It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The winter months (at least for us Northern Hemisphere folks) have stretched long and cold, and now we’re greeted by the tender leaves of spring, finally able to plant all those kale seeds we’ve been keeping locked away in Stardew Valley.

What has the Sidequest team been up to since we last let you in on what we’re playing? A lot, it turns out!

Persona 5, P Studio, Atlus, 2016

Persona 5

P-Studio
Atlus
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
September 5, 2016

I’d been eyeing this game for a while because the aesthetics are so my jam, and I’m all about RPGs, and I love the “high schooler by day, superhero/villain/anything else by night” trope. I finally bought Persona 5 this summer, where it sat on my shelf until last week. I’ve put about fifteen hours into it, and right now, I’m wondering why I’m typing and not playing. The first five hours are a lot of story and not a lot of gameplay, but it does a good job walking you through not just the battle system, which is classic JRPG, but the world itself. And now that it’s finally turned me loose, I’m starting to see how this game is going to get really, really good. If you like RPGs with catchy music, lots of (mostly solid) voice acting, comic-book-style art, and a gang of misfits, this is for you. Just be warned that you’ll probably want to stab Ryuji for saying “FOR REAL!?” every five seconds.

Update: I’m now 40 hours into it. I’m. Hooked.

— Naseem Jamnia

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, Traveller's Tales, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, 2017

Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2

Traveller’s Tales
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Switch
November 14th, 2017

Listen: I play every LEGO game that comes out. Every single one. They’re light-hearted, silly, relaxing fun, and they serve that inborn desire I have to collect all of the things. If you’ve never played one, they always have a large cast of characters—some you obtain in the course of the normal story, the rest you have to find via fulfilling various objectives in Free Play mode. This iteration actually isn’t my favorite; it’s sort of a sequel to both LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and LEGO Marvel’s The Avengers, and that’s to its detriment. One of those focuses more on the Marvel comics franchises, and the other is primarily concerned with the films of the MCU. Because the sequel does both—for instance, a Sakaar-based level featuring the Red King from the Planet Hulk story, but one wherein you play a Thor: Ragnarok styled Thor and Hulk, it loses some of the magic. The choice also seems to make the game beholden to MCU licensee rules—there are no Fantastic Four or X-Men characters, for instance.

—Nola Pfau

Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix Business Division 2, Square Enix, 2016

Final Fantasy XV

Square Enix
Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
November 29, 2016

Ever since I played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I’ve been looking for a sword game to fill the aching hole left behind by Geralt and company. Final Fantasy XV has provided me with swords, goths, and emotion in spades, which are the three main characteristics I look for in a game.

I missed out entirely on the Final Fantasy series when I was younger, but picked up FFXV because of the aforementioned RPG hole. The game was marketed as “A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers,” and as a first-timer, I find that the game carries a lot of elements that are similar to modern RPGs. More than anything, the game feels accessible due to both the familiar controls and the magical-but-realistic environment.

The story has a similar problem to most open world games where it lacks urgency in what should, in theory, be very urgent situations. However, the road trip plot and characters are so charming and fun that I can’t help but love the game.

—Madison Butler

Witch Spring 3

Kiwiwalks
Android/iOS
October 27, 2017

A video game RPG, and not just a gacha game with RPG-like elements, is rare on mobile. The Witch Spring series is one such gem. You play as the witch Eirudy, training stats and crafting items while you hide from the world and its ongoing witch hunt. She has her dolls, so she’s not lonely… but she does wish they could talk. When a lone human stumbles into her path, she gets a lot more than just a conversation…

Witch Spring 3 is in a new location from 1 and 2, and only ties into those games at the end, so it’s easy to get the story without having played the others. If you’re not sure if you want to pay for the game (though it’s under $5), Witch Spring 2 (also excellent) has a free demo. Witch Spring 3 is a lovely game that will still runs well on an older phone. It features plenty to do—crafting, leveling, exploring, gathering, sidequests, fighting giant dragons, etc—and lets you explore and run the plot at your own pace. And for once, how nice is it to finally play as a superpowered woman who has to go off and save the boy all the time?

—Tia Kall

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, Frogwares, Focus Home Interactive, 2014

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments

Frogwares
Focus Home Interactive
PS4, PS3 Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
September 30, 2014

I devoured the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was younger so, when this came up on sale recently on the Playstation store, I decided to indulge 12-year-old book-nerd me. Crimes & Punishments is an adventure mystery game, with quicktime events, puzzles, and exploration of crime scenes for clues.

I’m only at the start, part of the way through the first case; it’s enjoyable, but there are some aspects I’m not loving. The conclusions can feel coincidental rather than actual deductions; one of the answers seems based on you making a tenuous guess about an item, rather than bringing a set of clues together to analyse. Also, I know it was created in 2014, but the character movements feel awkward and heavy.

That said, even with the uncanny valley effect, the graphics and character models still look beautiful. Most importantly, I think they have nailed the characterisation. The silly opening scene where you first meet Holmes has definitely convinced me to play this through to the end!

—Angie Wenham

The Sexy Brutale, Cavalier Game Studios, Tequila Works, 2017

The Sexy Brutale

Cavalier Game Studios / Tequila Works
Tequila Works
PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
April 12, 2017

I had heard good things in passing about The Sexy Brutale, but I’ll be honest—I ignored them because the title is terrible. I hear “sexy” in a game title and I imagine the most bland, white-bread depiction of women’s bodies imaginable, and, combined with “brutale,” I was picturing some kind of titty-game version of Brütal Legend.

The Sexy Brutale, thankfully, is not that. It’s a puzzle adventure game in which the player is tasked with traveling backward and forward in time to stop a series of gruesome murders during a party. Players must navigate both time and space, paying attention to conversations, picking up clues, and playing with a variety of objects and tools to stop each death before it occurs. While some of the solutions were frustratingly easy—I stumbled on one by accident—the game is tightly designed and thrilling to play, especially with the minor elements of stealth and horror that make each door you open into a threat.

—Melissa Brinks

Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.

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