Josh Di Falco
10tons has taken their titles to another level with Tesla vs Lovecraft by replicating the twin-stick shooter of their previous Tesla outing, and incorporating the roguelike elements has made this the ultimate Tesla & Lovecraftian crossover thus far. Plus, the addition of two characters, Mary Shelley and Marie Curie both bring their unique flavours with regards to playstyle, Tesla vs Lovecraft promises a lot of hours spent grinding out runs. The 'Doomsday Clock' keeps the AI a tricky beast to tame, as they slowly begin to climb in difficulty throughout the run, culminating in the end boss fight that differs in difficulty based on how quickly or slowly it took to get there. The visual display that is on show when the enemies become quite sporadic and overwhelming, only to then get destroyed by Tesla in a mech suit is one of the more exciting and riveting experiences that makes this adventure worth going back to.
Nightmare Boy is a fun experience for a few hours, and a lot of the glaring design choices around the gameplay can be overlooked or ignored for the most part. While Billy may feel heavy to control, he does almost always make it to the platforms, while the fighting systems are quite basic, but it allows for the focus to be on the exploration side of things instead. In terms of the aesthetic of the various areas as well, The Vanir Project has done a terrific job in stylising the different sections and making every area feel fresh and new, without getting bogged down with repetitive enemies. While the platforming-based abilities work well, the combat-based abilities leave a lot to be desired, as they lack any flexibility within the combat arena, and even when those abilities are fired off, they do little damage to be worth its while compared to the base attacks. While this can be replayed, there's very little incentive to do so.
MotoGP 21 is back in a big way: with a career mode that is even more fun than years past. Every year, Milestone adds a little bit more to its arsenal that keeps growing this franchise into what may one day be the ultimate experience for two-wheeled speed demons. For now, though, MotoGP 21 is quite a good investment for both hardcore fans and new riders to jump into. The tutorial mode makes this one of the more accessible titles ever, however that doesn't mean learning how to beat the AI will be an easy task. This racer is a satisfying package that takes time and persistence before the fruits of your labour begin to grow. While there is still much that this package is lacking, the series is clearly heading in the right direction.
Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 is an over-the-top playground for those who love all things monster trucks. In addition to the comical trucks that many will recognise from the real-life Monster Jam events, Rainbow Studio has also done a fabulous job of creating the worlds that are inspired by the various teams. There's the well-designed Mutt-map that best reflects the comical sights of the Mutt vehicles, to the haunted Graveyard that left a lot to be desired from a racing perspective. As is the case with monster trucks, there are a few bumps and hits that can often mar the experience and put a dampener on things - but for the most part, this title is a few hours of fun for the monster truck enthusiasts who just want to escape into this virtual playground of destructive carnage and mayhem!
Despite the visual breaks and screen tears that seem to happen oftentimes, WRC 10 is the ultimate rally game on PS5. At this point, there is no better alternative if the objective is getting the wheels dirty on the gravel roads. WRC 10 makes great use of the haptic feedback, bringing the vibrations to a new level of immersion while the triggers help add a new layer also. Career Mode is still unchanged from previous years, though the Season Mode is also still an option for those who don't wish to partake in the managerial aspects of the team management options. Otherwise, for those looking for the ultimate challenge beyond the AI opponents, the Online mode is still a bustling wonderland of challenges for all diehard competitors. Of course, this package wouldn't be complete without dipping into the historical races over the last 50 years of WRC, allowing for drivers to explore the older cars while also learning about their historical significance to the sport.
MXGP 2020 is an improvement over the previous title - however, don't expect a leaps-and-bounds, next-generational jump. While this is hardly a spectacular next-gen overhaul, the building blocks are all lined up for an even more impressive iteration in the years to come. Career Mode still seems quite lacking, as bike customisations and sponsor benefits are minimal, and the experience points earned to rank up don't amount to anything. On the other hand, Playground Mode and Track Editor open up avenues for much more excitement and enjoyment, especially as the online community continues to produce more advanced and elaborate tracks.
Replica is an interesting title that has some really good ideas with how it lays out its puzzles. Rather than focusing on the generic "video game" ones, Somi instead has incorporated more "in real life" problem-solving with trying to crack into someone's phone. However, the overall premise that is dealt with important concepts should've had more heightened tensions that Somi needed, to make the story more believable. The corny dialogue detracted from the terrorism and surveillance-overlord Big Brother plot that needed to be taken a bit more seriously. However, presentation aside, the puzzles are quite clever and are worth at least a look into this experience.
There may not be a lot of choices on Nintendo Switch for those who want to jump into a worthwhile pool experience, however Pure Pool is the one to get for those who are keen. As good as it gets with a pool-based digital experience on the handheld, with plenty of offline and online content to make this easily worth the money.
MotoGP 20 is a fine title to play on the Nintendo Switch for those who are itching to jump into a digital bike racer. However, MotoGP 20 suffers from the same old troubles that this may only appeal to the hardcore fans who watch the sport religiously as it is. However for those who haven't dabbled in MotoGP 20 up until this point, it's unlikely that this year's iteration is going to move the dial or sway opinions. But for those who do decide to jump into this title, there is a steep learning curve - but once it's overcome, this title can provide plenty of hours of fun, despite some of the visual hurdles and lack of local competitive racing or online modes.
For those who enjoyed the original TT Isle of Man, the sequel Ride on the Edge 2 raises the stakes with an improved career mode that delivers a more immersive experience. Sign with a manufacturer to get access to their livery, then proceed to unlock perks and part upgrades to enhance the performance of those bikes with each successive race. Newcomers can easily pick up and learn the ropes while making good progress on the stat sheets thanks to the arcade-like controls that don't make the racing experience too complicated, unlike the more realistic sim racer. However, beyond the career mode, there is a basic online mode to further gain some racing experience. While this isn't the premium two-wheeled racer on consoles, it is a step in the right direction for Kylotonn.
With no shortage of zombie games to purchase or browse through in the store, it's hard to understand what void Yet Another Zombie Defense HD is trying to fill. It's a top-down twin-stick shooter that doubles as a base-defence zombie game... however it doesn't do anything to push the boundaries that other titles have already established. It is fun to play in short bursts, and its longevity is only extended by finding some local or online people to play with, but even still, the many shortcomings are impossible to ignore. While Yet Another Zombie Defense HD didn't have to bring anything new to the table, it still needed to be a zombie-stew worth eating and unfortunately, despite having some potential, it's still missing quite a few ingredients to make this experience worth anyone's while.
Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition may not be for everyone. It is a grind-based dungeon crawler that relies on the ability to endlessly run through dungeons, earn better loot, and repeat against harder and stronger enemies. For those looking for an enriching story in the world of Warhammer Fantasy there isn't much to see, which is a shame, but the enjoyment here is based on buying into the gameplay loop. It may wear thin for some, while being a treasure for those who seek nothing but the menial grind of repetitive dungeon-crawling and looting for that never-ending quest of creating the optimal build. While this won't earn any accolades on the PlayStation 5, this is hardly a title to gloss over, and is worth checking out at the least.
Ride 4 offers a tonne of content for those who itching for a deep dive into an expansive career mode. Race all across the world by winning licenses to open up access into better and more advanced events. Gain affinity with various bikes and manufacturers on the way to becoming the greatest rider. However, a weak online mode, a lack of other real features outside of the career mode and having a steep learning curve for beginners prevents Ride 4 from being the complete package. With plenty of bikes on offer, and upgrades on both the 'stock' and 'racing' side of things to allow for vast improvements over the troublesome AI, this is one of the better digital biking experiences out there.
Pacer is a delightful racer, filled with plenty of action-packed moments. It also has some of the more glorious drifting mechanics that are hard to find in most car-racing games. For those looking for the spiritual successor to the WipeOut series, look no further. While the vehicles are quite limited, and some of the tracks don't truly compliment the high-speed racing that this wants to be known for, when the right ingredients are in play, then the experience becomes quite memorable. If only the online community had more going for it, or at least if the offline modes had the option to increase the difficulty of the AI. Despite some of the setbacks, overall this is a very good racer that is worth jumping into and getting lost in.
Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt is a fine experience to check out for those who wish to dabble in the fun and thoughtful process of setting up supply lines. While completing and overseeing a thriving supply line is quite a fulfilling process, and resource production becomes an automatic system, this is all that this seems to have going for it. Beyond ensuring that the cogs keep turning, there is a real lack of drive or motivation to keep progressing beyond keeping bandits and avalanches at bay. Despite the deep system that underlies the kingdom-building aspects, it's still missing a few ingredients that could've elevated this experience. However, for those searching for a new resource-management city-builder set in the medieval ages, this title is worth considering.
Children of Morta is a wonderful rogue-like ARPG, with a lot of deep layers in terms of gameplay mechanics, that does a terrific job of acting as an underlay to the simple, but dark, atmospheric story. Everything intertwines together splendidly, and seeing how each character can help to buff up their family members via their shared abilities, both in each characters unique skill trees, or the household's base stat upgrades, there are plenty of moving pieces here that all contribute towards the family's mission to end the Corruption. No run is ever wasted, with each failed attempt still rewarding the family with some positive enhancements for the next run, until that eventual stage boss is defeated. For those who are looking for a new rogue-like to jump into, this should definitely not be missed.
This year's iteration of UFC from EA Sports looks good, and feels good in parts - though the submission system just doesn't appear to be as much fun to play. The best parts of this game are the boxing and kickboxing elements, and the offline career mode is a fun mode to build and forge careers in. With really no other fighting titles to purchase this year, EA Sports UFC 4 will be unrivalled for those looking for another sports-like fighting game - and while UFC 4 is not a bad game, it doesn't do much to appeal to those who don't already have a love and appreciation for the sport or the brand.
Lancelot's Hangover: The Quest for the Holy Booze is a fun adventure that doesn't take things too seriously - with over-the-top humour and plenty of outrageous moments. It's a short trip (read: acid trip) down into wonderland, where nothing is taken too seriously, though some of the humour provides commentary on some issues in the real world. If experiencing a Monty Python classic sounds like a fun time, then Lancelot's Hangover may be worth jumping into. Of course, it's best to go in by leaving any offense at the door, and go with the flow of what this has to offer.
WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship does a fantastic job of filling the rally-racing void, despite the fact that it doesn't appear to have made many leaps forward from last year's title - but sometimes, making minimal changes is still better than making wrong calls. The Career mode is as fun and immersive as expected, and that's where the bulk of the offline hours will be lost. The updated visuals and extra attention to detail makes the races feel more alive, and the heart-stopping moments of avoiding a disaster on the track are as real as ever in here. Rally fans will enjoy Kylotonn's latest offering, while newcomers can jump in with an easy-to-learn control scheme. Whether offline or online, WRC 9 packs a punch with its many hours of content that will hopefully carry through to next year's title.
Tiny Racer is an extremely hard title to recommend to anyone. The non-contact racing is fine, and if there was an option in the settings to complete races without bumping into other cars or getting flung off the course by a ramp, then this might have had more going for it. Heck, even if it threw the racing out the window, and instead became a stunt-game that focused on accruing points for performing crazy and whimsical stunts, this would've been a more enjoyable experience - but alas, Tiny Racer takes the best parts of 'yeeting' toy cars in a bedroom, and turns it into a highly frustrating digital experience.