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Alchemy has always seemed like one of those concepts that transfers into the world of RPGs perfectly. Gathering resources and turning them into equipment, medicine and other useful items is a perfect fit for both the gameplay and fantastical settings of these games. The Atelier series has been around for quite a while proving this concept with some fun and creative JRPGs. I personally hadn’t played any of the previous entries in the series before, but as a player who has partaken in many through the years, I was excited to give this series a try. Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey certainly has a lot going on, with several very interesting qualities I haven’t seen elsewhere, but isn’t particularly friendly to new players.
One of the most impressive things about my number nine game of the year is that it almost didn’t happen at all. One of my personal favorite visual novel series, the Zero Escape series to be exact, left at a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of its second entry. Frantically wondering when I would get to know the conclusion, I searched only to find that they may not have the funding to release the finale. Thankfully, with a combined effort from Aksys Games and Spike Chunsoft, Zero Time Dilemma was released this year and it was fantastic. Doubling down on the narrative hooks that made Virtue’s Last Reward so interesting, this game had me hooked from start to finish.
Turning any kind of licensed series into a video game always seems like a veritable minefield of expectations from both fans and license holders. Landing that perfect balance isn’t impossible, but it’s usually the exception and not the rule. Since it first hit my radar, Attack on Titan has always seemed like it would be a perfect fit for the translation into a video game. The Omnidirectional Gear of the the show looked like a ton of fun to blast around a world and slice the napes of some giant’s necks. There have been some unsuccessful attempts prior to Koei Tecmo’s Attack on Titan game, but finally the series has been done justice and there is a fun game set in the universe of the acclaimed anime series.
Porting classic games has become something of an epidemic during this console generation. What’s worse is that, more often than not, these ports act as a reminder of just how far graphics in video games have come across the years. Rare exceptions to this rule do occur and when treated with the proper care, some games shine on the newer platforms. If I hadn’t played it back on PS2, and you told me that Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir was a brand new game I would likely believe you. The upgrades they’ve made to this classic action RPG were smart and the gorgeous graphics, a trademark of Vanillaware, looks as good today as they did back in 2007.
Admittedly being a fairly casual fan of anime, Attack on Titan managed to be big enough to capture even my attention when it came over here. The way the characters move when they battle and the mysteriousness of the giant naked titans dominating the world is an intriguing premise in itself. It’s one of those shows that just seems ripe for a video game adaptation, so you can put yourself in the shoes of the Survey Corps as they fight against the terrifying giants, slashing their necks as they swoop by using their Vertical Maneuvering Equipment. There have been many false starts on getting a good game, but it looks like Koei Tecmo may finally be giving us the game that will do the series justice.
One of the best developers out there building games for the PS Vita, Drinkbox Studios has yet to release a game that has not been a slam dunk for me. This year’s release, entitled Severed, keeps to this trend and proves that when done smartly, great PS Vita games can certainly be made. For those who are not insane enough to continue backing the Vita like I have, Drinkbox Studios has got you covered. They are releasing Severed to both iOS and Nintendo consoles this summer.
Playing a game more than one time really shows that you like it. Doing literally everything in a game multiple times proves an obsession. The original Gravity Rush hooked me in a way I wasn’t expecting on both of the platforms it was released. As such, when I saw the demo for Gravity Rush 2, there was simply no way I could stay away and I’m glad to report that the updates they’ve made seem very impressive.