A day one patch is set to land for In Sound Mind, which is why this is a review in progress. At the moment the technical issues really bring the experience down – to some, they’ll make it unplayable. If these issues are cleared up, however, then it might just prove to be one of this year’s biggest surprises – an action-horror game that delivers not only scares, but also head-scratching puzzles and plenty of engaging combat encounters, all wrapped up in a story that makes you think. I’ll update the review when I’ve had a chance to play with the patch applied. Until then, the score below reflects my experience with the game with its issues taken into consideration.
It may be based on a particular brand of die-cast toy cars aimed at kids, but Hot Wheels Unleashed is a fun arcade-style racer suitable for all ages and, for the most part, skill levels. Bursting with content, it’ll be a while before you’ve grown tired of its many tracks and unlocked all of the 60-plus cars that it offers. Throw in online and offline multiplayer, a track builder, and gameplay that’s easy to pick up but has some additional depth for more skilled players, and you have a package that’s easy to recommend.
There’s nothing really new or overly exciting to be found in Flynn: Son of Crimson, but its well-executed blend of platforming, combat and light puzzle-solving keeps you occupied from beginning to end. It’s a fairly short, easy-going adventure (though it does have difficulty levels if you want more of a challenge), and one that’s sure to please fans of old-school platformers – just as long as they’re not expecting anything revolutionary.
While it’s initially fun nipping around Aragami 2‘s maps thanks to traversal options such as shadow leap, and later unlockable abilities really empower you, repetition does take its toll on the experience. All the while, frequent bugs and technical issues make you wonder if you’re playing something that was ready to step into the light for all to see.
Tails of Iron isn’t the biggest adventure in the world – while it has numerous maps to explore, they’re not particularly expansive – but it does have a lot of heart. It’s easy to warm to Redgi despite him not having a voice, which is quite an achievement in itself, and as you travel around his kingdom, fighting off bugs, frogs and other pesky creatures, you’ll come to care about his fate. It’s the combat that’s the real star of the show here though, encouraging you to keep an eye on the various quest boards even when the tasks they offer only send you to the same few locations.
For those who have played and enjoyed Judgment, the decision to pick up Lost Judgment should be a no-brainer. With a brand new story that’s just as engaging (if not more so) than the first, as well as many gameplay improvements and a bucketload of new content, it’s a fine example of a sequel done right. It’s like a lucky dip where every time you load it up to play you’re never sure what you’re in for – but you’ll rarely, if ever, be disappointed. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and Lost Judgment might just be the spiciest game I’ve played this year.
The odd gameplay issue aside, F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch is one of the most enjoyable Metroidvanias you can play right now. While you probably won’t care about its story, it’s easy to fall in love with the game’s detailed world and somewhat cute characters. It’s the thrilling combat and raft of collectibles and upgrades to find that will have you going back to it time and time again, however, keen to make Rayton the powerful hero he’s destined to be.
I honestly don’t know what’s happened with RICO London, and I can’t recommended it to anybody, not even ardent RICO fans. It’s an utter failure of a sequel, discarding many features of the original game to deliver something that feels awfully basic. Add on top the technical issues, and you have a game that should be avoided – unless you find the monotony of breaching and clearing rooms ad infinitum strangely compelling.
With Tales of Arise, I think the Tales series is finally ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the heavy hitters of the JRPG genre – Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. This is a masterfully crafted adventure, and the best JRPG I’ve played in a very long time. Combining stunning visuals with a gripping story and the most exciting combat system found in a JRPG yet, this is a must-have for fans of the genre. Its standalone story makes this a great entry point for those looking to get into the Tales series, too. Put simply, Tales of Arise is outstanding.
Sonic Colors: Ultimate is undoubtedly better than the abysmal Sonic Forces, a game that I was strangely compelled to play through again recently. But still, it’s far from being a great Sonic game. There are some nice new additions here, and while the cutscenes are still low quality, the in-game visuals have cleaned up very nicely indeed. It’s just the shame the gameplay is so all over the place – one minute you’ll be having the time of your life, the next, pulling your hair out in frustration. It’s tough being a Sonic fan, and Sonic Colors: Ultimate does little to ease the pain.