Hitman 3, the final game in IO Interactive’s “World of Assassination” trilogy doesn’t deviate from its two immediate predecessors in any major ways. Its gameplay isn’t liable to surprise anybody who has experienced what the semi-rebooted approach to the Hitman franchise has to offer. Instead, its adjustments to the overall formula are more subtle in nature, but the effects are substantial. That said, anybody who decides to jump into the trilogy via its third entry will discover a game that is, arguably, the best title in a series that has differentiated itself from both shooters and stealth games since the 2016 episodic release of Hitman.
The world is vivid, and the density of details is on scale with the sort of thing you might find hidden in flavor text or within a franchise’s extended universe, rather than its core content. Despite this, it’s approachable, and the incentive to gather and implement information emphasizes the importance of details which can sometimes be considered tools rather than trivia.
I have a suspicion that it isn’t a game that will click with everybody. This includes people who would love it but might be turned away by the first few punishing hours. For that reason, it could be an easy game to miss. The franchise also struggles for visibility in the West, which doesn’t help matters at all. If you’ve enjoyed Mystery Dungeon games before, this is a game worth looking into.
To that end, Spider-Man: Miles Morales might be the best of two worlds. It is short for a video game, but that means it’s easier to fit into a busy schedule and that sort of approachability has merit. It’s also not beholden to the limited runtime of a film which means it can use storytelling techniques that are unique to the video game medium. Spider-Man: Miles Morales constantly deepens the game’s world and lore in ways that other media couldn’t.
There’s a sense that Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is a game that wants to repay longtime fans for their commitment. The music and cutscenes draw from a deep well of nostalgia without relying on it. That said, fans looking for a game that advances the story might be disappointed.
It is undeniable that the series is growing, and it’s admirable that the developers are willing to try new things. Overall, the experience works in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It’s not a perfect fit, yet, but there’s promise in the series future if they continue to head in a direction that has more RPG elements, and options for a direct approach. It also feels like a proof of concept that they can continue to attempt virtually any setting with a decent chance of success.
Because of the game’s appearance, it might be a hard sell to some people. I know I will have a tough timing convincing friends to play it, even though it is up their proverbial alley in terms of mechanics and genre. The fact that the game misspells “exchange” in its opening and there was seemingly no effort put into lip syncing might also lead people to worry that it is the sort of low-effort cash-in one might expect from a series with Bikini Samurais. It’s worth pushing past, though, because these aspects of the game sink into the background, save when the occasionally leering camera forces them back into the foreground.
Overall, the people at Toys for Bob have done a wonderful job with the property, and that’s not really surprising. Their past games like Skylanders have tapped into the same lighthearted fun that Crash is known for. They demonstrated an ability to make likable characters in those titles and now they’ve taken a franchise full of likable characters and made them even more likable.
It’s Star Wars, though, and cool ships and enormous spectacle are part of the fun. It’s alright that the story isn’t going to win any awards because it still does its job and doesn’t actively detract from the important parts of the game. Star Wars: Squadrons is the most accessible and potentially best way to experience one of the coolest parts of Star Wars.