Nicholas Bale

Reviews By Nicholas Bale

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 9.0 out of 10

It's not hard to argue that Dragon Quest XI is the best in the series, but this is for a series that isn't exactly known for its innovations. Its core gameplay loop still feels like something from over a decade a go, but there's such a high level of polish as well as small improvements and changes that the game still is fun to play. There's no denying that it appeals almost entirely to an already-existing fanbase, but there's no denying that, for what Dragon Quest XI does, it does well. Read More.

The Alliance Alive Review (3DS)

By Nicholas Bale () - 6.5 out of 10

The Alliance Alive comes with a lot of interesting ideas, such as character growth without experience points or levels, a lot of tactical choices, and a skill system that's based around specialization. Unfortunately, it doesn't really do a good job at creating a lot of depth in the gameplay with these mechanics, instead creating a number of pitfalls in its execution that leave a lot to be desired as you play the game. Read More.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 8.0 out of 10

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life brings a new look to the series, showcasing off what the series really could look and feel like. Unfortunately in the process a lot of content is missing, making it feel like the game's lacking something small, yet important. That said, a story that hits closer to Kiryu's heart, combined with some interesting new characters and smoother gameplay, still make for a game that stands out on the console. Read More.

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth Review (3DS)

By Nicholas Bale () - 8.5 out of 10

The Etrian Odyssey series started with few frills - go into a dungeon and clear it floor by floor. The fifth core game in its series has gone back to these roots, removing extraneous gameplay elements and focusing on a single, multi-tiered dungeon exploration experience - but while also adding layers of depth in its character growth, culminating in a satisfyingly complex experience that will have you venturing deeper and deeper to see exactly how well your party options will pan out against the next foe. Read More.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth Review (Vita)

By Nicholas Bale () - 7.0 out of 10

Where Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, spent numerous hours creating a world lacking in characters with much, if any depth, and a plot in which little happened, Mask of Truth gives a second half of the tale that actually creates interesting situations, protagonists, and battles, improving upon what came before in numerous ways. Read More.

Yakuza Kiwami Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 7.5 out of 10

Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the original Yakuza, lets you see exactly how Kiryu Kazuma started on his path. Remade from the ground up using Yakuza 0's engine, it certainly looks almost unrecognizable from its original release. That said, so much content, from minigames, to characters, to combat mechancis, seem lifted from Yakuza 0 directly, making the game as a whole feel like like a standalone release, and more like a big piece of story-based downloadable content. So, while giving a good experience on its own, those who have played Yakuza 0 will find less new content to enjoy here. Read More.

West of Loathing Review (PC)

By Nicholas Bale () - 9.0 out of 10

West of Loathing is a game where you use a pickaxe to find meat in the ground, where shovelling manure earns you experience points, and where every haystack holds a needle. It's a game where you punch cows and sling beans, dicker with merchants, and fight evil rodeo clowns. It's got some rough mechanics, but it's a heck of an experience. Read More.

Valkyria Revolution Review (Vita)

By Nicholas Bale () - 4.5 out of 10

It's hard to recommend Valkyria Revolution to anyone - billed as a spin-off of the cult hit Valkyria Chronicles, it presents squad-based gameplay as a more action-oriented affair. But it doesn't do a good job of translating the gameplay or the feel of executing a plan on the battlefield. Instead, a thin, repetitive veneer of gameplay remains, with little to draw in anyone looking for a good experience. Read More.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 4.0 out of 10

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is a mouthful to say but delivers nothing tangible in its experience. As a visual novel, it lacks depth in most of its plot and gives no choices for the player to make. As a tactics game, it fails to give an experience that makes you feel like your choices in combat matter beyond simply hitting the enemy with whatever attack you have. Additionally, it's objectivication and sexualization of nearly every female character in the game made for an experience that I didn't want anyone to see me playing. Read More.

The Caligula Effect Review (Vita)

By Nicholas Bale () - 4.0 out of 10

There isn't much good to say about The Caligula Effect, except that it sounds a lot more fun than it is to play. While there are certainly some elements within the game that are enjoyable, those elements are few and far between - whether it's the chaotic (not in a good way) battles, the meandering and pointless dungeons, or the story that just sort of plods slowly forward with little purpose, it's a game that can easily be passed up. Read More.

Persona 5 Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 9.5 out of 10

Persona 5 has been a long time coming, but it's worth the wait - with a ton of ways to spend your time in game, hand-crafted dungeons, improved combat, and more characters to get to know and grow your social links with, it's a hell of a compelling experience. Despite some dialogue that gets creepy and weird at times, Persona 5 is a stunning RPG that's sure to be remembered for quite some time. Read More.

Yakuza 0 Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 9.5 out of 10

Yakuza 0, a prequel to the series, brings its A-game in delivering an excellent gangster experience. With a revamped engine, a number of fighting styles per character, numerous things to occupy you in Sotenbori and Kamurocho, and piles of money to throw around, it's definitely one of the best in the series. Read More.

Nights of Azure Review (PS4)

By Nicholas Bale () - 5.0 out of 10

Nights of Azure fails to really create any sort of good impression - it falls flat in many ways, with too much repetition and mindless combat in a game that is composed almost entirely of combat. Though it has some nice designs (outside of characters), it feels very superficial and not really a good experience to play if you want to use any brainpower whatsoever. It's not terrible in any way, just completely flavourless. Read More.

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X Review (Vita)

By Nicholas Bale () - 7.0 out of 10

Hatsune Miku is not a bad Hatsune Miku game...but that's the most that can be said about it. It's got new songs, new mechanics, and new ways to dress up your characters, but the gameplay borders on being a confusing mess of colors overlaid by the symbols you actually need to pay attention to. It's a good game for those who are looking for another Miku title to play, but it's unlikely to be much fun for others. Read More.