Detroit: Become Human is a poignantly pulpy interactive sci-fi drama where your choices can impact events to a greater and more satisfying degree than in most games of this type. Though I wish its story had been handled with a softer touch, especially considering the subtlety that can be conveyed through its tech and performances, its well-written and acted central trio were vital enough to me that I found myself feeling genuine distress when they were in danger and a sense of victory when they triumphed. Most importantly, Detroit offers a multitude of transparent branching paths that entice further playthroughs, and choices have a permanence that raise the stakes throughout.
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds is an excellent addition to an amazing game. Developer Guerrilla has doubled down on the thrill of the hunt with more challenging machines and testing side quests that are added to the original map through an intriguing new storyline that delves into the mystical side of this post-apocalyptic world. It left me wanting start a brand new game, just to wander around the world, marveling at it.
The Evil Within 2 gives you more options to play your way in a much bigger survival-horror playground than the original. Although a disjointed plot and weak protagonist make it slow to get started, being pursued through an intriguingly bizarre world by plentiful and disturbing monsters kept my palms sweaty and my heart in my throat thanks to a strict adherence to the most important survival horror rule: you should always be on the back foot.
Outlast 2 is a terrifying sequel that builds upon the scares of the 2013 original. Even if its ambitious themes don't always land and navigating through its world can be frustratingly inconsistent, there's more wicked creativity at play here than I've seen in a horror game in a long time. Play it loud, in the dark.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a great-looking remaster of a still fun, ridiculously over-the-top shooter from last generation that pokes fun at the genre while introducing its own distinctively violent, melee-heavy playstyle. On the other hand, it’s almost completely devoid of new content, which makes it less attractive for returning fans who were hoping for anything more than a facelift.
Across a vast and beautiful open world, Horizon: Zero Dawn juggles many moving parts with polish and finesse. Its main activity - combat - is extremely satisfying thanks to the varied design and behaviors of machine-creatures that roam its lands, each of which needs to be taken down with careful consideration. Though side questing could have been more imaginative, its missions are compelling thanks to a central mystery that led me down a deep rabbit hole to a genuinely surprising - and moving - conclusion.
With two unique sets of skills to play with across 10 themed chapters that keep things interesting and a gorgeous, evocative world that feels alive, Dishonored 2 is a remarkable experience. Though I would have liked a little bit more originality in its central story, which again revolves around a usurper to the throne. It’s the stories that I’ve created on my own using its many creativity-enabling powers that I’ll remember, every graceful, fumbling, and hilarious one of them, and I’m compelled to create many more in the months to come.
Cold Darkness Awakened is a welcome change of pace to Rise of the Tomb Raider’s usual rhythms. Though its gameworld isn’t particularly interesting, it does a great job at escalating tension and resolves Lara’s fight against an infected horde with an explosive climax.
Although its clunky controls and inconsistent voice acting dates Heavy Rain, it still remains enjoyable (if mad) B-grade sholock. A stunning visual upgrade on the PlayStation 4 makes this the version to grab if you're new to developer Quantic Dream's games, and existing fans should find enjoyment in a richer aesthetic this time around.
Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is a brief, but mostly entertaining chapter in Rise of the Tomb Raider's lore. While I would have happily swapped the return to the Soviet Installation for a new challenge tomb, its supernatural elements added a noticeably different feel and a welcome sense of tension to Lara's new adventure.
Although not every part of That Dragon, Cancer works, it's a crushingly intimate game that left me thankful for the people who are still in my life, and reflective on those who are not. I'm so grateful to the Greens for sharing their experience.
Batman Arkham Knight: Catwoman's Revenge has a wonderfully twisted setting, but an- all-too-brief campaign doesn't utilize it enough. Like Arkham Knight's Batgirl DLC before it, this is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair.
The Beginner's Guide poses a number of academic questions around the nature of choice, interactivity, and creativity. While it offers no firm answers, it's one of the most thought-provoking and ultimately disarming interactive experiences I've had all year, and one I won't easily shake off.