Serial Cleaners comes with a new style and attitude, taking inspiration from some of the great crime films of the 80s and 90s to tell a four-sided tale. It's an enjoyable return for the original game's quirky take on crime scene cleaning, but only takes a few small steps forward, leaving the limits of its stealth-action gameplay evident to see.
Splatoon 3 is a bit like your mum making your favourite meal when you head home for the holidays. It's been a few years since the last game - while there have been some great improvements and additions, it's the same old Splatoon we know and love, and that's still pretty great.
If Two Point Hospital was a triumphant return of the Theme Hospital style management sim, then Two Point Campus is a true heir. It takes the same tongue-in-cheek tone and applies it to a new setting, it learns from the journey its predecessor went through, and it deepens the experience for anyone that wants it.
Escape Academy captures the spirit of escape rooms in excellent fashion, wrapping up a string of thoroughly enjoyable puzzle-filled levels in a light and quirky story. Puzzle aficionados might find it a little easy, but it's a commendable first effort that left me wanting more.
Outriders Worldslayer brings a fresh campaign and endgame to People Can Fly's game, but likely won't move the needle for those not already gripped by this third person looter shooter. The chaotic front-foot combat is fun, the boss battles challenging, and some of the weapons and abilities gloriously excessive, but many of the underlying flaws remain.
F1 22 is like a slice of birthday cake a couple days after the party. Someone (probably your dad) has pinched the glacé cherry from the cream splodge on top of your Black Forest Gateau, but your mum's put some regular cherries, banana and apple slices on the plate to it to make up for it. The fruit doesn't make sense, but the cake's still pretty good. Still, you're left dreaming of what next year's cake will be like. Maybe your cake engineer will be smart enough by then to actually know who you're racing against, and maybe Will Buxton will get some new jeans that don't look like they've carved out of stone. Maybe it'll be a carrot cake.
Having spent a couple hours with the final release of Roller Champions, it’s definitely a future sports game that’s got some juice to it. It’s reductive to say it’s just Roller Derby Rocket League, but that’s also how it’s going to get people’s attention so it can showcase the kinds of skilful play and team-based gaming that could make it a success. Will it stick around for the long-run? Well, for that we’ll just have to wait and see.
Played together with a group of friends and the wild array of modifiers mixing things up, Golf Gang is an absolute hoot, especially as both shot play and time count to your score. It's a party game through and through, but just feels a bit light (as many mini golf games do) when played on your own.
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters is a great take on the turn-based strategy genre, encouraging front-foot combat with a strike force of empowered Grey Knights at your disposal. It takes a while to get going, the situations and enemies you encounter lack a bit of variety, but this is an accomplished effort that's easy to recommend to fans of Warhammer 40K and XCOM alike.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land makes Kirby's jump to 3D feel effortless, but it's much more than that, with the vibrantly styled decaying world to explore and the Mouthful Modes that will have you laughing with each new one that's discovered.
As you play more, I’m sure it’s a tonal difference that will fade as you get used to it, but it does slightly undercut what Nintendo are selling and makes it feel like these were intended for another game – Mario Kart Tour, if this suspicion holds true. Then again, it’s hard to complain when there is such a huge wealth of circuits coming to the game through the Booster Pass’ six waves. It’s the gameplay that matters most, and the sheer variety of circuits that Nintendo are throwing into the mix is huge. They’re doubling the amount of tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and it means that I and millions of others are sure to come back to the game and enjoy what it offers all over again.
Gran Turismo 7 takes everything that was excellent about GT Sport's fantastic multiplayer, high fidelity cars and circuits and innovative Scapes mode, and builds up a more traditional GT experience around it. It's got its own quirky new ideas which will likely be passing diversions to most, but at its core, this is the Gran Turismo you know and love. Broad and accessible, but with depth, nuance and competitive racing for those keen to find it.
Where the original console release of Assetto Corsa Competizione had some huge caveats hanging over it, the game's release on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S brings it up to spec, effectively matching the PC version. It still has some weaknesses in presentation and structure for new players in particular, but once you get into the groove, it's one of the best sim racers you can buy right now.
GRID Legends builds on the foundations of the 2019 reboot, improving the driving experience in certain areas, adding a big new story mode, and throwing more variables and variety into the mix. There's enjoyable, pulpy action racing to be had here, but some of the fundamental weaknesses from the last game remain, and as the racing game community increasingly looks toward sim racing, it feels like this franchise is in need of another reinvention.
If Total War Warhammer 3 is the beginning of the end for Creative Assembly's fantasy series, then it's going out on a high note. The game takes several steps forward in how the campaign works, how it builds toward climactic battles and then how those battles take place, and there's plenty of quality of life improvements for the Total War series as a whole.
Royal Court is a pricey expansion, but it helps Crusader Kings 3 take another step toward representing that Game of Thones-ian medieval ruler fantasy. Alongside that the cultural hybridisation and divergence also mean it’s building out the foundations of the actual grand strategy in intriguing ways for the game’s future.
Looking back on the three parts of the Far Cry 6 season pass, it feels like something of a missed opportunity. While the roguelite genre really suited delving into Vaas’ mind, trotting out the exact same format for both Pagan Min and Joseph Seed feels rote, stretching the idea out as a means to an end. It would have taken much greater effort and time for Ubisoft to do so, but mixing up the genres, the structure and approach that each DLC took would have been much more impactful. Still, fans of Far Cry will likely get a kick out of the expanded exploration of each character’s tale.