- Devil May Cry 3
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
- Mother 3
Already a phenomenal game in its own right, Redux makes Strange Journey all the better with gameplay and narrative additions that only serve to enhance what was already present. Alex's presence in the plot adds an extra layer of tragedy to what was already one of the darkest stories in the franchise, and the Womb of Grief is one of the best dungeons in the series, offering a variety of fantastic new bosses, demons, and side-quests to play around with. The lack of Kaneko's original art is certainly a detriment to the overall aesthetic, but the base gameplay and dungeons have been left untouched, ensuring the core experience doesn't stray from the original's vision. Along with being the definitive way to play Strange Journey, Redux stands out as one of the best games in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise all around.
Home to an incredibly immersive world and the best combat on the Nintendo Switch, Astral Chain is a must-play not only for fans of the genre, but the medium as a whole. It is a title that understands the importance of balancing gameplay, story, and style without ever sacrificing substance for anything else. It's more accessible than most PlatinumGames titles without ever having to compromise its core mechanics. The slower start may alienate potential fans but sticking with Astral Chain leads to a surprisingly thematic script, incredibly deep combat, and what might be Platinum's best game to date.
NieR Replicant 1.22 is an outstanding remake and an excellent action RPG in its own right. Combat is fast paced, focused, and well varied between three distinct weapon types and eight magic spells. Dungeons appear simple but their design is deceptively clever, and they carry a Legend of Zelda-esque charm to them. The visuals are greatly improved from the original, from character models to background details. Bosses are downright bombastic, masterfully juggling tense battles with visceral set pieces. The story is simply beautiful, making brilliant use of music to amplify already deeply emotional storytelling. Above all else, Replicant plays into concepts only possible in a video game - leading to a genuinely unforgettable experience. If you only play one game this year, make it NieR Replicant 1.22.
With some of the best designed boss fights this generation, a beautifully rich animation style, and impeccably fine-tuned controls, Cuphead stands out as not only one of the best indie titles on the Nintendo Switch, but one of strongest releases this generation, period
It's very short. Even getting all the main endings can be done in under 20 hours, but aside from that, Undertale is a tour de force to be reckoned with. It's filled with heart, humour, and raw emotion, while never forgetting that it's a game. Its gameplay is just as strong as its stellar writing. Undertale is a crowning achievement in RPGs and games in general.
While it may be the black sheep of the franchise, Ys Origin is also one of the best entries the series has seen, and one of the best action RPGs period. All three playable characters having their own fleshed out and unique play style makes for an incredibly fresh, blood pumping experience that puts other action oriented games to shame. With an excellently written story, a beautiful soundtrack, and a challenging but always fair difficulty, Ys Origin is everything right with the series whilst maintaining an identity entirely of its own.
Ditching the series' ensemble cast in favour of a more personal family drama is one of the best decisions Koei Tecmo has made, and the key feature that elevates Spirit of Sanada to more than just a new entry in the Warriors franchise. The roster is still massive and everyone is playable during free mode, but the story locks down characters by the mission, personalizing the Sanada family over the course of roughly fifty years of Sengoku period history. Multi-stage battles emphasize just how war-torn the Sengoku era was, while offering a breath a fresh air to the traditional series stage format. The combat is as refined as ever and the focus on Masayuki and Yukimura makes for an incredibly intimate story. Spirit of Sanada is, plain and simple, one of best precedents Koei Tecmo has set.