Mollie L Patterson
Dead Space is one of the true legends of the survival horror genre, and EA Motive's new remake does the original game full justice while also introducing a variety of fantastic new additions and reworkings. Other than some slight disappointment in its visuals on a technical (but certainly not artistic or atmospheric) level, this is a remake that finds a near-perfect balance between retaining the heart and soul of its predecessor and reanimating its body in some unexpected (but positive) ways.
While I’m not sure how the more hardcore racing fans will receive the game, this is the kind of release that’s perfect for those of us who come to those genre entries that offer something that’ll capture our imaginations (and reignite that occasional need for speed). And, if nothing else, Need for Speed: Unbound is available as a 10-hour full-game trial through both EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is more than enough time to see if the game will do for you what it’s done so far for me.
Siblings Amicia and Hugo went to hell and back in A Plague Tale: Innocence in their quest to survive an inquisition, endless hordes of rats, and the humans that looked to take advantage of the young boy's curse. And now, in A Plague Tale: Requiem, they must pay the devil his due. This is the tale of the duo wanting to control their own fate as the fragile peace they had found falls apart, and the harsh lesson that their choices have consequences. As a game, Requiem is a bigger, better, and more ambitious adventure over its predecessor, but as a story, and a look into the lives of the characters that inhabit it, it's so much more.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars has launched at a point in time where I have too many other things going on to give it the attention it’d need for a full review. And yet, after spending some time with it, I really wanted to at least give it some attention. This is the type of release that a lot of you could easily miss, and it’s got enough quirks and rough edges that I think some who try it might give up before getting too far. The more I’ve played Asterigos, though, the more I’ve wanted to keep playing. It doesn’t get everything right, but it does craft a game that feels genuinely unique for everything else I’ve played this year. I might have first discovered Asterigos due to expectations of it being a Soulslike, but what I found was something a little more.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythm Festival is a solid new entry in Bandai Namco's rhythm game franchise, offering a roster of fresh music to enjoy, some creative new game modes, and more unlockables to have fun collecting. The game doesn't offer as many multiplayer options as its predecessor did, but does feature more to keep solo players occupied. Rhythm Festival also offers what is arguably the biggest addition the franchise has ever seen, the Taiko Music Pass-a new music subscription service that can greatly expand the life of the game while also bringing with it some additional concerns over our subscription-laiden future.
Steelrising is a new Souls-like twist on the French Revolution that unfortunately doesn't see all of its lofty ambitions grow into accomplishments. While its gameplay is enjoyable once you get far enough to earn some unlocks and get main character Aegis more decked out, it tries to mimic elements of FromSoftware's action RPG classics without always understanding what made said elements work. When Spiders leans less on taking inspiration from other games and more on presenting its own ideas, however, we get an intriguing-and surprisingly deep-alternate take on an important moment in France's history.
With this third of Tengo Project's revivals of classic 16-bit Natsume releases, the team has certainly saved the best for last. Pocky & Rocky Reshrined takes what was already a fantastic run 'n gun experience, and expands, enhances, and improves pretty much all of the original Pocky & Rocky's components to masterful degrees. From its stunning graphics, to its rich gameplay, to its fleshed out cast of interesting characters, Reshrined makes its predecessor proud while also introducing an all new generation of players to a core game that's still just as worth playing today as it was 30 years ago.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge looks to bring back the glory days of Konami's side-scrolling arcade beat 'em ups and home hits based on everyone's favorite young green ninjas. In its visuals and gameplay, Dotemu and Tribute Games have not only matched those retro classics that they're paying homage to here, but perhaps even surpassed them. Sadly, this trip through time is somewhat marred by inconsistent audio and an Arcade mode that feels more like a slog than a thrill.
Ghostwire: Tokyo offered Japanese developer Tango Gameworks a chance to mix things up after the first two The Evil Within games, and the result is an open-world action adventure that definitely has its moments. Unfortunately, those moments come together with some missed potential and a lack of truly fleshing out all of the ideas presented. In the end, Ghostwire: Tokyo is a good game-but one that could have been something more.
From its humble beginnings as a weird, brutally difficult new project that even its publisher had little faith in, the Souls series has grown into a vessel through which FromSoftware has helped change how we look at, and play, video games. And now, Elden Ring does the same for the Souls series itself. Years of gameplay refinements and revisions blend together with major franchise shifts such as the move to an open world and giving players far more freedom in how they set about saving said world. The result is a title that goes beyond anything Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team have given us before, both as a game and as an experience.
The true test for The King of Fighters XV is going to come in the days ahead, as the game gets into the hands of the general public and we see how everything fares both online and in far larger pools of player-vs.-player matches. For now, I’m excited for KOF XV. Its gameplay feels solid, its roster is satisfying, and its overall visual design once again does the series justice. I just hope all of those things hold up once the real fight begins.
Atari's Recharged series has produced some fantastic remakes of classic arcade hits, but that series' latest entry, Breakout Recharged, is definitely its weakest so far. That's less the fault of the dev teams or the work they've put into these releases, and more the core game itself, as the original Breakout could only receive so much modernization before becoming a totally different game. The result is that Breakout Recharged will satisfy a specific segment of players who can enjoy its more simplistic gameplay, while leaving most everyone else wishing there'd be more to see and break here.
About An Elf is a game about an elf who wants to bring about the elftopia. It's about Princess Dam, who may or may not be a psychopath, and it's about a cat who wants to have half-cat, half-elf babies, and about another elf who pays Dam gummy bears to tell her stupid stories. It's about going on an adventure to fantastical places and facing off against monstrous foes, and it's about figuring out at times overly obscure video puzzles in order to beat those foes. It's a story about love, and loss, and hope. And, in the end, About An Elf is about five to six hours long.
Danganronpa Decadence finally brings Spike Chunsoft's amazing murder mystery series to the Nintendo Switch, accompanied by an all-new bonus game, Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp. While the latter is fun on a shallower level, the Danganronpa games remain engrossing and engaging experiences that are just as good today as they were back when they originally saw release on the Vita. Well, almost as good, as the ports we get here see reduced visuals or performance at times due to (seemingly) being based on the previous mobile releases.
At its basics, Date Night Bowling provides some decent bowling gameplay mixed in with the twist of trying to win over a date before the end of the 10th frame. As a concept, however, the game totally fails to capitalize on the thrill of trying to get strikes on the lane while not striking out romantically. There's so much more that could and should have been done with the game at every level, leaving an experience that'll keep you entertained in short bursts but wanting more in the long run.
Blue Reflection: Second Light is a perfect example of judging a game on what it tried to be, and not what it isn't. While it pales in comparison to other blockbuster Japanese role-playing games, and remains constrained by the long-standing limitations of its developer, it is an enjoyable and engrossing adventure when taken for what it is: a mid-tier RPG that brings together a group of fleshed-out characters who are trying to improve both their lives and their world. Coming off the original Blue Reflection, Second Light genuinely advances the franchise both in terms of storytelling and gameplay, offering an even better experience to those looking for this sort of game.
Shin Megami Tensei V is the Japanese RPG equivalent of mid-century modern design, as the classic style and attitude of the series gets enhanced by—but never replaced with—simpler and sleeker refinements and modernizations. In a moment when Atlus could have given Persona’s sibling series a more market-friendly makeover, the company has instead given us a game that’s as weird, punishing, and mysterious as any previous SMT release that came before. As a longtime fan who wasn’t sure if the team at Atlus still had games like this in them, Shin Megami Tensei V is shockingly satisfying—well, as long as you don’t ask too much of its characters or story.
Metroid Dread is a superb mix of action and exploration that brings Nintendo's classic series into the modern era in a way that feels like a new beginning even as it positions itself as an end to a 35-year saga. Samus, her abilities, and the challenges she faces have changed and expanded over time, but the excitement and satisfaction her adventures provide continue to this day.
Bandai Namco promised that "now is the time for change," and Tales of Arise legitimately feels like a game that's trying to bring change to Japanese RPGs. It's strong characters, epic story, engrossing battle system, and lush visuals are only marred by a disappointing final act, and those areas of the game where the team refused to let go of outdated ideas and conventions. If the Tales team can find it in themselves to push things just a little further, then this might truly be the spark that sets off a revolution in a genre that's needed a regime change for so long now.
Space Invaders Invincible Collection certainly isn't the collection it could have been, and definitely isn't a collection for everyone, but it is still a great look back at the Space Invaders franchise for those interested in such a thing.