For a few short hours The Pillar: Puzzle Escape on Xbox will completely transport you away. It is easy to get sucked in thanks to the serene environment combined with the first-person perspective. A lack of story does not matter: this is a place begging to be explored.
It may have released on PC back in 2016 but Planet Coaster: Console Edition is quietly one of the best launch titles for the Xbox Series X|S, and made all the better by being available through Game Pass. For a park sim, it is incredibly easy to pick up and play as everything is explained and designed as this version was built up for consoles, as opposed to a simple port.
Sadly, Monstrum on the Xbox One is a poor attempt at an interesting concept. The abandoned ship isn’t the most unique setting for a horror game but being pursued by a bloodthirsty monster should provide at least some tension. Instead it is a laborious plod through samey corridors where sometimes being caught by the monster is preferable than having to perform the same objectives over and over again just to escape.
It may take a while to get going at first for new players, but get over that first hour of pretty much just cutscenes and the game completely opens up into one of the finest examples of storytelling in gaming. This, along with the sheer abundance of side activities and people asking for a punch, makes Yakuza 0 an exquisite game, and a perfect benchmark for newcomers to dive straight into.
The first few hours of Surviving Mars are frustrating and the game can come across a bit disappointing; stick with it though and once you have figured out what to do all by yourself – due to the ineffective tutorial tips – the game opens up and almost becomes a completely different experience.
I was having a brilliant time with Romancing SaGa 2 before the glaring issues of the battle system came to light. Its non-linearity was ground breaking at the time and as a result, it certainly stands up even today. Even the soundtrack was hugely enjoyable. But those battle mechanics have ruined this game for me.
It would be hard to recommend this game to someone who isn’t a die-hard cricket fan because if they aren’t interested in the real thing, then there isn’t anything here to persuade them otherwise. However, for a die-hard fan, this is a pleasantly surprising game that reaches far deeper than the name suggests.
Despite the massive overhaul to the battle system and more subtle changes elsewhere, TFBW feels like a very safe sequel to The Stick of Truth. It’s still a great journey with characters that fans of the show know and love, but I am unsure why this game was delayed so much when it appears to have re-used a lot of the assets from previous.
I really enjoyed Maize, perhaps more than I should have. I was expecting the game to be absurd to the point where it made no sense, but in reality I found the story cohesive. Completely out there with a Russian teddy bear and walking, talking corn stalks, but still cohesive.
The nostalgia felt when playing Sonic Mania means that SEGA have done a fantastic job. It looks the part, sounds the part and most importantly plays the part. It’s more challenging than I remember, but this is quite possibly due to there being a lot of new elements to the levels to learn, and my muscle memory from the old games counts for nothing here. There is plenty of replayability here though, so maybe one day those memories will return.