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.
Judgment feels too beholden to its Yakuza roots, weighed down by overreliance on combat and half-baked detective mechanics. While its plot is engaging, nearly everything that it adds to the Yakuza framework is for the worse, and it shines most when it puts the spotlight on the people of Kamurocho rather than the game's protagonist.
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.
Eden Rising: Supremacy has an interesting premise, but it absolutely fumbles its execution. It combines awkward combat with a mediocre tower defense game and a bland open world that never feel connected. Add to that poor optimization and shoddy network stability, and Eden Rising squanders its unique free-to-play model and what sounded like an interesting multiplayer time sink.
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.
The list of things I don't like about Rage 2 is much longer than the things I like about it, but the one thing it does better than I even expected is combat. Once you've filled up your toolbox of weapons and powers, you have seemingly endless ways to take on the game's foes. Unfortunately, its bland story, drab tone, and scattered open world drag it down, but the fierce firefights kept me engaged the whole way.
Falcon Age has some extremely interesting ideas at its core, but never gives them the chance to shine. It tells the story of an indigenous woman fighting back against colonial oppression by training a falcon in line with her cultural traditions, but hides the best parts of its premise behind repetitive combat and boring presentation. There are moments when Falcon Age let me feel the bond between my character and her bird or see the culture she was fighting for, but never enough to be satisfying.
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen has already been released a handful of times on different consoles, and this port doesn't add anything new. The ability to play in handheld mode is great, but this version also comes with some pop-in and framerate drops not present in other releases. Still, it's worth it just to experience one of the most overlooked games of the decade again, or for the first time. If Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen's stellar combat, unique class system, and treacherous world hook you, its technical flaws are extremely easy to overlook.
Days Gone features some potentially interesting community-building mechanics and the appeal of a bikers vs. zombies game is hard to ignore, but it never lets its best ideas take center stage. Instead, it focuses on lackluster combat and a repetitive set of missions. It moves along on the kind of momentum that exists almost by default in big open world packed with activities, but I could never get fully engaged, partly due to its dragging pace, scattershot story, off-putting protagonist, and frequent bugs.
Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is a creative infusion of card-based combat with a traditional RPG. It plays entirely unlike any other card combat game, and it's worth a look even for those who don't generally like the genre. While it's light on story, less replayable than other card games, and could use some refinement when it comes to building decks and equipping characters, it's still a fun twist on a familiar concept that's easy to recommend.
Katana Zero is a game that I loved playing, but I walked away from it with some major reservations. On top of its tight, excellent swordplay, fun time-shifting powers, and pitch-perfect soundtrack, Katana Zero packs some interesting storytelling tricks that I wasn't expecting. On the other hand, it uses its innovative structure to tell a story rife with ill-conceived takes on disturbing subject matter without a content warning in sight. Katana Zero is an extraordinarily fun experience for the few hours it lasts, but the bad taste it left in my mouth lingered much longer.
Outward is an ambitious, uncompromising game, sometimes to its own detriment. There’s a lot to like about it, from its unique take on player character death to its focus on the mundane aspects of adventuring. But every moment when it really shined was surrounded by drudgery and frustration. Outward is sure to appeal to some players, but it often undercuts its own best features.
Unruly Heroes features a mix of platforming and combat with four characters that you can switch between on the fly. With a handful of interesting bosses and plenty of mechanical variation between levels, the game never locks you into one style of play for too long. Ultimately, though, I didn't find any part of it that much fun to play, which wasn't helped by its leaden controls and uneven difficulty.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice manages to live up to its monstrously high expectations in nearly every way. Its high-risk combat system is as satisfying as it is punishing, and its level design begs you to explore every inch of the world. While its locations and enemies aren't as varied as in previous From Software games, you'll hardly notice when you're locking swords with opponents across several beautiful settings. Sekiro tells an intriguing tale about loyalty and mortality packed with surprises and easy-to-miss side stories.
Mana Spark is a middle-of-the-road roguelike that gestures toward a lot of interesting ideas, but doesn’t fully develop any of them. It’s a fun game at first, with a good combat system and a nice variety of unique enemies, but it doesn’t offer nearly enough to stay fresh on repeated runs through its samey dungeons.
Wargroove has the confidence to stick to simple, familiar gameplay with a few twists, rather than try to wow you with its novelty. While its charming graphics might make it look cute, it offers a vicious challenge that gets a bit uneven at times. If you get into its slower pace and high difficulty, it also offers plenty of alternate game modes and custom campaign creation tools to extend the fun.