That head might naturally drift towards the hellishly contorted world we live in, and not the delightfully cartoonish one of Animal Crossing, but escapism is overrated anyway. I'd rather worry about every aspect of modern living while quietly reflecting on the rhythmic roar of a videogame ocean than while sitting slackjawed in a living room I won't ever be able to leave again. Give me these New Horizons—rigid, commercial, and staid—over the chaos of the last decade.
By the end of A Plague Tale, its surviving heroes have earned their rest. It's hard to say goodbye to them, though, the same way it's hard to no longer spend time with the characters of a great book or TV show. A bittersweet post-credits sting hints at what might await the de Runes in the future; hopefully that's a story that players will be able to explore one day.
As an Assassin's Creed it turns Origins from an outlier into the start of the new status quo, sacrificing a bit of its identity in order to bring it more in line with Ubisoft's other open world games. It still captures much of what makes these games special, though, from the historical setting, to the dynamic action, to one of the few stealth combat systems that isn't too slow or frustrating to enjoy. Embark on this journey with confidence, but be prepared to lose a lot of your free time along the way.
This game understands why Spider-Man has been perhaps the most popular superhero of the last half-century, and does about as good of a job as the comics or movies at capturing the character's essence. It blends more than fifty years of Spider history together, molds it around a thrilling recreation of Spider-Man's trademark motion and fighting styles, and puts you in control of the whole thing. All together that makes this one of the most mechanically, narratively, and nostalgically satisfying big budget games of the year, and the best Spider-Man game yet.
It does take a half-hearted stab at commentary near the end, as you face off with the leader of the raccoons and his very American stance on (late) capitalism, but it's a little perfunctory and played more for laughs than anything else. If Donut County has contempt for anything, it's raccoons more than politics—it does not portray our furry, garbage-plundering friends in a positive light. Holes might wreck this town, but the reputation of raccoons suffer the greatest damage.
Not content with sheer novelty, Dead Cells importantly taps into the most significant aspect of both of the genres it fuses together. Few games are as addictive as those Metroid-style backtrackers, and perhaps the only thing that has come close this decade is the spate of roguelike platformers that flourished in Spelunky's wake. Dead Cells beautifully captures what makes both of those genres impossible to put down, uniting the “just one more” drive of a roguelike with the “must keep going” compulsion of a Metroid. It's a smart, confident piece of work that works perfectly with the Switch's portability, and anybody interested in either of the genres it builds on should consider checking it out.
It can feel faintly embarrassing one moment, and then do something unexpected and with surprising confidence just a few seconds later. There's probably an equal chance that you'll hate it or love it. In an industry that constantly obsesses on trends and often disrespects the taste and intelligence of its audience, Vampyr is as refreshing and anomalous as Dontnod's other cult games.
Cage's ambitions might eventually overreach into bad taste, but even then Detroit still pulls off what every previous Cage game has failed to do. It tells a coherent, occasionally thought-provoking story that unites the interaction of videogames with the language of film.
The story's biggest problem is that it attempts something that can't really be done. It tries to rehabilitate that which cannot be rehabilitated. This Kratos is the same Kratos who was pure animal lust for a half-dozen games, driven solely to kill or sleep with every living creature he came across.