And What a February It Was For Game Launches! P.2

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Welcome back! In the first part, we looked back on the first half of the incredibly full February of game releases have performed with audiences. Let’s dig into the second half of the month now that everyone has a few months to check them out post-launch!

Mario vs. Donkey Kong - February 16

There have been quite a few successes and flops in this current age of remakes, and loyal Nintendo fans eagerly anticipated this remake of this 2004 classic hit. After launch, Mario vs Donkey Kong landed itself somewhere in the upper middle of reviews with a rating of “Generally Favorable” from Metacritic and an audience average of 8.1. Critics noted that the remake falls a bit short in terms of the new, updated style to graphics, but that the gameplay was very similar to the original, garnering praise from loyal fans who were looking forward to relieving the experience. Some gamers noted that the puzzle-based game played slower than the fast-paced energy that they’ve become accustomed to over the years. While this pleased some players, others pointed out that this slower style of gameplay landed it into a specific and casual niche within the Nintendo catalog. Dedicated fans won't be disappointed picking this one up but at a price only discounted $10 lower than your usual Nintendo game, it might not be a “Must Play” for the average gamer.

The Thaumaturge  - February 20

The release of The Thaumaturge continues with the trend of slower-style play, but that was to be expected with this story-driven RPG. While players did indeed find themselves reading and listening for a large part of the game, they found the main and side stories interesting and the voice acting convincing and successful, with just a few occasional exceptions including the note that accent were a bit all of the place. The Thaumaturge didn’t lay everything out for the player and instead demanded the player work for the hidden clues. It sometimes expects them to make assumptions about the main character, Wiktor’s, life and relationships -much like that of any other detective who is newly assigned to a case. This choice was confusing for some, but others noted that it added a layer of risk to the story and helped drive the player forward and keep them instead of laying it all out right away. It might not have been a visual wonder, being a smaller-scale game, but it took a respectable chance at breaking the mold of huge, blockbuster games, and it looks like that paid off for fans of dark, rich stories about magic and world beyond our own.

Last Epoch - February 21

Finally escaping it’s 5-year “early access” period is the Last Epoch. This Action-RPG saw success from critics with IGN giving it an 8/10, but has a “Mostly Positive” overall rating and “Mixed” recent rating on Steam. The high-speed action and complexity was set to please both Path of Exile and Diablo 4 fans, and they mostly delivered. Some technical elements are less than ideal for gamers. Notably, gamers had gripes with the adaptive damage resistance and troubles with multiplayer. They found themselves losing valuable dungeon keys when the multiplayer acted up, and there was no function to retrieve these items once they were gone, and the adaptive damage seemed to punish the player for doing too well instead of rewarding them for their hard work. Positive reviews stated that they were happy with the abundance of endgame content and that the crafting element and that the difficulty landed it in a pleasing middle between Path and Diablo. Others stated that you could really feel that the love the developers put into the game and that the visuals propelled the game to the next level. If you are a fan of hacking and slaying through dungeons, consider picking this this one up!

Nightingale - February 22

Pre-release looks and marketing before the launch of Nightingale did an incredibly effective job at making it stand out amongst all the other games releasing the February. The promised “Gaslamp Fantasy” world of Nightingale enticed players and tempted those who were excited for this twist of a survival game, hoping that it delivered a world that was more beautiful and ornate than the usual gritty survival experience. When it released into early access, there were a few initial hiccups like crashes, clipping and getting stuck that should be expected in this stage, but these issues left players with a bad taste that looks to have lingered past the initial first few weeks. Noting that even thought the aesthetics are good, and that the game has a lot of promise with the unique concept of “Realm Cards” the “Mixed: reviews on Steam also stated that the gameplay loop can feel redundant, the stamina system detracts from the game, and the nitty gritty details within the maps (like weapon aiming, shallow characters, repetitiveness of gameplay loop) leave a lot to be desired. These are all things that can be improved on and should be expected for a game in early access, and it’s worth noting that the developers are still hard at work listening to and incorporating notes from the community. In it’s current state, the game might not make it to the top of players’ wishlists, but it’s still one to keep on your radar as it develops. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake - February 28

This retelling of the 2013 original has found success within a smaller portion of the gaming community. It may only have under 1,000 reviews on Steam, but those recent ones have earned it a “Mostly Positive” rating alongside the “Mixed” overall rating of the game. The addition of an option single player mode was confusing to some, but might have been a wise choice as it widened the reach of the game. Still, it’s heavily based off the concept of the teamwork of the two bothers (hence the name.) It earned a 79 from critics and and 8 from players on Metacritic with a story that was loyal to the original game. This was seen as both a win and a missed opportunity to build more onto the story. Even if the original did most of the heavy lifting in terms of story, it’s still a gripping and emotionally human journey that explores the bond that binds one brother to another. Players could feel the personalities of each brother and remained connected as they played through the newly updated Unreal Engine 5 graphics set to a beautiful soundtrack of a pre-recorded live orchestra. If you’re someone who enjoyed the original, or if you’re a fan of games that heavily rely on teamwork, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth - February 29

It’s no mystery that the Final Fantasy franchise of games have cemented themselves as a staple of the gaming community as each one has thrilled and hooked audiences throughout the years. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is no exception. This remake integrated both old elements of the game and new as it introduced new mechanics and party members. The decision to split regions gave the game new life, and made the optional activities more enjoyable as players could pace themselves well and take the time to appreciate the updates and newly incorporated elements. The ambitious new timeline was confusing for some, but players either adapted or learned to appreciate it as they interacted with the rich characters that they had previously formed attachments to. IGN gave the game a well-earned 9/10 reporting that the game is “near rock solid.” It’s sitting at “Very Positive” on Steam, and players note that the graphics, music, voice acting, and battle system are awesome. This remake had big shoes to fill, and the reviews speak for themselves as players early await the third game.

We’ve made it to the end of the list! What an amazing crop of games that have kicked the year off to a fantastic start. Which of your favorite games from February performed the best? Were there any that surprised you after it was released? Let me know!

Replies • 5

How can Final Fantasy Rebirth be sitting at "Very Positive" on Steam while it is still a PS5 exclusive?

Lonely hoarder

Mario vs Donkey Kong is too expensive for what is basically a HD version of a GBA game.