Mollie L Patterson
It’s not a game I can necessarily recommend to a lot of players in any age group, as it’s definitely not as good as it could or should have been in nearly any category. And yet, I have to give it credit for daring to be different in a market of sameness, asking me to play a bee trying to save her world from destruction by heading out into the wilderness, collecting and delivering materials while a story filled with unusual characters unfolds.
In the end, Death Stranding's biggest mystery isn't any of the elements we've had teased in three-plus years of trailers—it's what people are going to think of it. Even from a man known for making love-them-or-hate-them projects, this may end up being one of the most divisive games ever created. For me, it was an experience that I can truly say was unlike any other I remember. And, if nothing else, Death Stranding makes me respect Hideo Kojima for convincing Sony to invest millions into a game that's about a man delivering packages to holograms.
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.