July is typically the slowest month of the year for gaming, so it’s amazing we were able to get 23 reviews in. Of course, the average reception of these games tended to trend lower than a typical month on average, but there were certainly some diamonds in the rough. Who would have expected an obscure entry from the Guild 002 series to be nominated for an award or Turbo: Super Stunt Squad to be terrible? Alright, maybe that second one was a give in, but read on to see the best the month had to offer.
Hairbrained Schemes truly have knocked it out of the park with Shadowrun Returns. This is one of the most satisfying and complete tactical roleplaying experiences to come out of 2013 and realistically the last few years. It’s strong in narration, sporting one of the best scripts we’ve seen in a long time, rich in customization and solid in its combat sophistication. This, coupled with the scenario editor, makes Shadowrun Returns the total package.
Shin Megami Tensei IV is a JRPG that feels well-rounded. It has a wonderful ability to adjoin tried-and-true mechanics with forward-thinking, original concepts to deliver an experience that’s wholly enjoyable for anyone who digs the genre. Tensei IV’s combat is stronger than ever, adding in components that are deep, unique and reward the strategically-inclined, while the character customization options will excite those who like to build their ideal fighter. It may not innovate on the narrative front, but what’s there is nevertheless intriguing enough. Without question, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a strong addition to the 3DS library.
It feels good to move this fast again in an FPS. Rise of the Triad is a game with issues and wears its low-budget nature on its sleeve, but it knows what made the FPS great back in the 1990s and revels in the over-the-top speed and ridiculous violence that were so integral to the best games of the era. Running through the environments blasting everything that moves while searching for the large number of secrets each level contains is a formula that rarely gets old. Better creativity in the enemy design would have been nice, but it seems that was set aside for the large variety of rocket launchers tucked away in each area. Despite some bugs and other reservation, Rise of the Triad is a perfect sequel to the original game, and that’s not something I’d every have expected to see.
Attack of the Friday Monsters came out of nowhere to charm the living hell out of everyone who played it. It’s a visual novel that’s not about much of anything except wandering through a small town, making friends, running a few errands, and reveling in a pseudo-nostalgia for a time that could never have been as lovely and innocent as its portrayed. Despite its friendly nature there’s something strong and brutal hiding in there, because it somehow manages to wrap up one’s internal cynic in a burlap sack and beat it into senseless, leaving behind only a desire to explore a perfect summer evening and all the wonder and giant monsters it contains.
A part of Chinese History that was mashed into a series of novels, that was then crammed into a video game franchise, the eighth iteration of Dynasty Warriors comes out on top, offering various new combat abilities and an absolutely massive campaign. Throw in cooperative multiplayer, proper progression-based unlockables and RPG elements to boot, and you have one of the best and most addicting experiences in recent memory. Even if you don’t like the somewhat repetitive nature of combat, you should at least appreciate how Omega Force has molded a dramatized piece of history that you can now take part in.
As an added bonus, our editors named their personal favorites:
- Steve: NCAA Football 14
- Beck: Dynasty Warriors 8
- Jeremy: Cloudberry Kingdom
- James: Mamorokun Curse!
- Bradly: Shadowrun Returns
- Nikola: Shin Megami Tensei IV
- Ben: Rise of the Triad
- Jake: Capsized
- Tony: The Walking Dead: 400 Days