It has incredible art design and presentation, is so cleverly designed, and has a pace that makes it hard to put down once things get going. The surface-level view of the game is unassuming but digging into the worlds of Cocoon reveals an experience that is unforgettable.
It feels strange to put gameplay at the bottom of the list for any video game, but Fort Solis clearly made performance and visuals a priority. With a cast consisting of two video game A-listers, the game showcases what a difference hiring talented people can have on the impact of a story. Disappointing conclusion aside, the visuals, tone, and the acting are strong enough to satisfy some people. However, the gameplay is rarely fun and occasionally frustrating, even if the mood is tense and the desire to see more is compelling. Fort Solis is a hard game to recommend for a mass audience, but there is a specific subset of gamers who this game will really resonate with.
Disney Illusion Island is a great introduction to the world of Metroidvanias that will put a smile on anyone’s face. It might be simple in some ways but the design, writing, and fluid gameplay are solid enough that the experience rarely feels repetitive or uninteresting. Mickey and his friends have been mainstays of gaming culture for decades now, and Disney Illusion Island brings those characters to a new generation in a way that feels modern and approachable.
The game is by no means perfect – its pacing is inconsistent and side quests can be hit or miss – but the combination of the combat and the story at large are strong enough to reduce any complaints to minor quibbles. Recently, Square Enix has come out to say that Final Fantasy can take on many different forms depending on the team behind it, and the folks at Creative Business Unit III have found a way to make this latest game their own. There is so much joy and care put into making sure that this experience feels epic and rewards its fan base, even though it’s doing a lot of new things. Final Fantasy 16 is proof that the unexpected can be just as enjoyable as the tried and true.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is easily the best compilation that TT Games has put together. Visually stunning, mechanically evolved, and endlessly entertaining, the game puts its foot on the gas and never lets off. Pacing issues and simplicity aside, the fact that the devs could revisit games they literally already made and make this package feel fresh is an accomplishment all its own. No matter how players might feel about the stories of the three trilogies, it’s hard to argue this is the best video game representation of them that just so happens to be LEGO.
Sifu is a one-of-a-kind rogue-like that marries an engaging setup with sublime combat mechanics. It scratches that integral itch that fuels subsequent runs, and it tries its best to avoid the feeling that time has been wasted. Progression exists in many different forms, but Sloclap's standout title pulls off one of the more impressive versions of it. Sifu shows players they are actually getting better at the game.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition offers modern consoles a retro beat 'em up with a top notch soundtrack.
On its own, Astro’s Playroom would be a fun platforming distraction fit for younger gamers or families. Its world is vibrant and wonderfully detailed, and it looks exceptional on the PS5. But in all honesty, this isn’t so much a game as it is a showpiece for what the DualSense controller can do. And as a result, this isn’t so much a review, as it is an opportunity to highlight how well the features on the PS5 controller work.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an exceptional follow-up to Marvel's Spider-Man, even if a lot of the formula feels familiar. On PS5, though, it is a must-play just to see the potential of the new hardware and what it will offer from both a visual and a performance standpoint. For many console gamers, this will be their first taste of steady 4K 60FPS or Ray-Tracing that adds meaningful improvements to the presentation. Insomniac's work on the game is stunning.
As a result, Spelunky 2 isn't attempting to convert any who weren't fans of the first game. The game has a very specific approach and will not be for everyone, but those who adored the first game are guaranteed to feel the same about its sequel. At a time when gamers are less inclined to take risks with their purchases, Spelunky 2 offers the comfort of the familiar.
Horizon Zero Dawn is already an exceptional game in its own right, but on PC it is easily the better experience. Whether gamers weren't interested the first time around or they don't have a PS4 but do have a PC, this is still a must-play. Even those that enjoyed Horizon Zero Dawn will find that the PC version brings some new layers to the table thanks to the higher frame rate and improved visuals. The game still adheres to the open-world mold a little more than some might hope, but the environments, story, and gameplay help elevate it enough to be memorable.