enjoy the Double Dragon games but am loving Streets of Rage 4. If you’re interested please stick around.
So that’s this set of short reviews. This isn’t everything I played, I played Escape Goat 2 and Catherine Classic, La Mulana, but let’s keep this short.
I do want to give out two rewards. The best and the worst.
The worst this month could be Mortal Kombat 11 but The Crew 2 was worse and as bad as The Crew 2 was… I really really hate Double Dragon 4. Instant death pits, and traps, crappy enemy design, a lack of bosses, and cheap enemies that can take half your life in a single hit. I hate Double Dragon 4. I just hate it.
As for the best this month, I’ll be honest, I think it’s a tie. Detroit Become Human is definitely in the running but there are two genres I thought I may never enjoy again, and yet here I am with two amazing games to talk about. Ni No Kuni 2 is the best of the month. It made me fall in love with JRPGs again and I honestly thought that might never happen. Just the Kingdom building alone was great, but the gameplay, the story, the experience is all so good, trust me when I say that.
And following that up, I’ll be honest. I haven’t finished Streets of Rage 4. I mean I have beat the game once, but I need to go back and play more. There were some technical difficulties, The game crashed my Windows when playing in Big Picture Mode, which sucked. But now that I am playing in normal mode for Steam, I need to put in a lot more time, play with all the characters and experience this game to the fullest. But the early report, after my first playthrough is that this game could be on par with the original series. It is a fantastic job.
So that’s this month, or bi-month, as I tend to do this every 2 months. Thanks for listening if you got this far. Now, I recommend coming back next week, I’ll talk more about Beat ‘em ups, Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and explain why I think Streets of Rage 4 stands out so much.
I’ve talked about a bunch of games and hopefully helped you make a purchase or play decision if I have helped you consider subscribing, I appreciate that and it’s what keeps me going. If you don’t want to, thanks for giving me a shot and I’m glad you made it this far. If you disagree with me… well, you can always tell me what you think down in the comments. Let me know.
Until then, I’m Kinglink, and thank you for watching.