Omega Pattern

Omega Pattern

Omega Pattern is a visual novel where you follow the story of a young man named Shaiel who is on the run from a ruthless organization called Bioagora. His psychic skills make him an important target for Bioagora, who has a history of turning gifted people into brainwashed agents to do their bidding. The game doesn’t just tell the story of Shaiel in the present, but also features plenty of flashbacks where you actually get to make choices that influences the route you take to the ending. This gives the game some nice replay value and the different routes are actually quite different and not just minor variations. Unfortunately, Omega Pattern is also quite short and since it is only the first part of the full story, it ends in a “To Be Continued,” which might annoy some fans.

Gameplay: The story is genuinely intriguing and the choices you get to make actually impacts the story, which is a nice touch.

Graphics: Nothing really special, but gets the job done.

Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is really solid

Graze Counter

Graze Counter

Hop into the cockpit of your fighter and take down a virtual network that has evolved a little too much for its own good in this shoot ‘em up from Bikkuri Software. It offers non-stop action and a bullet grazing mechanic that forces you to risk life and limb to boost your score while unleashing devastating attacks. The 16-bit style of the visuals and audio offers a nice blast from the past for fans of the genre, but even newcomers can ease into the action thanks to a practice mode and selectable difficulty settings. The game is a little short for our liking and the style might not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy a good shoot ‘em up you can do far worse than this one.

Gameplay: Being forced to skirt dangerously close to bullets instead of simply avoiding them makes for a frantic experience.

Graphics: The 16-bit visual style is charming, but might not appeal to those who didn’t grow up with the genre.

Sound: The soundtrack is good, but the sound effects lack a little punch

Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles: MIA

Solstice Chronicles: MIA is a twin stick shooter where the odds are very much against you. Faced with waves of deadly enemies, your only chance for survival is to play a bit more tactical than what is expected from you in most of these types of games. Using your drone companion to manage your threat level is essential and sometimes knowing when to make a run for it is just as useful as standing your ground. With four character classes, different skill trees, a story mode and survival mode, this is the type of game that can keep you busy for ages. The lack of online co-op sucks, but nothing beats setting up two controllers and playing with a friend next to you on the couch.

Gameplay: The game is intense,even on lower skill levels, and requires you to do more than just spray and pray.

Graphics: Not a very colorful game, but the top down visuals packs plenty of detail.

Sound: Surprisingly good voice acting even if the background music is nothing to write home about

NEKOPARA Vol. 3

NEKOPARA Vol. 3

The NEKOPARA series has consistently delivered entertaining kinetic novels with great visuals and audio, so it is no surprise that volume three does the same. This time the story shifts to Maple and Cinnamon, the only catgirls left at La Soleil who have not yet had their chance to shine. While the story spends a lot of time with these two the other catgirls also make regular appearances, so no matter which ones are your favorite, you’ll get to experience more of their cuteness. Like volume one and two, this game is available in censored and uncensored versions, with the former costing less and the latter including explicit h-scenes. Whichever version you choose, you’ll find a story that is packed with adorable catgirls, plenty of humorous situations and some of the best visuals in the genre.

Gameplay: NEKOPARA Vol. 3 is still a kinetic novel with no choices to make, but the story is entertaining all the way through.

Graphics: More stunning artwork by Sayori and more animations courtesy of the E-mote system.

Sound: The soundtrack sounds a little too familiar at times, but still has plenty of great tracks and some stellar Japanese voice acting

Lode Runner Legacy

Lode Runner Legacy

Lode Runner Legacy takes the addictive gameplay of the classic title and spruces it up with some brand new Voxel visuals. In addition to the 150 original levels, the game also includes brand new adventure as well as puzzle levels along with leaderboards. Best of all, Lode Runner Legacy features editors for creating everything from your own levels to custom characters, enemies and items. Fans expecting the newer features that were introduced in later Lode Runner titles might find the game a little too simple for their taste, but everyone who loved the original are in for a treat.

Gameplay: Adventure, Puzzle and Classic game modes along with leaderboards and editors to get creative with.

Graphics: The Voxel visuals are a perfect match for the game.

Sound: Nothing spectacular, but not too obtrusive either

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

Princess Maker 3: Fairy Tales Come True

The third installment in the popular Princess Maker series is finally available, but unfortunately not in refined form like its predecessors. The game is a lot more streamlined, but with sixty different endings, it still has more than enough content to keep players busy for ages. It is a pity that the game has had such a rocky launch and issues with the translation along with other technical problems continue to plague it, but underneath it all there is still a very addictive game waiting to be played.

Gameplay: Schedule your daughter’s activities and raise her to become a princes.

Graphics: This game dates back to the nineties, so don’t expect too much, but the pixel art animations are really nice.

Sound: The music is decent enough, but can become repetitive, although the voice acting is still good

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child

Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child is a new hidden object puzzle adventure where players take control of a young woman with psychic abilities. The game starts out as a quest to find her father who abandoned her at an orphanage when she was a child, but quickly turns into a paranormal mystery. There seems to be much less of a focus on hidden object scenes and mini-games in this title, while your exploration is also confined to gloomy areas such as train stations and factories. However, the Gothic style visuals look great and, while very short, the game remains interesting throughout.

Gameplay: The story is interesting, but the puzzles quite easy and the overall game is very short.

Graphics: The Victorian setting allows for some moody visuals, but most of the locations are not very imaginative.

Sound: Standard voice acting and nice, albeit limited, tunes

Perception

Perception

Perception is a unique horror title with a charming protagonist who just happens to be blind. This puts a whole new spin on exploring a haunted location as you have to make use of echolocation to find your way around. Although creepy, some of the horror elements, such as being chased by an evil presence if you make too much noise, doesn’t quite live up to expectations. However, the story is very interesting, despite a couple of cliches and discovering what happened in the house throughout the years is fascinating. While the game won’t win any awards for its monochromatic visuals, it does feature some stellar voice acting. Players in search of an atmospheric ghost story that isn’t too demanding should definitely try out Perception.

Gameplay: A little short and easy, but very interesting while it lasts.

Graphics: The visuals are purposely kept simple, which means it doesn’t look as good as some other horror titles.

Sound: Great ambient sound effects and brilliant voice acting, especially for the protagonist

Queen’s Quest 3: The End of Dawn

Queen’s Quest 3: The End of Dawn

The End of Dawn is the third title in the Queen’s Quest hidden object puzzle adventure series and the second starring an alchemist instead of royalty. This time you have to go on a quest to protect the world from an evil dragon, which obviously means plenty of hidden objects to find, puzzles to solve and mini-games to conquer. The hand drawn visuals are quite detailed, but the story offers nothing new and despite multiple difficulty settings the game can be completed rather easily. It is a title that newcomers might appreciate more, but anyone who has played a couple of hidden object games before will find that Queen’s Quest 3 has very little to offer that is new or innovative.

Gameplay: Plenty of hidden object scenes and puzzles, but everything can be completed rather easily.

Graphics: Detailed hand drawn visuals, but the fuzzy cut-scenes are a disappointment.

Sound: Neither the music or voice acting really stand out

Lode Runner Legacy (Tozai Games, Inc.)

Lode Runner Legacy (Tozai Games, Inc.)

From Donkey Kong and Dig Dug to Gauntlet and Gradius, the 1980s were a golden era for classic video-game franchises. One of these franchises is Lode Runner, which was first released for the Apple II in 1983 and quickly moved on to other platforms. Its action-packed, yet puzzle-oriented gameplay made it an instant hit and even people like Alexey Pajitnov counted it amongst their favorite puzzle titles. Although there hasn’t been a shortage of new releases over the years, the last appearance of Lode Runner was back in 2012 on Android and iOS. Thankfully, this is about to change with the upcoming release of Lode Runner Legacy for PC