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BioWare has a well-deserved reputation for crafting large, interesting worlds populated with fascinating characters to interact with. The company has been responsible for some of the best RPGs of yore as well as in recent years. So BioWare’s first new IP in over a decade understandably drew quite a bit of attention heading into 2019.
Unfortunately, Anthem failed to live up to any of BioWare’s earlier RPG masterpieces. While Anthem is visually stunning and there are a few memorable characters — Brin is just adorkably cute — the few highlights aren’t enough to compensate for a bland, convoluted story. Admittedly, Anthem was always intended to be more focused on the combat loop, but it fails to match either the shooting mastery of something like Destiny or the simple fun present in the Borderlands series. Anthem is an aggressively average experience and when combined with interminably bad load times and server issues at launch, its fate was sealed. Ultimately, it’s not that bad of a game, but it fails to excel in any area to compensate for its multitude of flaws. At the end of the day, the RPGaming public is looking for more than merely a passably decent shooter from one of the former titans of the genre.
Do you ever get incredibly excited about something pre-release, only to play it and question why you had that excitement in the first place? Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World was a game I saw at Tokyo Game Show 2018 and I was super jazzed about it. Then I played it in full and realized what a lazy attempt at an RPG it was. Mind-numbing combat, a bland story, and half-hearted graphics are enough to make any Atelier fan disappointed. Seriously, how can you have every alchemist in the Atelier universe on your team and still be so boring?
Having several years of hype behind it, with high expectations that it would at least offer some conclusions to the overarching story arc going on for the better part of two decades, Kingdom Hearts III needed to be nothing short of a mind-blowing experience in order to satisfy everyone. While the game’s trademark spectacle and weirdly charming melodrama is still in full force, there’s no getting around how safe and compromised this conclusion feels. A lot of effort was obviously put into the six Disney worlds to recreate the feel of the original movies, yet there’s no getting around how superfluous they ultimately feel to the story of Sora and his allies’ fight against Xehanort, with most of the major developments of the narrative happening within the last several hours of the game. This leads to arcs that started several games before concluding in ways that, while more or less what fans hoped for, feel incredibly rushed in execution. There’s also the disappointing handling of Kairi, a problem that has plagued the series since the very first game, which hits an unfortunate low point after the promises that she would be more involved in the battle. Gameplay, while still plenty of fun, can also be chaotic to a fault. This long-awaited entry could have been worse, but it certainly could’ve been better.
by Joshua Carpenter, Sam Wachter, and Ryan McCarthy