- XCOM: Enemy Within
- Fallout 4
- FTL: Faster Than Light
Star Control: Origins does a great job of creating a new universe and stocking it with a diverse range of weird and funny aliens to fight in intense arcadey space battles. But everything you're forced to do on a planet's surface is boring at best and an annoying chore at worst, and that kills a lot of momentum. Because of that, I didn't really start to click with Star Control: Origins until the last third of the campaign when money became mostly irrelevant and the focus shifted to its strong points of story and space combat.
Flying from planet to planet in search of the universe's rarest materials and technologies in No Man's Sky NEXT scratches an exploratory itch. It still carries a lot of caveats: It's mechanically repetitive no matter what planet you're on, the dull combat should be avoided whenever possible, and bugs are plentiful. But buying new ships and building new things is enough motivation to make it entrancing – for a while, at least.
Donkey Kong Adventure feels almost big enough to be a sequel to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle rather than just an expansion, and it packs in a lot of tactical fun. Donkey Kong is literally a game-changing character with abilities that are fun to learn and use, and Cranky Kong's alright, too. The main downside is that you're locked into one team composition, which limits your ability to change up your playstyle or replay battles differently.
Besides the fact that there's absolutely no evolution involved in it, Jurassic World: Evolution is a bad game because it's just a bore of a park sim. Sure, the dinosaurs look nice enough, but the process of unlocking new species is beyond tedious and actually running the business is shallow and quickly gets stale. It beats getting mauled by raptors, but after careful consideration, I've decided not to endorse this park.
The prospect of playing such a lovingly crafted tribute to the vintage heyday of Konami's seemingly abandoned Castlevania series more than makes up for a few out-of-place boss fights and a slightly too punitive death penalty. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon delivers a brief but effective burst of nostalgia, and thanks to its many creative modifiers it contains enough replay value to engage (and challenge) anyone who pines for gaming's bygone days. And this isn't even the "real" Bloodstained! As appetizers go, it's substantial — nearly satisfying enough to be its own main course.
State of Decay 2's zombie-infested maps are good places to scavenge, fight, and survive in. Combat is satisfyingly brutal and the special zombies inspire some real fear of permanent death, even though the Blood Plague turns out to be more of a sniffle. But the bugs are just as persistent as the zombies, and after a dozen or so hours the repetition of both eventually take their toll, making the appeal of replaying feel more limited than I'd expected for a sandbox RPG.