Horizon Forbidden West is everything you could hope for in a sequel. Not only does it provide more content to sink your teeth into, but it makes smart design decisions that refine its systems to be near faultless. Aloy’s personal story continues to evolve, this time with an even stronger supporting cast and memorable antagonists propelling her journey to another level. Above all, its moment-to-moment gameplay expertly combines the fun traversal, exciting combat, and creative problem-solving to awesome effect, meaning it always feels excellent to play. Horizon Forbidden West is one of the best open-world adventures available today and is a stellar experience from its strong introduction all the way to its dramatic conclusion, and beyond.
God of War Ragnarök is more of the epic God of War that we loved in 2018, but it builds on those foundations in every single way to create a compelling and addicting adventure in its own right that improves across the board. Combat is furious and intense, exploring every nook and cranny of each Norse realm is captivating, and clever puzzles are seamlessly intertwined with abilities that change, evolve, and make you feel like a master of all crafts. Narratively, the heartfelt and fascinating story is supported by incredible writing that makes its whole cast of characters shine, and the production values are through the roof, with a gorgeous soundtrack and visuals that push the limits and stun at every turn. Santa Monica Studios have again managed to create something truly memorable and entirely special.
It’s so alluring, so magical, so mysterious and just so damn captivating that even when you’re dying over and over, you simply can’t stop exploring. With little touches that only the new generation of consoles can provide, this 2009 remake is the best launch title to add to your collection. Get your shield up, and prepare to die.
It’s genuinely thrilling to see a game like Immortals Fenyx Rising, which has taken the often discussed and sometimes criticised Ubisoft open world, and taken full advantage of it, with a light-hearted tone and so much charisma from its cast and script that it’s impossible not to crack a smile when playing.
The Medium feels like a culmination of everything Bloober Team have learned from their previous titles, pushing the envelope creatively while still heavily referencing classic horror games as their inspiration. The adventure does an excellent job of immersing you in its dark and twisted world, full of tortured souls and dark secrets begging to be uncovered. The dual-reality gameplay adds a fantastic riff to proceedings, a mechanic that has been cleverly injected into the gameplay and story in a really compelling way. While it could stand to leave some of its old-school sensibilities behind, its heartfelt story and creepy setting demands your attention right up until the credits roll.
Forza Horizon 5 takes what we’ve loved over the series’ life so far and brings it full circle, with a comprehensive package that includes everything you could possibly want from a racing game. Mexico is an astounding and wonderful location to explore, and production values are on point, from the stunning visuals of its gorgeous open world to the well-executed audio that keeps energy levels high. On top of the diverse range of events we’ve come to expect, Horizon Adventures add another fun layer of story and player progression that keeps you engaged, and the vehicle handling is, still, second-to-none. With more content than ever before, the Eventlab to make even more experiences and a suite of multiplayer modes to engage with, Forza Horizon 5 is the best racing game available today, bar none.
Rainbow Six Extraction ran the risk of being labelled as an expansion or an unnecessary spinoff, but confidently proves that there is more than enough room in this universe for a survival horror tactical shooter built on the foundations laid down by Siege. With a mixture of enjoyable objectives, a diverse range of Operators and a compelling gameplay loop filled with aggressive enemies and intense action, the addictive nature of the experience shines through with a constant struggle between playing it safe or risking it all for greater reward. Rainbow Six Extraction is full of truly exciting and memorable moments, continually testing your skill and perseverance around every dark corner, which makes it an incredibly gripping experience that doesn’t let go easily.
PGA Tour 2K21 sets a new standard for golf games. It has detailed gameplay that is welcoming for newcomers but incredibly complex for the veteran golfers. The presentation is also incredibly impressive, with strong audio and course-mapping that made me feel like I was an actual pro.
Gnosia is an eccentric blend of visual novel, Werewolf-style social deduction and RPG mechanics that somehow manages to pull it all together to make one of the most intriguing game releases this year. While some repetitive and frustrating moments mean that the game feels a little bit longer than it should, its cast of quirky, likable characters and quite frankly addictive gameplay loop will keep you just as much on the edge of your seat in Loop 1 as it will in Loop 100. There’s a wild ride to unravel, full of crazy twists and turns, and combined with the sharp writing and clever mashup of different genres, Gnosia truly stands out as a fascinating addition to your Switch library. Just be careful who you trust.
Scarlet Nexus combines an enthralling story with fascinating characters and an addictive combat system that demands your attention. As you slowly peel back the layers of its cast, the twists and turns of the narrative will keep you engaged throughout its lengthy adventure, and as your skills increase, battles become a chaotic dance of exploding enemy bits, crazy finishing movies and endorphin increasing pleasure. While there are some areas that can feel repetitive at times and the visual novel presentation of its cutscenes might not be for everyone, there’s a lot packed into this dual protagonist story that begs for an extra playthrough as soon as you finish your first. Scarlet Nexus is unmatched when it comes to style and oomph. It manages to incorporate so many clever and creative combat systems that are slick and exciting that it far outweighs the slower pace of its narrative with in-your-face, over-the-top action that simply must be played to be believed.
Song of Iron is a short and sweet Nordic adventure that tells a simple story which ends up much deeper than it first seems. With a range of gorgeous environments to explore and relatively satisfying combat, it only occasionally frustrates with some tricky boss fights and clunky movement resulting in some platforming pitfalls. Still, these grievances don’t last long, as I found the world created by Resting Relic to be a stunning one to explore and very thoughtful in its style and presentation. Mostly, I’m just astonished with how great it is that a solo developer is capable of creating this wonderful little journey, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
After a poor last effort, WWE 2K22 brings the long-running wrestling franchise back in a big way, proving that the extra development time is just what the doctor ordered. It successfully streamlines its in-ring action so that it’s more adaptable to players of different skill levels, removing archaic systems that previously bogged it down. Animations and presentation are top notch, and there really is a game mode for everybody, with a lot of variety. While not all the modes deserve to main event when you dissect them in detail, there’s still a very strong foundation to build from; the bottom line is that WWE 2K22 is the best wrestling game in over a decade.
When Ghostwire: Tokyo capitalises on its spooky surroundings by whisking you off into strange dimensions, fighting evil with powers you shoot from your hands, it’s excellent. The haunted, deserted Shibuya is a thrill to explore, and helping spirits with their final requests provides some engaging mini-adventures. Where it fumbles slightly is in the delivery of its open world, which regularly feels a bit old school as you chip away at the fog of the map, cleansing fast travel points as you go and repeating some filler tasks. Still, with a curious mystery laid out before you and a creepy atmosphere that will keep you on your toes, Ghostwire: Tokyo provides plenty of spooks and intriguing diversions around every corner that are just begging for your attention.
Even though some of the puzzles outstay their welcome and can throw the pace off a bit, MADiSON doesn’t linger too long overall and the horrific atmosphere makes it a haunted house ride more than worth the price of admission. There’s plenty of moments that had me screaming and then laughing, my heart racing and palms sweating as I dreaded turning another corner, knowing that something awful was likely waiting for me. The soundtrack is particularly effective in making you feel tense at all times, with loud noises blaring at just the right moments, as shadowy figures loom just out the corner of your eye and a puzzle solution lies just out of reach. While MADiSON doesn’t tread a lot of new ground, its creators clearly have a love of horror and know what makes the genre tick, resulting in a solid spook-fest that will haunt your thoughts.