But I also found myself making excuses for Assassin's Creed Valhalla until I couldn't any longer. It mimics the Odyssey formula but takes a step backward in almost every way. It sacrifices story for scale. It's designed to discourage stealth in favor of epic battles. It's true to the Viking experience, but it isn't true to the Assassin's Creed experience. That's why it comes off feeling like the least essential game in the whole series. Impressive in some of its accomplishments, but inessential all the same.
When you go trick-or-treating, you don't come back 100 percent with candy you love. There's some bleh stuff mixed in, stuff that you put up with to get to the candy you can't wait to eat. That's a perfect analog for Pumpkin Jack. You'll push past parts of it because this mascot platformer has some really great qualities. And, when viewed as a whole, a bucket full of candy ain't so bad.
All this time, the first Mafia was the best of the trio. It just took a phenomenal effort from Hangar 13 to do it justice with Mafia: Definitive Edition. This feels like the rare necessary remake that elevates and builds upon the original. It's truly an offer you can't refuse.
I finished AWE with a yearning for more Alan Wake and a yearning for more Control. Remedy has more or less confirmed we'll get more of both at some point in the future, although they might be presented through the lens of yet another series. That's the reality of the Remedy Connected Universe. As a trial run, AWE manages to be a great double-dip on some beloved narratives, even though it's not necessarily a great representation of either Control or Alan Wake individually. Sometimes the sum is greater than the parts, sometimes the lake is really an ocean.
Crypto-137 is hellbent on ensuring that humanity meets a terrible fate. By comparison, Destroy All Humans has met an enjoyable-enough-but-certainly-not-amazing fate. That's fine, but it's tough to not feel as though something truly great could've happened with some more creative license. If nothing else, this remake left me thinking that Destroy All Humans is still a viable property and that a brand new game might not be such a bad idea. But maybe that's because an extraterrestrial has control of my cortex.
All my quibbles are on the periphery of Gears Tactics, though. The core -- getting onto the battlefield and agonizing over every move -- is excellent. There's a smart experience here, one that feels both authentically Gears and tactics. That's the best possible outcome. Gears Tactics is a great Gears game and a great tactics game. This 90% doesn't miss.
If the eponymous Savage Planet is your Kindred explorer's residence, the space rock called DL-C1 is a timeshare. It's a decent little getaway -- probably worth the investment, a change of pace, and the vacation is over quicker than you'd like. But, despite what the name suggests, Hot Garbage is far from a dump.
It's a pleasure to dive back into Control, and that's why I genuinely enjoyed my time with The Foundation. I still love hunting down every research note and every minute-long audio file -- anything to fill in more of the lore gaps in this bizarre, enigmatic world. This expansion does all of that even if it's ultimately left feeling inconsequential. Ironically, The Foundation fails to build on the excellent structure Remedy already built with Control.