The Latest

New Releases: November 4th-10th, 2021

From Call of Duty: Vanguard to Forza Horizon 5, some of this year’s eagerly anticipated titles arrive on store shelves and digital marketplaces. But this week also offers several gems that lacked the large-scale marketing hype. From Blue Reflection: Second Light to Pretty Girls Panic! PLUS, there’s a number of notable new games arriving from other publishers.

Header: Blue Reflection: Second Light, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch

PlayStation 4
Airborne Kingdom (digital, $24.99)
Blue Reflection: Second Light (digital, $59.99)
Call of Duty: Vanguard (physical & digital, $59.99)
Classic Racers Elite (physical & digital, $29.99)
ConnecTank (physical & digital, $29.99)
Demon Turf (digital, $24.99)
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R (physical & digital, $39.99)
Gunkid 99 (digital, 6.99)
Jurassic World Evolution 2 (physical & digital, $59.99)
Just Dance 2022 (physical & digital, $49.99)
Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation Code Fairy (digital, $49.99-$59.99)
My Singing Monsters Playground (digital, $39.99)
Stilstand (digital, $2.99)
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance (physical & digital, $59.99)

PlayStation 5
Call of Duty: Vanguard (physical & digital, $69.99)
Demon Turf (digital, $24.99)
Just Dance 2022 (physical & digital, $49.99)
Real Farm: Premium Edition (physical & digital, $39.99)

Switch
.dog (digital, $9.99)
890B (digital, 4.99)
A Boy and His Blob (digital, $14.99)
Airborne Kingdom (digital, $24.99)
Air Stunt Racing (digital, $5.99)
Bloody Rally Show (digital, $19.99)
Blue Reflection: Second Light (digital, $59.99)
Captain Backwater (digital, $9.99)
Circa Infinity (digital, $9.99)
ConnecTank (physical & digital, $29.99)
Demon Turf (digital, $24.99)
Destructivator SE (digital, $2.49)
Emergency Driver Simulator (digital, $13.99)
Encodya (digital, $29.99)
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R (physical & digital, $39.99)
Gravity Light (digital, $4.99)
Gunkid 99 (digital, 6.99)
Just Dance 2022 (physical & digital, $49.99)
Lone McLonegan: A Western Adventure (digital, $9.99)
Magic Potion Millionaire (digital, $11.99)
My Singing Monsters Playground (digital, $39.99)
Om Nom: Run (digital, $3.99)
One Last Memory (digital, $9.99)
Pixel Heroes: Mega Byte & Magic (digital, $12.74)
Popeye (digital, $12.99)
Pretty Girls Panic! PLUS (digital, $5.99)
Real Farm – Premium Edition (digital, $39.99)
Skeletal Avenger (digital, $16.99)
Stilstand (digital, $2.99)
Super Sami Roll (digital, $14.99)
The Gardener and the Wild Vines (digital, $8.99)
The Prince of Landis (digital, $7.99)
Where Cards Fall (digital, $19.99)

Xbox One
Airborne Kingdom (digital, $24.99)
Bloody Rally Show (digital, $15.99)
Call of Duty: Vanguard (physical & digital, $59.99)
Demon Turf (digital, $24.99)
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R (physical & digital, $39.99)
Football Manager 2022 (digital, $54.99)
Forza Horizon 5 (physical & digital, $59.99-$99.99)
Ghost Sync (digital, $14.99)
Gunkid 99 (digital, 6.99)
Jurassic World Evolution 2 (physical & digital, $59.99)
Just Dance 2022 (physical & digital, $49.99)
My Singing Monsters Playground (digital, $39.99)
The Binding of Isaac: Repentance (physical & digital, $59.99)
The Gardener and the Wild Vines (digital, $9.99)

Xbox Series X/S
Call of Duty: Vanguard (physical & digital, $69.99)

PC
Among Trees ($TBA)
Blue Reflection: Second Light ($59.99)
Demon Turf ($24.99)
Final Fantasy V ($14.39)
Football Manager 2022 ($54.99)
Forza Horizon 5 ($59-99-$99.99)
Jurassic World Evolution 2 ($59.99)
Let’s Build a Zoo ($TBA)
Lone McLonegan: A Western Adventure ($9.99)
Prison Simulator ($17.99)
Recipe for Disaster ($TBA)
Starsand ($15.99)
Time Loader ($13.49)
Where Cards Fall ($TBA)

Rob’s Pick: A significant portion of contemporary Hollywood films revolve around an exploration of what a person does with newfound powers. Some are corrupted and descend into villainy while others carve out a more heroic path, but it’s all rooted in external actions.
Nagano-based Gust is more ambitious with the formula. Their Atelier franchise has offered a more introspective look at the route to self-actualization, offering richer, more thoughtful experiences. Seeing their protagonists develop from awkward adolescents into accomplished alchemists who use their talents for the greater good has been dependably rewarding.

Likewise, 2017’s Blue Reflection followed Shirai Hinako’s life journey. Receiving supernatural abilities after meeting twin classmates, she’s turned into a Reflector. It was evident that Gust understood the nuances of the Magical Girl genre, offering an extended allegory for empowerment. Much like Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, there were the requisite scenes that showcased her capabilities. But the best moments were the feelings of vulnerability and intimacy that blockbuster films habitually overlook.

More ambitious than the typical follow-up, Blue Reflection: Second Light makes some noteworthy changes. Where Hinako was a bit of introvert, lead Ao Hoshizaki is a bit more outgoing. Like many of Gust’s heroines, she feels confined by the world around her, and is eager to self-actualize. Smartly, Gust lets her do just that, providing a fantastical world that will help her discover faucets of her own identity.

Ryan’s Pick: Gust RPGs have always been really relaxing and enjoyable experiences for me and after the past month’s cavalcade of horror and visceral games I am ready for a change of pace. Most of my Gust experience is with the Atelier series, so I unfortunately missed the first Blue Reflection game when it was released on PS4 and Steam. However, a more low-key RPG seems like it’s exactly what I am looking for this week, so I will be choosing Blue Reflection: Second Light.

Gust games tend to offer players a really good balance between character relationship building, item creation, and battle. On top of this, the music, atmosphere, lighting, and color choices, all make for a really pleasant experience. Visual Novel fans may appreciate their approach towards relationship building with plenty of flags and opportunities to get to know your favorite character, as there will be emphasis on this part of the game while you are not in battle. This may also appeal to completionists, as in the Atelier series there has been plenty to do in subsequent playthroughs of the game. While it’s by no means a new mechanic, I do also like the idea of using collected materials to be able to construct different facilities that the girl of your liking may fancy, or simply ones that you are interested in.

Battle scenes equally look pretty engaging and visually attractive. Plus, I can never overlook a game where there is a playable character that wields a scythe. I guess it’s due to the countless hours of expletives expelled while playing Nioh 2 with that as my weapon. In general it appears that the flow of battles are paced pretty well, and I am curious to see exactly what they mean by ‘Exhilarating Real Time Battles’ system. Again, if you are looking for a more mellow RPG experience with a good balance of in and out of battle gameplay, then I think this is definitely worth a try.

Matt S’ pick (Editor, DigitallyDownloaded): I can’t wait to get into Call of Duty. Not many people know this about me, but I love the feeling of big, powerful guns in my hand, pew pewing off some rounds to headshot some dudes. Nothing makes me feel more alive than being on an awesome killstreak.

I also love the way that Call of Duty is educational. The heroism of America through World War 2 is a story we just don’t hear enough of these days. Too often the so-called “expert” historians suggest that things were more complex than that and while the right side won the war, they were anything but infallible in their conduct. But Call of Duty simplifies things and in doing so presents the only narrative about World War 2 that I’ll accept…

Yeah okay that’s a whole lot of nonsense of course. Blue Reflection: Second Light is the sequel to only my favourite JRPG of the last generation, so of course that’s the actual game I’m looking forward to here. There’s an ethereal beauty about Blue Reflection, and a warmth in the way that it reflects on memory, friendship, youth and joy. For a supposedly “fan service” JRPG there is a sweet innocence about the game that is impossible to resist, And, while both this game and its predecessor hardly have the budget of a Final Fantasy or Tales of Arise, they have something even better: a mastery of art direction over technical bells-and-whistles. Courtesy of Mel Kishida, Blue Reflection is just the most beautiful thing. So beautiful, in fact, that you’ll cry great big tears of joy, money back guarantee (send Koei the bill not me if you don’t actually cry).

Matt R’s pick (editor, Shindig): Blue Reflection is one of the most beautiful games—in both an aesthetic and an emotional sense—of recent memory, between Mel Kishida’s gorgeous character design and the uplifting story of a young woman who thought she’d lost everything finding the power to move forward again. But it was such a singular experience, and one that felt so whole and complete in itself, that I was slightly worried about the prospect of a sequel. Could it capture the same magic that the first game did? In an industry where sequels almost always mean “bigger, better, more”, could a second Blue Reflection keep hold of the intimacy and quietude that made the first game work?

The answer is yes. Blue Reflection: Second Light ticks the boxes for new game features and a revamped, far more dynamic battle system, but when it comes to the story it tells, it managed to avoid the usual traps of a video game sequel. It’s not a simple retread, nor is it a game that falls over its feet trying to turn everything up to 11. Instead, it’s a fresh approach at the same themes that drove the first game—intimacy, friendship, identity, trust, love, support—but approached from a different perspective. Instead of trying to one-up the game before it, Second Light is a complementary piece; you don’t have to have played the first game first, but together, they’re so much more than the sum of their parts. The game industry at large, sequel-obsessed as it is, could learn a lot from Gust.

 

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

12 comments

  1. Has there ever been a week where everyone choose the same game? I remember 3/4, but not 4/4.

  2. Forza Horizon 5. Debating to get the digital version since that also offers the PC version. I wish there was a deal on it.

  3. Matt almost got me with the Call of Duty: Vanguard endorcement.

  4. Which Matt? There’s Matt S, Matt Ryan, Ryan Matt, and Rob Matt. LOL.

  5. I thought Popeye was the old Nintendo game.

  6. You all are some snobs.

    Call of Duty. Let’s shoot some shit!

    • I used to love first and third-person shooters, and still play Black regularly. There was a time when I reviewed every annual COD game and liked many of them. Sure, I didn’t care about the storytelling, but some of the playable set pieces were great.

      But then, the single-player game gradually got de-emphasized and I started loosing interest. Then, when they completely dropped any campaign, it fell completely off my radar.

      The other issue is that the genre hasn’t evolved all that much. I need innovation to keep me interested. CoD feels like the equivelent of the sports-game roster update now. I’d love to see the franchise take some real chances instead of just phone it in.

    • You misunderstand me, sir. I love plenty of games that feature guns and shooting.

      What I can’t stand are games that act as propaganda for the western military (to the point that they’re used as recruitment tools by the military) and its desperation to re-write history so that American etc soldiers are infallible white knights that save the world while representing a nation that has never, ever done anything wrong.

      I have a big problem with that, given how utterly ignorant a massive portion of the audience for games are. These people don’t read (boring) books, or (boring) foreign films that take a more detailed look at the various issues. I’ve seen too many people actually suckered into the lies that Call of Duty perpetuates to forgive the series.

      But yeah. Shoot some shit. That bit I’m on board with.

      • I agree but here’s the thing: I know the games are all American propaganda. The main guys are always cast as the good guys trying to save the world. I get all that.

        I like the games becuase of the action. When I’m a deathmatch I’m trying to shoot other players before they kill me and not thinking about US military policy.

  7. Final Fantasy V. Steam Deck anticipation has me buying more stuff. I hope it is released soon.