Less a Gaiden successor and more a general love-letter to its look and style, The Messenger allows fans to hop gleefully between cheery gaming memories without being bound by the rigid controls and punishing precision of a prior era, while somehow managing to remain entirely accessible to newcomers as a fun, unmistakeably wholehearted 2D platformer.
Fans of the story-driven adventure game will likely find parallels with previous successes like Life is Strange and SOMA, though State of Mind's reductive puzzles and constant tone fail to match the level of personality in either. This said, the developers are committed to exploring transhumanism in relation to very pertinent contemporary concerns, and ensure there's enough sci-fi fluff to distract from the simplistic gameplay structure.
The Path of Motus is ambitious in what it seeks to communicate about the relationship we often share with games, and includes several notable spins on traditional gaming components of the puzzle platforming genre. But its arguments need to be embedded within a more rigorous gameplay structure if they're to truly land.
Garage: Bad Trip is an unrelenting barrage of camp horror and ridiculous action sequences whose grungy VHS aesthetic will likely appeal to cult-movie enthusiasts, while also managing to be well-structured, accessible top down shooter with its very own grotesque thrills.
If you'd like to experience the sense of flow of iOS rhythm games or runners without the touch controls, Lost in Harmony's isolated keys and horizontal scroller may prove attractive on the PC. But alas, it's better suited to the smartphone, and with its rich, painted aesthetic and surprisingly grounded story, it's probably amongst the strongest on that market.
Jumping Joe and Friends embraces simplicity, requiring enduring vigilance as it challenges the player to accumulate as many points as possible. The result? Not only a tense arcade platformer, but a reasonable party game that suits the Switch's pick-up-and-play charm.
Shio evidently understands the appeal of gliding elegantly between obstacle-riddled levels like an invincible pro, and often comes across as a more casual Super Meat Boy. Yet, the foggy storyline feels distanced from its rapid-fire level design, which can make the attempts at a meditative atmosphere feel forced and alienating.
Attentat 1942 provides an insightful history lesson into the events of the Czechoslovakian occupation, while its cinematic interviews prove a crucial gateway into understanding the impact those events had on human life. It doesn't provide the interactivity of Her Story or This War of Mine, but it's pleasing to see the game format being used to educate.
With a rigorous control scheme and tweaked level design, Balthazar's Dream could have offered a quite adorable puzzle-platformer to complete in a few hours. Yet its attempt to give each mechanic its own doggy bent results in a toilsome, repetitive experience that feels disappointing against its charming concept.
If Double Dragon, Final Fight, Streets of Rage or Golden Axe were your go-to coin-ops on childhood trips to the arcade, 99Vidas might well resurface some fond, pre-millennium memories. But alas, nostalgia only gets a game so far, and once the thrill-ride is over, there's very little reason to return for a second playthrough.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is every bit as vicious, epic and dramatic as its predecessors in the Ninja Theory library, but interweaving a delicate storyline through simple, yet ruthless mechanics makes it one of the most visceral portrayals of psychological turmoil in recent video gaming.