Weekend Gaming Playlist (1-27-23)
We’re at the end of January, and Fire Emblem: Engage has made its way to the Switch, but we admittedly know very little about Nintendo’s plans for 2023. While we wait for the Nintendo Direct that my uncle says is definitely going to be announced in the next twenty-four hours unless maybe it’s canceled at the last minute, we should probably attempt to recover from the winter holiday season and chip away at our backlogs. I have a mix of titles that span a good range of years on my Weekend Gaming Playlist, though their inclusion on this list is the result of some strange publishing decisions. Let’s take a look at what I have planned for this weekend.
Released this week, Risen is a port of Gothic developer Piranha Bytes’s 2009 release, and boy, does it show. I’ll be honest, I forgot how bad some games looked back in the day, and when I review this title, it won’t be earning any points for its character designs or facial animations, which were apparently not too bad for the era. Risen’s strengths lie mostly in its open-world structure and choice-dependent character progression, which might feel a bit limited at times, but does require consequential decisions in the early game that trickle down into the core of its gameplay loop. If you’re looking for a game that pushes the player to invest heavily into specific allegiances and character builds, Risen might be the game for you. Just know that you’ll likely find yourself squinting to make out some details, or to ignore others.
You know, I used to think that Sonic games ending quickly due to the speed of its protagonist was not necessarily a good thing. After playing roughly thirty hours of Sonic Frontiers and still not reaching the credits, however, I have changed my mind. This flimsy excuse for an open-world title is a foray into new gameplay styles for Sonic Team, and they manage to lovingly rip off all the good ideas from games released in the past decade while failing to execute them in an enjoyable way. Do you like seeing tons of objective markers on your giant map? Do you love simplistic puzzles to unlock your giant map? Do you need more combat that has little consequence in your life? Sonic Frontiers is the game for you! I’ll be honest, I’m playing the game out of spite at this point, but I probably won’t be investing much more time into it.
Red Faction: Guerilla Re-Mars-Tered
Speaking of games from 2009, THQ Nordic ported this one to the Nintendo Switch four years ago. It’s very much unlike the other Red Faction titles, in that artificial structures and not terrain destruction is the main method of mayhem, here. What that means is that you can blow up buildings, but the buildings you destroy react to specific kinds of structural damage. It’s an incredibly stupid and fun game that embodies a special kind of chaotic, unhinged energy that many modern open-world titles fail to capture. Having picked it up on sale a while ago and only just delved into it now, I find it to be the perfect palette cleanser between sessions of certain garish-looking 2009 RPGs and miserable 2022 open-world games.
I don’t know why I’m doing this. Harvestella is no Rune Factory, which itself has fallen from grace recently with its poorly-optimized fifth installment. But it is different, and the character designs and both environmental and musical aesthetics are just too lovely to ignore. Having the chance to snatch this title on sale so soon after release, I hope to give it an honest try and prepare some meaningful feedback in an eventual release. We shall see what my initial impressions are, though I did walk away from the demo feeling somewhat uncertain about the synergy of its farming and dungeon-crawling mechanics.
That’s what I have planned for this weekend. Was 2009 a good year for games, or is it too early to be looking back on that era with nostalgia? Will Risen hold up under scrutiny that takes a decade of new releases into account? Will Sonic Frontiers ever get good? Is Harvestella hiding some pleasant surprises? Should I care about any of that stuff when I could drive a truck through a building and watch it realistically crumble before my eyes? Let me know in the comments below or on one of our social media accounts. Have a great weekend!