Ni No Kuni 2 is one of the first games in a long time that has made me feel like I'm crazy. It reviewed super positively, and pretty much everyone was singing its praises. I did beat it, but I didn't enjoy it very much. The combat never got much more exciting and it certainly never got any deeper. I was hoping that by the end of the game any of the characters would get worthwhile or meaningful development. That didn't come to pass either. It's weird, because on the surface it is a great game. It starts strong, and introduces tons of systems that seem interesting. However, like I said last month it's a jack of all trades, master of none scenario. There is a lot going on, but no one thing is focused on and almost all of it fell flat for me.
This isn't to say I think it's a bad game, I just don't understand the effusive praise and everyone treating it like it's the best thing to happen to JRPGs in a decade. It's fine. One of the things that I couldn't get over was just how easy it was. I saw all kinds of things online about people suggesting to use weaker characters, don't level, and pretty much don't use the tools available to you and it'll be a much more "fun" experience. I'm going to come right out and say that if your game is so easy that I have to actively try to handicap myself and not interact with all of its systems then it was poorly balanced.
In the end Ni No Kuni 2 just didn't grab me like the original. To me it was noticeable that Studio Ghibli was no longer involved. The game borrowed the Ghibli style, but when it came to voice acting and animation it just didn't feel right to me. The original game built an interesting world that felt like there was a lot of thought put into it. This game flies through everything and TWO of the continents don't even have anything on them aside from monsters. I don't like being that guy that dunks on the thing everyone is happy about, but I just don't get the praise. It's fine.
Game: Yakuza 6
At this point I have played every Yakuza game except for Yakuza 2, and the non-canon Yakuza Dead Souls. So I know a thing or two about Kazuma Kiryu and his crazy antics. It's wild that all he ever wants to do is leave the Yakuza, but somehow he just gets roped back in over and over. Lucky for Kiryu, Yakuza 6 will bring his saga to a close. I have greatly enjoyed my time with it so far.
Last year the excellent Yakuza 0 came out, which got a lot of people on board in the West. In my opinion this caused a few problems, mainly with the character of Goro Majima. He's essentially a different person in 0, but at the end they give context to how he acts for literally every other game in the franchise. I also feel like 0 does a poor job of making people like Kiryu, which is a shame because he is the protagonist of every other Yakuza game. However, the roughest part is that people will most likely have played Yazkua 0, and the remake of 1 and then jump right to 6. This sucks, because so far there have been a ton of callbacks and characters from the rest of the series. Hell, even some of the main characters from Yakuza 4 and 5 wouldn't even be known.
Yakuza 6 may also leave a bad first impression, because it's running on a different engine than every game prior to it. It's vastly improved, but as with all things moving over to a brand new engine it loses some of the complexity it had built over time. While Yakuza 0 and Kiwami introduced multiple fighting styles and a myriad of moves, Yakuza 6 only has one style and it plays more like a standard beat-em-up. There are a few moves to learn, but you can get away with mashing like an idiot. I really like Yakuza 6 so far, but I have a feeling that it may fall flat for people who weren't there for the rest of the series.
Game: God of War
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
I borrowed the first God of War from a friend around the time it came out, and got about halfway through before dropping it. The gratuitous violence felt unnecessary and I didn't find Kratos to be an interesting character. I tried again with God of War 2 and similarly dropped it. God of War just wasn't for me, but when Sony showed they were releasing a new God of War based around Norse mythology it piqued my interest. Something about Norse mythology has always interested me.
I didn't really know what to expect of this game going in, but I ended up absolutely loving it. The combat was more fun to me, the violence was toned down a bit, and Kratos was actually an interesting character. It's been interesting to see video games grow up as a medium. A lot of the people who were there at the beginning have kids now and that's been showing up more and more in recent releases. The crux of the new plot is that Kratos moved far to the north after he killed the Greek pantheon and ended up having a child. The game opens shortly after his new wife's death where Kratos and his son Atreus are setting off to scatter her ashes from the tallest mountain in all the realms. It's a simple enough premise that quickly turns into a much more daunting task than it seems.
As is to be expected you're going to come into contact with all sorts of creatures and gods. This time around though the plot is less about murdering everything and more about Kratos and his son bonding. It becomes clear early on that Kratos wasn't around much and his son resents him for that. There is a lot of conversation and most of it is very well done. The combat is much more my speed too. It's a little more deliberate than the older games. Kratos now wields a magical ice ax that he can throw and recall at will. At first blush the combat seems simple, but as you learn more moves it gets quite a bit deeper. In the end I had dozens of moves, but only was using a handful I liked. It offers a lot of depth for those who are looking to use it, but you can get by with the basics if you need to. I absolutely loved this game, and am excited to see where the take the franchise next.