The good news is that Yakuza: Like a Dragon is the same incredible game on PS5, as well as an excellent RPG. This particular release amounts to a light coat of polish that makes some subtle improvements but nothing truly revolutionary as we’ve seen with some other PS5 upgrades. This may largely be owing to the fact that the original release already looked excellent, but it still would have been nice to see the PS5 release support a full 4K60. Also unfortunate is the lack of using much of the DualSense controller’s features, but again, this is the sort of addition that’s hard to shoehorn in after the fact. While the PC is still the best place to play Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the PlayStation 5 can keep pace well enough and it’s a solid way to experience Ichiban’s incredible, can’t-miss story.
The Yakuza Remastered Collection for PC is exactly that; a set of remasters that give the old games just enough polish to run cleanly on the PC and ensure they can live on to be enjoyed for years to come. While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or exciting about the ports, and while I would have really liked seeing a bit more attention paid to crisping up UI elements and maybe polishing the pre-rendered cut scenes, the work on the ports is solid and the games run great and there’s honestly little to complain about. Whatever minor hiccups might exist are completely worth it, as the ability to play all three of these Yakuza games in higher fidelity is by itself a huge treat.
I want to love Maquette. It’s is a solid puzzle game whose moments of brilliance are regularly interrupted by stumbles and rough spots. It soars much more often than it dips, but there are enough times where things don’t land that the experience can feel disruptive. While some extra time to polish some of the rough edges would have been majorly beneficial, it’s still a wholly unique piece that merits your time and attention. Just know going in that it’s imperfect, as all of us are, and try not to let those little details get under your skin.
While rough around the edges in a few areas, overall The Medium is an excellent adventure that’s not lacking in scares, and is thoughtful in how it approaches its subject matter. I felt the tension, the dread, the sadness, and the fear in those moments where they presented themselves, and I felt a connection to Marianne and her story that I don’t often feel in many games, regardless of genre. It’s a beautiful game to look at and the art direction is excellent throughout. The Medium has a lot of heart and it wants to tell you important things, if you’ll listen. I’m not generally one to say that I enjoyed my time with any horror game, but this is a case where that is absolutely true for me, and that alone is reason enough for me to say this is a world worth experiencing.
I honestly could go on about all of the reasons why Hades is so incredibly good for another 1500 words. There is so much to unpack and explore here, but at a certain point you’re better served by just playing the damn thing yourself. Hades is Supergiant at it’s pinnacle. It is the culmination of a decade’s worth of buildup to an unparalleled experience that leverages all of their expertise, and it exemplifies the possibilities of what early access cycles can be with a supportive community and a responsive, talented team of creators. It feels as though everything Supergiant has made prior has been rehearsal for this triumphant performance, but better still, it shows the heights they’re capable of and leaves you with the strong impression that this is just the beginning of what they have in store. Don’t wait for a sale, don’t wait on Hades for any reason; if you are even remotely interested, you absolutely have to play it right away, and I promise you will not regret it.
I can’t say for sure whether Immortals Fenyx Rising is for you. The systems in this game are absolutely not super in-depth; they are streamlined, easy to understand versions of systems you see in other games, and this is true of character progression, combat, and practically everything else. They are designed to get to the point and let you get on with your game. It’s not overly involved because it doesn’t need to be, and there are plenty of games out there that do get incredibly deep if you want those kinds of experiences. Immortals Fenyx Rising isn’t the perfect antidote to open world fatigue, but it is a damn good first volley at trimming off the extra checklists for the sake of checklists, and giving players a more focused experience that they can dial up or down to suit their tastes. As a bonus, it’s wrapped in a gorgeous looking package with some clever writing and a story that may not be ultra compelling but is fun to enjoy nonetheless. It’s the perfect open world game for somebody who loves Greek mythology, for somebody who wants to have more control over their experience, who wants to be able to kick back and explore without pressure, or who wants to dig into a big game they can actually finish. For me, it’s a fantastic way to revisit a style of game I’d given up on and focus on just having fun with it, which is worth the price of admission for me alone, and I can confidently say that between the three big Ubisoft releases this season, Immortals Fenyx Rising is the game I’ll be choosing to spend my time with.
Paradise Killer checks a lot of my favorite boxes. There’s an exciting and strange world to explore, there’s a strong cast of characters to get to know, a solid mystery to solve, and enough throwback references to 90s-era technology and eclectic iconography thrown in to create something that feels nostalgic and completely alien all at once. I’ve honestly never experienced a game quite like this one, and it’s one of the easiest recommendations I’ve been able to make in some time, especially if you relish in the weird. It’s a delight to get lost in Paradise, which leaves a lasting impression in almost every way imaginable.
Bugsnax may not be the next big thing in creature collection, but it does a great job of bringing something new to the genre and demonstrates a lot of untapped potential therein. More importantly, it instills you with a sense of adventure in a strange new place to explore where any and all of your expectations are subject to defiance at a moment’s notice. The bugsnax themselves are consistently cute punctuation throughout your journey, but the journey of uncovering the mysteries of Snaktooth Island is far and away the real purpose of this game. Bugsnax will surprise you, it will delight you, and it will absolutely, positively burrow its way into your subconscious once you’ve dug in.
The Solitaire Conspiracy almost shouldn’t work, but it’s an example of that rare bit of alchemy that manages to fuse together two things that have no business occupying the same space into a shiny, exciting new thing that’s a joy to behold. You could certainly break down the game into its distinctive components, but there is a throughline that runs through all of it that doesn’t just tie those elements together, but makes them feel like they belong in this place with one another. It’s not necessarily a revolution in gaming, but the story is cheeky and fun, and the Solitaire itself is fun enough that you’ll want to keep it installed to continue playing well after the credits roll.
I think that Star Renegades gets a whole lot of things right, and it plays in an interesting space in the way it tries to cherry pick ideas from a lot of other successful games. Most of these mechanics are designed in a way so that they feed well into one another, and despite its complexity, combat still feels really good once you get into the groove with it. I’d be interested to see a version of Star Renegades with some of the excess fat trimmed down, if that were possible. Just a little more streamlining or editorializing of the mechanics could really benefit the game, because for me it’s something I’ll usually only play one or two runs at a time, and I think it could potentially benefit from a faster overall cadence. Still, it does an impressive job of juggling a lot of ideas at once and mostly keeping all of them up in the air. It’s not my favorite rogue like or RPG of the year, but it’s definitely unique and fun enough that it warrants some of your time.