Another three new releases worth checking out. We look at the brand new game in the Cotton franchise called Cotton Reboot!, the console release of Fallen Knight and the next gen console title Lost at Sea.
Cotton Reboot! review (PS4)
When it comes to classic arcade-like shoot ’em ups, most people will go with Gradius, R-Type of Raiden as familiar names, but Cotton (developed by Success) is a title that’s especially fondly remembered in Japan. Cotton Reboot! does what the title suggests, and brings the franchise back to consoles and PCs thanks to publishers ININ and BEEP. Success will also be releasing another sequel called Cotton Rock ‘n’ Roll: Superlative Night Dreams later this year, so it’s a good time for Cotton fans.
Often referred to as a “cute ’em up” because of its cheerful and colorful visuals, the Cotton games have you controlling a witch riding a broomstick rather than a spaceship out for intergalactic vengeance. Appearances can be deceiving though, as the gameplay mechanics behind these cute visuals are every bit as complex as those in other shooters, and there’s definitely a learning curve. Because you’re a witch there’s some spell casting involved as well, and learning what to cast when – and how and what to level up – takes practice.
Even the crystals you pick up during a level aren’t as one-dimensional as you’d think, because shooting them makes them alternate colors – offering different rewards when you pick them up. Because of this, you’ll make different choices depending on your goal – are you just looking to get through the level, or do you want to boost your score? It’s well done, and encourages additional playthroughs.
Besides the new Arrange mode, which features widescreen graphics and updated visuals, you can time-limited score attack modes, which are fun if you enjoy chasing a higher spot on the leaderboards. The Arrange mode is the heart and soul of the experience though, and it’s very well done – you can tell by booting up the included version of the original game, which is the version that ran on the somewhat obscure X68000 system and launched in 1993.
If you enjoy arcade shooters and aren’t familiar with the Cotton series yet, then this is a fun take on the genre that you should definitely check out. Longtime fans will be pleased with the quality of this reboot as well, and we can’t wait to see where Success goes from here.
Fallen Knight review (PS4)
Originally released for IOS back in 2019 but now brought to consoles and PCs by PQube, Fallen Knight blends the world of King Arthur with that of Mega Man, for an interesting action platformer with a futuristic spin to it.
You’re part of the Knights of the Round Table, but Fallen Knight’s Galahad and Lancelot are actually descendants of the original knights from the Athurian legends, facing entirely new challenges. Foremost of these are challenging boss battles – which the publisher was keen to label “Dark Souls-esque”. We’re not quite sure we agree with that assessment because of a lack of Souls-like character progression, but mostly because floaty/sluggish controls can get in the way of your success. Frustration happens in Dark Souls as well, but mostly because the game is just too tough, not because it’s working against you.
On the easier difficulty levels, however, Fallen Knight is a fun platformer where the shortcomings in its controls don’t hold it back too much. Visually it feels like a little bit like an updated version of Mighty No. 9, and the bosses all have unique characteristics and attack patterns to learn and eventually defeat. It’s not likely to become a classic like the Mega Man games that inspired it, but with a decent campaign and a fun boss rush mode, Fallen Knight feels right at home on consoles and we’re glad it made the leap from a mobile platform.
Lost at Sea review (ps5)
Any game that introduced itself with a John Lennon quote (“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”) is bound to be of the more thoughtful variety, and Lost at Sea certainly fits that description.
It’s being published by Headup, but was developed by Studio Fizbin, which previously gave us the excellent The Inner World. As you’d expect, based on that, Lost at Sea is a narrative-heavy experience with some excellent storytelling mechanics in place, even though this time they’re using a first person perspective to tell their story – making this somewhat akin to a walking simulator.
As Anna, you’re by yourself on a mysterious island that is divided into different areas that all represent a phase in your life that you’ll be reflecting on. Revisiting (lost) memories is a big part of the experience here, and doing so involves solving the odd puzzle here and there as well. There’s a fair bit of soul-searching as well, and part of that has to do with facing your inner demons and fear – visually represented by a menacing cloud that appears and that you have to stare at to make it go away – though I wish there was a menu option to tweak how frequently this happens.
A compass guides you to puzzles that help you complete your memories, and the puzzles are a nice diverse mix of challenges. Puzzle purists need not apply because many puzzles aren’t very difficult or well designed, sometimes building on very simple concepts like repeating a pattern rather than intricate puzzle designs. On the plus side, that makes sure that they don’t detract from Anna’s story either.
Anna’s story is riddled with emotional hardships, some of which goes back to her earlier years with other flashbacks focusing on her role as a wife and mother. The voiceover work that helps tell the story is well done too, which is important here because Lost at Sea has such a heartbreaking story to tell.
Lost at Sea is an interesting narrative experience that tackles some dark and mature themes. It’s also exclusive to next gen consoles and PCs, and it’s a game that looks better in motion than it does in screenshots. While the world isn’t overflowing with visual details, there are plenty of impressive audiovisual effects that help tell the story – which unfortunately is only about two hours long. We recommend it, but it’s certainly not for everyone.