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With so many major RPGs released last year, a few titles went by the wayside. Seeing as the preceding game won this category in 2021, it makes a sad bit of sense that Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 wins the same award in 2023. CyberConnect2’s Little Tail Bronx series has always been niche, but it’s a shame Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 got so overlooked, as it does everything a good sequel should. It takes all of the aspects of the first game that made it great, improves upon them, and adds new features. The story picks up not long after the the first game ends, with themes focusing on revenge, hope, and despair.
The turn-based strategic combat from the first game returns along with the dreadful Soul Cannon, a weapon capable of winning any boss battle, but at the cost of the life of one of the children characters. However, Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 introduces a new super weapon, the Managarm, which is less powerful than the Soul Cannon, but only knocks out a character and also negates any experience points earned for the battle. It adds a new wrinkle to battles, especially when the tank’s AI decides to start the Soul Cannon countdown without consulting the kids. There is also the new Judgment Chance system, a unique karma mechanic where main character Malt makes either resolute or empathetic choices during the game. These choices impact the story and unlock new leadership skills for Malt, which can turn the tide of battle. With the other system to power-up the tank, increase affinity between characters, and improve character morale, strategies can be crafted to avoid the use of either super weapon. With a great story and a cast of lovable, adorable characters, and engaging combat, Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 is an excellent RPG that shouldn’t be missed, along with its predecessor.
Meg’s Monster was a short, sweet, and occasionally heart-breaking little adventure that surprised with how much feeling it could fit into such a small package. Odencat chose to focus on the presentation of the narrative by paring away all non-essentials, and what is left is an adorable and occasionally heart-wrenching story of loss, regret, and found-family issues with fun combat and puzzle interludes. While it only takes a few hours, the blend of narrative, plot-essential battles, and occasional puzzle elements are fun to work through. It was a very welcome spring surprise for those who played it.
Much like a witch’s overly complicated artisanal latte, Affogato takes some disparate tastes and blends them into a surprisingly interesting experience. It’s a striking visual theme, bright colors on indigo or black, and the background elements have an interesting blend of English, Japanese, and Chinese influences that might have fit a neo-modern cyberpunk game equally well. The soundtrack was a bopper as well. Like a fresh sip of a caffè latte on a cool morning, it’s a fine pick-me-up.
by Cassandra Ramos and Michael Baker