God of War Ragnarök is a worthy continuation of (and conclusion to) 2018's God of War, building on that already strong foundation to deliver an experience deserving of a spot in gaming's pantheon. New tools and greater enemy variety elevate combat, and the expanded environments and cast give this sequel the epic scope its story demands. But the beating heart of the game remains its characters, and Ragnarök delivers an immensely satisfying next chapter for just about everyone-Kratos and Atreus, returning friends, and new faces alike.
Look, I’m not going to present this to you as a definitive judgment on the game, because I haven’t put in the time I’d usually put into a real review. But part of the reason I’m calling it quits is because I have zero compulsion to play any more than I already have, and I think that’s a kind of verdict of its own.
Desta: The Memories Between can't quite figure out how to make the most of its odd genre mashup. Though the individual elements are solid, a lack of commitment to roguelike randomization in the single mode available at launch means the systems don't really mesh together how you'd expect, and the replay value suffers as a result.
Immortality finds creator Sam Barlow building on the found-footage FMV framework of Her Story and Telling Lies in ambitious and surprising new ways. That boldness pays off in the frame-shifting narrative, which encompasses three meticulously crafted feature films, their creation, and the sinister truth of what happened to the woman who starred in them. But the "match cut" system you use to navigate between clips and discover new ones means the actual process of piecing together the story is messier and less satisfying than in his previous work.
Saints Row pairs a great open-world city and respectable gameplay fundamentals with repetitive, dated mission design, a story that never finds its footing, and too many bugs to count. Depending on what you prioritize in a game, you may get some enjoyment out of it, but at best you're looking at a diamond in a whole lot of rough.
Stray does a great job at letting you act like a cat, turning a wide range of true-to-life feline behaviors into clever gameplay mechanics. But it's much less successful at making you truly feel like a cat, as the game's more conventional approach to its gameplay and story routinely shatters your immersion in odd ways. If you can suspend your disbelief and look past the missed opportunity of a more cohesive experience, however, there's a lot to like in its moody cyberpunk world and varied challenges.
Escape Academy is an exceptionally well designed puzzle game, if not a flawlessly executed one. Developer Coin Crew Games has replicated the creativity and fine-tuned challenge of the best real-world escape rooms while amping up the fantasy and stakes in a way only video games can. But the studio's inexperience rears its head when it comes to polish, with stiff console controls being the most obvious knock on an otherwise great experience.
Horizon Forbidden West builds upon the formula of the first game in smart (if not always revolutionary) ways to craft an even stronger open-world experience. The stunning visuals make for a great showpiece of what Sony's first-party studios can accomplish on PlayStation 5, with gameplay that holds up its end of the bargain. Unfortunately, storytelling missteps and a lack of polish keep Aloy's latest adventure just shy of joining the all-time greats.
Forza Horizon 5 delivers everything that made the last game enjoyable on a map that's more fun to drive with a lot more visual diversity. While the changes and additions are largely incremental-especially when it comes to the core game experience-what's here is good enough to warrant a recommendation for fans of the series or racing enthusiasts who've been meaning to try it out.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy may not be able to quite match the humor of James Gunn's MCU films, but it's packed with plenty of personality and decently fun (if not groundbreaking) combat. To its great credit, Eidos-Montréal's story-driven approach always keeps the focus on its ragtag team of heroes, making for a worthwhile and memorable trip to the Cosmic Marvel universe.
Back 4 Blood certainly improves upon the gameplay formula of Turtle Rock's earlier Left 4 Dead, with a deeper feature set that allows for greater strategy and customization while fending off Hordes of the undead. But the world of the game and its characters lack the charm of its spiritual forebear, and a few curious design choices keep it just shy of greatness.
Far Cry 6's barely hangs together on the strength of the gameplay loop it inherits from its predecessors. Beyond the addition of some fun new toys, like the "resolver" weapons and Supremo backpacks, nearly every design change is mystifyingly for the worse, and the mismatch between the gameplay and storytelling ambitions is more conspicuous than ever.
Deathloop layers a refined take on Arkane's signature mix of ability-driven action and stealth onto a time-looping premise, and the result is one of most memorable games of recent years. While many of the pieces may be familiar, the combination is fresh and full of surprises.
Psychonauts 2 recaptures the humor, heart, and much of the creative magic of the original game, with modern refinements that make it more pleasant to play. While the combat still feels a bit clunky and outdated compared to the rest of the game, fans of the original will no doubt delight in revisiting old friends and making new ones in this charming adventure.
Resident Evil Village expands the pared-back, first-person gameplay of Resident Evil 7 into a more ambitious and over-the-top survival horror experience. Greater variety and more mechanical depth prove that there's a lot of potential left to explore in this new approach to the series, but some elements are a bit uneven, and you may find yourself missing the simplicity of the Baker ranch.
Returnal excellently blends third-person shooter gameplay with bullet-hell style enemies and roguelike elements to craft a fun, challenging action game that you'll have a blast learning to master. The only real shame is that the action is yoked to a story that mistakes being vague for being smart and interesting.
Maquette's core concept of puzzle solving in recursive environments is undeniably neat. But despite the handful of wow moments it enables, developer Graceful Decay ends up squandering much of the idea's potential due to pacing issues and rough edges.
Cyberpunk 2077's bugs and technical issues certainly hold it back, and with any luck those will be fixed in the coming months. But it's more difficult to imagine CD Projekt Red doing enough to resolve the deeper problems: awkwardly balanced systems, storytelling misfires, and an inability to merge its open-world action and RPG gameplay into something smooth and cohesive.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure may not have the most memorable hook or world, but it's a strong, generous, and unexpectedly deep platformer bolstered by a wonderful use of music.
Godfall's sluggish, overly complicated combat, hilariously paper-thin story, and numerous technical issues make it a lowlight of the PlayStation 5's launch lineup.