New month, new list of cool games. This time there are seven of them, all of which may have flown under your radar in the month of August. As usual, thanks to the publishers who sent these to me in order to make this list possible and be sure to check out the included Gamesplanet links so you can get a few of the games cheaper than retail. Anyways, let’s get started.
I love metroidvanias and I love Souls-likes. Combine the two and slap a super-dark and grimy aesthetic onto that and you get GRIME – a 2D platformer with an excellent mix of combat and exploration. I honestly don’t know what the story is about, but you play as this blob kind of thing with the ability to absorb other enemies. This takes the form of a parry, so not only do you have your traditional attacks and such, but you can parry to regen HP on the fly – making for this very cool combo.
The combat is a bit slow, but the movement to match it is responsive, giving it this very Souls-like feel, but on a 2D plane. And when you’re not duking it out with creepy-looking enemies, you’re giving the environment a good look around. It is a metroidvania, so you will be unlocking abilities that allow you to then reach previously unreachable areas and the level design does a fairly good job accommodating for this. A solid little metroidvania all-around and one I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did.
Okay, so this one technically came out at the end of July, but close enough. It’s a shoot ‘em up from the now three decade-old Cotton series and the “reboot” part of the title comes from the fact that this is a remaster of the very first Cotton game from 1991. It was my first crack at the series and I gotta say – the gameplay holds up pretty well (not that I’m claiming to be good at these types of games). It’s arcadey for sure, but it balances the difficulty, special moves, and boss fights very well given its age.
That and the visuals are cool too, it’s basically a color explosion with numbers and enemies all over – par for the course given the genre. There is even a little story to wrap it all together and some extra modes too – HD reboot, original, and time trial. Definitely not going to be a recommendation for everyone, but if you are a shoot ‘em up fan – it’s fun enough to warrant a recommendation.
PlayStation Store page. Cotton Reboot retails for $40 USD and is available on PS4 and Switch.
Shiravune, the English publisher behind this one, has been on fire these past few months with all the releases. Primal Hearts is a full-blown 30-hour high school romcom visual novel and they gave us not just the first one, but its sequel as well. Not that I’m complaining though, I can never get enough of these romance VNs and Primal Hearts ticks a lot of the boxes.
You’ve got the colorful cast of characters – all with their own unique quirks, the nicely done art – both backgrounds and character designs, and in this game’s case, one of the more interesting protagonists I have seen. He is 100% a mega-chad, the type that throws out the dumbest pick-up lines and the type that is on top of getting things done. It is really refreshing to see such a protagonist in this genre and it works even better considering the plot here.
You’re transferred into this new school where there are TWO student councils – both split evenly on a crucial vote and one where the protagonist holds the final say with his vote, being the last student and all. Both the first game and second tackle this setup and it’s a cool take on the classic high school romcom formula. The second game is a bit unique in that it takes place six years after the first and has an entirely new cast of characters – a bit unexpected, but an interesting setup nevertheless. Both are easy recommendations for fans of the genre – it’s always nice to pad out the more serious VNs with ones like these.
The Big Con
The Big Con is a colorful little indie adventure game that has you, well, conning people. It takes place in ‘90s America and you play as Ali, who has embarked on a journey to save her family’s video store from loan sharks. To do this, Ali will need to raise over $90,000 and will need to pickpocket, steal, and generally just con people out of the money – a little bit at a time. It’s a fairly simple setup, but an effective one for an adventure game like this.
The gameplay has you walking around, interacting with others, managing a small inventory of goods, and also completing the occasional puzzle or two. It is not a difficult game by any means and the focus is more so on being just a lighthearted comedy adventure – which the game does a good job at. The graphics are pretty good too, taking on a more stylized graphic novel style that is a great fit for the depicted time period. The experience is roughly 3-5 hours long and it is worth a look if you’re into these indie adventure games like I am.
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters
Aside from being one of the laziest PC ports I have ever played (it’s a direct PS2 port without any enhancements) – Soul Nomad & the World Eaters is a nice little tactical RPG done in the same style as Disgaea. It’s actually by the same studio, so don’t be surprised to see literally the same graphics, music style, and type of gameplay. That said, it’s not bad. Combat plays out in a turn-based manner and units are designated to individual “squads” that you can design in-between missions and then deploy at any time in a mission.
You’ll typically want your melee units up front and your support and ranged in the back, but there are specific combos and skills that unlock based on different layouts, so there’s a good bit of experimentation there. As with other Nippon Ichi games, customization is key and there is a lot of depth if you really want to get into it. There’s also a sizeable story – a bit goofy, but it is there and if you like that Disgaea style of humor, then you’ll probably have a great time here. Recommended if that sounds like your thing – expect to spend around 30 hours getting through the main story and much more than that if you continue into the postgame.
Steam page. Soul Nomad & the World Eaters retails for $20 USD and is also available on Switch.
Unbound: Worlds Apart
It seems like we get a lot of these 2D puzzle-platformers each month, but rarely are they of the kind of quality as presented here in Unbound: Worlds Apart. The graphics, gameplay, music, puzzle design – it is all very polished here and, although just 4-6 hours long, I had a great time playing through it. The core to the game basically revolves around summoning “portals”, which create a circle around you and have any number of effects on objects within that circle. One of them freezes time, another flips gravity, one allows you to move boulders around, and there’s even one that straight-up turns you into a rock.
The game world is designed around making use of all of these, with creative puzzles, boss fights, and, of course, hidden goodies to find. It is a metroidvania in that, as you unlock these abilities, different parts of the game world open up and you’re able to revisit past locations and use your new abilities to get to some new ledge, cross some new gap, and generally just do a bit more exploration. For fans of puzzle platformers, this is an easy recommendation.
Steam page. Unbound: Worlds Apart retails for $20 USD and is also available through GOG and on Switch with a PS4 and Xbox One version coming later this year.
DARIUSBURST: Another Chronicle EX+
In the same week that we got Cotton Reboot, we also got a new release in the ever-popular Darius series. Just like Cotton, this is a shoot ‘em up that is now decades old – over 30 years to be exact. This specific release is a re-release of Dariusburst: Another Chronicle EX, which was a re-release Dariusburst: Another Chronicle, which was the arcade version of Dariusburst, which was a PSP game released back in 2009. A bit of a confusing mess, but this is pretty much the definitive edition now.
Anyways – it’s a horizontal shooter that not only supports 4-player co-op, but has upgraded graphics, a collection of different game modes, and a whopping 40 different bosses to take down. The soundtrack is also a bop – one that I was familiar with even before playing just because it’s that good to listen to on its own. I found it to be harder than Cotton Reboot, but then again, I was taking it on as a solo player – this is definitely one I would like to try with some local co-op. A fun experience regardless and again, a worthwhile look for shoot ‘em up fans.
PlayStation Store page. DARIUSBURST: Another Chronicle EX+ retails for $40 USD and is available on PS4 and Switch.
Alright – that’s this month’s list. Another nice collection and a few of which I was surprised to have liked as much as I did – Cotton Reboot and Unbound, for example. Anyways, check them out if you are interested and I’ll be back around this time next month hopefully with a list just as good as this one.