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With more than a decade passing since CyberConnect2’s Solatorobo, the Little Tail Bronx series has kept a low profile. Hopefully, that will change thanks to Fuga: Melodies of Steel. The story, which revolves around a band of furry war orphans who commandeer a giant tank to rescue their parents, is a hard sell that pays off with heart and hope. Choosing to fire the tank’s unstoppable Soul Cannon provides a brutally utilitarian shortcut through turn-based battles, but requires one of the crew to willingly sacrifice themself. Nevertheless, victory is never hopeless or exploitative. Instead, the ever-present temptation to fire the cannon serves as a harsh reminder that war sucks, even when painted with beautiful muted watercolors and darling puppies.
Refraining from firing the Soul Cannon requires carefully balancing the crew members’ schedules in between-battle segments. Fishing for scrap, growing food to cook into nourishing meals, exploring monster-filled ruins, and doing laundry together all keep the super tank running and strengthen its crew’s connections. Surviving wave after wave of enemy vehicles requires understanding these systems, determining the best crew for each task, and managing supplies. Victory is a matter of ensuring the characters cling together, careful planning, and the occasional lucky critical hit. There isn’t anything else quite like Fuga: Melodies of Steel, which can make for a challenging recommendation. Bear witness and give it a shot, but keep those hands away from the Soul Cannon, you monster.
Though Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is gaining more recognition as it continues to garner positive reviews, it is still one that many fans of the Metroidvania formula are missing out on and should check out. It provides a punishing 2D experience that slowly builds upon a somber and beautiful story. With a fully customizable combat tool kit, players can pick the abilities that fit their play style and venture into the world to conquer the threats lying within the destroyed kindgom. You will die a lot, but thankfully there is little in the way of punishment. It’s a fun game, with good controls, a bewitching soundtrack, and lots of options for your little battle maiden to bust out in fights. Ender Lilies is a game that deserves to be more in the spotlight.
Afterburner Studios’ Dreamscaper is certainly a title that feels like it has gone unjustly under the radar. While one can understand a bit of hesitancy with its melancholic nature, the game is a surprisingly relaxing and cathartic experience as players help Cassidy overcome her past traumas and settle into life in a new town. Although the game has action combat, it never feels like it’s rushing players as they’re encouraged to take their time to build up Cassidy’s abilities and build options through multiple runs. An outstanding musical score from Dale North fits perfectly with the graphical style and writing, Dreamscaper is well worth checking out.
by Zach Welhouse, Ryan Radcliff, and Alex Fuller