Chalk down Hexagroove: Tactical DJ as one of the year's biggest surprises. A wholly unique take on the rhythm genre, it's challenging and enormously rewarding. The feeling of creating your own music for a virtual crowd to respond to is addicting, and while the multiplayer ultimately offers very little to the package, the single-player and the seemingly endless Freestyle mode will have you coming back to best those scores again and again. This is definitely one for headphones or a very loudspeaker system, and a must for rhythm action fans.
It’s quintessentially pinball, and whether or not that appeals to you effectively means you’re either in or out before you’ve even seen a trailer. But what’s on offer here is beyond anything I was expecting, and Zen Studios’ previous iterations of their pinball mastery to shame. The sheer detail and love that’s gone into Star Wars Pinball is unparalleled, and as a Star Wars fan those little moments that they’ve added just to make people like me smile has really elevated this entire game. This entire pinball game.
You’re never going to find it easy, and there’s far more exciting Switch puzzlers out there and on the horizon, but if you’re looking for something that’s going to either infuriate or grab your attention through originality and utterly bizarre mechanics that you rarely see elsewhere. Well, you could do worse.
Bulletstorm lives and dies on its campaign and the Switch version has absolutely smashed it out of the park. It’s a crying shame the planned sequel was cancelled due to the poor sales of the original release possibly in relation to launching so close to Gears of War which was considerably more successful. The madness of this game warrants a second outing, the tremendous Skillshot system still unrivalled to this day.
Erica is a genuinely terrific achievement. As far as the ‘PlayLink’ aspect goes – even if the game is not officially part of Sony’s range – there’s nothing better out here. Technically it feels solid as a rock, with gloriously smooth transitions from gameplay back to FMV cut-scenes. You immediately feel part of the world and it never really gets old. You want to do right by Erica the moment you meet her and there’s very few games that offer this level of interaction, even if as a whole, the game is about the journey rather than the destination.
It’s easy to pick up, it’s difficult to master and offers badass bosses at the end of each world whilst sword-fighting robot viruses intent on taking over an old lady’s computer to a synthwave soundtrack blasting over beautifully designed neon-infused levels.
The human experience of being drawn into a cult full of deep, dark secrets and the emotional toll it weighs upon you is front and centre in Sagebrush and that’s what made this two-hour experience stand out to me. The slow pace is entirely purposeful, allowing you to soak up each moment and learn more about those who believed in Father James room to be understood, to be heard and ultimately, to be mourned.
Aside from the vastly eclectic endings, the gameplay just isn’t enough to sustain it through several attempts to find them all. The gameplay never deviates from avoiding vision cones and knocking some people out if necessary. And as the game is encouraging you to experience it over and over again, it really needed a compelling reason to work your way to another ending. The premise and the endings are the clear standouts. It’s the bit in-between that makes it feel like The Church in The Darkness is a squandered opportunity.
The strengths of Wargroove come from the visuals and the gameplay, relegating the story to second place but that’s absolutely no problem for me. In order to get the most out of this game I really had to fall into it and I’m glad I did. There’s plenty to love about Wargroove.
The narrative and visual issues aside, the ultimate draw of this game is the complex, wonderful level designs and the intricate puzzles and they mountain over any serious concern I had with the game. Keep your head down and you should be able to crack Etherborn in around 3-4 hours, which is more than enough of this kind of gravity-puzzler for me.