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Old-School Console Games

6 modern throwbacks

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

With so many games constantly pushing the boundaries, it's often enjoyable to play some that simply offer genuine classic experiences.

│ Nothing causes more disappointment than hype so at Video Chums, we avoid hyping games prior to playing them for ourselves. 🤩

Blasphemous Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Here we have a super-gory Metroidvania that feels like it belongs on PS1 but is it as epic as other classic games in the genre? v1d30chumz 3-237-29-69

Blasphemous screenshot
The world of Blasphemous is quite grotesque yet oddly compelling

Blasphemous has you control The Penitent One as you explore a gothic landscape that's full of dastardly monsters and hideous sights. The core combat involves slashing your sword yet the key to success relies on your ability to parry attacks and counter your foes which will likely leave you unscathed while your opponent quickly perishes. I enjoyed the combat a great deal and when you get the chance to perform a deadly execution which usually results in a brief violent animation, it feels great. Along the journey, you'll uncover loads of equipment, spells, and abilities that'll make you much more capable so the sense of progression is definitely rewarding, especially after you claim victory in the brutal boss fights. All of that being said, I can't stand the fact that there are so many instant death traps such as spikes and bottomless pits. Such annoyances make Metroidvanias feel clunky and detract from the sense of exploration.

If you can tolerate the super-annoying instant death traps and are a Metroidvania fan then I highly recommend Blasphemous.

Blasphemous gameplay video →

Torchlight II Review Switch ★★★★☆

A classic old-school genre is isometric action RPGs and Torchlight II carries on the tradition wonderfully so let's check it out!

Torchlight II screenshot
Bring on the hordes of undead; I can take them all on!

Having never played the original Torchlight, I didn't quite know what to expect with Torchlight II. After playing it, I was blown away by the satisfying combat, gorgeous world complete with memorable well-animated enemies, and wealth of character customization options including the ability to customize a pet. If that sounds awesome then just stop reading this and play it already because it's a fantastic game. The sense of humour is great as well and I thoroughly enjoyed taking on dozens of enemies at once while unleashing all sorts of powerful spells and a fury of melee attacks. The only thing I found annoying is environments that have multiple levels because it's hard to tell where enemies are located when you can only see their outlines. Also, I wish there was local multiplayer on the same console because this would have been a great game to play with my wife. Aside from these minor complaints, it's a thoroughly entertaining RPG.

Torchlight II takes what makes iconic action RPGs like Diablo fun and presents it in an accessible and highly enjoyable package.

Torchlight II gameplay video → Torchlight III Review

Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan Review Switch ★★★★☆

When it comes to old-school console games, is anything more immediately gratifying than a good old 2D platformer?

Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan screenshot
Sydney Hunter is like Indiana Jones but a lot funnier

Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan may look like your standard retro 2D platformer yet its gameplay is super-tight, constantly engaging, and ultimately enjoyable. Plus, one substantial aspect about it is how funny it is. It takes a lot for a video game to make me laugh yet I chuckled at almost every conversation in Sydney Hunter. Aside from the hilarious sense of humour, the tight gameplay involves running, jumping, and whipping. There are a ton of breakable walls and you'll amass a wealth of gems, items, crystal skulls, and other goodies as you progress through the intricately-designed tombs. On top of all this, the music is just perfect for a retro indie. As a gamer of over 30 years, I'm very impressed how Sydney Hunter captured the magic of classic platformers as well as it has.

Retro-inspired 2D platformers simply don't get much better than Sydney Hunter so grab your whip and get ready for a great time.

Sydney Hunter and the Curse of the Mayan gameplay video → Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death Review

PictoQuest Review Switch ★★★☆☆

For whatever reason, Switch's eShop is filling with loads of Picross-style games so here's one that combines puzzles with RPG elements.

PictoQuest screenshot
Most of these puzzles should be super-easy for Picross fans

I just reviewed the incredibly addictive Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns and was ready for more puzzle questing fun so I decided to purchase PictoQuest. You basically play it by traversing a node-based overworld while tackling various nonogram puzzles. The art is great and the lighthearted music lends itself well to the game world. However, although it's certainly a charming and enjoyable little game, I can't help but feel like it's lacking in the challenge department. I never felt a sense of urgency, even in the later stages of the campaign and you're forgiven way too readily for making errors so the whole package just feels like it's geared towards children and Picross amateurs. That being said, it's still a delightful game that's great to wind down with after a long day before you go to sleep.

Picross veterans may be disappointed with PictoQuest's lack of challenge but there's no denying that it's a solid and cute little game.

PictoQuest gameplay video → More games that play like Picross

Agatha Knife Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Another old-school genre that screams classic is point and click adventure games and Agatha Knife definitely fits that description.

Agatha Knife screenshot
There's more than 1 transvestite in this game? Sure, why not?

Agatha Knife is a very strange game. You play as a 7 year old girl who's the daughter of a butcher whose shop is facing tough times. So, you eventually decide to start your own religion in order to raise funds for your butcher shop. The story may tackle themes of religion, capitalism, and animal rights yet I found that it does so in a very ham-fisted fashion as there's very little subtlety to any of the plot points. In one scene, a transvestite prostitute even explains to Agatha what being a prostitute involves. Isn't that a bit too much information for a 7 year old? I guess Agatha is pretty messed up already so why not educate her about such things? Anyway, although the puzzles are mostly straightforward fetch-quests and the majority of the game is spent merely reading dialogue, it's still an off-the-wall story that I'm sure many people will appreciate, especially in its final chapters where Agatha's ideas and plans come to fruition.

Not everyone will enjoy Agatha Knife's off-putting world but those who do will find a lot to like about this quirky adventure game.

Agatha Knife gameplay video → MechaNika Review Colossus Down Review

Vambrace: Cold Soul Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆

Trying to survive perilous dungeons as a ragtag group of warriors can be quite rewarding so let's see how Vambrace: Cold Soul holds up.

Vambrace: Cold Soul screenshot
Battles certainly don't look exciting but they can sure be tricky!

Vambrace: Cold Soul has you play as a mysterious woman named Lyric who has a magical vambrace. After assembling a party and learning the ropes, you go on expeditions around the frozen cursed city of Icenaire. The gameplay is unique in that you basically walk left and right through environments while interacting with points of interest and facing enemies as well as dealing with traps and other hazards. When I first started playing it, I set up my party poorly which resulted in my eventual demise but after figuring out how important the different character traits are, I gladly reconfigured everyone and became much more successful. In the end, it rewards careful planning and thoughtful actions which can be quite satisfying. That being said, the gameplay is still rather confining and can become frustrating so if you're not one for strategically setting up your party to carry out missions full of random events then this isn't for you.

If you fit in Vambrace: Cold Soul's niche audience, you'll definitely have a fun time but overall, it's a tough game to widely recommend.

Vambrace: Cold Soul gameplay video →
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