Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a great game and a nice pivot for the dormant series. The combat is enjoyable, and the crisp controls translate well to platforming that requires a good deal of skill to master but rarely devolves into frustration. The puzzles do an excellent job of being tricky but satisfying to solve. You can still point at a few flaws, like the fact that the story is standard, but those are minor nitpicks that don't stop the game from being worthy of a classic adventure fan's library. For Switch owners, The Lost Crown shows how much power there is to tap in Nintendo's portable console.
Helldivers II is a good game that happens to have some current teething problems. Everything - from the perfect satirical tone to the solid gunplay and variety of difficulty levels - create some exciting and satisfying gaming moments. Some of the more military simulation traits generate some tense situations, but they can be humorous moments, too. The microtransactions don't feel too bad in the game's overall scheme. If the connectivity issues can be resolved and stabilized soon, then Helldivers II can be one of the sleeper hits of the first half of 2024.
It's difficult to give a score to Tomb Raider I-III Remastered. On the one hand, some of the improvements are quite good. The inclusion of extra levels for each game to make them more accessible is always welcome, and the improved modern controls are certainly welcome unless your muscle memory is attuned to the old tank-style controls. On the other hand, the very slight graphical improvements are overshadowed by the fact that the game design fails to keep modern controls in mind, and no other changes have been made to bring it up to modern standards. Considering the pedigree of the games, the result is a package that's fine but could've been much, much better.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a great game and a nice pivot for the long-dormant series. The combat is enjoyable, since you never go through that expected moment of weakness like in other games. The crisp controls translate well to platforming that requires a good deal of skill to master but rarely devolves into frustration. The puzzles do an excellent job of being tricky but satisfying to solve. You can still point out a few flaws, like the fact that the story is fairly standard, but those are minor nitpicks that don't stop the game from being a title that's worthy of a classic adventure fan's library.
Tekken 8 is excellent. The fighting is just as crisp as ever, and the addition of the Heat mechanic and an increased focus on aggression create a game that feels both exciting to play and watch. The bevy of new modes was what the game needed at launch, and there's more than enough content to keep players busy without feeling like every facet of the title had been explored. The fighting game scene has been blessed with banger after banger over the last few years, and Tekken 8 keeps that trend going. Fans of the fighting game genre need to have Tekken 8 in their libraries.
Like its predecessors, Reigns: Three Kingdoms does a good job of taking a simple and easy-to-understand mechanic and making it a big part of a very substantial adventure. The change to a real historical setting is nice, but the original story is much more interesting to follow and uncover. The balancing act for card selection is simple but fascinating once you understand meter management. The battle system follows the same "simple but good" philosophy of the main game. If you're a fan of the previous titles, Reigns: Three Kingdoms is worth checking out, especially given the game's low price of $2.99.
As it stands now, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is good. The story is interesting, the quests are plentiful, the characters are well rounded, and there's plenty of depth in the RPG systems. The game is also flawed. The attack roll system can produce infuriating results if you aren't thinking with dice in mind, the quests can feel too similar in the late game, and the lore is awesome but so dense that the learning curve for newcomers is rather steep. It's also very buggy, but at least that part is getting ironed out by the day. Despite that, the game is fine as-is, but based on Owlcat's track record, if you give the developer a little more time to fix up the game, it can be one of the highlights in a year that's already packed with great RPGs.
Like any good walking simulator, The Invincible thrives on its story. Even though it feels similar to what the book already touches on, the differences are enough to make the game feel new and somewhat fresh, considering how many people may be approaching the game without prior knowledge of the novel. The decision to go with a walking simulator works as far as being able to effectively deliver the story, and it pays off with a gripping narrative, but some of the dialogue sections can run longer than expected. If you can live with some of the bugs that still need ironing out, you'll find this to be a fascinating experience that's well worth checking out if you're a genre fan.
The Talos Principle II does what is expected from a video game sequel, and it does it well. The puzzles remain clever, and the additional tools complement the old ones. The story is more prominent and plays out in a way that remains philosophical yet still provides some satisfaction, no matter which ending you get. It looks and runs great, and the experience never feels like it drags on. Whether you're a fan of the series or a puzzle fan in general, you owe it to yourself to a playthrough of The Talos Principle II.
Ghostrunner II finds itself right on par with the first game. The action remains razor-sharp in the beginning, with tight movement and combat that feels rewarding when you master it. The tweaks to existing mechanics and the addition of new moves keep things from devolving into being just "more of the same" when compared to the first title. The more open areas of the desert wasteland feel too freeing, and the various inconsistent issues put a damper on the game when players are experienced. Overall, Ghostrunner II is satisfying for those who can get a thrill from quick bursts of well-executed playthroughs.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising does what any good sequel should do, and that's take what works in the first game and amplifies its strengths while also fixing some of its shortcomings. The addition of new moves involving a special meter deepen the overall fighting mechanics, but it still retains the simpler control scheme for newcomers and as a comprehensive training system to help genre rookies get acclimated to the overall Arc System way of fighting. The character roster feels much more substantial and in line with what's expected from a modern-day fighting game, while the rollback netcode gives people more confidence in entering online bouts without fear of most network conditions creating an unplayable experience. If you can shake off the fact that a good chunk of the game is directly lifted from the first title, you'll greatly enjoy Rising.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is going to appeal the most to die-hard fans of the film series. The ability to ride some of the creatures of Pandora and take in the lush surroundings of the moon are more than enough to satisfy those who want to wander around and soak in everything. For everyone else, the game is simply decent. The missions are very hit-and-miss in quality and execution, while the ability to use human and Na'vi weapons isn't as appealing as the developers may have expected. The world looks gorgeous, but navigating it isn't that intuitive due to a poor map and navigation system, and that also goes for other elements, like hunting and gathering. The game isn't terrible or as bleak as the first title, but you'll need to temper expectations to get some enjoyment out of Frontiers of Pandora.
Valfaris: Mecha Therion is an awesome shoot-'em-up. It does a good job of encapsulating the classic shooter sensibilities while also making sure the melee combat fits in without feeling shoehorned. The presentation adheres to the heavy metal style artwork well, while also not obscuring anything of importance. The pacing ensures that the frustration is kept to a minimum. It is nice to see a shooter that isn't just another top-down bullet hell game, and genre fans of all skill levels will really enjoy Mecha Therion.
You already know whether you're a fan of the series, and Just Dance 2024 Edition won't sway your opinion. With that said, it is great to see that the game makes a strong, conscious effort to keep the song library fresh without juggling different games; each iteration is now essentially a big track pack expansion. It's also good to see that the video quality has only gotten better, with a combination of dynamic backgrounds and a few songs that feature different animation styles (instead of people in full-blown costumes). It may still be the only dance game in town, but at least you'll be assured that there's some effort in earning that title rather than winning it by default.
Wizard With a Gun scratches the survival roguelike itch quite nicely. There's variety in the levels and enemies, and you're inspired to make short journeys instead of taking one long trek. The toning down of some elements, such as complete item loss on death and lack of hunger and thirst meters, means that it is a little more forgiving than its contemporaries. The presence of co-op is welcome, even if it's online only. It's a fun game overall and worth checking out, provided you can get over the clunkiness in a few spots.
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is a solid enough game even before taking into account the forgettable titles that have preceded it. The combat may be slower than expected, but the hits feel more meaningful. The bestiary is a little more diverse when taking into account how many environments you'll visit, and the roguelike nature of the game is well done when it finally kicks in. The title looks and sounds very good, but it is the toning down of both roguelike and Souls-like elements that makes this one more appealing to those who aren't necessarily big fans of either genre but remain curious nonetheless. It's a good experience that makes for a nice sleeper hit during this busy season.
You really, really have to like the kind of humor in High on Knife to enjoy the DLC. You're not going to get any character from the new gun, and Knifey's psycho nature doesn't take long to become grating when compared to the rest of your living loadout. The combat is less enjoyable than before, since the pinball gun is the only weapon you can use to deal any real damage, and the act of collecting everything in the game feels more meaningless since you don't get anything from it. If you're into the rambling nature of the jokes with a sense of humor that's often crude or referential with no real payoff, then you might want to check this out, but anyone who's hoping for good gameplay to balance the humor will be disappointed.
Gunbrella is a very solid game. It isn't perfect due to some easy boss fights, and it isn't quite a Metroidvania because of the game's linear nature. However, it does make good use of the titular weapon in performing some nice platforming tricks, and you'll enjoy some meaty combat with most of the enemies. If you don't mind the game's short playtime, you'll have some fun with Gunbrella.
Except for some lingering bugs and other graphical issues, the Phantom Liberty DLC serves as an ideal swan song for this iteration of Cyberpunk 2077. The story is gripping from beginning to end thanks to some expected but exciting plot twists, a big diverging point in the story that occurs way before the end of the campaign, and some very memorable and fleshed-out characters. The tale may be somewhat self-contained, but the ties to the rest of the city make it feel like a proper expansion versus something completely siloed off from the rest of the game. That would be a good enough reason for existing fans to take the plunge, but given the various changes made by patch 2.0, it's a game that's definitely worth jumping into if you've been waiting for a good chunk of the issues to get cleared up.
Mortal Kombat 1 lives up to the hype. The gameplay tweaks to the core fighting keep things fast and explosive, and the addition of Kameos significantly adds to your arsenal in a fight. The story mode is top-notch in the genre, even if it can quickly get weird. Add in Invasions mode, and Mortal Kombat 1 matches Street Fighter 6 in giving solo players plenty to do. It looks and plays great, and the netcode is solid, so it stands alongside Capcom's latest as a strong fighting game that'll be in your rotation for years to come.