Overall, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - Tempestfall feels a bit rough around the edges. Technical issues and a shallow and repetitive combat system keep it from being a standout VR title. Tempestfall's visuals and environments are often breathtaking and a joy to explore, especially if you are a fan of the franchise. It feels like Tempestfall could have used another year of development time to iron out some of its technical difficulties and to make combat more engaging and deeper to carry the experience.
Call of Duty: Vanguard drops the ball on two fronts. The campaign is a short, disjointed, and shallow affair, and its Zombies mode is solid but too bare-bones and devoid of content to recommend at the moment. Regular multiplayer matches are where Vanguard shines the brightest, but a lot of that is due to leaning heavily into familiar territory. Vanguard struggles to make meaningful additions to the formula, and apart from new battle pacing options and a generous selection of maps, Vanguard sits comfortably on the achievements of its predecessors. That's not a bad thing, and I enjoyed the online components throughout this review, but it's also not a great look for a yearly release. If you haven't played a Call of Duty title in a few years and don't care for its single-player campaign, Vanguard is a fun and solid entry in the series.
Overall, Gamedec delivers on its premise. It's a fun and intriguing story with plenty of choices to make and cases to solve. It never gets remarkably deep in lore, world-building, or character development, but it pulls off the decision-driven storytelling quite well. The limited scope hurts the experience, though. Environment maps can be small and feel on rails even when they're not, and some cut corners distract from what is a thoroughly entertaining narrative experience.
Diablo II: Resurrected is a great port plagued by the usual server issues. When those stop - or if you can work around them - D2:R is a great port that polishes up a cult classic without losing its original charm and gameplay loop. The improved visuals run well on the Switch, and the quality-of-life improvements and good controller implementation ensure that D2 is a joy to experience on the handheld. Of course, there are some noticeable downgrades, but none of them impede the experience, and they're necessary to ensure the game runs smoothly and without hitches. If you favor portability over quality, the Switch version of D2:R is worth picking up.
A lot of the enjoyment of Unplugged comes down to the hand-tracking technology that isn't fully there yet, and I'm doubtful that the current Quest hardware will ever fully get there. Better cameras on the headset are a minimum requirement for that to happen. In the meantime, if you can put up with its inevitable frustrations as you air-jam a hallucinated guitar to the tune of rock classics in your living room, Unplugged is one of the best and only games to use hand tracking. You will certainly get rewarded if you stick with it, but it likely won't completely overshadow its downsides.
Overall, Stride feels more like a concept title than a real one, given its very limited available content that centers around its core mechanic. That doesn't matter too much because the controls and gameplay are superb, except for a few minor inconsistencies. It's not a must-have title yet, but since a story and multiplayer update are still to come, Stride may have what it takes to become a highly addictive and fun parkour simulator in VR. If you have a Quest at your disposal, Stride is certainly worth a look.
While consoles made a generational leap, NHL 22 is still very much stuck in the past. Some of the gameplay tweaks improve the experience, but the game has largely remained the same. The graphical improvements are minor, and the overhyped X Factor abilities are underwhelming. Aside from minor changes, everything else is pretty much in the same state that it was last year, except you can now pay the next-gen premium price for it. NHL 22 is still the best hockey game you can buy (mostly due to the lack of other options), but I'd strongly advise against it if you have played any other NHL title in the past few years. The series has been stagnating, and NHL 22 doesn't indicate any will to make meaningful changes, which is a shame because this would've been the perfect cut-off point to do something new and interesting.
Lost in Random is a magical experience in several areas. The story, presentation, and world are a joy to experience from start to finish, with a few minor exceptions. On the other hand, the combat is initially refreshing but is hindered by the length of encounters and a lack of depth in its mechanics, so later encounters feel like a frustrating chore. It's a fun action-adventure in short bursts, and Lost in Random deserves much more attention than it has received.
Alan Wake Remastered is exactly what it says in the title, and that is a good thing. Alan Wake has received a thorough and clean remaster that doesn't compromise its original look and vision but enhances the gameplay by using all of the PS5's central features, including fast loading times and DualSense feedback. Its story and gameplay, while not perfect, still hold up well today. There is no story-driven game quite like Alan Wake, and being able to revisit this Xbox 360 classic on the PS5 is a dream come true - especially since this likely means that we will get that long-promised sequel.
I very much enjoyed Death Stranding on the PS4, and that hasn't changed after playing through Death Stranding: Director's Cut on the PS5. It's not perfect in its overall story and gameplay execution, and it isn't a game that everyone will enjoy. If you can get past that, it's still is a uniquely rewarding experience that looks and plays better on a PS5, and it's one of the few PS5 titles that doesn't demand a fortune to upgrade for existent owners. At the same time, the content additions are a bit thin and don't add a lot to the experience, so the upgrades in visuals and performance are likely the main reason to upgrade your version.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is an important entry for a series that's trying to redefine itself without losing what makes it Yakuza. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, even though its pacing was inconsistent. A lot of the enjoyment is due to the new protagonist Ichiban, his memorable companions, and their relationships, which are engaging to explore. Most of the adventure is set in the Yokohama region, which is a joy to interact with, and so are its shops and engaging side stories. While the introduction of RPG mechanics was a daring move, it ultimately paid off, and I prefer the full-on RPG approach over the old brawler gameplay. Most of its RPG systems are simplistic to the point of almost being repetitive, but it lays a solid and fun foundation upon which future titles can build.
In many regards, I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and the Liar is a good continuation of what made the first game special: great level design, a funny spy story, and great pick-up-and-play gameplay. It doesn't do much to evolve in any meaningful way, but it doesn't need to. The great, albeit short, stages are a lot of fun to solve, but they can be frustrating to repeat as you trial-and-error your way through to the final credits. If you loved the first game, this one is sure to please.
Overall, Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition succeeds on several levels. It's an excellent update to a surprise indie hit that is still mighty enjoyable for anyone interested in the Soulslike genre. While difficulty and pacing get in the way, Mortal Shell is a short, sweet, and most importantly, challenging game to tide you over to the next main Souls offering.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is tricky to judge. The gameplay loop is repetitive and retreads a lot of the tropes found in similar co-op shooter experiences. Its presentation is good but inconsistent. What it does well is capturing the visuals and sound of the movies and distilling them into a well-established formula. There's a good variety of combat classes and engaging ways to customize and improve builds, so players are incentivized to continue playing and get better as the difficulty ratchets up to add a thrilling survival component. I am concerned about the title's online matchmaking, which we were unable to test. Since the title does not support crossplay, the game's longevity and player base will depend on early adopters and future content releases to prove that this online shooter is here to stay.
Twelve Minutes had me on a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. I started being let down by the game seeming too simple in premise. Then I got frustrated because I got stuck uncovering its hidden complexities. Finally, I can't and don't want to put it down until I'd turned everything over thrice. It executes the time loop mechanic meticulously, its story is twisting and turning constantly, and the excellent voice cast, environmental art, and music work together to create a new type of adventure game. It is not perfect, and you see some cut corners, but what it sacrifices, it makes up for with a satisfying payoff as you delve deeper into its time loop to unravel the mystery at the core.
The Siege of Paris DLC for Assassin's Creed Valhalla is less bloated, and that is a positive. It still recycles most of what it did previously, so this expansion does little to get you onboard if you're already burned out on it. As an expansion of Valhalla, The Siege of Paris seriously trims the fat and provides one of the better story arcs we've seen for this entry. The welcome reintroduction of black box missions provides a diversion from the regular grind that is so prevalent in its other content. It's a step in the right direction.
Sniper Elite VR delivers where it counts the most - great sniping mechanics and a gory X-ray kill cam that looks phenomenal in VR - but the rest of the experience is a mixed bag. There's a forgettable story and mediocre shootouts when you're not handling a sniper rifle, and they both keep the game from standing out among more refined VR shooting offerings. If you are a fan of the franchise or you yearn for a good sniper rifle experience in VR, Sniper Elite VR is worth checking out.
Overall, Death's Door is a success. It's a short but entertaining and combat-heavy Zelda-like action-adventure that is only limited by scope. It might not have the most memorable puzzles or dungeons, but it has enough heart and skill to make up for its few, minor missteps.
Chivalry II is a lot of fun. It's visceral, easy to learn but difficult to master, and it's simply a bloody good time. The balancing issues, lackluster customization options, and a general lack of maps take the wind out of its sails far too quickly. That means that a couple of updates could turn this little gem into a must-play title. I'm hopeful that Torn Banner can build on the solid foundation that it has poured for Chivalry II.
Overall, King of Seas is a serviceable action-RPG with a pirates theme that is intended for a more casual audience. Its mechanics are solid, and the title is entertaining enough for short bursts of gameplay, but its grindy and repetitive nature quickly takes the wind out of its sails. Some of my complaints are certainly fixable in future updates, at which point I imagine the game to be a solid option for those who yearn for a decent but simplistic pirate life simulator. For now, I'd steer clear until some changes are implemented, or you can wait for a substantial sale.