Metal: Hellsinger is a good time, if not a short time. Hard as nails, rewarding as they come, and fuelled by some of the best names in heavy music, The Outsider and Funcom have made a game that’s worth every second of your time it takes up – even if that’s only about the length of one of the more epic prog albums out there. A knowing and fun take on the rhythm shooter genre, plagued with some calibration and UI issues, this romp through Hell is as satisfying as it is frustrating – and not even hearing the dulcet tones and throaty growls of Trivium’s Matt Heafy can offset that.
If you grit your teeth and pay out for the DLC, you won’t be disappointed: Sunbreak is an essential expansion for any Monster Hunter fan, and – paired with Rise – may well be the best entry point for anyone eager to learn more about this fascinating series, too.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a B-movie game. It’s loud, dumb, and full of fun. You have to ignore a lot – a lot – of issues if you want to extract the joy from its chaotic heart, but once you commit, toy around with the weapons, penetrate its poorly-explained mechanics and forgive Jack for his one-dimensional personality, you’re left with a game that’s part Devil May Cry, part Nioh, and part Face/Off. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to play that?
Resident Evil Village is an essential horror experience that shows off what Capcom is capable of when it doesn’t compromise its vision in any way. The developer uses subgenres like puzzle pieces, clicking them into place on a grid to reveal the bigger picture: a survival horror collage, realised with remarkable production values and a deep love for its extensive roots. Resident Evil Village will be held high by Lady Dimitrescu and her peers for years to come, to rest head and shoulders above its genre rivals.
It’s a shame, then, that some of the level design choices don’t really pair up with the engine Toys for Bob has built this love-letter to 90s platforming games in. Loose and floaty physics, an abundance of different mechanics that often feel part-baked, and some design choices that feel sadistic – rather than simply difficult – leave this approach to Crash Bandicoot feeling less like a true sequel, and more like a licensed spin-off.
If you can break through the more sluggish and unenjoyable moments of the game, you’ll find an absolute gem of an action-RPG shining at the core, a promise of what Square Enix can do with role-playing games in this generation and generations to come.
Building on every aspect of Blind Forest – from art to music right the way through to level design and combat – this is a sequel worthy of celebration. In just two games, Moon Studios have proved itself to be one of the most creative, exciting and invaluable studios in Microsoft's wider roster – worthy of celebration alongside the masters and creators of the Metroidvania genre.
Pokémon Sword and Shield are not bad games. But fun character arcs and inventive, creative designs of new ‘mon are often offset by poor pacing and restrictive world design. The world of Galar is charming, and is a Pokémon interpretation of Britain I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid, but between gating what Pokémon you can catch behind Gym Badges, some half-baked route/City designs and a modest amount of post-game content, Sword and Shield can only be called ‘good’ Pokémon games… not ‘great’ ones.