The Hong Kong Massacre is obsessed with fist-pumping, high-octane action and is a great offering for action fans that enjoy the likes of Hotline Miami. The first two hours are largely spent finding the game's wavelength, but the pulsing energy of the design helps propel you along. Before long, you'll be swan diving through windows and lighting up rooms with gunfire in pure action bliss.
Resident Evil 2 is certainly propped up by being a remake of an already excellent game, but it doesn't simply lean on that legacy. There's so much great work being done to revitalize the experience for a modern audience, and those efforts deserve to be experienced. Nostalgic fans already got their preorders, but for newcomers - you need to summon your courage, turn off all the lights, and let this game fill you with dread - because it's worth it.
Occasionally, Road to Eden comes to life with fun, challenging combat and a smart implementation of stealth. But even so, the feeling quickly disappears as you remember that there's little to enjoy after you've won. The game often seems empty and dull, with under-utilized characters and clumsy pacing, and not enough overarching mechanics to keep you engaged in the long run.
Hitman 2 is a disappointing follow-up. Instead of working to expand on the elements that worked in the previous entry, there's been a misguided effort to simply add bullet-points to the back of the box. A bad story, less impressive levels, and superfluous new modes leave the sequel lacking an identity, like 47 himself.
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection isn't going to change your life, nor be an experience to carry with you forever, but it is a charming and entertaining distraction that will almost certainly win you over while playing. If you're a Persona fan, it's a must-play, but even if you're not, this could still be a fun game to pull out when you need a pick-me-up.
It's easy to respect something like Return of the Obra Dinn. Puzzling together clues from each death scene is tricky and rewarding, but the motivation for doing so is lacking. There's no one to care about on the ship, no reason to uncover the mystery other than to prove you've done it, and it holds the game back from being exceptional.
The stealth mechanics and fun world traversal in Shadow of the Tomb Raider make it a great game. Whether Lara is smothering herself in mud to shank enemies and return to the shadows, rappelling down into gloomy caves, or blasting creatures with her powerful shotgun, this game has a grimy edge that makes it well worth playing.
If you're an absolute die-hard, I guess you've already picked up Madden NFL 19, but otherwise I'd warn you to hold off and continue playing last year's version. There's nothing special about this year's edition, and with all of the technical issues, it's a major bummer.
Guacamelee! 2 is more of the same. That's not a bad thing necessarily, and with a funny new story, those who have enjoyed Juan's previous adventure will likely be left smiling. But if you're new to the franchise, I'd still recommend starting with the original game before deciding if the sequel is worth picking up.
If you're just here for the combat and don't mind a bad story, or if you're looking to soak up the nostalgia of the golden age of the genre for hours on-end, there might be enough here to justify a purchase. It was perhaps too much to expect that Octopath Traveler would compete with the JRPG greats, as sadly it misses the mark in understanding the nuances of what made those titles so iconic.
The Banner Saga 3 is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, offering a solid end to the narrative with inventive ways to keep the gameplay fresh. This last chapter is a great game on its own, but it also completes a series that has been exceptionally consistent in quality, which is worth appreciating.
Moonlighter is an enjoyable RPG with a fairly typical loot-grind cycle. It might miss the mark with some of its bigger thematic elements and could use a couple of tweaks to be a more well-rounded action game, but Digital Sun gets the important stuff right.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is a fine game that makes it easy to get swept away in the pirate life and the thrills of ship combat. It's a solid evolution on the first outing, though the technical flaws are significant and ultimately detract from the overall impression.
Frostpunk is a solid entry into the city-builder genre with a unique survival twist, and one that's bound to appeal to those who have enjoyed similar games. Still, it lacks the personality and depth to win over anyone who doesn't already love micromanaging workforces and watching numbers go up.
For most of my time spent playing Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, I loved the beautiful world and engaging combat - the core of the game. But every once in a while, everything would grind to a halt and I'd have to deal with the overworld strategy mechanics that feel poorly integrated. Luckily, this sequel has enough great moments to overcome those annoyances.
I don't think MLB The Show 18 is as good as last year's game, but the improvements over the last two years are solid enough to carry the franchise momentum forward. Hopefully, next year's version will get back to the winning ways and bring more substantial changes.
Even as a simple party game, it's difficult to recommend Frantics. There's just nothing that really stands out as a high point. It's flawed in almost every way that really matters and doesn't offer the levels of entertainment one would hope to get from a game like this.