Crushingly difficult. Glacially paced. Graphically challenged. And yet there is something hypnotic and impressive about the scope of Way of the Hunter and it's devotion to maintaining a realistic hunting experience, for better or for worse. Go into this one expecting realism - and I mean real-life, semi-boring realism - and you will be in the right frame of mind.
Hard West 2 offers a fun mix of text adventures and turn-based strategy battles, with just enough of each to keep things fresh. Awesome and unique mechanics are highlighted in a combat system that forces players outside of their "overwatch" comfort zones, allowing new tactics not seen before in games of this ilk. A bit of fiddly control work does little to tarnish the stellar gameplay. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
More a puzzler than a sim game, Train Valley: Console Edition delivers hours of fun from a simple concept - lay down tracks and keep the trains moving without bashing them into each other. Though the controls are somewhat awkward on a gamepad, the rewards for playing far outweigh the slight inconvenience. Well worth a shot for those that enjoy management puzzles and fiery wrecks.
As Dusk Falls offers a great new take on the adventure genre, focusing on a story that feels grounded in the real world, made all the more impactful through its stellar artwork. The multiplayer works fine and is fun, but I found myself wanting to play without others. Satisfying narratively regardless of your choices, As Dusk Falls is weighty and serious, surprising with great writing, realistic characters, and plenty of twists. Highly recommended.
Kayak VR: Mirage delivers one of the most realistic VR experiences I've seen, setting a new benchmark for visual fidelity and water physics. The four environments in the game feel like real places, and the control over your vessel is perhaps the best simulation I've experienced. While racing is available (and will appeal to many), simply exploring the environments is amazingly rewarding. Some technical issues mar the experience somewhat, but this is still a game that every person with the tech to run it should buy immediately.
Rune Factory 5 is a very fun "get to town and do all the things" game, which has been cleaned up significantly from it's initial release on Switch. The PC version of the game is clean and crisp, allowing players to address settings before even booting the game up. With a ton of fun activities and places to explore, Rune Factory 5 has a little something for everyone, and is appropriate (and fun) for all audiences. Farm, explore, romance, capture monsters; every activity is gently charming. Well worth a look for adults, but good luck keeping the kids away from it.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak adds more of everything that fans want – more quests, more environments, more endgame content – all couched in the same great gameplay that made Rise one of last year's best titles. Enter aware of the blistering difficulty, but also acknowledge Sunbreak providing the tools to overcome it. Embrace the multiplayer, be prepared to faint, and have a blast.
While I can't fault Cloud Gardens for its cool visuals or interesting themes, those things are ultimately lost to fiddley controls and a somewhat obtuse gameplay loop. Many players will likely enjoy the creative side of this game, but others will be left wondering why they are trashing up perfectly nice scenes.
Barn Finders is a surprisingly good time for a game as janky and weird as it is. Exploring spaces for weird treasure is a lot of fun, selling it back at your shop maybe less so. While the game does little to explain itself, its sense of humor carries it further than it might deserve. Go in expecting to struggle a bit with controls and menus, and you'll be rewarded with a unique experience unlike any other in VR.
Riftbound is a total nailbiter of a game. Barrel Smash Studios takes the Plants Vs. Zombies model and elevates it to something that requires speed, strategy, and precision at its highest levels, ultimately showing what heights this neglected genre can achieve. Show up for the casual fun, stay for the hardcore gameplay and irresistible addiction.
Eiyuden Chronicle is a quick and frothy good time - exactly the introduction to the Eiyuden universe that was needed to get players excited for the next game. Cool, lighting-fast combat, fun characters, and non-stop progression all combine to make this a title worth exploring. Consider my appetite for more from this universe to be fully engaged.
RiffTrax: The Game almost entirely relies on the quick wit of the people playing it; play with a bunch of duds and you will have a dire evening. But if you have funny friends, you can have a pretty decent time playing the "Write a Riff" mode for a few rounds. Just stay far away from the "Pick a Riff" mode, and understand that the appeal here is very limited to those that enjoy this form of entertainment already.
Postal 4: No Regerts is ugly to look and ugly to play – less because it is offensive or inappropriate, more because it is so poorly done. By completely whiffing on anything resembling humor and utterly failing to deliver any meaningful gameplay, Postal 4 delivers nothing of value to players unless they really enjoy watching a game crash once an hour. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is impressive in every sense. From the tight, scripted story gameplay to the sprawling open world, every piece of this game feels lovingly crafted. While the Switch version feels a bit dated, that's not the fault of the developer, which squeezed an impressive performance from Nintendo's handheld. This is a game with enough fresh content to keep players coming back for years to come.
Weird West is a fun not-quite-RPG that feels like the beginning of a great new franchise. Perfectly enjoyable to play, this first iteration lays a lot of groundwork towards what will likely become an ongoing series. Darkly funny and surprising, each character's story arc is unique and rewarding. While a system of branching choices impacting the game's story feels like a natural evolution from what is here, what is presented is very enjoyable. Weird West creates a universe I don't want to leave. When it was over, I just wanted more - which is the biggest hurdle a new franchise can overcome.
Young Souls delivers something that I never thought was possible - a beat-em-up game with characters and a story that I actually cared about. With strong RPG elements, great writing, stellar art, and fun combat, Young Souls is worth playing even if, like me, you never gave this sort of game a second look.
The heroes at Zen Studios deliver yet another fantastic pinball table adaptation. A striking combination of simulation and fantasy, fans can play Indy's stellar 1993 table any way they please. This table is yet another example of why Zen is considered the best in the business.
Eivor steps into the shoes of Odin for a grand stomp around a gorgeously realized fantasy realm in what has become my favorite Assassin's Creed experience of all time. Great writing, gorgeous visuals, and a ridiculous amount of content make this DLC worthy of being a stand alone game. Beyond being highly recommended, Dawn of Ragnarok is an absolutely necessity for Assassin's Creed fans.
Chocobo GP is a very well-made kart racer that looks and controls very much like Mario Kart. With a funny, weird storyline and a ton of different characters, tracks, and modes, this will keep fans of the genre busy for quite a while. I would recommend checking out the free "Lite" version of the game, and if you like it, take the plunge.
Elex II ignores current game design ethos and rages to its own weird beat. Weird, fun, tough, and unpredictably funny, Elex II is feels like a DIY punk-rock open world game, janky and awesome all at the same time. Steer clear if you insist on perfection in your games, but if you are willing to go for the ride and appreciate the flaws instead of being bothered by them, you'll find a deep and fun adventure unlike anything else on the market.