- Bionic Commando
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Soundfall does quite a few things right. Its loot and shoot design set to a lot of good music is commendable. The tracks included in the game are of a wide variety and even if you get through the entire game, the ability to play levels to your own favorite music is pretty great (on PC). The problem is… Soundfall’s gear and enemies just aren’t all that compelling. The music and rhythmic gameplay are good enough to carry a lot of this game, but I can’t help but wish it had a more rewarding variety of gear to look forward to and enemies that didn’t quickly end up feeling like repetitive drones. Even so, if you can get down with a good rhythm action game alone or with friends, Soundfall might be worth it whether you play to its soundtrack or bring your own.
The idea of going back to a sort of Version 1.0 experience of Cities is actually enticing to me. Fast Travel Games has already promised that Cities: VR is set to grow over time with content updates and more. As it is, it’s still a great jumping off point for the VR adaptation. I once again lost myself in its urban management often as long as my headset would allow me to play. The planning and reacting to various events around your town is still fun to handle and the VR controls are good for it. All-in-all, Cities: VR might be a little limited to those who want everything the PC version has come to offer in terms of features and visuals, but still, it might be one of the most relaxing VR titles around right now and feels like it’s bound to only get better from here.
Salt and Sacrifice does a lot of cool things on top of the Soulsborne 2D action-platforming system created for the first game. The focus on hunting mages is a cool twist and getting their components and making new gear was the stuff that’s made Monster Hunter a blast for decades. Even then, there’s plenty to explore in each biome between the mage hunts. I’m not fond of collecting berries for my healing flask and I feel it can get unfair when mages team up on me. However, getting stronger and coming back with enough might that not even multiple mages could stop me made Salt and Sacrifice’s 2D Soulsborne exploration and mage fights an intoxicating quest to wield the very power I was hunting.
The original Rogue Legacy was an incredible step forward for rogue-lite games. It helped to establish a lot of cool elements that games after it would mimic in many ways. I wouldn’t say Rogue Legacy 2 reinvents the wheel here. Instead, it polishes that wheel to a sheen, gives it fresh treads, some fancy spinners, and makes it an all-around better version of the wheel we knew and loved. If you loved the first Rogue Legacy, then Rogue Legacy 2 is very likely to capture your heart as well. If you’re jumping into this series for the first time at Rogue Legacy 2, you’re in for one of the most fleshed out, fun, and varied rogue-lite action-platformers that the genre has to offer.
Throughout my time with Cosmonious High, I was regularly delighted by the colorful visuals, fun cast, interesting classes, and overall variety of activities in the game. Not only is this a solidly expanded adventure from the delightful experiences Owlchemy Labs has shown us in the past, but I think it’s the first time I’d ever specifically recommend a VR game to younger players. VR can be such a niche hobby, but Cosmonious High has all the charm and cheek of a good Nickelodeon kids show. Nothing is ever too complicated and you’re never tied down to a single task if you’d rather go explore something else. Put this altogether and Cosmonious High is a stellar VR adventure that can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone.
Weird West very much lives up to its name. In each character’s journey, a wide tapestry of dark and spooky adventures play out across the Wild West. Monsters of both the human and occult variety are bound by the decisions you make, and those choices carry on to make each adventure in this take on the dusty unsettled frontier more interesting. I wish that the game didn’t push me to micromanage my inventory so much and that some critical quirks didn’t hamper the experience, but put those issues aside and it’s a deeply interesting narrative with more than its fair share of riveting shootouts and adventure.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is, first and foremost, beautiful. Its realistic city elements blended with the ethereal and supernatural create a cornucopia of amazing visuals and sound. Even when the hardware struggles to keep up sometimes, it’s never so much so that the game loses that sense of mystery and awe. Just as well, a big part of that is Tango Gameworks’ creative adaptation of Japanese mythology and lore. Their takes on monsters, demons, ghost stories, and various legends come to life in a massive variety of fascinating ways, whether it’s the situations you encounter, the ways you fight against them, or the elements that aid you.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia is a really interesting anime fighting game with an eclectic cast of characters, even if some of those characters’ art styles look strange and out of place. An interesting and easy-to-understand fighting system also means being able to specialize any given character with the game’s three systems and further boosting playstyle variety. Some might be taken aback by the simplicity of inputs, but there’s still plenty of strategy and mastery of characters to be had.
The mystery of this broken world and the wordless, yet varied means by which you explore it makes FAR: Changing Tides an excellent follow-up to Lone Sails. The vessel is incredibly enjoyable to operate and maintain, and the music and world around it make the journey a compelling and satisfying one. It’s not a long game and the adventure arrives at the credits before you know it, but for what it has going, Changing Tides is a compelling and gorgeous puzzle full of satisfying mechanical engagement and incredible breakthrough moments as you sail ever forward.
King of Fighters XV feels like a solid refinement of a lot of its predecessors, learning from their mistakes to become something altogether better here. It’s not perfect, it’s not easy to learn, and there are some characters missing that I feel are must-haves. However, a solid visual redesign, good netcode, original and returning music, a great collection of fighting mechanics, and a wide offering of tutorial and training tools make KOFXV feel like one of the strongest entries in the franchise yet. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess, but this feels like the standard for 2.5D KOF that King of Fighters XIV couldn’t quite reach and I’m glad SNK has finally cleared that bar.
Windjammers 2 is here and it is fantastic. The game’s presentation is another highlight of Dotemu’s always incredible-looking catalogue of published titles and I love the blend of new and returning characters, courts, moves, and music. Mix this with a great online system and a versatile array of ways to play against humans or bots and it could end up being one of the most standout sports titles of the year.
Solar Ash is another hugely stylish venture from Heart Machine, though it’s not terribly long. Exploring any area to its fullest ran me about two to four hours and the whole thing ran about 11 hours for me when it was all said and done. Nonetheless, the graceful feel of movement, platforming, and combat in this game can’t be denied, and it’s accompanied by a lush and interesting mix of neon, natural, and industrial landscapes caught up in Solar Ash’s Voidspace. There’s a little jank in the controls here at here, but generally, for such a quick game, Solar Ash glides like a cosmic dream.
DEEER Simulator is freaking ridiculous, and I say that mostly in a good way. It’s not here to give you the flashiest graphics or the most cohesive gameplay experience. You should not expect to come into it and say, “ah, that makes sense” at pretty much any point. It’s a game of ridiculously over-the-top physics, antics, and freedom. I wouldn’t say it’s an incredibly long experience (I wish there was more), and its jank can sometimes be so much that it actually detriments the game. That said, if you want something that’s just plain silly - that lets you be a deer and do crimes - DEEER Simulator might be well worth the distraction.
I was impressed with my initial dip into Sherlock Holmes Chapter One in a previous preview and I really love how the full game expanded upon that. Cordona is a fantastic island to explore and its mysteries, whether directly related to Holmes’ journey or not, are quite fun to solve. Some animations are iffy and I kind of wish the combat wasn’t there, but I constantly felt like my logic and rationale were engaged by the clues the game presented me with. It also helps that Sherlock Holmes Chapter One has options to skip past annoying segments when they don’t feel worth it. Overall, however, I felt like the entire investigation was worth it and this is an origin worth exploring for any fan of mysteries or the great Sherlock Holmes.
Resident Evil 4 VR is one of the most surprising delights of my entire year. Every part of the base game is here, and it all fits and feels right. Every bit of the schlock, fear, and intensity is joined by a well-thought-out array of VR gunplay, puzzle-solving, melee, and other satisfying interactions. Resident Evil 4 is one of the absolute high points of the entire franchise. This is a full-on adaptation of it with nothing left out. If you weren’t cool with the narrative, scares, or schlock before, this probably won’t change your mind. But if it was the controls bothered you, this is easily the best and most enjoyable version of Resident Evil 4 to ever come out.
There’s a lot I like about Echo Generation. The adolescent youth in sci-fi suburbia story is really charming and aided thoroughly by the game’s gorgeous voxel visuals and delicious soundtrack. There were definitely some parts held down by archaic design decisions, such as the utter lack of a hint system or direction and the need to grind experience, especially on new party members. However, Echo Generation also has a lot of fun tried and true RPG design to it as well. All-in-all, it makes for a game where the good journey, music, and combat will likely overcome most of the distracting missteps you may come across.
I really appreciate how much Lone Echo 2 takes a mostly don’t-fix-what’s-not-broken approach to the original game’s formula. So much of it is simply a continuation of Lone Echo 1 in both narrative and form, and that’s fine. It does just enough to make things different by introducing a few new tools and increased threats to go along with them, and with only a handful of control or visual bugs that stood out as a result. Jack and Rhodes’ efforts to survive continued to make for a compelling story throughout and this is definitely an adventure fans of the first will want to see through. Ultimately, Lone Echo 2 is just as much a solid blend of narrative and puzzle solving in the VR space as the first one was and continues to show Ready at Dawn has a winning formula for VR players of all styles and comfort levels.
Yuzo Koshiro crushes it with both the classic and rearranged soundtrack, the gameplay is fun and a little bit improved in some cases, and the world is more enjoyable than ever to take in from the skies above and on the ground. I wish some classic pain points hadn’t come along for the ride and that the sprite work was a bit better, but Actraiser Renaissance is still a fantastic title whether you’re walking down memory lane or playing it for the first time.