At its most basic level, Star Wars: Squadrons is a solid title with great gameplay and presentation. Its reduced price and limited scope are a good value proposition, but I'd love to see some more content down the line. If you own a VR headset, Squadrons is an amazing experience and almost a must-have title, although it still has some things to iron out to become as good as it strives to be.
Where does this leave BPM: Bullets Per Minute? As it stands, BPM is a solid idea that's well executed, but it's wrapped in some mediocre game design that ultimately drags down the experience. This may sound like a harsh deconstruction of the title, but I would still recommend it to the right person. If you're very much into rhythm games or intrigued by the title, give it a shot. Its gameplay is promisingly solid, but the rest of the experience feels either underwhelming or too repetitive to appreciate over time. I would have loved to see some more drastic gameplay variations, skill-based additions, or maybe a change of pace or music to mix things up.
Adding up all of the changes between NHL 20 and NHL 21, it's still hard to justify the full-price release in comparison to what's new this year. I appreciate the focus on the Be A Pro mode, but there is still a lot of work to be done to improve its consistency and reduce frustrating and demotivating moments and bugs across the entire experience. The gameplay feels like it did a small leap forward with some basic AI and animation improvements, making NHL 21 very fun and smooth to play, but it's not enough to hide its aging foundation. I sincerely hope the franchise can make up ground with its next entry and, hopefully, an improved engine. If you are a dedicated fan or have skipped several of the previous entries, NHL 21 is a solid purchase, but otherwise, there isn't enough here to justify the price tag.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps manages to be more than just a plain old sequel. It changes just enough and introduces great new mechanics and characters to truly feel like a completely separate game while being unmistakably Ori at the core. More importantly, it runs perfectly well on the Switch with only minor visual adjustments. Will of the Wisps stands as tall as its predecessor as a beautiful action-platformer that everyone should try.
Mafia: Definitive Edition is a remarkable reimaging of the original title that flexes its muscles in graphical fidelity and storytelling but falls flat in other areas. While I fully enjoyed my time with it, its mediocre third-person shooting mechanics, abysmal AI, and erratic difficulty can sometimes be a test of perseverance. It is a reminder of the rather old game buried under the shiny new graphical improvements. It is an impressive retelling of an open-world classic, and it exceeded my expectations on that front. Some of its shortcomings are easily overshadowed by what the title does well. If you're a fan of the franchise, this is an easy recommendation, especially given its discounted launch price and the way it re-creates the series' arguably finest entry. On the other hand, if you expect a game that's fully up to today's high standard, Mafia: Definitive Edition may be a tad underwhelming.
There's a lot to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, and it all feels on point: challenges, gear, more characters, and online multiplayer. At the same time, you can probably clear every stage in the game in a single afternoon. It has trimmed most of the fat that's typical of these projects and unapologetically focused on its original core experience, and the results are all the better for it. It runs, looks, and plays great, but it could've taken a few more risks along the way. That's a small gripe to have when everything else works so nicely.
Windbound looked to be a great many things, but it turned out to be a standard survival-roguelike crossover with some promising areas that never reached their full potential. An overly cruel death mechanic and repeating vistas are what ultimately drag down an otherwise solid and partially fun survival game. With the right expectations, Windbound is a solid offering that doesn't stray too far from its survival core.
After everything I've mentioned so far, it's not a surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed Spiritfarer. What initially looked like an eerie combination revealed itself to be a thoughtful, relaxing, and enjoyable journey that deals with loss and caring in heartwarming ways. It's not a flawless masterpiece or a crowd-pleaser, but it knows what it's good at and executes it to an incredibly satisfying degree. If you vaguely enjoy titles like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, be sure to pick up Spiritfarer.
Overall, I found the PSVR support to be a necessary and greatly enhancing feature for Dreams VR. It works great and shows great promise, but with great promise comes great responsibility to actually fulfill what it sets out to do, and while Dreams as a whole isn't quite there yet, I'm hopeful that it will be soon.
Even though Pistol Whip has a small musical offering at the moment, it's one of the best VR experiences I have played on PSVR and in general. It's easy to pick up, great to play, and tough to put down, and ultimately, that's all it's about. It isn't rich in features yet, but with a content roadmap in place, this potentially looks like "the next big thing," although it's marginally held back by a lack of content and song variety for now.