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.
All of that said, I think Spellbreak is a truly unique take on the Battle Royale genre which brings enough ideas to the table that it feels like a fresh multiplayer experience, even within the familiarity and comfort of the larger mechanical systems at play. It may not spark a revolution in multiplayer gaming, but it’ll give you something new to be excited about in an otherwise crowded landscape of all-too-similar shooters.
Windbound seeks to move beyond the “emergent story through gameplay” standard among survival games, and while it succeeds somewhat, I think it still has some room to grow. There are also some balance issues with some of the systems that the developers have talked about tuning post-launch, so it is entirely possible that Windbound will grow into something that feels overall really polished, but at present it just isn’t quite hitting all the right notes for me. There’s a lot to like about Windbound, and maybe with a little more time and care, there will be a lot to love. For now, it’s a strong concept with some really well implemented mechanics that just leaves me wanting for the better, more fleshed out version of this same thing. In the meantime though, it is a joyful, bright game that has enough going for it that you may want to keep dipping your toes back in. Just know that the waters may be a tad more shallow than they appear.
More of a rough stone than a dazzling gem, Raji is glimmering with potential in lots of important ways and has some truly wonderful moments, but leaves something to be desired in terms of polish and consistency, especially where player movement is concerned. Overall this is a solid debut effort from a new developers and I suspect that the Steam version might be the one to play when it comes out later this year. Still, even with its flaws, Raji: An Ancient Epic offers a unique experience and a great story that are worth seeing, if you can get past the rough edges.
Rock of Ages 3: Make and Break is not a bad game by any stretch, but what was once a promising, unique idea is itself beginning to feel somewhat rote. The game looks great and runs very well, and playing it is absolutely a fine experience, I just never really felt the pull to keep going and had to dig to find the fun in all of it. It may just be series fatigue, and the fact that I played Rock of Ages 2 a little over a year ago, but for all that Rock of Ages 3 adds to its own pantheon of tricks, it doesn’t quite go far enough for me to eagerly recommend it, which is a shame because it may be the most robust offering in the series yet. There’s definitely joy to be found here, but only for the right person who either really loves Rock of Ages, or somebody who’s been waiting for just the right time to jump in.
Carrion is a short, focused experience, which is something I really appreciate. It is deliberate in its purpose, and it does a small set of things particularly well, rather than sprawling out in too many different directions. The result is a tight, well-paced romp through a unique take on an action horror game that feels like the take-home version of a pulpy 80’s popcorn monster flick. The story is fairly light, but it doesn’t need much to be successful, and the game ends on a fun, surprising note that’s a pitch-perfect end to the messy journey of destruction and devouring that has come before. There are a lot of fun ideas on the table, most of which are used well (if not to their full potential), and the experience of playing Carrion is equally delightful, disgusting, and satisfying to engage with. You’ll probably never get over the unsettling aspect of controlling a writhing mass of angry flesh, but you’ll undoubtedly also have a lot of fun with all of the destruction its capable of.
Ultimately, Munch’s Oddysee as a game hasn’t aged particularly well. It shows very plainly that it was made in a transitional era, when 3D adventure games were still coming into their own and finding ways to create purpose for themselves. The charm of the Oddworld franchise is here of course, and performance of the game is excellent. As far as ports go, this is about as solid as you could ask for, but all of the improved performance mostly serves to center the shortcomings and frustrating mechanics of this awkward duck. For longtime fans of the Oddworld series, this is a fine way to revisit Munch’s Oddysee, but I don’t know that there’s much joy to be had here for anybody who isn’t a staunch fan, an avid collector, or a dedicated archivist.
Burnout Paradise Remastered on Switch is an incredibly well-optimized release that is clearly tailored for the hardware. It’s more than just successful, it’s outstanding, and regardless of the original game’s age, it sets the bar for the quality that we should expect from multi-platform ports making their way onto the Switch. It certainly has some rough edges in order to fit this package onto the Switch and to ensure it runs well, but still it’s wonderful to see that so much hard work has been put in to preserve the authentic Burnout Paradise experience, and being able to take this game with you literally anywhere for the first time ever is a bit of a thrill all on its own. I can’t say enough good things about this game; the original is already one of my all-time favorites, and now the remastered edition is the complete, modern day package that will allow the game to live on for another generation of players and old fans alike. Burnout Paradise Remastered is an excellent game, and the Switch release is a true gem that is indeed a little bit of paradise.
realMyst: Masterpiece Edition on Switch is a curious to me. I think that on paper, it makes a lot of sense to bring Myst to the Switch, but the execution leaves something to be desired for me, especially when talking about a game that isn’t exactly new and doesn’t seem like it ought to be taxing from a performance perspective. It seems that the game could have benefited from some additional optimizations for the platform, and perhaps those could come in the future, though I wouldn’t hold my breath for that. That having been said, Myst itself is a great game, arguably one of the all-time greats, and none of the things that make Myst so special are changed by the issues with this particular release. It’s a great opportunity to connect with your gaming nostalgia, and if the Switch is your platform of choice, you can still get a great deal of enjoyment out of realMyst: Masterpiece Edition. It is far from a perfect port, but it is the same beloved game it always has been, and like an old friend slightly worse for the wear, you’ll still be glad for the chance to spend some time with it.
For a game that’s so dependent on its art style to drive home much of its personality, character interactions and the story are left to carry the weight of completing the sense of immersion, and most of the time that load is too great for them to bear on their own. The Outer Worlds on Switch just doesn’t land well without all of the aspects working together in concert. I’m not saying the game is unplayable, it just feels like the experience is severely hamstrung and it’s hard to get a proper sense of enjoyment out of it. There’s still fun to be had, but it comes in fits and starts, and it really doesn’t stand up to any of the other platforms the game is available on. If the Switch is your only gaming system, you’re really hankering for a space adventure, and you don’t mind or notice technical problems, then there may be something here for you. Otherwise, you’d do well to play elsewhere. To paraphrase the game itself, the Switch version of this game isn’t the best choice, it’s… well, you know the rest.
Ultimately, this is still the same Saints Row: The Third in terms of story and game play, though it does include 100% of the content from Saints Row: The Third: The Full Package, meaning all of the original game’s DLC is available to you from the jump. The visual upgrades the game has received are truly amazing, and are well worth making the journey back to Steelport whether you’re a long time fan or a newcomer to the series. While I did really enjoy how absolutely bonkers Saints Row IV was, Saints Row: The Third is truly the essential title in the series, and being able to experience it at this level of quality is a strange, unexpected gift. If Deep Silver is looking to set the standard for what remasters should be, they have absolutely thrown down the gauntlet in terms of what players should expect going forward.
I’ve been a fan of Void Bastards since its initial release, and overall I feel the Switch port is largely successful, more so even if you’re playing in docked mode. There are some minor issues with the handheld presentation, but they’re mostly workable, and in the majority of cases shouldn’t prove too distracting from the overall experience. That said, you may find you have more trouble if you struggle with reading smaller text for any reason. Aside from that, it’s the same great game, with all the style, flair, and personality intact. It’s an excellent addition to the Switch’s growing catalog, and you’d do well to have it in your own library. I for one am happy to have a renewed excuse to start exploring the Sargasso Nebula all over again, and help a whole new crop of space prisoners work their way toward early release in some form or another.
DOOM 64 on Switch is a great package. It’s a very fun romp through a unique 32-level campaign that many fans will not have experienced before, and it comes bundled with six bonus levels intended to fill in the backstory between DOOM 64 and 2016’s DOOM (yes, you read that correctly). The game looks gorgeous, it plays wonderfully, there’s loads of content included, and you can play it where ever you like. Plus, with a price tag of $4.99 it’s well worth the cost of entry even just as a curiosity, but I suspect that once you step inside you’ll be hooked.