Dontnod's first season of Life is Strange is a wonderful work, and one of the finest episodic adventure games of its kind. That's a lot to live up to, but Deck Nine does a top job recreating what fans love about the series while setting up a new story to be told about a pair of young women bound by new, exciting feelings and a shared distrust of the world around them.
The Lost Legacy is both Naughty Dog's fun farewell to the Uncharted franchise, and a pitch for where it could go next. The smaller scale works for such swashbuckling adventures, and its more open-plan design shows how the series should evolve. Early promise falters around the halfway point due to some noticeable shifts in what the player is able to do in any given space, but it quickly ramps up again to a spectacular finale. The game also serves as a reminder of how strong the supporting cast of these games has been. Chloe makes for a fine hero, and Nadine would have been as well. Perhaps they'll get a chance to return one day.
What Remains of Edith Finch is an astonishing patchwork of inventive ideas rich in unforgettable moments. This is interactive storytelling in its truest form. A narrative adventure game that serves as another nail in the coffin of the reductive and derogatory term 'walking simulator', imbued with the ideas of a talented team working at the peak of its powers. This is a game that needs to be played. It's an essential new text in the history of video game storytelling.
It's quite literally everything the first game was and more, which might not mean more revolutionary features but does mean a greater depth and variety of options for the new players it is sure to ensnare. With free updates promised for the best part of a year, the game will only improve, and this time it'll have the audience it deserves.
Tokyo 42 has been sold on the strong, vivid visual design of its world, but how player's view it is at the root of the game's biggest faults when it comes to play. The isometric angles and transitions between them often hinder smooth movement and a player's understanding of where they are in the world.When the game comes together as intended, it serves up inventive missions with the thrills to match its obvious influences, but those moments are broken up too frequently by frustrating design choices.
Rime is a beautiful ode to life, loss and childhood that's as much a pleasure to behold as it is to play. Genteel puzzling and exploration make for great bedfellows in a memorable adventure only let down ever so slightly by some minimal frame rate stutter and a final act that while emotionally resonant provides little challenge or escalation in terms of gameplay. Nearly four years on from its much-hyped debut, Rime proves itself to be have been absolutely worth the wait.
Little Nightmares is the kind of horror game we don't see often enough, one that doesn't shock with fountains of viscera but crawls under the skin. Its flavour of terror is unnerving, burrowing its way deep inside you to nest and feed. Its story is one of hope, innocence and corruption that plays, often sadly, to contemporary fears. Issues with its presentation rob it of the same classic status as Inside, but if you're in the market for a slice of horror rich in artistry and carnal dread, Tarsier Studios have crafted a must-have.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the best game in the series and improves it. It looks better, plays better, the soundtrack remains an utter joy and the inclusion of a fully-featured and fiendishly fun Battle Mode is the cherry on top. This is the best Mario Kart game ever, and it's hard to see exactly how Nintendo will ever be able to improve upon it.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series gets off to a good start with a story that intrigues about a set of characters all too familiar. How closely the game looks to the recent movie and upcoming sequel for its tone, characters and design is to some degree understandable, but also seems like a missed opportunity – at least this early on. As ever with a Telltale series there's potential going forward, but if the Guardians are to strike out on their own in video games, they need to play something new. At the moment, they're a bit like a covers band.
Snake Pass is designed for 20 to 30 minute bursts, getting a little frustrated during that time but revelling in the satisfaction of completing a climb and finding a new trinket for the pile. It has issues with its structure and pacing, but not at all with the artistry of its mechanics or audio-visual design. Given life by David Wise's laid back, fun and thoroughly-hummable score, Noodle's world is rich, vibrant and a joy to slither around.