Hot Wheels Unleashed is really nice to look at and sometimes fun to play, but I’m not sure who it’s for. The in-game currency model is unnecessarily convoluted and annoying most of the time. The difficulty is unbalanced to the point where I was forced to play on easy and swallow my gamer pride. The online multiplayer is where the most enjoyment is, but expect to invest hours trying to pull a car that can compete with some of the rarer racers. If Unleashed were a contender in a race, it would place 12th, like I did many times.
Astria Ascending had me invested in the 25 hours it took me to get to the final dungeon. However, that comes with a padded runtime of level grinding, lengthy battles, dungeon navigation confusion, and many menu interactions. So if you begin, prepare not to understand what is going on until 10 hours into the game, but if you don’t have that time, don’t bother. However, those who do get far enough are in for a genuinely fun JPRG experience that only requires a few quality-of-life improvements.
Eastward will fulfill any action-adventure needs that have been missing in your life. The character writing is fantastic and enhances the more emotional moments as the killer Miasma rears its ugly head. This game is an investment, but you’ll be left with a genuinely standout gaming experience full of action, exploration, memorable characters, and a fantastic final chapter. So do yourself a favor and play Eastward.
It doesn’t seem random that Lost in Random is a great game. The developers put a lot of thought into crafting a fantastic gaming experience alongside a grim storybook adventure. It all works incredibly well with only a few dips of quality that will surely be fixed over time. I enjoyed this experience thoroughly as it delivers on its action-adventure and haphazard gameplay systems.
Metallic Child is a rogue-lite with a grand narrative of saving Earth through some truly addicting action systems. The fast-moving structure of dungeon exploration is complemented by engaging combat mechanics and ever-changing challenges. The challenge becomes easier to manage in the later hours. Still, the repetitive gameloop weighs on the experience if you aren’t in the mood for lengthy dialogue and cheesing your way through encounters using the same combos.
Toem is an enjoyable and charming game where you get to look at a beautifully hand-drawn world through multiple perspectives. There’s the right amount of challenge offered to keep players engaged in a chill experience that also tests their knack for capturing that perfect shot. This is a game to relax with, where the destination is as picture-perfect as the journey.
Deathloop is for detective nerds who just want to blow shit up. Each moment of this game offers some insane new plot twists and discoveries that further highlights how amazing the writing is. Players are rewarded through exploration, but at the cost that they could lose it all if they die in the process. It’s an experience that demands a keen eye and patience at times to unlock everything it has to offer, but at least the dumb enemies will rarely get in your way.
Life is Strange: True Colors presents a great adventure in this beloved series with significant choices and player-driven interactions. The result is a beautiful story of empathy and new beginnings where players have the freedom to shape the narrative the way they want and deal with the consequences along the way. The character animations and voiced dialogue only elevate it to new levels of quality, but long loading times and strange responses can hurt the pacing tremendously.
F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch is a gorgeous Metroidvania that tells a much better story than any anthropomorphic narrative has a right to tell. It’s emotional and engaging during each scene brought together with challenging moments of action and puzzle-platforming. This game respects your time, but some moments can drag on due to limited fast travel and some confusing objectives. Who cares though, you’re a rabbit with a robotic fist attached to your back; how cool is that!?
Kitaria Fables is a laid-back experience of item collecting and farming, all brought together by a decent narrative and a responsive action system. Pace yourself, though, because getting the most of this adventure requires it. However, the artificial padding on the gameplay found in the limited fast travel, lack of universal storage, slow-moving characters, and much more causes some confusion and endless backtracking. This won’t replace your love for Rune Factory, but it’ll definitely supplement your craving for a charming adventure.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is extremely fun to play once through with your friends, but when you’re expected to play the same stages multiple times, the gameplay wains on the player. It becomes more tedious than anything because the stages themselves just aren’t that interesting. Playing higher difficulties provides more challenge to your crew, but it gets repetitive. You’re expected to want to do this for more gun customization, but that’s barely interesting. Regardless, I have to admit, shooting down waves of aliens with friends sure is entertaining.
Hoa doesn’t want to be a challenging, head-scratching puzzle adventure, and that’s okay. What it provides a gorgeously designed experience with a brilliantly executed soundtrack. The gameplay never hinders the player’s progression through this beautiful world made even more immersive due to its beautiful sound design. It’s easy to lose yourself in moments of gameplay as everything comes together for a wholesome experience.
Tormented Souls knows what it wants to be during each moment of gameplay, and that’s shown in its puzzles and deadly enemies. The developers prove they are fans of the genre as the game feels like it was created to even test their skills. The lack of direction works for what they are going for, but some elements just feel like they unnecessarily pad on the game’s runtime. Still, this game is gorgeous with genuine moments of survival horror. Caroline has what it takes to become a recognizable face in this beloved genre.
Madden NFL 22 is meant to deliver a simulated and engaging experience to fans of football. Its animations are great, and you’ll likely only gravitate to one mode that you prefer over the others, but it all acts as a way for fans to connect, and sometimes a rare glitch won’t impact that. There’s a lot of demand for some growth of the series, and this game has a long way to go, it seems, but seeing my dad pick up a gaming controller for the first time in years and can’t be overlooked.
Yuoni doesn’t break new grounds in the first-person horror genre, but it offers an interesting premise of folklore that will definitely have you engaged for its short runtime. Its sound design is at the forefront of its jump scares, which is the crux of the most heart-racing moments. Still, repetitive level design, confusing direction, and limited exploration elements dampen the overall experience.
Greak: Memories of Azure has a gorgeous presentation and world to discover, but the added features, although unique, require a specific type of adventure fan to enjoy. Things just become overly confusing, and my muscle memory never seemed to adapt to the constant demand for accessing the menu and switching between characters. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game, but some elements are largely unnecessary.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris is an awesome expansion featuring gorgeous environments to explore and dozens of ways to progress through the campaign. There’s around 15 hours of content to dive into, packed with choice-driven events and distracting treasures. The added infiltration missions make the expansion feel like a true Assassin’s Creed title, but that also includes the limited enemy AI and random glitches fans of the series are used to by now.
Jupiter Hell doesn’t need the word Doom in the title to make an impact, but it’s commendable how well it presents DRL through modern design. At its heart, it’s a turn-based dungeon-crawler RPG, but that doesn’t calm my nerves when I’m blasting through a hallway of enemies from around the corner with more approaching from behind. This game’s launch version is serviceable, but the lack of enemy variety will leave your first hours of gameplay feeling repetitive in some areas. Still, it’s clear that there’s more on the way for this standout roguelike experience, and I’m all here for it.
Blaster Master Zero 3 is the perfect way to cap off this series for long-time fans. It’s highly encouraged that you play the previous titles, given that the challenge here is significantly higher than the previous entries. This game will test your 2D action skills to the fullest with unique upgrades for both Jason and G-Sophia SV through difficult platforming sections, dungeons, and bosses. However, as a reward, you’re treated to an amazing finale of an over-the-top narrative about a man named Jason who followed a frog named Fred into a portal.
Unbound: Worlds Apart has the appearance of a familiar indie platformer. However, there’s an exceptionally charming and memorable narrative here that guides the adventure through its many challenging areas. As beautiful as this game is, a high amount of skill is needed to progress, so thankfully, there are enough checkpoints to push yourself until you get it right.