With some doubt at the front of people's minds, Returnal is a shushing finger across the lips of detractors as well as a tremendous example that PlayStation's middle line titles can still offer as much value and entertainment as its tentpole exclusives. Housemarque achieves an atmosphere like few can and set up a universe ripe for expansion while marrying it to a grind - which is more forgiving than most of its kind but will still alienate some -that's both brutal and gratifying all at once.
Although the story of Cody and May doesn't meet the standards set by the game's varied gameplay, It Takes Two sees the continued form of Josef Fares and his team at Hazelight in crafting wonderfully creative and engaging worlds for players to share and collaborate in. It Takes Two is a co-op experience that's second to none, which offers more ways than you can imagine to experience these larger than life play spaces.
The product of a one man team, Olija is a tight and entertaining seafarer's voyage that manages to be memorable despite not bringing anything particularly revolutionary to the table. Instead, it's in the atmosphere and tone that Olija excels, proving that the deep blue sea isn't full of just terrors.
Cyberpunk 2077 is staggering, overwhelming, and even surprising at times in its spectacle. Although my first dozen hours with the game has been marred by easy-to-fix problems, Nighty City, along with all it offers and all that call it home, makes for an intoxicating escape. Here's hoping the next one hundred hours are as utterly compelling.
With Observer's original atmosphere intact, System Redux is an exceptional refinement and redelivery of one of the generation's most underrated titles. The loss of Rutger Hauer felt even more profoundly exploring these tenement halls again, but his offbeat and quirky role as Daniel Lazarski will live on for another generation.
Although the campaign is only a small slice of the larger package in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, it's great that it counters its 'blink and you'll miss it' length with a bit of replay value and some memorable missions you're bound to want to play again. Raven Software's more subtle approach to Cold War espionage feels like viewing Call of Duty through a new, exciting lens.
Bright Memory is an utterly fascinating Swiss Army knife of a game that, despite its several ideas clashing in glorious cacophony, forces you to overlook the imperfections and other side effects of lone wolf development. It's an utterly confusing, but equally compelling, sub-hour whirlwind through a Chinese cultured fever dream that writes a few checks that I pray Infinite can cash when it releases next year.
A colourful, vibrant adventure that's sure to stand out as a true family-friendly option for the next-gen. The platforming feels imperfect when needed the most thanks to limited camera control, however, The Touryst's puzzles are bound to keep you on your toes throughout. Be sure to soak up the sun, explore at your leisure, and uncover monumental secrets in this unexpected gem.
Dirt 5 isn't at all the game I thought it would be. Far from a clinical rally sim, what it is is a simple, fun off-road racer that has a big personality. While it doesn't dive too deep underneath the hood, it still tears up a huge number of tracks across a great number of race types-it does more than enough to keep players firmly in the driver's seat.
Ghostrunner might be standing on the shoulders of games like Mirror's Edge, and even Dishonored, in terms of inspiration with its parkour and slick swordplay. But it also separates heads from those shoulders and stands proud as the far better application of both disciplines-Ghostrunner is a sleek, fun exercise for deft hands.