Cyberpunk 2077 is huge, sprawling, complex, and deeply flawed. It’s at its best as a fairly straightforward singleplayer action game, with likable characters and thrilling capers in a fascinatingly detailed open world that looks better than any game before it. It’s at its worst if you want it to be an RPG, an approach-as-you-please Deus Ex successor, or a polished piece of software. I enjoyed my time with it a lot, and I even want more of it, though I’m going to spend years complaining about its flaws. I’ll enjoy the complaining, too.
The result, for me, was anxiety. A low background hum of “did I miss something”, combined with the high notes of being unable to find the next new area. It was enough to shade my entire experience with Carrion, turning a pleasant enough Metroidvania with a one-of-a-kind protagonist into something I felt like I was struggling to escape from.
It’s the underlying systems which let everything else down, and which felt incoherent to me. Some games only become fun once you work out what they expect from you, and I spent most of my time with Wildfire wondering if I was playing it wrong. Maybe I was, but if there was a fun way to play it, I never found it.
[PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds] is best when one round you're a Ghillie-suited assassin and the next you're a struggling nobody with a gun you've never seen before. When you aren't at either extreme, the highs and lows of play can begin to even out and round after round can begin to blend together.
I can't talk about The End Is Nigh without comparing it to Super Meat Boy because in so many ways it feels like a conscious alternative to some of the defining properties of that rapid, colourful, classic game. But measured on its own qualities, The End Is Nigh is a good game, but not a memorable one.
Brute introduces a few twists as you go along that I haven't mentioned here, but doesn't do enough to establish its own identity and step out from underneath the shadow of its inspirations. That doesn't make it any less fun. If you've tired of its inspirations and are looking for something new, then it'll scratch that same itch.
By throwing out most of Spore's traditional mechanics in favour of a cross between Katamari Damacy and Nested, Everything gets closer to sublimity. And though I don't think it gets all the way there – not for me, not right now – the silliness is constant and delightful.
The Final Station is a simple game, which is always just compelling enough for its duration. I’ve come to think of it as an efficient, low budget horror movie: it has a high concept it can’t afford to show directly and so it wrings as much as it can from the mystery and the satisfaction of piecing the plot together from snippets. It’s only a shame that its action suffers more from never having a particularly interesting concept of its own.