Hollow Knight is kept engaging not just by its combat encounters but by the energy and momentum of moving around its varied and compelling world.
Take a measured approach to both combat and exploration and Hollow Knight's challenges begin to feel surmountable.
What makes a world enjoyable in Kingdom Hearts? I explore that question in the context of Kingdom Hearts III.
With a lovable cast and a tone that skillfully moves from lighthearted fun to the frightening consequences of shoving down our most difficult emotions, Ikenfell conveys a compelling narrative that establishes a believable magical world.
I picked up Kingdom Hearts III expecting to play it on my own. But when my child saw some familiar Disney faces, this game became a father/child project that's been a blast to experience as a team.
An hour or more in, I was worried that Ikenfell's combat was going to be too simple for my personal preferences, but once the game feels confident that you get the basic concepts it begins to ramp up the complexity in meaningful ways.
I've often read a sentiment from game developers that it is essentially a miracle anytime a video game is shipped. My experience helped me to have a deeper understanding of how true that is, but it also showed me how satisfying it can be to work on a game.
I expected to try out Pioneers of Olive Town and play another game that was clearly outclassed by Stardew Valley. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a game that doesn't quite surpass what other farming sims are bringing to the table but at least catches up to them.