PAYDAY 3 isn’t the seismic improvement over PAYDAY 2 many might have been hoping for, but it is a refinement of the formula with a few fun new additions. Though the number of heists is currently at a modest number, they have a decent amount of replayability whether you use meticulous stealth or go in guns blazing. Despite a very troubled opening week, there are firm foundations for lots more heisting content to come here. Chains, Dallas, Wolf and Hoxton have come out of their latest heist with some scars to show for it, but with a few bags full of cash nonetheless.
Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is a lovingly made restoration of a cult favourite FPS title that significantly improves the source material. However, it can’t hide how fundamentally dated and limited the core design is. It just doesn’t stand the test of time like Doom or other classic 90’s shooters. Nonetheless, old-school FPS fans, and those looking for a shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously, will be pleased and punch with this truly definitive version of Rise of the Triad.
Sprawl is a focused and fun boomer shooter, even though it whets your appetite for more than it ends up giving you. There’s some brilliant ambience and scenery that suggests a much richer, more complex world than you get to see in its straightforward levels, empty of people and things to do other than an army of familiar foes to kill. Nonetheless, the gunplay is top-notch, especially when mixed with some wall-running parkour action. If you’re looking for an entertaining FPS with a satisfyingly cyberpunky flavour then Sprawl is just the right implant to augment your Steam library.
Jagged Alliance 3 is a versatile strategy RPG, packed with personality and entertainment. You really have an opportunity to overcome tactical problems with your own personalized approach without being forced into playing a certain way. Any hardened SRPG mercenaries looking to take on a challenging but rewarding contract will definitely enjoy spending countless hours delving into the jungles of Gran Chien.
Terminal Velocity’s gameplay is a little dated after two and a half decades in the hangar, even with a fresh coat of paint, and isn’t going to win in a dogfight with today’s premier flight sims or space shooters. Nonetheless, the developers have done a great job of polishing it up and making it work perfectly on modern systems. I enjoyed playing it again for its high-octane tunnel-traversing, radical soundtrack and bombastic alien blasting, and I think others could too provided they’re primed for a nostalgic blast from the past.
Like the older but wiser cast of characters, the puzzling gameplay has matured, taxing your wits, but not your patience, never leaving you so bogged down with frustration that you can’t enjoy the comedy. Some gaming franchises age like milk, some age like wine, but Return to Monkey Island has aged like the finest bottle o’ rum.
Cultic is an astonishing achievement for a one-man studio. It has the creepy, sinister atmosphere of the finest horror titles, packed with the cathartic carnage of the best FPS games. It’s an odyssey into the heart of darkness, with the path blasted open by dynamite. Far more than just a worthy spiritual successor to Blood, Cultic is a descent into pure madness that you won’t want to miss.
Prodeus is self-consciously an old-school shooter, and it does a good job in replicating the frenetic, explosive gunplay and oppressive atmosphere of classic 90’s FPS titles like Doom and Quake. Sadly, beyond some interesting aesthetics, it doesn’t really stake out much of an identity of its own. The lack of any real story, worldbuilding or unique gameplay mechanics stops Prodeus short of being something really special. Still, if you’d like a game where you can switch off your brain and just exercise your trigger finger, Prodeus provides a great world to blast your way through.
Betrayal at Club Low is a masterclass in artful innovation. It gives the player a lot more interactivity and agency than its predecessor, Tales From Off Peak City, and in the process totally re-invents the entire point n’ click adventure genre. Trying out such a bold new gameplay style was a big gamble, but it’s a roll of the dice that’s won big.
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.