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.