In one of the final moments of Infinite Wealth, one of the characters falls exhausted into the street, beaten down by everything that just came before. As he does so, he looks satisfied and happy, even though arguably nothing is going right for him at that moment. In a lot of ways, I felt the exact same by the end of the game. I was tired. And yet, I was also ready to see what this crew would get up to next.
By the time credits roll, Gaiden neatly establishes Kiryu's role in the next mainline game, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and since that game's out in a few months, the brief taste gave me plenty to be excited for. I wish the story were more interested in exploring who Kiryu is now that he's forced into this double life, but as a thin bridge between games, Gaiden is a neat one.
This is a shame because there's a fun game here – it's just trapped in a hollow shell. Its final sin is having a miserable story hardly even worth bringing up. It's boring and bad; we can leave it at that. There's room for games that want to recapture some old glory – to remind you how cool games used to be – but to do that, you have to add something new to the conversation. Neon White is a great example of a game that did this right. Bomb Rush isn't interested in adding anything new. It just wants to have the same conversations we've been having for years. Jet Set Radio was cool. Go play that instead.
Like a Dragon: Ishin is an awesome spin-off to an already-great series, and one I'm glad finally came to the States. Even if it tripped on the landing, the story kept me gripped, and I hope some of the new combat styles and special moves make their way to other RGG games. I also hope we'll get the other spin-offs that never made their way over. Time will tell, but for now, it's nice to be back with my favorite criminals.
Considering the game was announced and released on the same day, Hi-Fi Rush is easily one of the most surprising games of 2023. Part of that is literal. The other, more important part, is just how good the game is. Hi-Fi Rush finds a magical sweet spot between rhythm games, stylish action, and lighthearted, character-driven platformers we don't see very often anymore, and by every measure, it comes out on top.
Neon White achieves everything it sets out to with remarkable success. Not only is it one of the most entertaining experiences I've played in years, but it also speaks to a highly specific audience many just don't anymore. It's for weirdos, misfits, and dorks. Neon White is one of the best games of the year, and it'd be a colossal mistake not to check it out.
The things I like about GhostWire, I really like. I'd go so far as to say that some elements – its world, enemy design, etc. – are among my favorites in a game in years. That said, there are plenty of elements, such as story and gameplay, where GhostWire is hardly up to snuff.
If you've never played Death Stranding, I think you should. Whether it's the original release or the new Director's Cut, the game is worth experiencing. Not to say it's perfect by any means (read Game Informer's review for a second opinion). But there's nothing like Death Stranding. And there may never be again; I struggle to think Sony or any other publisher will ever let Kojima be this free a second time – at least not with this kind of budget. That's what makes Death Stranding worth experiencing. Gravity Gloves, race tracks, and cargo catapults are just icing on the cake.