Mollie L Patterson
There was a lot of potential for Code Vein to end up little more than a mediocre Dark Souls clone dressed in anime clothing, and yet, it's actually kinda, sorta, pretty good. The game mixes some long-established gameplay qualities with a totally engrossing class system and a story that's more enjoyable than it has any right to be. Code Vein won't be for everyone, even if you're a Souls fan, but if the overall idea sounds appealing, the execution might surprise you.
While it feels like a not insignificant step down from the breakout hit Until Dawn, Supermassive Games' latest attempt at interactive horror still serves up some compelling thrills and chills. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan definitely gets better the deeper you get into its story, but traveling that path is fraught with technical issues and questionable narrative direction more often than it should be.
Bucking the trend of "bigger, badder, louder, faster," Samurai Shodown is a return to the glory days of SNK's beloved sword-slashing fighting franchise. The slower, more thoughtful combat style the franchise is known for is on full display here, challenging players not just to be better at fighting games, but also smarter. Wrapped in a beautiful overall package and given some interesting new roster additions, Samurai Shodown is probably the best new chapter we could have ever hoped for.
Making a spin-off to a beloved niche series that then drops its most popular character seemed like a crazy idea at first, but Judgment is a success beyond what I could have expected. Though it never quite escapes the shadow of its older siblings, this tale of a fallen lawyer and his refusal to let go of the truth provides an experience that has a lot to offer both Yakuza fans and newcomers alike.
A lot of people are probably going to sleep on, or not even know about, A Plague Tale: Innocence—and that's a shame. It's a gripping, touching, emotional, yet at times horrifying experience, one that feels quite unlike almost any other game out there.
While it's an unabashed Left 4 Dead clone that never extends beyond the conservative concepts and budgets that obviously constrained its development, World War Z offers up an enjoyable adventure that at times does a lot with the little it attempts. No matter whether playing the co-op campaign or competitive multiplayer, there's enough good to the game to make the bad not feel as bad.
Dead or Alive 6 is a solid new chapter in Team Ninja's long-running fighting game series that has rarely been satisfied with just being "solid." All of the groundwork that needed to be built here was built, but upon it was placed a mostly by-the-numbers experience that is too often just as frustrating as it is fun. While a reworking of the game could leave it in a much better place in the future (and on newer consoles), for now it's a good release for people wanting more Dead or Alive as long as they don't mind its value is limited.
Jump Force is the kind of game that would usually just come and go due to how unimpressive and flawed of an effort it is, and it's more than likely that that's exactly what it is going to do. And yet, buried beneath all of the bad is some honest amount of good. It's almost a shame that Jump Force wasn't more of a mess in everything other than its 3-vs-3 fights, because the game would be a whole lot more enjoyable if we were able to laugh at its terribleness more often.
The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince continues Nippon Ichi Software's tradition of visually compelling games that sadly feel a little lacking in the gameplay department. This adventure of a wolf in human form leading a delicate prince through a dangerous forest could have benefitted from a deep level of puzzles and polish—and yet, in the end, it may still win you over due to its style and sentiment.