Sunday Gold is an intriguing mix of genres that really does a good job at capturing the intensity of a criminal crew going on a high-stakes heist. Sadly, its breakneck pace is often slowed down by too many puzzles that require tedious pixel-hunting to progress. Nonetheless, it’s well worth persevering for the stylishly presented story and exciting capers. If your cup of tea is cyberpunk cockneys havin’ a right laugh uncovering labyrinthine conspiracies and making a few bob in the process, then you’d best have it, my son.
Postal: Brain Damaged is, rather ironically, a sane and clear-headed new direction for the Postal series. Taking out the menial errands and aimless open world of Postal 4 to focus on straightforward levels and intense wave shooting was a great choice. Though the humor is as low-brow as ever, it’s much less repetitive and dials the penis and poop jokes down from a grating 10 to a tolerable 5. Featuring a vast variety of wild weapons and a netherworld full of nightmarish nemeses to use them on, Postal: Brain Damaged is a long-awaited return to psychopathic form for the series.
If Postal 4: No Regerts was released 15 years ago it would just be buggy, ugly and dumb. Since it’s released today, it’s also very dated in its lame scatological humor. With an endless focus on making you do tedious errands, it can take a while before you get to the actual homicidal mania, and when you do, it’s a janky, repetitive letdown. Unless you’re the world’s biggest fan of poop and penis jokes, Postal 4: No Regerts is as much fun as watching someone laugh at their own farts.
When I was first asked what mark I’d give Death Stranding out of five, I said I would give it a question mark. It’s certainly not conventionally “fun”, at least not for the first several hours. It depends on how much the player is willing to embrace Kojima’s artistic vision and absorb themselves in it. Death Stranding simultaneously tedious and exciting, profound and inane, terrifying and laughable. Like the spectral beings that inhabit this post-apocalyptic America, it’s often shapeless and hard to comprehend. One thing is for sure though: it’s like no game you’ve ever played before. In a world full of pandering pablum and endlessly milked franchises, it’s extraordinary for a big-budget game to be so daringly different. Death Stranding: Director’s Cut doesn’t just re-invent the wheel, it re-invents the whole cart, and that’s why the definitive edition of Hideo Kojima’s opus is well worth playing.
Dungeons of Dreadrock is a bite-sized game that I’m sure would work perfectly as a bit of entertainment while waiting for a bus or train on its native mobile platform. However, it’s also great on the PC version as something to gently work out your brain while enjoying the fun narrative and very vibrant pixel-art graphics. This innovative puzzler combines clever yet accessible puzzles with a dash of humour to create a very enjoyable experience. Instead of just putting square pegs into round holes, you genuinely have to think outside the box, and finding the solution is always surprising and entertaining. Dreadrock is a dungeon well worth delving into.
Weird West sometimes gets its wagon wheels stuck on the sand with its exciting but underdeveloped ideas. Nonetheless, it’s still well worth a fair few silver dollars for being an ambitiously open-ended Action-RPG with a truly unique story and ambiance. So saddle up, partner. We’ve got some outlaws and zombies to hunt!
If you sometimes get tired of plodding, greyish-brownish-greenish pseudo-realistic military shooters, this is the antidote. Dazzlingly colourful, unrelentingly fast-paced, unrepentantly zany and bursting with potential for player creativity, Shadow Warrior 3 is absolutely joyous to play from start to finish. So after 25 years, do I STILL want some Wang? You’re damn right I do!
Siberian Mayhem is an entertaining little jaunt for fans of Serious Sam 4. It’s a quick five levels to run through, and I wish it had been a little longer, but for all the new weapons and vehicles it introduces, it keeps the familiar Serious Sam formula fresh and fun without overstaying its welcome. Siberia doesn’t seem an obvious destination for those looking to escape the seasonal bleakness this Winter, but for fans of pulse-pounding action, Siberian Mayhem hits the sweet spot (with a cannonball).
Expeditions: Rome is a profoundly in-depth RPG that manages to achieve much of its lofty ambitions with verve. There are a few potholes in this otherwise flawless Roman road, especially with how steep the learning curve is, but they should get smoothed out in time. For those who loved the tactical machinations of X-Com, but wanted a bit more character development and a personal story, Expeditions: Rome is more fun than visiting the Circus Maximus and Colosseum with a full amphora of wine.
For those who want a brutally raw retro-styled shooter where constant carnage is the order of the day, Serious Sam 4 will sate the bloodlust of even the most maniacal gamers. Not only that, but it’s genuinely funny and well-written, and the trials and tragedies Sam experiences tugged at my jaded heartstrings far more than I expected them to. Many would not enjoy Serious Sam 4 because gunning down endless waves of slavering aliens and mutants becomes brutally relentless – but if you’re a hardcore shooter purist, that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Playing The Sundew is much like eating at a fancy boutique restaurant. You’ll be served something that’s beautifully presented only to then find the meal isn’t nearly substantial enough to fill your belly, and you’ll be aghast at the bill for it. The story flies by before it’s even had a chance to begin, and even though there are multiple endings, they only add a little sliver of extra playtime. Though there’s a little fun to be had in exploring the lovingly rendered pixel art scenery, this cyberpunk outing is sadly destined to wash away from your memory – like tears in The Sundew.
There’s some legitimacy to all of the gripes, and that’s why I can’t give The Trilogy the perfect score that these titles would have merited individually when they were first released. Though the teenager in me might balk at giving any of these games less than 5/5, the 35-year-old me can’t deny that they are a bit janky and dated in parts, and much of the work done to update the gameplay has been insufficient or uneven. It definitely seems a big ask to expect folks to pay £55/$60 USD for these more minimal remasters when the Mafia trilogy, for example, was recently given a much more thorough root-and-branch remake of the first game along with the remastering of the other two titles. Still, even though a new coat of paint can’t cover every imperfection (and creates a couple new ugly streaks in the process), Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy is still a serviceable update for three absolute classics. With the quality of life improvements and visual upgrades, it’s still a fine way to enjoy three amazing games beloved by so many.
Bassmaster Fishing 2022 provides a really in-depth and realistic simulation of fishing at the tournament level, but it is missing a lot of the flair that might have made it more accessible to gamers at large. It’s not a catch that will go down in legend, but for fishing fanatics it’s a hearty haul nonetheless.
Rogue Lords is an innovative mix of roguelike and RPG elements with clever new concepts to tax your tactical mind. There’s a constant one-more-encounter compulsivity as you look to make your band of villains ever more powerful, and a huge scope for creativity provided by the reality-bending devil mode. For an entertainingly strategic experience where you have free license to indulge your dark side and wreak havoc with a variety of ghosts and ghouls, Rogue Lords will sate your wicked desires.
Chernobylite is an enjoyable little loot n’ shooter sadly torpedoed by technical issues for the PS4 version. It’s such a shame that the intriguing storyline and the compulsive scavenging fun is completely ruined by bugs. I was looking forward to uncovering the dark mysteries lurking within Pripyat, but until the game-breaking errors are fixed, they will have to remain hidden.
City of Gangsters provides a brilliantly free-form gangsta’s paradise, where countless options are available to weave intricate criminal schemes. It can get repetitive during certain stages of expansion as you have the same interactions over and over, but if you can get over that then it’s pretty compelling. There’s an irresistible one-more-turn appeal that’ll keep you greasing palms and bootlegging hooch long into the night.
Earth Defense Force: World Brothers took a big risk giving a whole new look and feel to the EDF series, but it’s a gamble that pays off well. The more cutesy stylings and arcadey gameplay will turn off some, but many others will find it to be a fresh twist on the EDF formula. With a gigantic cast of international characters to play as, there’s plenty of chaotic joy to be had.
Siege Survival: Gloria Victis is a thoroughly brutal mix of simulation and roguelike. It’s more narrow focus may alienate those wanting a more complete management and strategy title, but may interest others. It’s only for those who want an unforgiving experience and are happy to labour not for a glorious kingdom, but for one more day of desperate survival. If you want a darker simulation title then you’ll find Siege Survival: Gloria Victis is gritty enough to clear a snowed-in driveway in Antarctica.
Postal Redux is a great definitive version of a subversive late nineties classic that men of a certain age can wistfully look back on as a naughty pleasure from adolescence. Still, returning veterans and new players alike will notice that this 24 year old game can only be polished so far and there’s a janky lack of refinement in the core gameplay. There’s enjoyment to be had in Postal Redux, but it’s best enjoyed if you’re able to set your mind and expectations back to 1997.
Evil Genius 2 is a surprisingly addictive (evil) management sim. Despite there being a bit of repetitive busywork to do, there’s plenty of global domination wickedness for even the most power-hungry megalomaniac to sink their avaricious teeth into.