- Europa Universalis IV
- Mass Effect 2
- Rocket League
Hot Wheels Unleashed -- in all caps and bolded letters -- is a passable arcade racer that sticks out from other middle-of-the-road racing games thanks to its devotion to nostalgia and some great ideas that are unfortunately not completely realized due to obvious budgetary restrictions. If you're desperate to get behind the wheel of your favorite Hot Wheel, it will scratch that itch, but not much else.
FIFA 21 is an exercise of refinement, not evolution. The newest installment highlights the downsides of annualization, but also highlights that EA is listening to fans. FIFA 21 doesn't make a million changes and improvements from FIFA 20, but the changes and improvements it does make go a long way in enhancing the experience.
Concrete Genie is an excellent example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It's not groundbreaking, or really exemplary in any single measure, but everything comes together in a way many games don't. It's charming, wholesome, and a complete realization of an original vision. It's a perfect palette-cleanser experience, and more importantly, it's wonderfully unique.
Is Control Remedy's apex moment? No. Is it their best game yet? I don't think so, but I wouldn't scream at you if you thought it was. Control's story and world-building, its thematic cohesiveness is better than anything out of Remedy yet, which is saying a lot. Unfortunately, Control has some blemishes, most of which aren't very distracting, but when you couple it with some considerable performance issues it adds up and saps a little bit of that specialness.
While Sea of Solitude manages to be distinctive, it certainly isn't the only game to explore mental health in the past few years. And like many that attempt to tackle the topics and themes that come with this, Sea of Solitude struggles at times. When it gets things right, it's a touching experience with a lot to say, but too often what it has to say is drowned out by heavy-handed writing, poor line delivery, and unimaginative gameplay that juxtaposes a fantastical and metaphorical world.
Last Day of June is a personal and emotional journey that brings you to the most beautiful corners of love and the darkest and most painful corners of loss at the same time. It's a compelling journey, with relatable characters within a beautiful world, brought to life with a sensational score. But ultimately, it's uninspired, core ground-hog day gameplay loop hinders and undermines everything that has been built around it.
Like its predecessor, I'm unlikely ever to forget Emily is Away Too. What developer Kyle Seeley has created is a great reminder that excellent immersive storytelling is reliant on only two things: an unique idea, and the vision and passion to see that idea materialize.
Prey often feels like mash-up of some of the best sci-fi survival horror games of yesteryear and Arkane's previous work. And it is. But it also a title with some wildly unique ideas, an incredibly thick and unnerving atmosphere, and an exemplary soundtrack.
Little Nightmares is a genuinely unnerving and eerie experience that never cheaply earns its thrills and scares. Despite an anti-climactic ending and some maladroit platforming sequences, Tarsier Studios successfully delivers a unique, memorable, and incredibly tense experience.
David Jaffe and co. have created something wildly novel, moderately fun, and slightly frustrating with Drawn to Death. In the finished product lies a blueprint for a great game, but mediocre shooting mechanics and a slightly shallow level of content holds back Drawn to Death in the end.
How Night in the Woods manages to capture the anxieties of being stuck in the gap between adult and childhood, how it tackles serious topics like depression, and how it brilliantly understands and recreates the hardships of rural America, is worthy of admiration. Put more simply, Night in the Woods is a unique breath of fresh air, and an experience I’m likely to not forget for a long time.
Divide has the potential to be a decent game, but it’s over ambitiousness in the face of its low-budget ultimately nets a forgettable, half-baked sci-fi game. If Exploding Tuba Studios dumped the twin stick gameplay, and instead fully-embraced the adventure genre, I would be interested in seeing it take another stab with a new game. But more Divide? No thanks.
The Dwarves has a lot of potential. If it was made on a AAA budget, I believe it could have been one of the best games this year. But it wasn’t. I thoroughly enjoyed my 15 hours with it, but I’m also well aware of its numerous, easily identifiable, shortcomings. If your a dwarf connoisseur, then I can recommend this game. If you enjoy fantasy RPGs, and don’t mind tactical (though it’s hardly that) combat, then I can also recommend this game. But if you don’t particularly love either of these things, then The Dwarves from KING Art Games, may not be the dwarves for you.