You can feel Shinjji Mikami's influence all over this one, it's got that Vanquish magic, that God Hand swagger and attitude, all wrapped up in a delightfully colourful world full of good time vibes that's put us in a properly positive mood over the past few days. More of this kind of thing please!
Fire Emblem Engage is another stellar entry in this storied franchise, but it's also one that takes a noticeably different stance than its most recent predecessor. It's all about the combat this time around, at the expense of the relationships and romance that made Three Houses such a fan favourite, so if you're looking for that social element here, you're bound to be left feeling at least a tad disappointed. However, for those jonesing to get down and dirty with some sweet turn-based tactical action - action that's embedded in a satisfyingly OTT, beautifully presented anime narrative - this is as fine an example of the genre as you'll play this year.
Aliisha: The Oblivion of Twin Goddesses is a bright and colourful co-op puzzle adventure that brings some unique and interesting ideas to the table. There are some decent puzzles, likeable characters, a reasonably engaging story, and we love to see games going out on a limb to incorporate the Switch's abilities into their setup. However, there's an overall clunkiness and lack of polish here, too, with little to no obvious direction in most puzzles, and far too much focus on meticulously studying every inch of rooms, resulting in an adventure that's too often an exercise in frustration. It's a shame as well that co-op mode is only available via local play that requires two consoles and two copies of the game, as going it solo is a much less enjoyable experience. Admirable, then, but flawed.
Finding Paradise is a worthy successor to the superlative To The Moon. This second adventure in the series may not quite manage to hit the emotional highs of its predecessor, but there's still a complex, engaging, thoughtful, and wonderfully well-told story to sink your teeth into here in a game that will linger long in the memory once you're done with it. RPG Maker XP does cause a few little niggles with traversal and transitions between scenes, but these are minuscule issues that are well worth putting up with for the fun you'll have with the core narrative over its five-hour running time.
Overall then, it's a decent outing for Just Dance 2023, a definite improvement on what's come before and a far less annoying version of the game than what we were served up in 2022. If you're not a fan of the series, there's still nothing here that's really gonna change your mind — it's still exactly the same dance mechanics at the core of proceedings — but, if it's your cup of tea, this is as good a time as we've had with this franchise thus far.
Pentiment is one of the most unique and clever games we've played in a very long time. It may be the fabulous art style that first draws you to this one, and it really is quite the looker, but it's actually the very obvious care that's been poured into the narrative and the exacting detail in every aspect of the world-building here that ends up selling the whole thing so well. With a story that really goes some places, tons of history to learn about, lots of fantastic characters to meet and plenty of fun and surprises along the way, this is one medieval murder mystery you should absolutely check out as soon as it hits Xbox Game Pass.
Yes, fans of proper puzzlers may find some of the solutions and overall level of challenge here a little disappointing due to their more surreal and playful nature. There are only one or two — including a very clever Rube Goldberg machine — that will really make you work something out logically, but that's not really what Windosill is getting at. This is a wonderful, dreamy little slice of art that sucks you into its colourful toybox world and lets you drift away for the short amount of time it'll take you to see it through to its end.
Bayonetta 3 cranks up the chaos, improves the combat, polishes the level design, and adds a ton of new mechanics to the mix, making for the very best entry in this storied series to date. PlatinumGames has absolutely nailed it this time around, carefully layering on more ways to engage enemies, piling on the OTT gameplay sequences, and giving us multiple protagonists without upsetting the balance of what makes these games amongst the very best examples of their genre. With excellent performance in docked and handheld modes, incredible visuals, non-stop action, and a hugely replayable campaign that's a joy from start to finish, this really is a huge celebration of everything we love about Bayonetta, an action all-timer and one of the biggest highlights of 2022, on Switch or any platform.
Gotham Knights is a dark, dense and surprisingly gripping action adventure that almost manages to step up to the level of the very best of the Arkham series. There's a cracking story to dive into here, a huge and wonderfully detailed city, tons of lore for Bat fans, brutally crunchy combat, four cool superheroes to get a handle on and some of Gotham's most infamous villains to take down as you fight to prevent an all-out turf war. We were slightly concerned going into this one but, as it turns out, we needn't have been. If you can ignore some messy menus and a few too many upgradeable bits and bobs, you'll have a great time.
No Man's Sky on Switch is a fantastic port of a game we genuinely didn't really believe would make the transition to Nintendo's console without some serious technical issues. Hello Games has made the necessary cutbacks and downgrades to get this intergalactic survival sandbox playing at a super solid frame rate and the colourful, chunky graphical style here ensures that it all still looks pretty fantastic to boot. With all of the game's previous updates and content included - barring multiplayer at this point - and a plethora of customisation options courtesy of the massive Waypoint update, this is an easy recommendation for survival fans and one of the most impressive ports we've seen on Switch to date.
Moonscars is a dark and punchy 2D action adventure that tweaks the Soulslike formula just enough to make it worth jumping into yet another entry in this most overstuffed of genres. The combat here is super slick stuff that's meticulously animated through the game's exquisite pixel art style, there are a ton of cool skills and weapons to get your hands on, and the world and its enemies are thoroughly well-designed. It's a shame, then, that this Switch port currently suffers from fairly consistent frame rate issues, because beyond a few difficulty issues here and there, it's pretty hard to find fault with what Black Mermaid has served up. Let's hope this one gets a performance patch for those stutters.
Honestly, if you're a fan of Skyrim, we reckon this is an upgrade that's worth grabbing and it's also worth pointing out that, although the full version is expensive, you can frequently catch the standard version of Skyrim on a deep discount during eShop sales and then upgrade that way. If you've never played the game before — and we 100% refuse to believe there's anyone who hasn't — this really is the best, most feature-rich, content-packed version of an RPG that, no matter how much we make fun of it, always completely sucks us right back into its world every single time we boot it up.
Get busy unlocking new powers, blinking in behind bad guys, stabbing and shooting and skulking around, scouring environments for clues, choosing which lead to follow next as you push and pull and probe every corner, every wrinkle of this labyrinthian puzzle box. And it's on Game Pass too? You're spoiling us, Microsoft.
NBA 2K23 makes the inevitable downgrades and cuts that we see every year with this franchise on Nintendo's console and, just like other last-gen versions of the game, it's also missing both The City and the brand new MyNBA Eras. Loading times can be frustrating, and 30fps basketball feels noticeably stodgier than the 60fps found in other versions. However, if you can put up with these necessary downgrades and slight technical shortcomings, this is still a solid port of a superb basketball sim that's stuffed full of enough content to see fans through another season.
Beyond the ability to collect minifigs and customise your character — something that does nothing to really change up the actual battling at the heart of it all — there's very, very little here to sink your teeth into. It all ends up feeling like a rather poor free-to-play mobile game, and one that doesn't perform very well on Nintendo's hardware.
Immortality is easily Sam Barlow's best game to date and, when you consider the delights he's served up previously, well, you get an idea of just how good this one really is. It's a dazzling display from any angle you to choose to admire it; top-notch acting, brilliant writing, a core mechanic that's complex but carried off with style and grace, intuitive controls that draw you into your role...just remember to avoid spoilers, dive into the mystery of Marissa Marcel completely unsullied, and you're in for one of the most exquisite gaming experiences of this year, or any other, by quite some distance.
Kirby's Dream Buffet is a colourful and chaotic slice of slapstick party game action that serves up a nice range of modes to play either offline, in online ranked matches, and with friends in split-screen or local play modes. This is an easy, breezy game to jump into, perfect for beginners and young gamers, with plenty of courses, lots of unlockable goodies, and a budget price point to boot, making for one delicious treat that we're gonna be digging into for some time to come.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a genuine masterpiece and the highlight of Monolith Soft's superb series thus far. There's an emotionally-charged and surprisingly edgy epic to get stuck into here, a sprawling and hugely engaging narrative populated by a cast of unforgettable characters that's backed up by some of the very best combat we've had the pleasure of getting to grips with in this genre to date. Over 100 hours into this one, we're as captivated now as we were when we first booted it up and it has more than delivered every bit of the adventure, emotion, and action that its key art promised it might. Aionios awaits, it's time to seize the future.
F1 22 is another super solid entry in Codemasters' superlative run of racers. There may not be any really pressing reason to pick this one up if you own last year's game, but besides a lack of new ways to play and an F1 Life mode that's all a bit pointless in the end, this is still the pinnacle of F1 video game action that fans of the sport will no doubt be enjoying until F1 23 drops.