Concrete Genie's painting tech impresses at first and its heart is certainly in the right place, but the game ultimately proves too aimless to support its already brief running time. Adorning the city in landscapes of your own creation quickly loses its luster as you realize that what you create lacks meaningful interactivity. Even the jarring addition of combat midway through doesn't do much to counter the sense that Pixelopus couldn't find a way to build out a full game around a simple gameplay idea.
Telling Lies may borrow its core mechanic from Her Story, but shifting from monologues to two-sided conversations brilliantly expands the investigative gameplay, and a pivot from murder mystery to political thriller gives director Sam Barlow a much richer set of ideas to explore. A few storytelling hiccups and awkward edges do little to detract from a thought-provoking look at the modern surveillance state—delivered not through soapbox lecture but by forcing you, unsettlingly, to participate.
Derivative and beset by astounding technical problems, Days Gone is a rare misfire among Sony's first-party efforts. While the core fantasy of surviving in a world overrun with infected occasionally shines through, Bend Studio doesn't deliver nearly enough compelling moments to justify the long slog it takes to see this mediocre story through to its end.
Fire may have rained from the skies and wiped out entire nations, but the action in Far Cry New Dawn is pretty much the same as it ever was, only less so. A few interesting new tweaks to the series' formula are overshadowed by a cut-rate campaign, a story that gets colossally dumb in the third act, and a resource system that feels both unbalanced and pointless.
Spider-Man's three-part DLC, The City That Never Sleeps, feels a bit like it's trying to have it both ways by telling a story set after the main game without changing up too much for the sake of anyone who might not play it. It might not be entirely fair to complain that an add-on doesn't feel like a true next chapter, and the gameplay certainly remains satisfying and tacks on some welcome challenge, but the full package is an unquestionable letdown after the soaring heights of the original campaign.
Forza Horizon 4 delivers another standout racing experience with plenty of cars, races, and charm, but the way the game implements its much touted seasons feels unnecessarily restrictive and takes away from what would otherwise be a neat addition.
Donut County isn't really bad at what it sets out to do, but its ambitions are so meager that you can't help but feel the concept hasn't been explored to the fullest extent. This is indie game design at its most disposable. I'd be shocked if anyone is still talking about—or even remembers—Donut County a year or two from now.