Time for another round-up of what I have been playing recently, so without further ado let’s get into it.
Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker
We all know that I am an FFXIV fan by now, it is the only MMORPG that I have ever taken to in a big way, so obviously, I was going to play its most recent expansion. I waited until the insane queues had died down a bit and only started it in the no man’s land week between Christmas and new year, but it has taken up quite a lot of my time. Aside from a few annoying “follow this person without being seen” quests I enjoyed it immensely. The new dungeons were a lot of fun and there were some quite challenging solo duties as well. It doesn’t quite live up to the astonishing heights of Shadowbringers (that was always going to be a massive ask) but still a worthwhile conclusion to the Hydaelyn/Zodiark storyline.
Pokemon Legends Arceus
Way back in the Gameboy Color days I played and loved Pokemon Blue and Yellow, so much that I went back to them a few times since via emulators; but I went a long time without playing any new Pokemon games until I got my Switch and played Pokemon Sword (a very unfairly maligned game in my opinion). I have had quite a resurgence in my Pokemon interest in recent years though starting with Sword, then the Brilliant Diamond remake (also unfairly maligned by the way) and now the most radical Pokemon game in years, Legends Arceus. Storywise it is something of a prequel set in what would ultimately become the Sinnoh region at a time when people are afraid of pokemon. There are no gym battles, no elite four, very few trainer battles. You, the player, initiate battles which is no longer a prerequisite for catching Pokemon (you will often have better luck using stealth than going into battle). Yes, it is dated visually and has quite bad pop-in issues but none of this ruined my enjoyment of the game, and I believe there is an excellent foundation here for future Pokemon games.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
I played this while I was waiting for the FFXIV Endwalker rush to end and this is quite an excellent game. I never played the original FFVII so this is my first experience of the game and I loved it from start to finish. The visuals, the story, the characters, the world, the soundtrack; all the things I look for in a good JRPG are all top-notch. This is the first game I played on my PS5 and it made me very happy I bought the console.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Resident Evil 2 was the first game I played on the original Playstation. I remember it scaring the hell out of me with the atmosphere it set through great sound design (which I believe is more important to creating a good horror experience than visuals and gore effects). This remake does not lose that. So many times I would hear the creak of a floorboard and jump or the footprints of the big tyrant enemies coming closer would make me panic and do something stupid like run right into him. I often find it pretty naff when a horror game sets out to give you jump scare after jump scare, it gets predictable after a while. RE2R makes you jump through good sound design and level design building an atmosphere of tension throughout.
Blue Reflection Second Light
I haven’t finished this one yet but I can tell you that this sequel takes everything good about the original and makes it better. The combat has been revamped and now resembles the combat system from Atelier Ryza, the world is beautifully designed and the characters are all lovable in their way. It is a rather sweet JRPG about friendships between the characters as they try to regain their memories and figure out what is happening in the world. Side note, isn’t funny how there never tends to be a male protagonist in Gust developed games? Just a small observation that I think I like.