I really hate tearing down games because nobody sets out to purposefully make a bad game and people put passion and effort into Nobunaga's Ambition: Taishi, but not only does this game fail on its own merits, the fact that this is the 15th entry in an acclaimed series makes it even more disappointing. The way it tries to hide its lack of depth is almost insulting, and not even a decent character system can save it.
Yoku's Island Express brought something to the table few games, even among those I enjoyed, have managed to recently - a true sense of freshness. It really is unlike most games on the market, and it manages to grow beyond this defining gimmick, nailing almost every other aspect. Between the fantastic gameplay, lovely presentation and endearing characters, minor faults like excessive backtracking and a somewhat flat main storyline are negligible.
Forgotton Anne is a wholly unique and evocative experience. While it delivers on the selling point of the beautiful hand-drawn anime art style, it backs it up with fantastic story and engaging gameplay. This is truly something special we have here, something that must be explored by anyone who can get their hands on the game.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is as close to the perfect RPG as one can get. The fantastic setting, grand story, exceptional writing and voice acting, engaging combat all coalesce into an exemplar of its kind. This is the game that sets the bar. This is the game that needs to be aspired to.
Tempest Citadel is a charming, story-driven title that channels some of the best elements of non-starship based Sci-Fi. With great writing and characters, a depth of customization and plenty of game mechanics in spite of being hands-off with combat (which could have been a disaster, but is implemented wonderfully) come together to form one of the best gaming experiences of the year so far.
Exorder is a technically sound game save for optimization issues, but fails to present a personality of its own or stand out from the crowd with any unique or creative aspects. With poor visuals, bland gameplay and a barely existent storyline coupled with the mobile-game feel leave a sour taste in one's mouth after playing.
Don't let my lengthy rant about the overarching lore fool you - Curse of the Pharaohs is a fantastic, content-rich DLC which takes what already worked well, added a few twists and turns, and gave us more of it. This is a solid ~15-20 hours of content if you're a completionist and explorer with some unique and otherwise underrepresented settings.
Motorbike Garage Mechanic Simulator is polished and incredibly detailed, and manages to be enjoyable even for non-enthusiasts. While a few things are missing, it's still a more than competent game which is both entertaining and relaxing.
SYMMETRY takes masterful atmosphere aided by great art and sound, and plugs it all into overly simple yet unfairly difficult gameplay strung around a story that starts in an interesting manner but goes nowhere meaningful. There is a whole lot of potential on display here that gets left out in the cold.
Dynasty Warriors 9 suffers from a lot of issues, most stemming from the terribly implemented open-world. Assets are reused, it's buggy, repetitive, bloated, empty and bland. These shortcomings are made all the more painful by the obvious potential this game had, and how fun the base combat can be once players waded through all the other nonsense.
Assassin's Creed Origins: The Hidden Ones doesn't change much, which isn't a bad thing considering how good the main game is. It makes small improvements while keeping the same formula, while telling a meaningful story set in a new land as beautiful as ever. Anyone who enjoyed Origins is bound to enjoy The Hidden Ones.
Iconoclasts is a kind of game that no AAA studio could ever have made. It has all the mechanics, visuals and other easily judged elements that a video game needs, and nailed down really well too, but it also has a less tangible feel to it that just endears it to the player. Even among other nostalgic pixel-art metroidvania games, this one stands out, and ought to be remembered as one of the indie greats.
Tesla vs Lovecraft is stupid fun, reveling in nonsense and bullets. The rapid, frantic gameplay delivered in snackable portions underscored by a fantastic soundtrack makes for a hugely entertaining experience, even if it gets a tad repetitive after a while. We'd say blasting Lovecraftian horrors as Tesla piloting a mech was never this fun, but then it wasn't ever done before.
ShadowHand takes an old game with a reputation for dullness, and dresses it up in an elegant Victorian English RPG coat. Somehow miraculously, it works really well. It isn't a reinvention of the wheel, but the sense of personality the game pack in addition to being simply fun definitely makes it worth the time and money.
Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock is a massive treat for fans of the franchise, but even if this is your first exposure to the universe, it's well worth your money. It's a sufficiently deep, extremely fun and good looking turn based space strategy game with fantastic combat and a content-rich campaign.
Way of Redemption is all there technically and functionally, but it's empty and short on content. Every moment spent playing, the obviousness of it being an attempt at a forced e-sports success hangs over the experience, which is pretty dull to begin with.
Jade Dragon adds precious little to Crusader Kings 2, which would have benefitted much more from a playable and visible Chinese region. This expansion feels far too feature-bare for its price tag, and even at a smaller price point none of it feels really impactful. Even when you have access to the China menu, you'll likely find yourself progressing via other means.
As with all region-focused expansions for Europa Universalis IV, the first question you need to ask is whether you want to play as a nation from said region, because If not, you should look at another expansion instead. However, for those interested in playing as Muslim nations, Cradle of Civilization has plenty of new mechanics, features and events to make it worth your time and money.