Three projects from establish franchises will make their fans happy with improved gameplay and intriguing stories
It’s the busiest time of year for gamers as publishers release all their anticipated projects leading up to the holidays. That means week after week of big-name titles parading down the shelves. At times, there are so many that the launches go by in a blur.
September was no exception with a bevy of excellent games. “Deathloop,” “Diablo 2: Resurrected” and “Lost in Random” were among the standouts, but there were plenty of other games from the past few weeks that shouldn’t be overlooked . Don’t forget these games as a frenzied holiday season ramps up.
“Tales of Arise” — Although it may not receive the mainstream name recognition as “Final Fantasy” or “Dragon Quest,” Bandai Namco’s flagship Japanese role-playing game series is as good as they come. The reason for its success lies in the franchise’s distinctive combat system that mixes elements of an action RPG into traditional encounters.
Instead of choosing an attack and waiting their turn, players perform a sword slash or fire an arrow in the same way Link would in “The Legend of Zelda.” That gives the gameplay a more visceral feel. Adding new wrinkles to the combat, “Tales of Arise” introduces Boost Strikes that let players unleash special attacks against adversaries. It’s often needed to create tactical advantages disrupt foes or open up avenues for offense.
With engaging combat and brisk pacing, “Tales of Arise” manages to engross players with its “Sparticus”-like story. As Alphen, players have to free Dahna from 300 years of Renan slavery and rule. The adventure begins idealistically but it grows more fraught as Alphen and his party run into more complex situations where good and evil are blurred.
Layered on top of the experience are polished touches that streamline the campaign, making it easier for players to run through long adventure.
“Life is Strange: True Colors” — The third main entry to this adventure series marks a turning point. A new developer, Deck Nine, takes over for Dontnod and brings in its own take on stories about people with supernatural abilities. In this case, “True Colors” focuses on Alex Chen, an empath who feels others emotions so strongly that she can read their minds.
She moves from Portland, Oregon, to Haven Springs, Colorado, to join her estranged brother, Gabe. The two have been separated after their parents died and they went into the foster care system. After nine years apart, they begin to bond but that reunion is cut short by a tragic incident that leads to his death.
The rest of the campaign focuses on Alex using her powers to figure out the mystery behind her brother’s demise. She must also settle into the social fabric of the small town and help residents with their own dramas.
The game relies a little too much on music in the beginning but finds its footing by the end of the first chapter. Deck Nine adds a modern touch to the series by adding a smartphone that offers a touch of backstory to coincide with Alex’s journal. It also brings in more interactive environment features such as arcade minigames. Those are nice touches, but ultimately, it’s the story that carries a game like this and “True Colors” does enough to pull players in for the ride.
“No More Heroes 3” — After more than 11 years, Suda 51 finally released a true sequel to this oddball action-adventure series. It’s been so long that players may need a refresher on what exactly happened in the past games. (In short: It’s complicated.) The curious don’t necessarily need to play the previous titles because this one can stand alone, but they’ll better appreciate the distinct vibe of a Suda 51 game.
This time around, series protagonist Travis Touchdown is middle-aged and married to Sylvia Christel with whom he has two kids. Despite having a family, his life remains the same in Santa Destroy. That changes with an alien invasion. About 20 years before the current events, a being named Fu crash landed on Earth and befriended a boy. The alien returned to the stars but promised to come back.
That return ended up being a campaign to conquer the planet. It’s up to Travis to defend his home and fend off the incursion by moving up the Galactic Superhero Rankings by killing the aliens above him. His prowess with the Beam Katana gives him an advantage but it’s the addition of the Death Glove, which gives him new abilities, that truly aids him in fights.
With the device, he can slow down enemies, toss them back, kick them down and encircle them with lasers. Players can modify these abilities and power up Travis’ stats as well. That’s done by taking on side quests that dot Santa Destroy and the wider area. Technically, “No More Heroes 3” is an open-world game, but the environment is empty scenery.
Players should concentrate on the off-the-wall narrative with its bizarre twists and turns during each episodic confrontation. Bosses end up murdered before Travis fights them. Old friends from the past interfere with assassinations. “No More Heroes 3” is often meta with characters breaking the fourth wall, but that’s part of the fun and odd whimsy of a Suda 51 project.
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