If you love your yearly fix or want to return to the IP without having to invest 100 hours, Assassin’s Creed Mirage is easy to recommend. If, however, you’ve been desperately waiting for some evolution of the IP, you’re out of luck yet again.
Starfield is a game that somehow enthralls me and irritates me in equal measure. On one hand, you’ve got a compelling galaxy-sized rabbit hole you can lose yourself in for hours on end, with complex questlines, refined role-playing mechanics, and that “new IP” freshness that makes it easy to ignore the flaws for a while. The problem is the more time you invest, the more procedurally generated content you experience, and the less rewarding the experience becomes.
There’s always something to do, the first-person parkour and combat remain top-class, and the story missions offer both memorable locations and set-pieces. On the other hand, the bulk of the gameplay on offer feels derivative. It’s hard to immerse yourself in the world when you’re engaged in methodical icon-clearing.
This is the President is an engaging take on the typical management sim genre, with a strong focus on story-driven elements that manages to charm and frustrate in equal measure. The story-driven elements serve to both elevate and detract from the overall experience.
Life is Strange: True Colors is Deck Nine’s best work to date and I’d place it just behind the original brace of games. It’s more streamlined, has no “fail” states, and doesn’t delve quite as deeply into the supporting cast, but the story is compelling.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood might be fun during minute-to-minute gameplay, but it is seriously lacking in complexity when it comes to actual “role-playing”. If you’re after an experience akin to Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, you’ll have to hold out for its sequel.
As a linear, narrative-driven horror game, The Medium is easy to recommend – and a no-brainer if you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription – thanks to the balance of unsettling exploration, involved puzzles, a handful of terrifying encounters, and frequent narrative beats.
If you’re looking for a charming, visually-spectacular, mechanically-satisfying platform-puzzler, that’s exponentially better with friends, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince offers up tons of content at half the price of a typical big-budget release.
The Surge 2 doesn’t feel like a massive technological step forward from the original, but on the narrative and gameplay front, it exceeds or refines the experience. Jericho City is a joy to explore, the narrative is more complex, bosses more numerous, and the excellent combat and progression system still engaging.
The sights and sounds of the forest keep you unsettled, Ellis’ flashbacks and conversations slowly unravel his past, puzzling and combat is nicely interspersed with exploration, and Bullet is one of my new favourite animal companions in a video game.
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is a great coop experience that manages to retain several elements of the prior Wolfenstein games – the gunplay, the characters, the excellent writing, and presentation – but changes up the mission-flow, enemy encounters, and the levelling mechanics to better facilitate a faster-paced game.