With so many smaller titles hitting Xbox One every week, it’s difficult to cover them all. While they may not be blockbuster experiences with the marketing to boot, these games should pique the interest of people looking for short, unique titles. This week, I’ve round up my thoughts on Blackguards 2, SteamWorld Dig 2 and Super Hydrorah.
Blackguards 2 is a turn-based strategy role-playing game and delivers challenging hexfield battles and a gritty story filled with violence and crime. Do you like games like The Banner Saga and XCOM? Well, Blackguards 2 is a hybrid of them. Just like the other games, you can developer every character no matter if they’re a mage or a monster. Just like the other games, every action has a consequence because your characters can die if you aren’t careful. While the story of Blackguards 2 might not be as memorable, it’s still intriguing. If you’ve played the original Blackguards you’ll realize this is somewhat of a continuation. A few years have passed since Count Uria’s plots and The Vanquishers of the Nine Hordes have parted ways. This time around Cassia, a young woman of noble descent, wants to claim the Shark Throne, no matter the price. She has to break out of prison, gather an army, and defeat countless enemies to accomplish this. Plus, there are dialogue options in there too. The voice acting might be a little over-the-top but it suits the game. As good as the game might be, it doesn’t run so well on Xbox One. My biggest gripe has to be how it looks blurry and a little raw on the console. I understand that the latest generation of devices are underpowered but no game is above optimization. Hopefully the developers will continue to work on the title to make it better. Maybe an Xbox One X patch will help its case in the future. If you love games like The Banner Saga, then be sure to give this one a go because it’s very similar. Just be sure you don’t expect a visual marvel because it just doesn’t look that good.
SteamWorld Dig 2
Let’s get this out of the way, SteamWorld Dig 2 is incredible. I loved the first game and couldn’t stop playing it. I wanted to dig out every block, upgrade every piece of gear, and find every secret. Unfortunately, the ending left me a bit disappointed because I wanted to know what happened to Rusty, the robot protagonist. After SteamWorld Dig came a title called SteamWorld Heist which was a turn-based shooter. I wanted more SteamWorld Dig and after waiting for a long time, it’s finally here. SteamWorld Dig 2 retains what made the first game great and expands upon it. The visuals are even better, the game is even bigger, and there are so many quirky characters to interact with. SteamWorld Dig was a polished experience but SteamWorld Dig 2 takes it to the next level with smooth animations and other slight changes like a gorgeous Bill of Sale when you give one of the shopkeepers mined material. The best part is that the game plays out like a mystery. You have to determine what happened to Rusty, the protagonist from the first game because this time you play as Dorothy. Those familiar with SteamWorld Dig will remember Dorothy as the person who gave you quests and bought mined materials. The game is simply amazing and has some great twists and turns. Best of all, there’s plenty of digging. However, SteamWorld Dig 2 is a little harder this time because you’re penalized a lot for dying. You lose all of your materials except some and can’t go back to recover them either. Being more cautious about where you dig is very important. If you keep on dying you won’t have enough ore to make a decent living. That means you won’t be able to upgrade as often and you’ll just have a frustrating experience. While I would’ve liked a more lenient system, it’s understandable that the developers wanted gamers to use some more strategy this time around because there are serious consequences. Hopefully the game will make its way to Xbox One in the future but right now you can enjoy it on a range of platforms including Steam. You have to buy this title because it’s one of the best games to come out this year despite its seemingly simple nature.
Windows 10 and Nintendo Switch
In recent years, the shoot ‘em up genre has really taken off. We have games like Sine Mora EX and Sky Force Anniversary hitting Xbox One left and right. Well, Super Hydrorah wishes to capitalize on the resurgence by presenting an old-school take on the genre. Titles like Sine Mora EX have modern visuals and just look spectacular on screen. The visuals are breathtaking. Even games like Resogun overcome their blocky visuals by having a lot of particle effects at any minute. They’re definitely sights to behold. Super Hydrorah doesn’t do any of that and seems like a title from the Creator’s Collection. Despite that though, the game is memorable because it has great boss fights and lots of dodging incoming fire. Unfortunately, I just can’t get over the visuals. Tyrian, another shoot ‘em up, came out in 1995 and it has better visuals than Super Hydrorah. Tyrian also runs on many mobile devices and is available for free. Sine Mora EX and Sky Force Anniversary are priced comparably to Super Hydrorah. Why would anyone pick up Super Hydrorah over the others? No matter how solid the shooting mechanics are, a title has to do more than that to appeal to others. Super Hydrorah’s lack of visual creativity hurts it. If you’ve already played similar games on Xbox One and are looking for another one, then go for Super Hydrorah. Aside from that, there are just much better options available on the console.
Out of all of these games, SteamWorld Dig 2 is the one I would recommend the most. Still, each of them has their own unique appeal and could be the perfect game for the right audience depending on what you are looking for. Give them all a chance if you’re up for it.