Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an absolute delight, chock-full of optional extras that fans will revel in, and a narrative journey that takes fun and fascinating twists and turns. Delivered with an unmatched tone and energy, an impressive, evolving art style that enables players to see how the franchise evolves in real time, and some smart mechanics that have been well adapted from handheld systems, this collection is a must for first timers, new fans or old school fans with its variety and consistent quality.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is exactly how a licensed game should be made, really respecting the culture, identity, and style of the world James Cameron has built, finding ways to really gameify the experience and make it enjoyable, all while adding something to the universe that even connects to its future. Navigation is quite cumbersome in general, and you’ll start feeling like some missions are a bit too filler’y as you progress, but this is a must for fans of the series. In fact, it’s one of Ubisoft’s better open world offerings in recent years.
The Talos Principle 2 is a stunningly presented sequel, with glorious visuals, breathtaking soundtrack, and a semi-open world environment you’ll want to explore every inch of. Its puzzles gradually, smartly evolve with the game and its ideas stay interesting and fresh, but it’s the compelling conversations and thought-provoking dialogue that you’ll stay for, presenting intriguing scenarios and heart-wrenching moments. Some issues around performance and end-game puzzles aside, this is an important release for the genre, a successful sequel in every sense, and a must play whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.
Sonic Superstars is slick, smooth and the best Sonic game in a long, long time. It captures the spirit of the original series, modernises it in a way that will connect with today’s audience, and finally sets up an exciting pathway for the future of a franchise that has struggled to stay relevant. Not all concepts are the finished article, its ideas do run a bit dry late on and there is some stop/start gameplay here that can get a bit frustrating, but the creativity, energy, vibrancy, and thrill-seeking that permeates throughout will ensure this is one adventure you won’t soon forget and one you’ll want to replay again and again.
Phantom Liberty is an absolute triumph in game design and one of the best pieces of DLC ever made. It’s that rare release that not only goes further than the base game but improves the overall experience with supporting updates. With a fantastic, unforgettable cast of characters, superb writing, tons of action, and wonderfully creative missions, if you’ve been waiting to play Cyberpunk 2077, this is the incentive you need to jack in. The content can be a bit too action-heavy with danger around every corner and there’s some time delays between missions which get a bit frustrating, but none of this is enough to deter you from Dogtown.
Super Bomberman R 2 does so many things right, but also just enough wrong to be a bit of a mixed bag. Between the awful Castle Mode, the confusing rotation on multiplayer modes, the clunky UI with limited discoverability and, at times, repetitive story mode, you end up disengaging from the experience just when you’re finding your fun. My favourite moments came when diving into the classic modes, using the new bombers and their abilities, and experimenting with iconic Konami characters. But the game seemed determined to cut me off from that time after time between shoehorning Castle Mode into the story and not letting me play the modes I want, when I want. A frustrating experience.
Separate Ways is a well-designed piece of content that provides a non-stop, action-packed tour of what we’ve already played while adding in some clever ways to traverse familiar terrain, seeing it from alternative perspectives. Ada’s abilities only add to the experience, freshening up the core loop just enough to keep you interested but her story also dovetails brilliantly with what we’ve already played while setting things up for the future. Whatever that might be. Capcom have expertly weaved in previously cut content and even added in a few surprises that you may not catch on just one playthrough. While it doesn’t massively change the formula from the game you’ve already played and standard enemy variety – beyond bosses – isn’t overly different, it’s a healthy length with great variety and an essential component of the wider RE4 story that you simply must check out.
Dimension Shellshock adds a wealth of replayability to Shredder’s Revenge that just didn’t exist before. The Survival Mode completely defies expectations, is full of fan service, and just fits the game like a glove. Throw in Karai and the absolutely brilliant Usagi, more amazing music, all at a low price and all of a sudden Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge becomes an infinitely better, more well-rounded and essential product. This is DLC done right.
Armored Core VI is not the usual FromSoftware jazz but it’s still not going to take it easy on you. From its deep layers of customisation, its huge amount of missions and the surprising amount of variety within them, and the wonderful free-flowing, fast-paced movement, this game stands apart as a fresh-start for their forgotten franchise and a throwback to their glory days. Fires of Rubicon is a showcase of a developer at the peak of their powers, able to switch up things to great effect and still manage to deliver a high standard of quality.
The Making of Karateka is a fantastic ride from start to finish, full of heartwarming moments, incredible gaming history, and never before seen looks at one of the industry’s most important games. Complete with a solid reimagining of the game for a 2023 audience, along with a surprise redo of an early Mechner prototype, this is a great start to the Digital Eclipse Gold Master Collection. We cannot wait to see what they do next.
Immortals of Aveum has some real promise, offering a dynamic, fulfilling combat system that makes you think and keeps you on your toes. There’s a rich world offered here, with some beautiful environments and an enjoyable core loop. However, the story, forgettable characters and erratic performance really harm its prospects and hold it back from its full potential.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is one of the most creative, original and interesting games to come along in a long time. The voice acting is world class, and its cast are clearly having the time of their lives. The comic book artstyle is beautiful, the story is compelling enough to keep you hooked, but unfortunately it is hindered somewhat by its limited gameplay and simplified mechanics. Beyond its save issues on Xbox, however, if you’re looking for a different kind of gaming experience from anything else out there, this one won’t lead you astray.
Archer’s Paradox is a fantastic way for Telltale to reannounce itself to the world, doing what they do best, while working with one of the best narrative studios in the world. The Expanse: A Telltale Series starts off in an affirming, hard-hitting way, with fun mechanics, optional objectives, and some impactful decisions that will certainly have wide-reaching implications. Slight graphical hiccups, sound quality issues, and a short length do hold this one back a bit, meaning it’s not among Telltale’s best, but none of that is anywhere near enough to stop me from getting hyped for what comes next.
Final Fantasy 16 is sure to split fans down the middle as it pushes toward a more mainstream audience, watering down some franchise staples, while removing others entirely. It is, however, a great entry point if you’ve never played the series before and one of the most spectacular-looking games so far this generation, accompanied by an enjoyable core loop that kept me invested for over 80 hours and some of the most memorable characters the series has produced in years. The localization is the best I’ve seen in FF history, with some incredible performances, and its breakdown of world history and character development is sure to be emulated and studied for years to come. Perhaps not the strongest instalment by its own huge expectations, with story that gets tonally confused, grindy quests, and some characters getting sidelined, but it is a remarkable achievement all the same.
Bleak Sword DX is a good challenge with a wonderfully designed retro 3D aesthetic, a steadily paced, increasing difficulty of enemies to keep the content feeling fresh, and some nice gameplay changes to ensure you’ll stick with it through the fun times and the rough. Odd disconnection issues, combat and control repetition and responsiveness do add to the frustrations a bit, but not enough to deter you from this satisfyingly savage slasher.
Etrian Odyssey has an easygoing nature that blends beautifully into the background, making it a perfect summer game for nights in the garden or while you’re watching TV. The map building is surprisingly satisfying, the visuals are stunningly rebuilt for Switch and the soundtrack transports you to wonderful retro eras past, while being a fulfilling, rewarding game in the modern era.
Street Fighter 6 is the best, most welcoming fighter I’ve ever played. From the presentation to the content, to the way it prepares you to fight in ranked and the stability of the online component, it’s easily the best and most complete Street Fighter game Capcom have ever made. With an enjoyable, World Tour mode that can sink hours of your time, to a thriving community-driven Battle Hub and all the prerequisites you expect from the genre, this stands alongside the best games released this year and is set up to be played and enjoyed for years into the future.
In Tanta We Trust is a short, sweet DLC that has a good flow and energy. It paints a picture an intriguing, compelling picture of the wider world, and sets the scene for a future, despite the fact it remains uncertain. Content size, occasionally clunky dialogue and no major changes in content from the base game may be offputting for some, but what is here makes for a solid, well-rounded addition to Forspoken, whether it serves as a continuation for a player or an entry point.
Puzzle Bobble: Everybubble! does what the series does very well, smartly adding new ways to play, keeping the campaign fresh, but also providing enough content away from that to keep you invested and engaged. Accuracy is a little bit off using the aim at times but this is as close to a definitive Puzzle Bobble experience as you’ll find, with an exciting looking global ranking mode and a multiplayer inclusion which, when it works, it does surprisingly well.
LEGO 2K Drive takes the best bits of Mario Kart and Forza Horizon then fuses them together in a distinct, everything is awesome kinda way. Whether you’re looking for a fun party game you can play with your mates across formats, an exciting creative tool to exercise your imagination or something to keep you busy for weeks and months ahead, this surprise package is an absolute delight. Slight balance and terrain issues aside, the potential for this is massive and might just be the best ever use of the LEGO license in a video game to date.