Assassin's Creed Nexus VR is a great way to experience the series' most iconic gameplay pillars from a whole new perspective. It's not without some of the awkwardness inherent to VR, but it's a visual showpiece for the Meta Quest 3 that deftly places players into the shoes of three iconic assassins while feeling incredibly authentic.
SteamWorld Build is another feather in the series' cap and another great distillation of genres into a friendly and wholly addictive package. The city building and mining halves come together effortlessly thanks to a pitch-perfect campaign, though with just a single scenario there's not a heap of longevity. The console version's awfully-small text also threatens to undo the good done by its superb controls, but in the end it remains another banger SteamWorld game.
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle makes a bold attempt at fusing basic rhythm gameplay with the kinds of asymmetrical co-operative chaos of something like Overcooked, wrapping it up in a deeply funny and genuinely inventive campaign. Sadly it undermines the fun at every turn with wild difficulty spikes, anaemic gameplay customisation and a frustrating lack of explanation of its own mechanics. There's something good here, it's just thoroughly underdeveloped.
Tales of Arise: Beyond the Dawn is a great way to come back to the excellent 2021 RPG, giving fans the chance to revisit familiar places and faces while also taking a good look at a side of the classic world-saving hero story we don't alway see. It treads a lot of familiar ground, and it's somewhat awkwardly implemented, but it's well worth seeking out for franchise fans and anyone that enjoyed the main game.
Overall, the five games on offer in The Jackbox Party Pack 10 represent a nice variety of experiences with some genuinely interesting innovations and ideas. Crucially there's no total stinker in the mix, with only Timejinx feeling a touch bland. FixyTest holds up the stupid, pointless chaos end of the bargain while Tee K.O. makes a fantastic comeback and Dodo Re Mi proves that Jackbox can do real-time gameplay. Just give yourself time to properly figure out Hypnotorious before you write it off entirely.
This succinct and sweet little bundle of short-form adventures is just irresistibly charming and wholesome and pleasant in a way that few games are, making it a refreshing and terribly timely bit of reprieve from the onslaught of very good but very intense releases in 2023, and just this year’s whole deal in general. That each game is capped off by a dance party inclusive of everyone Frog Detective meets is an inspiring glimpse into the incredible communities we could be nourishing with just a few more folks as decent as he.
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 cleverly pairs its added width and breadth with more depth and meaningful new gameplay and story opportunities. There's rarely a moment here that doesn't feel thrilling, enchanting, heartbreaking, awe-inspiring or some combination of it all. Beyond untangling the finer threads of its design or narrative ambitions though, it's genuinely just the most fun, gorgeous open world superhero game out there.
Saltsea Chronicles is unequivocal proof that Die Gute Fabrik is an unstoppable force in the industry. A team blazing brand new trails, wholly their own, with stories that are radical and thoughtful in equal measure and told in unexplored ways that only video games could deliver.
Nour: Play With Your Food is a bold, entrancing and often inspired little collection of interactive, food-based vignettes with a greater focus on exploring colour, form and sound than any real gastronomical ideas. It's occasionally awkward, and will probably disappoint anyone looking for an actual game amongst its fleeting distractions, but it's worth a look in for the vibes alone.
Goodbye Volcano High is something truly special. It takes a well-conceived gameplay idea, drops it into an immensely unique and superbly crafted world and marries it with sharp writing and wonderful tunes to produce something unmatched. More than just an experiment in adding rhythm gameplay to a narrative experience, it's an earnest, mature, queer, warm and heartbreaking invitation to the end of the world.
Fae Farm throws a ton of great ideas into its melting pot of cosy life simming and tense adventuring, and while its various ingredients don't always mix together as well as they should it's got enough unique hooks and wholesome vibes to make it worth a look in for genre fans.
Toss! is a pretty basic, sometimes frustrating arcade-like VR experience, but when it works it's quite exhilarating and immensely satisfying. In case my debilitatingly-sore arms weren't already an indication – this is the closest I'll ever come to being a high-flying gymnast and I'm perfectly happy with that. If you want a VR workout that's got old-school arcade charm and a great view, look no further.
A Fisherman's Tale is still great four years later, but if you've played it before there's not much reason to pick up this barebones port to the PS VR2. It would've been cool to see InnerspaceVR take the opportunity to flesh out its recursive puzzle concept even more, but hopefully there's more still to come from this franchise.
Fort Solis takes about an hour's worth of ideas and attempts to stretch them out to a four-hour walk through a lifeless Mars facility with little to offer outside of a top-notch presentation. With a distinct lack of thrills, this sci-fi thriller falls disappointingly flat.
Moving Out 2 is an accomplished sequel, building on what made the first game great and really honing in on its presentation and content offering. It's not a radical departure, and not all of its levels are designed equally, but overall this is another feather in SMG Studio's cap.
Disney Illusion Island is a competent and approachable metroidvania-style platformer that does a great job at accommodating players of all skill levels and offers up a great take on Mickey and Friends, but a relatively short runtime combined with overly simple mechanics and some disappointing presentational choices means that it falls just short of true magic.
At the end of the day, Everybody 1-2 Switch attempts to shake up the formula of its predecessor by introducing second-screen games and upping the potential player count considerably, and it does a decent enough job of it. Even at a cheaper price of entry than the last game was at launch though, the issue of longevity comes with the mixed quality of its 17 included mini-games and threatens to limit the potential fun.
Somewhat short, but oh-so-sweet, Synapse is an unflinching thrill ride of a shooter with an intoxicating one-more-go structure and unmatched badassery in its dual-wielding telekinetic shooter action. It's more than just a great showpiece for the PS VR2's capabilities – this is easily the coolest I've ever felt playing a video game.
Crash Team Rumble is a surprisingly competent online multiplayer arena game that's easy to get into and well-balanced, leading to some tense and exciting games. It's let down hugely by a lack of modes and content though, and I seriously doubt its longevity in the long term.
After Us is a sombre, succinct and surreal adventure with a compelling and emotional tale of sacrifice and healing, tied together by simple platforming gameplay that evolves with each distinct and beautiful new environment. Some control complaints and unnecessary combat aside, it's a memorable journey worth taking.