The Pathless is an open-world exploration title with unique puzzle-solving mechanics and one of the year's best soundtracks. The tense and enjoyable boss encounters were a delightful surprise. The free-form approach to the exploration and plethora of puzzles to solve, most being optional, give you the sensation of freedom while traversing. It's simply fun, aimlessly soaring through the air with my eagle, bouncing across rivers and down snow-covered mountaintops shooting at talismans. It's not a long experience, as I clocked my completion at roughly eight hours, but there are plenty of trophies to earn by collecting all of the relics, along with completing various other tasks.
Galacide is an intriguing and unique take on the side-scrolling shooter genre. The addition of match-3 tile puzzle mechanics keeps you engaged and forces you to be mindful of your position onscreen. The expert difficulty proved too much while playing alone, but I had a blast with four of us frantically trying to survive amongst the chaos.
A demanding skill-based experience, Ghostrunner makes you feel like a cyberpunk ninja. Thanks to the quick restarts, and generous checkpoints, the game never feels overwhelming or unfair. The 17 levels took me close to twelve hours to complete but depending upon your skill level. If you search around for collectibles during the platforming sections, it could be a shorter/longer experience. The enemy variety and ever-changing visual aesthetic for each area of The Tower keeps the game from feeling like a chore. The synthwave cyberpunk soundtrack by Daniel Deluxe fits well with the impressively sharp visuals.
Pumpkin Jack isn’t a long experience (roughly four-five hours) but is full of nostalgia for classic 3D platformers. It is a fun romp that hits all the notes that I’d want from a Halloween release. It has colorful and detailed visuals, a fantastic soundtrack, throwback style gameplay, and a few laughs. There are plenty of collectibles to find if you wish to hunt for achievements. Surprisingly, Pumpkin Jack is arguably a more robust release than the recently released remake for MediEvil.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout serves up nostalgia for G.I. Joe fans, with a narrative that feels right at home for the series. The colorful and stylized cel-shaded visuals are perfect for the franchise, making you feel like you are playing inside a comic book. It's a real shame that the overall gameplay falls flat thanks to poor aiming mechanics. The AI that joins you when playing solo is utterly useless, and enemies can backtrack faster than you can advance towards them. There are optional side objectives to complete, and collectibles to find, which unlock alternative looks for characters, weapon skins, and comic cover art.
Second Extinction shows promise, although I wouldn't want to play without a full three-person party. Through Steam Early Access, the developers plan to expand the game with new types of mutations, emergence events, weapons, updates/fixes, seasonal content, and more. It's fun dropping supply pods onto raptors and watching them get launched through the air. Weapons feel a tad underpowered, but I'll admit none of them are currently fully upgraded. Each of us did experience crashing here and there, but once you boot back into the game, there's an option to rejoin, and it worked every time. I think it is a bit silly that the game doesn't support drop-in/out support once missions have started, and I do hope cross-play will come once the game launches on other platforms.