We have the zenith of the Souls formula, and that is mostly a good thing. Dark Souls 3 is the most elegant distillation of the "demanding but not impossible" style first put forth in Demon's Souls. And the return of the mana bar brings the greatest degree of play-style experimentation the series has had. Add to that From's finally stable-at-launch multiplayer servers, and Dark Souls 3 is the most complete feeling Souls experience in the franchise.
Dropsy is a game that warmed my hardened, cynical heart. Like the titular clown himself, the game smashes an amiable joviality together with an unabashed dementia. Making people happy is such a rare goal in games, and to have one excel at the notion and the motivation for doing so is a doubly rare joy, although glaring missteps do keep it out of the center ring of adventure games.
Playing The Witcher 3 with an eye for grand strategy can be both a densely engrossing and mechanically frustrating, overlong adventure. When played one move at a time, however, Wild Hunt is the supreme alchemical distillation of the role-playing experience. It's a bleakly human play at the heart of a dark fantasy.
At $5, it's hard to find more puzzle content than what is available in BoxBoy. That's not always a good thing, as it feels scared of asking players to learn something new without making them study it for three too many puzzle rooms. But the harsh art design and excess gameplay fat don't do enough to negate the thrill of figuring out a solution or the charm of watching your little square friend celebrate. BoxBoy is a welcome, easy-going new entrant into puzzlers that deserves more attention than it will likely get on its current marketing trend.
Grow Home is a better experiment than a game. The procedural animations of B.U.D. will instantly make him one of the best interactive robot companions you've ever had (no, seriously, HK-47 better watch his back). But the wondrous tension of ascending this Star plant is constantly hampered by the need to waste time collecting arbitrary trinkets so you can waste less time on your main mission.
Counterspy successfully gives you the feeling of being a powerful and deadly third wheel in a Spy vs. Spy game of one-upmanship. Moving to and removing your target of choice amounts to the most gratifying stealth since 2012's Mark of the Ninja. But the problems start flying as soon as the bullets do. Gunplay frequently feels more awkward than enjoyable, and you'll die more times from a cheaply laid out level than you will your own lack of skill.
Daylight is a victim of its most-touted feature. When the random generated items and enemies work, every step carries a palpable sense of dread and unease. But the immersion's lost when the player gets caught in an enemy spawning loop with too few flares is hard to get back. The story's climax works better on paper, and bland visuals just make maze navigation aggravating. The $15 price is also a bit much to ask for what will last most players up to 3 hours without much of a reason to replay it. For the few moments when it all clicks, Daylight is the best we could have hoped for out of the Slender craze. The rest of time will have you remembering why it was a craze to begin with.