Whether in a boss fight or out in the wild, one area where The Pathless does deliver consistently is in its score. The music by Journey composer Austin Wintory is somewhat sparse, but never fails to ramp up the game’s feeling of danger and adventure whenever it swells up. The Pathless may have a bit of an identity crisis, with its disconnected segments never really combining to their full potential, but its impressive presentation and exhilarating speed make it worth a try nonetheless.
Lost Ember ties a fun, original gameplay concept to an enjoyable, if a bit unremarkable, story. It will feel too thin for anyone approaching it looking for any amount of challenge, but if you're willing to just enjoy the journey and let the story wash over you, Lost Ember is a singularly enchanting experience.
Black Future '88 is a fast-paced, thrilling roguelike, but it offers little to shake up the genre's inherent repetition. Its often underwhelming gear and lack of variety in levels makes for dull runs too often, even though its gunplay consistently satisfies. You'll find lots of hidden depth in its upgrade system if you stick with Black Future '88 despite its uninspired structure, which is made easier by its great art style and stellar soundtrack.
Disco Elysium is a difficult game to describe, but it's easy to recommend. One of the most inventive games in recent memory, it's an often cynical, mean-spirited RPG that's nonetheless full of beauty and humanity. While its obsession with the nastier parts of the human psyche will definitely turn some people off, the depth of its story and systems reward a deep dive into the mire, as do its beautiful art and writing.
For better or worse, The Outer Worlds is a perfectly middle-of-the-road open-world RPG. It doesn't take any big risks, but that also keeps it from falling on its face. Despite some great writing, the game doesn't have much to say about the corporate dystopia it establishes, ultimately playing it too safe to justify the premise. Obsidian's expertise with the genre makes The Outer Worlds a competent RPG, if not an especially interesting one.
Cyber Protocol's escape-the-maze puzzles are easy to grasp but quickly ramp up the difficulty with frequent twists and new mechanics. This neon-bathed, synth-scored puzzler offers both single-player and multiplayer modes and an absolute mountain of levels. It would be easy to dismiss Cyber Protocol as style over substance, but with this much style, that's not entirely a bad thing.
Untitled Goose Game proves that you don't need complex mechanics or an involved story to make a great game. It takes a simple premise — you're a goose here to make trouble — and spins it out into a short but extremely satisfying slapstick journey. Untitled Goose Game is effortlessly funny, succeeding as much on its physical comedy as its clever puzzles.
Puzzle Quest: The Legend Returns is a good combination of addictive puzzle gameplay and RPG character-building. While it will likely play best to fans of the 2007 original, its central mechanics are still fun, if a bit dated. Despite sometimes slow battles that don't always mesh its puzzle and RPG sides well, Puzzle Quest is still worth a look for fans of puzzle games.
Minoria may not be Bombservice's best game to date, but it may still be worth a look for action platformer fans looking for a challenge. Though its combat feels more frustrating than satisfying at times, the fundamentals of its swordplay are still solid. Add to that its excellent art and music, and there's a lot to like here if you can overlook its underdeveloped story and exploration.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw brings a smaller scope and simplified controls to a sometimes intimidating genre, watering down the grandeur of spaceflight, but making it more fun and accessible at the same time. Its repetitive missions and sparse narrative weigh it down, but its fantastically engaging dogfights make it an easy recommendation.
Eliza is a poignant, well-presented tale about how even technology created to help people can be harmful when it replaces human connection. Rather than demonizing technology, though, Eliza is a paean to compassion, communication, and all the varied ways people can lift each other up.
Sea of Solitude is a boldly personal game that has a lot going for it, notably its fantastic art style and score. Kay's story toward understanding her fraught relationships can be genuinely moving at times, but more often it comes across as scattered and heavy-handed. Add to that its clumsy, far-too-traditional gameplay, and Sea of Solitude feels like an interesting idea poorly executed.
Cadence of Hyrule is a perfect blend of classic Legend of Zelda adventure with roguelite rhythm gameplay. It's a short adventure that can sometimes feel too difficult and chaotic for its own good, but it's worth sticking through to the end. Not only is it a tremendously fun game, its new take on Hyrule is a joy to explore.
Yuppie Psycho turns a workplace satire into a survival horror adventure, and does right by both parts of that strange formula. Despite some frustration from its punishing difficulty, Yuppie Psycho is a surreal but cogent parody that's well worth clocking in for.
Project Nimbus: Complete Edition doesn't break any new ground, and it likely won't keep you playing for too long, either. But what it does offer is some incredibly fun, fast-paced combat with a varied set of mechs to pilot, and an enjoyable but corny plot like something out of a mid-tier anime.