These are just some of the many signs that suggest the game was rushed past the finish line (including a reference to game crunch), but its problems run deeper than something that can be fixed with a couple of patches. The story isn’t explained well, the dialog is over the top, the tutorials don’t do their job, and the open world is just a boring place to be. While the combat and the linear facilities go some way to redeeming Atomic Heart, it’s not a game that I can faithfully recommend right now.
Overall, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a relaxing game where players can spend hours tending their farm without even realizing it. The experience never gets frustrating but there are a few design decisions that stop it from being great, mainly the machines that become time wasters while players wait for resources. The residents of Olive Town could be more interesting, but then the point of the game is to build a farm rather than socialize into the night. There are far worse farm sims out there, but this isn’t the best of them either.
Despite the odd slip-up, Stray is a (mostly) relaxing game that takes clever cat interactions and turns them into a compelling adventure. The 8-10 hour story (on a completionist’s run) will certainly tug on the heartstrings in places but will not overstay its welcome. The gameplay is simple enough that it can be enjoyed by all ages although the younger children may find the Zurk imagery a bit scary. Those playing Stray on PlayStation Plus should definitely give this one a go, while those looking to buy the game on release should not have much hesitation.
Sniper Elite 5 makes small attempts at innovation but not enough to stop it from being a fairly safe entrant into the Sniper Elite franchise. The enhanced killcam, extensive weapon customization, and better skill trees help to improve the experience over Sniper Elite 4. Players will undoubtedly have fun roaming the large battlefields of France as long as they can get over the minor bugs, although we could do without those that can stop a playthrough in its tracks. While the standard multiplayer modes and Survival mode will keep players occupied for a while, Invasion mode is what will keep players coming back for more.
Chernobylite isn’t a perfect game. Aside from the continuity issues and the horror that falls flat, there were a couple of game crashes too. However, the game has plenty more positives, including impressive decision-making, the amount of freedom with base building, and simple but satisfying team management. Chernobylite is well worth dipping into for a few hours as long as you remember the game is not meant to be a AAA experience.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a game that struggles to leave the shadow of its predecessor behind, but that sounds like a bit of an injustice too. Ubisoft has tried to replicate the success of Siege‘s Outbreak mode and the game is a fun, challenging, and competent co-op shooter for groups of three friends. Unlike other co-op shooters, it can even be enjoyed by solo players to an extent. However, the repetitive mission objectives and forced grind mean that long periods of play can become tedious. There’s also not a lot of endgame content right now to keep players coming back, unlike Siege that is still going strong many seasons later. Only time will tell if this game will achieve that longevity.
Twelve Minutes starts off well but eventually descends into chaos. The game’s premise of trying to rewrite 12 minutes of a couple’s time is a great idea but the execution varies in success. Twelve Minutes starts well with a convincing story loop and gameplay that makes sense. Unfortunately that story loop becomes confused with a controversial twist that muddies timelines and morals. Gameplay starts to lean heavily into trial and error and some will give up before they see some of the later outcomes. Those that persist will likely remain confused. Luis Antonio seemingly had a lot of ambition with this one, but it hasn’t completely paid off.
Although there are some bugs and missed opportunities, the issues that plagued the game's release on PC and Apple Arcade have been largely solved, making the console experience far smoother. The result is a game that suits both newcomers and those who experienced Beneath a Steel Sky. Newcomers will find a great story that can be enjoyed as an independent game. Those familiar with the franchise will find a sequel that was well worth the wait, although it's unlikely to reach the critical acclaim of its predecessor.
Tandem's world of shadows is an intriguing place with clever obstacles that are fair although not very challenging. Emma and Fenton make a great pair as they navigate the chiaroscuro dimensions even if you know little about either. It's just a shame that the Tale of Shadows' narrative is underdeveloped and even non-existent in places-so much more could have been done. Those wanting a simple puzzle platformer will enjoy their time. Those wanting a story need to look elsewhere.
Back 4 Blood is a great game when played with other people, truly evoking the spirit of Left 4 Dead for a new generation of gamers. This time there's the incentive of a progression system to keep players coming back, although the Corruption Cards don't always make those repeated playthroughs as unique as they should. For those wanting to play on their own, it would be best to wait until the game has been patched to include single player progress. Hopefully that shouldn't be too much longer.
Poirot's latest outing is a better proposition than The A.B.C. Murders a few years ago, but it's not quite perfect. With no puzzles to solve, evidence that's easy to locate, and mind maps where guidance is closely at hand, there's very little challenge for adventure genre aficionados. The story is entertaining, Poirot is represented very well, and what gameplay exists has been created competently, but it sometimes feels more like a visual novel than it does a genuine adventure mystery game.
Aragami 2 had potential to be a great follow up to an indie classic released five years ago. Unfortunately it lacks any real challenge and feels bloated with repetitive mission types and locations. The game starts to overstay its welcome after a while, but there's definitely fun to be had before reaching that stage if you can put up with the plenty of bugs that still need to be fixed.
Murder Mystery Machine could be a great distraction from the usual adventure games. Its emphasis on deductions rather than evidence gathering turns it more into a puzzle game than an adventure game, and it genuinely makes you feel like you're working things out for yourself. The problem is it's held back by several design issues that didn't translate well from mobile platforms to console and these can dilute the fun.
After 16 years of waiting, though, Psychonauts 2 more than makes up for lost time. It's a glorious return for the franchise, one that should keep existing fans happy while being perfectly welcoming for new players. Let's just hope we won't have to wait a similar amount of time for the third game.
I Am Dead is a hidden object game where players can get as much or as little out of it as they wish. Those following the story will find a short but simple game, perhaps too simple for some. The secondary objectives add more to do but seem like a compromise to keep adventure veterans entertained seeing as they carry very little reward. Away from the gameplay, I Am Dead dances around the raw emotions of death but deals with its impacts in a pleasant way. All living things must come to an end but memories can live on and have an impact on the future. Whether this game will be remembered in the future remains to be seen.
Despite these bugs, Button City is a relaxing little game with a great storyline and characters you care about despite their faults. Players can work their way through the game at their own pace as they battle to save the arcade from greed, and Fennel from his own shy and unconfident self. The story isn't lengthy, clocking in at 6-8 hours depending on how much time you spend playing arcade games and completing side missions, but it's a nice little distraction for a rainy day.
OMNO is a game worth experiencing despite its minor faults, especially as it's a great testament to what can be created by a single person. There's no need for a complicated storyline, just simple puzzles and platforming to create a satisfying experience. The gratification comes from working things out on your own and making your own way to the Gate of Light through a journey that never become too difficult or frustrating.
Those wanting to compare the new version of the game to the original can do so if they buy the retail version, which comes with a download code for the original Monster World IV. For the few improvements there have been, though, I'd recommend sticking with the remake; the game just seems more refined even if it does keep most of the '90s tropes. As an (almost) bug free experience, those looking for a more traditional game will love it. However, those who prefer modern platformers will probably want to avoid it.
While this review may well make it sound like Biomutant is full of bugs, the one thing I might not have made clear is just how easy it is to lose hours to this game. With so much to do, time can fly by without you noticing. Yes, the graphics may not be the best with stuttering and pop-in in places, and there were occasional game crashes, but nothing is game breaking and it's a lot of fun. The humor will especially appeal to children, while the game is complex enough for adults to enjoy too.