26. Astral Chain
This was marvellous. The legion/chain idea has been so comprehensively thought through, not only in combat - where you can bind enemies, catapult them away and hookshot yourself around arenas - but also in the plaftorming sections, the exploration and the various mini games and detective modes. There's a ton of variety, with extreme shifts of pace from the frantic fighting to the more laidback and amusing community policing, but it never feels disjointed. Even when you're doing more mundane stuff it doesn't feel like busywork because it all makes sense as part of the whole, and it keeps moving too quickly for anything to become tiresome. The combat is still the main attraction, though, and it's Platinum at its best. It's not as immediate as Bayonetta, given the complexity of controlling yourself and half-controlling your legions at the same time, but once it starts to come together it's just as thrilling and rewarding. Besides all that, the visual style and soundtrack are also pretty special. Other than some minor issues with the camera and getting used to the controls, it's simply a top class action adventure game from start to finish.
And one I'd missed out from before:
24. The Church in the Darkness
27 Jul-4 Aug
There's a good premise here, as you enter the compound of a socialist, Christian commune in the South American jungle uninvited to look for your nephew, and each time you start the conditions are different - sometimes it's all going well and peaceful, sometimes it's being run like a brutal dictatorship. The core stealth mechanics are OK too, but it's all too simple and too repetitive for the repeat play throughs required to see the many endings. Plus it has some annoying quirks and control issues that make it frustrating at times. Needed more depth and polish.