Jeff deSolla


Influences from the NES era are nothing new. This has been an ongoing trend in indie games, often to draw on the nostalgia factor and also cut the costs of developing in HD. Some might even say the trend is getting a bit overdone, and I might have agreed with them until now. Shovel Knight has proven that combining old art styles and mechanics, and mashing together old genres, can still be done well. READ MORE


Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection puts the characters of Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise into the roles of pop idols, competing for “shares” of the popularity in the world of Gamindustri. This spinoff places the series into the long-running Japanese genre of idol-raising simulators, in which players guide the lives and careers of pop stars on their way to success. It also manages to be the first such game to see Western release, meaning it stands without the context and general appreciation of its general concepts. READ MORE


As the first release using the new Unreal Engine 4, Daylight is an anomaly, in that it’s a horror game and not the usual first-person shooter. You are trapped in an abandoned hospital that is infested with ghosts called Shadows. You must find a way out with the help of another character, who you only communicate with over audio channels. The world is procedurally generated, which means that no two playthroughs follow the same layout. As a result, this limits how much narration the player can receive, to avoid having it repeat too much. The narration is ominous and fits the feel of the game, even when it is largely working as a tutorial. READ MORE


Blizzard has always been able to create great expansion packs, going all the way back to the days when added content for a game was released on discs in stores. Reaper of Souls is no different. Blizzard has done a lot to turn around the flaws of the original, bringing back a lot of the gameplay that made Diablo II and its expansion so well-loved. READ MORE


The original Ragnarok Odyssey proved to be a great early hit for the Vita, finding success both in and outside Japan with its loot-driven hunting formula. With what is both an expansion pack and a revamped base game, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE refines its gameplay and adds content, along with making the move to the big screen with a PS3 release. READ MORE


As a new game from the Disgaea team, The Witch and the Hundred Knight has a lot to live up to. Though it ventures into the realm of hack-and-slash action-RPG instead of the usual turn-based tactics, the team has retained its love of telling a story about the bad guys, complete with crazy plot twists. You play as the Hundred Knight, a creature summoned by Metallia, the Swamp Witch. As she is unable to leave the swamp, she sends you on missions for her, to spread the swamp further into the land of Madea. The main conflict: Metallia is locked in an endless struggle with her nemesis Malia, the forest witch. READ MORE


The Atelier series has always been a little different from your traditional Japanese RPG. Keeping away from the typical world-ending plot, the series’ games often focus on one town or group of characters. Escha & Logy continues this trend, but adds a new wrinkle with a second protagonist. READ MORE


After four years and two initially-unplanned sequels, the tale of Final Fantasy XIII is at last complete. Set centuries after the events of XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII gives Lightning thirteen days to save humanity from the end of the world. A harder task still may be saving the series from wearing thin after its less-than-universally-loved predecessors. READ MORE


10. Papers, Please

When building a game, it is so important that its narrative meshes well with the gameplay. While Papers, Please‘s core mechanic is repetitive, the game adds complexity at a fairly good pace. The result is a game that isn’t excessively long and is hard to stop playing. A point-and-click game about a somewhat-mundane border checkpoint isn’t the place you expect a compelling narrative, but Papers, Please offers a wonderful branching story that made me go back and replay it.  READ MORE


Knack, from Sony’s Japan Studio, is the company’s attempt to bring a colorful, family-friendly action game to the PlayStation 4′s launch. Built around a character that can change size, its visual effects are made to show off the hardware’s ability to process lots of little parts at once. Whether it makes for a compelling game is, of course, another matter entirely. READ MORE