John Cal McCormick
- Final Fantasy IX
- Persona 4 Golden
- Mass Effect 2
Blair Witch's strongest aspect -- its eerie woodland setting -- is perfect for a focused, streamlined, horror experience. Unfortunately, that's not what this game is, and the superfluous, gimmicky gameplay mechanics that are thrown at you with reckless abandon only serve to make the game less effective as a whole. A disappointing story, frustrating level design, and precious few genuine scares leaves us hoping that this is one franchise that gets lost in the woods.
Civilization VI is an excellent strategy game that offers numerous ways to play, and all of them are viable options. You can lead a peaceful nation or a war-mongering empire and still have an engrossing and rewarding experience like few others on PS4. Excessive load times, grating music, and some occasionally irksome controls are the only real downsides to what is otherwise the system's best strategy game, and a title that strategy fans can scarcely afford to skip.
The Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition Pack offers incredible value for money, with hundreds of hours of role-playing game action spread across two main games and various expansions. While players unfamiliar with the series may find the presentation or the sometimes finicky navigation unappealing, the narrative remains compelling, the characters engaging, and the combat challenging. More than that, it's the first opportunity for console gamers to play two of the greatest RPGs of all time, and it shouldn't be skipped.
At its best, Frostpunk provides a tense, nail-biting experience like few others in the genre. It's not about building an empire, or creating a beautiful cityscape, but simply doing what you need to do to guide your people through what at first seems like insurmountable adversity. There's a few niggling issues, but the feeling you get from surviving the campaign is one of utter, unbridled joy, and it's that feeling more than any other why we have absolutely no qualms about recommending Frostpunk to you.
Tropico 6 is one of PlayStation 4's best strategy games, and also one of its most unique, putting you into the shoes of a dictator rather than the standard benevolent overseer that most of these titles offer. Taking your tropical island from shacks and farms to skyscrapers and space plans is a lot fun, and there's enough variety in map design and mission objectives to mean that you'll rarely feel like you're repeating the same beats. And honestly, the music really is pretty good.
Man of Medan kicks The Dark Pictures Anthology off with a whimper rather than a bang. The format has a lot of potential, but this was undoubtedly the wrong story to showcase it. The narrative is slight and rarely gets out of first gear, the characters are annoying, the scares limp, and the dialogue unnatural. There's constant technical hiccups. In fact, the scariest thing about Man of Medan is how it ever went gold in the state that it's in.
Black Desert is rougher than a badger's behind, and the simple combat won't blow anyone's skirt up, but the game does have upsides. The world is fleshed out and fun to explore, the side activities are more amusing than the campaign, and the character creation is superb. This is the sort of game that will undoubtedly appeal to a small subset of people who are more than happy to accept the uglier technical issues as the admission price to a well realised world full of things to do.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a wonderful love letter to Castlevania fans. It's gothy, camp, and unabashedly old school. But it's also a meticulously crafted game that constantly rewards players for exploration and offers unbridled options in combat. For long-time Metroidvania fans, Ritual of the Night is an unmissable celebration of the genre from the mind of one if its chief architects, while for newcomers it's an accessible entry-point that's easy to pick up and oh so difficult to put down. Let's hope the next one doesn't take quite as long.
This Diablo clone shares many of the mechanics with the famous dungeon-'em-up, but scarcely manages to execute them with the anywhere close to the same degree of quality. The moment to moment gameplay is where Warhammer: Chaosbane falls shortest, offering a loop that is neither fun nor addictive by any recognisable measure thanks to dull combat and disappointing loot. There's little reason to recommend Warhammer: Chaosbane in a world in which Diablo III exists – which is the world we currently live in – so we're not recommending it.
Observation uses the unfathomable vastness of space to wonderful effect, conjuring a palpable sense of both isolation and dread that rarely falters across the six or seven hours it'll take for you to see it though. Minor quibbles with some aspects of the storytelling and a couple of quality of life issues don't detract from what is an engrossing adventure that thrills far more frequently than it frustrates.