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.