It is a great game that had to smear itself in a layer of whatever-nothing to convince you that it belonged in a certain genre. But like the octopus pretending to be a rock, Metro Exodus is a brilliant creature in the guise of a worse one. With some time, energy, and emotional investment it springs to life.
I am not out here hollering for a specific mode of card game design, and I love that we live in a world where there are a plurality of games for people with different desires and likes in their card games. I am simply saying that Artifact has emerged into a world where digital card games finally seem to have figured out the sweet spot between mechanical complexity and friendliness for new players, and it has totally ignored any and all of those lessons in favor of a model that, to me at least, seems to be interested in attracting diehard fans of massive complexity and basically no one else. And maybe that works for Valve and the Artifact design team, but it sure as hell doesn't work for me.
It's a structure, like a gym or a concert, and we have our role to play in it. It is good for what it is, but it isn't more than that. This is a first-person shooter on a large scale, and if you've played one before and you're itching for the most-recent and best-looking Battlefield, then you've found it. Anything more or less than that and you're better off getting last year's model. It's probably gotten all the kinks worked out, at least.
And I guess, for some people, that might be the carrot that keeps them moving on. But when I reached that point in Horizon 4 after a couple dozen hours, I didn't have the drive to keep going and pursuing new paths. If you do, it is probably a game that will get its hooks in you like Need For Speed Underground 2 did me all those years ago.
Overall, I have some mixed feelings about State of Decay 2. It is a game that feels less focused than its predecessor despite making strong moves to deepen the experience in every realm. Focusing in on the details somehow made the game lose something; the steps the game took forward cost something fundamental and core to the experience.
Dead In Vinland scratches the same itch as Darkest Dungeon's less combat-focused parts and King of Dragon Pass's more personal moments. It's unique in the world of games, and it shows what the medium can do when it's committed to a distinct vision of what numbers-and-narrative can do when they're understood as intertwined and integral to one another.
I'm in a weird place because I know that Surviving Mars is probably excellent for someone who is not me. If you enjoy Paradox games like Crusader Kings II but not city builders, then this is probably a great bridge for you to relax and play. If you like managing numbers, resources, and people, then this is the game for you. What I wanted was a more freeform experience that allowed me to design and fiddle with Martian landscapes to my heart's content, and this is not the game for that.
Ni no Kuni 2 aims for a lot of different targets: world-spanning story, management sim, recruitment game and solid combat experience. Against all odds, it manages to hit them all in a way that very few games in its genre can manage.
If you commit and dig in, you'll be rewarded with that rare feeling of accomplishment in a videogame. Not because you leveled up or because you managed to get one over on the game, but because the puzzle feeling of Into The Breach makes the game appear to be extremely fair. I never feel like I've been tricked when I lose, and I never feel like I've done something out of bounds when I win.
Dynasty Warriors 9 exists at the nexus of a lot of different desires on the player community side and the development side. I just want to wander around inside a big space and win epic battles in long-ago China while coveting the throne. That's what I'm in it for, and that's what it delivers. If you're in it for that, you might like it too.