Hitman 3 is the definitive case for careful refinement over needless reinvention. While not that fundamentally different from its predecessors, Hitman 3 has been polished to a high sheen, offering up fantastic frictionless stealth gameplay and an eye-catching array of unique, exciting stages. At times it's felt like luck was against this trilogy, but Agent 47 would be proud of how IO Interactive's well-laid plans have come together in the end.
Shady Part of Me is a decent puzzle platformer, which offers some inventive challenges and an overall polished presentation. That said, almost everything about the game, including its story, aesthetic, and core mechanics, are lifted wholesale from more memorable indie games like Braid, Limbo, Little Nightmares, and Contrast. Like a shadow cast upon your bedroom wall, Shady Part of Me may be fleetingly interesting, but it won't leave a lasting impression.
NBA 2K21 makes a solid debut on next-gen consoles, but may fall short of some fans' razzle dazzle expectations. The game looks impressive, if slightly uneven, and new animations make for silky-smooth on-court action, but a lack of unique, worthwhile content holds the overall package back. If you've been waiting for NBA 2K21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X, or bought the Mamba Forever Edition that comes with a free upgrade, this is certainly the best version to play. That said, if you don't have access to the upgrade (or a PS5 or XSX for that matter) you don't need to feel too bad about sticking to the G League this year.
Empire of Sin is a sincere love letter to a fascinating moment in American history and delivers all the style, swagger, and Tommy-Gun-inflicted violence you'd expect. Unfortunately, somewhat shallow sim elements, pushover AI, and a serious lack of polish means this probably won't be your next great strategy obsession. That said, if you love gangster stuff, Empire of Sin might still be an offer you can't refuse.
The Falconeer doesn't do anything glaringly wrong, and yet, the overall experience doesn't really click. The game looks lovely, controls well, and offers surprising depth considering it was created by a single developer, but an uninvolving world, repetitive missions, and combat that isn't as visceral as it should be grounds its potential. Like many flights, The Falconeer is kind of exciting when you first take off, but by landing time you just want the experience to be over.
The most underappreciated Souls game is ready to take its place atop the pantheon. Demon's Souls has always been one of From Software's most intricate, atmospheric, and satisfyingly-challenging games and Bluepoint's technically-impeccable remake elevates it to a new level with beautiful, fluid visuals and an assortment of smart gameplay tweaks. All From Software fans need this game, and even those who have struggled with their games should consider giving it a try. Once you start playing Demon's Souls you'll be hard-pressed to exorcise the game from your PS5.
The Pathless makes a fantastic first impression, with its arresting visuals, fun mechanics, and fascinating dark world. The game's middle section does start to drift a bit, but it sticks the landing with a great final level and an electrifying and emotionally-satisfying climax. Like The Pathless' feathery co-star, Giant Squid has raised their game to lofty new heights.
Visage is one of the most terrifying games I've ever played, full stop, but it's not going to be for all horror fans. The game's perplexing puzzles, convoluted story, and rough edges will turn off some, but if you can stick it out, there's a good chance it will eventually sink its hooks into you. Good horror can take time to process, and I believe Visage's dark presence will only grow with time.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain is a textbook example of a bad horror sequel that mostly sticks to its predecessor's formula, without really understanding what made it work. Between a jumbled story, shortage of tension, annoying new mechanics, and a flagrant lack of polish, Broken Porcelain in a follow up only a mother could love.
Genshin Impact is a remarkable game in many respects, boasting vibrant visuals, a rich, sprawling world, deep systems, and finely-tuned action. Unfortunately, the game's free-to-play gacha business model often undermines its own sense of adventure and excitement. Genshin Impact is a good -- potentially great -- game locked in a loot box it can't quite escape.