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Observer is a slow-paced, cyberpunk themed thriller from the same developers that brought us Layers of Fear. Despite the change of setting, Observer shares a lot of similarities with LOF, especially during the surreal hacking sequences where you invade the thoughts of other people and experience their worst fears. The incredibly detailed visuals and gripping environments make Observer a game that is hard to put down, but the slower pace and lack of control beyond observing your surroundings and scanning things might deter the action crowd. Overall, it is a title that all fans of the cyberpunk genre will enjoy and it offers an enthralling experience despite some technical issues.

Gameplay: There is little to do apart from exploring your surroundings and scanning things for clues, but the game remains engrossing nonetheless.

Graphics: The abundance of post-processing effects might be a bit much for some players, but there is no faulting the highly detailed visuals.

Sound: The soundtrack is just as tense as you’d expect from a title like this and it is great to hear Rutger Hauer lending his vocals to the lead character

Cat Quest

Cat Quest

Cat Quest is a very tongue-in-cheek role playing game that is sure to appeal to fans of the genre who also loves cats. Don’t be fooled by the bright, colorful visuals, though, as the game is every bit as fun and addictive as its serious counterparts. The streamlined interface and open world makes the game a joy to play and it offers hours of fun, although it can also be enjoyed in short bursts if you don’t have a lot of time. It is obviously not as in-depth as more serious takes on the genre, but remains addictive and entertaining throughout.

Gameplay: A very accessible entry in the action RPG genre that favors fun over statistics and inventory juggling.

Graphics: Bright, colorful and very easy on the eyes.

Sound: The game doesn’t have any speech, but the soundtrack hits all the nostalgic notes

Fictorum

Fictorum

While there are plenty of games that allow you to play as a magic user, Fictorum is one of the few that makes you feel truly powerful right from the start. With an impressive arsenal of spells at your disposal and the ability to shatter buildings, it is definitely not lacking in excitement initially. Unfortunately, once the novelty wears off the game can become quite repetitive and doesn’t offer you much to do beyond blowing up the same enemies and buildings. The game also lacks some polish in terms of visuals and audio, but as long as you don’t expect too much there is still fun to be had.

Gameplay: Fictorum is quite exciting initially, but once the novelty of blowing up buildings wears off it can become a little repetitive.

Graphics: The destruction is impressive, but the overall visual style a little bland.

Sound: Decent enough sound effects, but repetitive music and no voice acting

Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders

Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders

Assist Tara the apothecary, Darius the swordsman and Minu the genie as they try and take on an evil vizier in Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders. This hidden object adventure game might be light on hidden object scenes, but more than makes up for it with the adventuring elements. It features a compelling story, plenty of beautiful locations and more than enough to keep you busy. Although a little on the short side and lacking in any kind of bonus adventures, it is still a great way to spend an afternoon and definitely one of the better Artifex Mundi titles of late.

Gameplay: Hidden object fans might find it a little thin on content, but there are still plenty of inventory based puzzle solving to be done.

Graphics: Everything from the art style to the colors used are a perfect match for the setting.

Sound: Great soundtrack and surprisingly good voice acting

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