Another week in the bag and this one is the beginning of the end for me as the fall game releases are going to start dropping like dominos. With all these new releases, I need to figure out a good balance between my day job, playing games, and writing for the blog as I can’t seem to get a review completed before having new ideas or new reviews getting added to the writing list. I’ll also find out soon what it’ll be like to have only one game to discuss in these posts so it should be a good learning experience. For now, however, this week has a great sampling of new releases to discuss so, without further ado, let’s just jump right in.

Continuing Last Week’s Update: HoloCure

During the off hours, I’m continuing my HoloCure grind as a fantastic podcast game when I want to relax. The “Vampire Survivors” gameplay is endlessly addicting as I work to upgrade my overall stats and favorite characters. I went over the game in last week’s update so I’ll be keeping it brief but the love and care put into this free game by a HoloLive fan is remarkable and I only wish there was a way to support such a deserving work. For now, I’ll just continue to sing its praises to anyone willing to give it a try.

Sea of Stars

This week, the highly anticipated indie from Sabotage Studios, creators of The Messenger, released and it hurts that I don’t have enough time to play it. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the PS5 release of Baldur’s Gate 3 so I only played through the first couple of hours of Sea of Stars to be able to give some early impressions. I plan on returning to the game in full after I play through BG3 but, wow, this game is stunning to look at and I can’t wait to dig in deeper.

Sea of Stars is an indie turn-based RPG inspired by the likes of Chrono Trigger and many other JRPGs that focuses on two main protagonists, Zale and Valere, as they journey to become mighty “Solstice Warriors”. Within minutes, you’re charmed by the game’s aesthetics and vibrant world. What left me the most impressed, however, was how intricate and fluid the combat was. There are no random encounters, all enemies can be seen and seamlessly transitioned into battle. There’s an excellent gameplay loop of charging your mana points by performing basic attacks to then shoot off more powerful ones in constant harmony with each other. In addition, you utilize timing-based reactions to increase or reduce damage, similar to Mario RPG/Paper Mario, by pressing a button within the right window. You can tell a lot of care and research went into bringing an excellently polished combat system. Fans of JRPGs will feel right at home with this one and it doesn’t shy away from wearing its influences on its sleeve, just like The Messenger did. I can’t wait to drive deeper later this month.

One Piece (Live Action)

I wrapped up the final episode of Netflix’s Live-Action One Piece before sitting down to write this week’s update so my opinions are extremely fresh, but honestly, I had a real blast watching through its eight-episode run. As a massive One Piece fan, I was smiling from ear to ear at the love and care that was put into the adaptation. It’s far from perfect and can definitely still feel cheesy at times, but there’s no doubt it’s a genuinely good adaptation and I think it’s really resonating with people. This iteration of One Piece succeeds in expressing the unique world and characters while having something for old and new fans alike. I’m really impressed that Netflix managed to do it justice as such an important series to me.

For the uninitiated, One Piece follows the pirate journey of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew as they search for the infamous pirate treasure known as the One Piece. For this adaptation, the first saga of the story, known as the East Blue Saga, is covered and acts as our hero’s humble beginning before they reach their true journey on the Grand Line. There were a number of changes made to this version but I was actually quite pleased with the decisions made and most were smart ways to either ground such a fantastical story or trim the fluff of a much larger story. The characters stay true to themselves while the casting does a great job of bringing them to life without them feeling too anime. I, genuinely, recommend it and for anyone checking in on One Piece for the first time, don’t be afraid to check out the 1000+ episodes of the anime because once you’re caught up, you’ll realize it’s not enough.

Baldur’s Gate 3

I’ll be keeping this one brief as it’s going to be the bulk of next week’s update but, after a month-long wait, Baldur’s Gate 3 has been released on PS5 and even after only two days of playing, I know this one’s going to eat up a lot of September. For those curious, I don’t own a gaming PC so this was my opportunity to jump in. Immediately from character creation into the first few hours, you can tell BG3 has one of the highest production values of any CRPG, to date. Through it’s presentation and gameplay, it manages to capture the unique feeling of playing a game of D&D so I made sure to recreate my main character, Kalneiros Milner, the elven rogue who values coin and power above all else and will do anything that gets him the better outcome, whether that’s playing the hero or the thief. So far, the game does an excellent job and allowing you to play out those pen-and-paper fantasies so I can’t wait to dive deeper with more to come next week.