Layers of Fear really brings a lot of improvements that amplify the game's strongest aspect: its immersive atmosphere. Audio and visuals are almost impeccable in this release, and they're truly worth experiencing. That said, playing through all of the content on offer in this remake/remaster collection does stretch the gameplay a bit too thin over its runtime, and it slowly wears out its welcome. What remains is a repetitive and sometimes tame horror adventure game that's worth experiencing for its presentation alone.
The Case of Golden Idol is an engaging adventure game that completely won me over, even though it's not remotely what I thought it would be. It's more about observation than actual detective work, but it requires more deduction skills than many games of its kind would feel comfortable to burden the player with. It's very much in the vein of Return of the Obra Dinn, where it's more about your logical deduction skills than about pretend detective play. If that's your cup of tea, The Case of the Golden Idol is an easy recommendation. Given the choice, I would opt for the PC version, especially if you don't intend to play the game in the Switch's docked mode.
Dredge has no right to be as good as it is, but it effectively plays to its strengths and mixes solid systems with a strong theme. If you're not into fishing or Lovecraft, Dredge won't be your cup of tea. However, if either even slightly tickles your fancy, I can almost guarantee that you'll have a blast delving into the twisted mysteries of Dredge - and you'll even make a decent buck with mutant fish while you're at it.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a competent linear adventure game that seamlessly connects the rebooted story of a young Sherlock Holmes with the twisted world of Lovecraft. While it's a focused effort overall, the presentation is clunky, and the Lovecraftian elements don't get the spotlight they deserve. The enjoyable mystery adventure romp will satisfy fans of the franchise, but everyone else might be better off waiting for a sale before jumping into this case.
As a sum of its parts, Espire 2 is a very solid VR stealth game that is only held back by a few issues, but those issues usually interfere with the player's enjoyment. The rough visuals and AI never got me to buy into this otherwise well-executed stealth fantasy. It has good ideas, which are all done well, but they quickly wear thin with repeated playthroughs. If you have a friend to play with, Espire 2 also offers the ability to play missions cooperatively, so that may be a reason to rank Espire 2 a bit higher, but the overall gameplay remains the same. Ultimately, Espire 2 does some impressive things with VR controls and offers some great open-level design, but it isn't an overly long game experience, and it feels rough around the edges.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners - Chapter 2: Retribution is an exercise in restraint. It adds content where it makes sense and expands the known formula in a few different directions. It never reinvents any part of what made the first game so revolutionary, and it doesn't need to. By the time you start swinging a chainsaw through a group of zombies, you've probably forgotten about the lack of innovation on display and are appreciating Retribution for what it is: more of the same fun in one of the best VR games to date. The only real downside is that the Quest 2's technical limitations put a noticeable dent in the presentation. If you have the means and patience, waiting for the full PC release in February would be my recommendation. For everyone else, this is a good, if technically flawed, version of a great VR game.
In its current state, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a very fun and beautiful co-op shooter that's probably one of the best of its kind. It's the rough foundation of a great game, but it hasn't achieved greatness yet. There's a limited selection of maps and character classes, a lot of grinding, and very pronounced technical issues that hold back the title significantly. If you can tolerate that, Darktide is fun to play with a group of friends. Otherwise, I'd advise you to wait for future updates or test the waters with the PC Game Pass.
God of War Ragnarök starts off deceptively simple and familiar, but it shakes up expectations and keeps the player guessing. It improves upon the prior title in every way, including audio, combat, gameplay, narrative, and visuals - and the original was already outstanding.
New Tales from the Borderlands tries to go all-out but ends up with unlikable characters, mind-boggling story twists, and forced comedic writing. Even some interesting decisions and entertaining side characters cannot save what is otherwise an uninteresting romp through the world of Borderlands. If anything, NTFTB confirms that the original was indeed a perfect storm that isn't easily replicated. Fans of the franchise may end up enjoying the adventure, but I'd advise waiting for a sale before embarking on this strange adventure.
Moss: Book II doesn't lose any momentum and directly continues the touching story from the first title. It expands gameplay in new and fun ways and immerses you in its fairy tale world quite effectively. While it's a fun and highly polished affair, it still plays it a bit safe in some regards, but that's easy to forget when the end product looks and plays this well. Much like its predecessor, Moss: Book II is a must-play title in VR.
As a story-driven adventure game, Pentiment is a history lesson come to life, with some intriguing mysteries to solve and tricky decisions to make. It's a vertical slice of history, and it provides a glimpse into a turbulent period through the experience of a small town. The experience can be a bit sluggish because it sometimes values historical accuracy over player comfort. Your choices impact the Bavarian town of Tassing over a quarter of a century, all while uncovering a truly interesting mystery. Tassing is the actual protagonist here, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being an integral part in its community and participating in its struggles. It's a bit special and stubborn in its delivery, but Pentiment is an interesting and worthwhile investigation of the period, its customs, and its issues.
NHL 23 has a few nice additions, but they quickly wear thin. There's nothing of substance, except perhaps yet another year of the same grind in HUT to eventually get a team together that is worthy of competition by the time the next installment skates around. That doesn't seem appealing to me, and unless you've already skipped several years' worth of NHL entries, NHL 23 isn't worth the full asking price.
Even if you only play Life Is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection in handheld mode and you've never played either game elsewhere, this offering isn't great. At $40 for a slightly worse version of two older titles, I can't recommend the Arcadia Bay Collection in its current state. It may be worth a pickup at a steep sale, but even then, if you can play it on another platform, do yourself a favor and do that. Both games are still enjoyable narrative adventures with some cool moments, but the Switch iteration simply doesn't do justice to the original releases.
All in all, Sunday Gold has an interesting premise and gameplay mechanics, but it doesn't come together as well as it could. Some parts of the game were completely engrossing and entertaining, but there are several segments that I did not enjoy. The story and puzzles are fun, but the combat is rather shallow and difficult, which isn't eased by the restrictive AP system and minigames. It's an enjoyable indie with a great idea, but the execution doesn't always match. If you're in the market for something new and point-and-click-adjacent, Sunday Gold is a great pick-up for all of its strengths. If you're hoping for a great RPG like Disco Elysium, you'll want to look elsewhere.
Return to Monkey Island is a love letter to the franchise and adventure games in general. It succeeds at what it set out to do from the outset, with a fun story, clever puzzles, and a big pinch of nostalgia to top it all off. It may play it a bit too safe, but that's easily forgotten when the rest of the experience is so consistently delightful.
Splatoon 3 is very light on content additions, but it is easily one of the best online multiplayer games I've played. Its weird concept and fun gameplay across a variety of modes and maps are as fun and addictive as it has always been, but it lacks a big new feature. Instead, Splatoon 3 focuses on streamlining the existing experience by removing a lot of the hurdles that Splatoon 2 had imposed. While the online experience was a bit shaky during the first days, with two years of guaranteed updates on the horizon, Splatoon 3 has a mighty journey ahead, and it can only get better and more interesting from here.
Overall, Red Matter 2 is a great sequel that builds on the strengths of the first entry and further improves upon the visuals and gameplay. It simply looks and runs phenomenal on the Quest 2, with mostly captivating puzzles and an interesting mystery to solve at its core. It's not perfect and still exhibits some bugs, and I probably could've done without the shooting sections, but that's a small price to pay when the rest come together as well as this. If you own a quest, this is a six-hour adventure you don't want to miss.
All in all, Thymesia is a mixed bag, but it scores where it counts. The tactical combat is a fun mix of BloodBorne and Sekiro that stumbles in several places. It's not distinct in its appearance, and it doesn't do as well in level and boss designs compared to other games of its genre. If you can look past that, Thymesia provides about 10 hours of content that won't shake up the genre but can entertain the right players.
Evil Dead: The Game is clunky but loveable. It's a very good movie-to-video game adaptation, and it's likely as close as we're going to get to a proper and decent "Evil Dead" video game. I had a good deal of fun with it, both as a fan of the movies and as a gamer. It twists a familiar game concept just enough and bolsters it with additional mechanics so that it feels fresh again. Longevity is definitely a concern in terms of content, but at least console cross-play ensures that its player base will stay healthy for a little while.
Lost Recipes isn't a very long game, but it has undeniable charm throughout its runtime. Clearly geared more toward VR novices, it provides good-looking interactive environments and some interesting recipes to cook, but it doesn't offer a lot of content or challenge to be captivating beyond the first playthrough.