Dead Space is a remarkable game, and surely one of the bigger surprises that will come out of 2023. EA Motive has done a great job in remaking one of the best horror games from the mid-to-late 2000s era; going as far as making certain segments feel wholly new again. As a player who never played the original, this remake feels like the definitive introduction to the franchise. I'm clamoring for more of Isaac's story, and even perhaps beyond.
The Quarry is a thrilling experience from start to finish that any fan of Supermassive's other horror games will immediately adore. If this is your first foray into their games, The Quarry is an excellent jumping-in point before diving into their other games. Standout performances, fantastic writing, and horrifying visuals are sure to delight all fans of horror.
Rollerdrome is one of the most unique combo-building games in years. Its combination of Tony Hawk-style skating with Max Payne-esque gunplay is a joy to play. Nailing combos while taking down a swath of diverse enemies does feel nice, even if it does get a bit overwhelming at times. Plenty of players will find a ton of challenges in repeat playthroughs of levels to achieve everything, and will assuredly be able to pull off some sweet moments.
Battlefield 2042 is a good game at its core. It's fun, frantic, and as engrossing as Battlefield has ever been. While the launch has been filled with a myriad of technical issues that I failed to mention in this review, those are sure to be ironed out over the next few months. The majority of maps are too large to be impactful, the Specialist system has taken away a core aspect of what makes Battlefield work as a franchise, and the tone of the game is often at odds with itself. But through it all, I'm still enjoying my time blowing things up, screaming and laughing with friends, and making more of those Battlefield memories.
Subnautica: Below Zero is not as large as 2014's Subnautica but it is as deep. Between its fantastically mysterious story to its compelling biome, Below Zero builds upon what made the first game strong while being unique all on its own. The on-land segments of the game were pretty lackluster overall, which was slightly disappointing; but for a game that is all about discovering what lies beneath, Subnautica: Below Zero is a breath of fresh air.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite encapsulates everything Aliens. From the iconic sound of pulse rifles tearing through hordes of Xenomorphs to plenty of "IT'S GAME OVER, MAN" quotes being thrown out in party chats, Fireteam Elite is a ton of fun. Mission variety, a lackluster campaign, and wonky AI teammates bring the game down from being truly exceptional, but it's undeniable that the moment-to-moment gameplay with friends is worth the price of admission.
The Eternal Cylinder is a fun romp through a weird and wonderful world and I would consider it to be a must-play indie game for 2021. While its survival mechanics are typical of the genre, the transformative abilities of the Trebhum allow the player to get creative with their choices on how to survive and outrun the colossal cylinder bearing down on them.
Elden Ring is a masterpiece. From its expertly crafted open-world design that rewards the player for taking the chance to explore to its riveting lore, FromSoftware has delivered what can only be described as a deliberate and thoughtful experience. While some of its visual stylings are starting to show its age already, Elden Ring's gameplay is the result of years of fine-tuning to be as rewarding as it is challenging. Many wondered if FromSoftware could put the level of detail into an open world that they have with their previous games. They've achieved that, and so much more.
House of Ashes doesn't offer a new unique tale that I found with Little Hope or Man of Medan. I did enjoy my time playing through another The Dark Pictures Anthology tale, but it hasn't left an impact on me as a player as Little Hope did. Choices often felt inconsequential, and few and far between. Character development for all of the characters outside of Salim was underwhelming and disappointing, even though the backdrop of the Iraq War in 2003 was ripe for compelling character development.
Destroy All Humans is a fun 1:1 remake of the original but offers very little in terms of new content. The game's updated visual flair and modernized controls are weighed down by technical issues, which often gets in the way of the destructive fun.
Pumpkin Jack oozes with ghoulish delight that is a must-play for any fan of Halloween. While there are some nitpick issues I had with the game's combat, the music, humorous dialogue and beautiful art direction make it hard to find much to dislike about Pumpkin Jack.
Darq isn't the most difficult puzzle game out there, but it does excel in all uniqueness categories. Its greyscale art style adds to its overwhelmingly gothic vibe while providing puzzles that are difficult enough to force you to pause yet easy enough to solve. It's definitely something to check out, even if you won't be challenged to the fullest extent.
Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated doesn't reinvent the wheel when it comes to platforming, and much of its gameplay feels every bit as old as its 2003 counterpart. But what Rehydrated gets right is preserving what made the original so special, while also bringing the visuals up to date in dazzling fashion.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope isn't a long game by any measure, but what it delivers in its time is used effectively enough to purvey a sense of dread. While not necessarily a traditional horror game full of jump scares or horrific machinations, Little Hope attempts to deliver nuance in the style of an arthouse horror film. It mostly gets there depending on a player's choice, but overall it doesn't completely stick the landing. Little Hope's themes put in a 2020-context make it stand out as a horror title but otherwise, it offers very little in terms of true horror.
Predator: Hunting Grounds looks and sounds like Predator, but lacks the soul of the 1987 classic film. For being one of the most iconic hunters in the galaxy, the Predator feels weak compared to the vastly overpowered Fireteam. I never felt terrified of the Predator, and I think that's Hunting Grounds' most glaring issue. I'm invested enough in the Predator franchise to see what Illfonic has up their sleeves in terms of additional content for the game, but I find it hard to recommend to those who are looking for the ultimate Predator fantasy.
Horizon: Forbidden West is a masterclass open-world game for gameplay and visual flair, but falls flat with its story. While it gets close, Forbidden West never reaches the potential heights of what it attempts to set up. Instead, Forbidden West serves as a solid chapter in what could be a fairly large tale that is an absolute joy to play and take in.
NBA 2K22 features the best gameplay in the series to date, but also succumbs to the weight of its other feature sets. While a step in the right direction in terms of gameplay, its over-reliance on a player's time or money (and sometimes both) continues to be the hurdle keeping the series from achieving new heights.
Star Wars: Squadrons balances fun with complexity to deliver a robust star-fighter sim. While it often is conflicted in how it wants to present itself to players, Squadrons offers enough of the Star Wars fantasy to be enjoyable. While playable on a standard monitor or TV, Squadrons should really be experienced with a nice VR headset and a flight stick.
NBA 2K20 features the best gameplay to date with a plethora of content to chew into at launch. It'll be interesting to see how the game shapes up throughout the year, even after a shaky launch. Launch bugs/glitches aside, NBA 2K20 is one of the better entries in the series.