Pumpkin Jack is a brilliant throwback to old-school 3D platforming action games, providing a colourful adventure with a twist on the good vs. evil concept. Although you’ll most likely complete the game within six hours, if you’re very observant within each stage and find all the collectables, it’s a very enjoyable experience which anyone of all ages will find amusing and entertaining. The free next-gen upgrade greatly enhances the visuals over last-gen, as long as you’re willing to sacrifice half of the framerate – personally, I feel there should have been a third visual option as framerate and quality trump resolution every time. If you’re looking for a themed game to play this Halloween, and you’re not too keen on games filled with jump scares, gore, or intense spooks, then Pumpkin Jack is perfect. It even has the hidden Christmas mode which adds new content automatically during the month of December.
Alan Wake Remastered looks and feels like a 2021 game, despite technically being 11 years old with a new coat of paint. The gameplay is solid and still holds up today, the story is interesting and keeps you hooked, and the modern visual upgrades enhance the already thick and creepy atmosphere. I’m annoyed I overlooked this game upon its initial launch, but I’m also glad that I got to experience it at its very best on the PlayStation 5 – highly recommend for existing fans and those who have never played it before.
Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot: The First Cases is a great game for those who wish to keep their brain and ‘little grey cells’ active. Although the exploration and investigation portion of the game is linear and guided, logically working out what key information links together is very satisfying and rewarding, especially when you get it right the first time. The story is very loyal to the source material, offering a new Poirot adventure that feels like Agatha Christie wrote it herself, complete with brilliant voice acting which is slightly let down by the inconsistent volume levels and quality. If you’re a fan of the famous detective and logical thinking, you’ll really enjoy stepping into his shoes and mind as you solve the mysterious cases within Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot: The First Cases.
Murder Mystery Machine is a thought-provoking puzzle game that requires you to think outside of the box if you wish to obtain the best grade. Rather than having you solve the crimes committed by simply talking to and arresting the suspects, you must piece together the who, why, where, and how through the use of the initiative crime board mechanic. However, in order to get the best result, you must leave no stone left unturned and ensure you link every possible clue and conclusion to the correct reason and motive – which is very hard, even for veteran puzzle gamers. It delivers an interesting story over eight cases, full of suspects, clues, red herrings, beautiful dioramas, and victims, but can a rookie solve one of the biggest cases of her career?
Timothy’s Night is the much prettier, dolled-up twin-sibling to the original colour-less 2018 edition. Instead of simply porting the same game to the PlayStation 5, the developers have added more content, changed the whole colour scheme, updated various mechanics, boosted the visuals, and expanded the world, so despite being technically the same game, it felt fresh and new. Due to the ambitious visual overhaul, the game feels like it dips below 60fps at times, but not enough to distract you from the brilliant use of the DualSense controller and fun gameplay. Whether you’ve played the original game or not, Timothy’s Night is a fun game to replay or experience for the first time. There is no free upgrade, as it’s more of a remaster than a 1:1 update, but the 6-8 hours is well worth the price of the game. Also, it’s great to see a small indie developer fully utilise almost everything the PlayStation 5 offers in order to enhance their game and deliver a product closer to their vision, rather than a simple port with no changes.
I have to agree, Hades deserved every single award and critically acclaimed review it received, it’s one of the best roguelike games I’ve played on PlayStation. The visuals, voice acting, music, and gameplay all work perfectly together, creating a very polished, addictive, and challenging, yet rewarding experience which you’ll instantly become hooked on and find hard to put down. The game does suffer from a lack of variety when you’re playing in long sessions, but that’s because the game is beautifully hand-crafted rather than procedurally generated, so it’s to be expected. If you’re not mesmerised by the satisfying combat, strategically planning your upgrades and boon pick-ups, or wiping your sweaty palms after an intense boss fight, you’ll be fully engaged with the brilliant narrative and interesting NPC interactions.
The Falconeer: Warrior Edition is one of the best dogfight games I’ve ever played, it looks beautiful, plays brilliantly, sounds amazing, and contains a lot of interesting gameplay and story to keep you entertained. If you feel the combat or missions are getting a little repetitive, go exploring and seek out hidden ruins and settlements, then return to the main story when you’re ready to progress, there’s no pressure to stick to a linear path. Casually take your time, bond with your warbird and enhance your abilities, then help out another faction as you uncover more of the story – it’s one of the best indie games I’ve played this year.
Ironically, The Forgotten City is a game I’ll never forget – it’s a brilliant narrative adventure that requires you to think about how your actions will affect others in order to achieve your goal. I never played the original mod but if it was even half as good as this, I can see why it was universally praised by the three million people who played it – it’s a very unique and well-executed concept combined with an interesting narrative, fun gameplay, satisfying multi-possibility solutions, and trophies that push you to change the way you play the game. All-in-all, it’s a fantastic experience that is best played with no guides or walkthrough, simply set aside a few hours and see if you can solve the many small events which lead up to the big mystery.
Despite being a very simple HD re-release of the PSP original game, AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed has as much charm, lewd narrative, and addictive gameplay as its superior sequel. Once you get stuck into the game you’ll begin to overlook the fuzzy assets and simplified gameplay, becoming enthralled by the comedic writing, addictive stripping combat, many side missions, and questionable dialogue. There’s lots of replayability due to multiple paths, endings, and characters, with a massive list of tasks to complete, not to mention the insanely difficult ‘Holic’ mode. AKIBA’S TRIP: Hellbound & Debriefed may not be a looker in terms of modern JRPGs, and I may prefer the sequel over this original game, but I’m glad that we finally got a chance to play it in English officially on modern consoles. If you enjoyed Undead & Undressed then you’ll enjoy this one too, as long as you can look past the very low-quality visuals.
Despite the rocky launch due to a critical bug, Song of Horror: Complete Edition is a brilliant horror game with a unique concept that works really well, permadeath. The fear of death is emphasised by the fact that if you lose a character, they’re gone for the entire game, so you’re forced to proceed with caution and think about every action you take if you wish to survive. Each location is very different, based on horror tropes, giving you creepy and unsettling buildings to explore as you fight or hide from the evil within. If you like horror adventure games, which focus more on exploration than combat, then you’ll love Song of Horror: Complete Edition.