Despite a few missed opportunities to really build on the great games it’s inspired by, Atomic Heart surprised me, with a remarkably inventive world that brings to life (the tears apart) the weirdest, wildest visions of Soviet propaganda. This is a game that’s been through over half a decade of development hell, and come out the other side as one of the best first-person shooters this generation.
It’s a little disappointing, and really quite surprising, that River City Girls 2 shows very little impetus to improve on its promising predecessor. The girls have still definitely ‘got it,’ and still make this colourful and characterful journey worth it through some rough patches, but there’s a little too much reliance on the assets of the original to make it feel worth the rather steep asking price. The original game made a fan of me, while the sequel just about manages to sustain my loyalty, though that will definitely be affected by how WayForward deal with its woeful frame rate issue in the coming weeks.
Once you get down into the dilapidated yet impressive levels of the Hive and start swinging, Darktide is as great a swarm shooter experience as any, but it needs to improve much of the surrounding infrastructure to make that core combat experience feel rewarding and meaningful. Who knows? I may even come back in a year to re-review the game (which is something that should generally happen with more game reviews), but in the meantime it’s a simmering cauldron of potential that still feels a little raw.
For all its superficial swagger, it'd be remiss to call Evil West a case of style over substance, because there's a deceptive amount of substance to its combat system and the vibrant world its set in–just the amount you'd want in such a game. It's a good game for a good while, before its relentless pace runs of steam in the final third when repetitive, tiresome battles highlight the limitations of a mostly solid combat system. With the ability to play the entirety of the campaign in co-op however (with appropriately scaled enemies), I wonder whether spreading the relentless heat between two players could actually be the best way to play Evil West, and I plan on finding out soon.
It was a bold move for the devs to try and move this traditionally 2D style of game into this hybrid 3D space, but I can’t help but feel that Jumpship would have been better off leaving it in 2D, because that extra dimension ends up just weighing the game down. It’s weirdly apt that right at the end of the game, when I’d got two different endings but was trying to unlock what I’d imagine was the ‘good’ ending, I experienced a massive bug that for a moment seemed like a creative decision, as I fell through the world, was reunited with my family on a grey platform in some empty void, then jumped off again to go into an infinite fall. In the end, Somerville’s admirable artistic vision and technical issues merged into one, poignantly showing that these two aspects of a game can’t ultimately be separated.
Among Us VR is a great execution of an extremely popular game - and genre - of recent years. It’s a perfect fit for the medium, and at a refreshingly low price too. As with the base Among Us however, it’s simple stuff - almost a proof-of-concept that this kind of game works in its respective medium - and it may be up to other VR developers to really build on this finger-pointing party game premise to take it to bold new places.
Scorn's ways are obscure, and often frustrating in a way that gamers who didn’t grow up in the 90s may struggle with more than myself. It's a work of breathtaking vision and uneven execution - from its combat, to its unsatisfying ending that sadly doesn't do justice to the gruelling yet oddly poignant odyssey you embark upon. But for its flaws, Scorn makes a hell of an impression, filling me with equal parts immense curiosity and dread. I don't want to return to it any time soon - maybe ever - but I will be scouring the Subreddits and the Steam boards in an attempt to decipher it for a long time yet.
There’s value here, for sure, as a visceral stomp through a beloved fantasy world that offers the rare luxury of being entirely playable alongside a friend. It’s swift, slashy, and simple, but comparing it to other games of this era that have been ported to modern platforms – Okami, Resident Evil Remaster, and Silent Hills 3 and 4, to name a few – you’re paying double to quadruple the price. Buying it at this price point feels like it could set a precedent that shouldn’t be supported, tempting though it may be…
But it’s to Bioshock’s great credit that that’s its most glaring problem when played today (that, and the fact that ‘Arcadia Merlot’ wine actually says Cabernet Sauvignon on the label). To stretch that wine aside into an analogy, Bioshock really has aged like a fine Arcadia Merlot. It remains one of gaming’s great explorations of one of gaming’s greatest environments, even if you can see through Atlas’ bullshit like you can see Rapture’s glorious skyline (sealine?) through its oddly pristine glass corridors.
As a PC player of Rimworld, I’ll be returning to the more bespoke experience I’ve turned the game into on its home platform, but I’m also delighted that games like this are coming to consoles, and being ported with this much care and attention. This is one of the best management sims and story generators around, brought to console in almost all its glory. The quality of this console implementation should be a guiding light for other games in this traditionally PC-only genre to do the same.
After all that, it seems a bit dreary to talk about things like price (bleh), but at $8/£6.79, it really is a generous price that pretty accurately reflects the price of a dessert in relation to the main course. Despite calling itself ‘The Last Course,’ it’s hard to imagine that this is the last we’ll see of Cuphead, though the prospect of seeing what else Studio MDHR could come up with is no less tantalising as a continuation of this series.