The Occupation is an excellent concept for a game, and something I hope to see done more in the future, but it failed in several regards this time around. The story is perfectly functional, but the implied intrigue is nothing more than an implication, and any curiosity I had to learn more was purely in disbelief that it could be as simple as it seemed. The mechanics and systems, particularly those built around stealth, are far from refined, and further still from “fun.” Even fundamental interface components are tremendously flawed, as well as a bunch of other technical issues throughout. I love the premise of The Occupation so much, and I genuinely hope to see more in its ilk, but I simply can’t recommend this game.
Jump Force doesn’t just fall awfully short of its potential, but it fails to be fun, engaging or rewarding in any way. Combat is simple and repetitive, the story is uninteresting and told in an incredibly boring way, and the visuals fail to capture the essence of their inspirations. Beyond these annoyances, the considerable fraction of the game spent just on loading screens, plus the amount of time needed to mindlessly walk from one side of a bloated map to another feels outright criminal to charge for. Jump Force is an infuriating game, forcing the player to waste as much time as they spend playing, and degrading several excellent, beloved properties to mindless monotony.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission is the best example of traditional video game mechanics executed in VR yet, amplifying and broadening 3D platforming to a whole new platform. The fundamentals, while nothing too unique, are consistently strong, allowing for the great VR mechanics and interactions to be built upon them. The wonderful tone and feel of Astro Bot’s levels paired with their thoughtful design makes it a joy throughout. Rescue Mission is directly designed around VR, while being fully featured and very high-quality, making it one of the very best VR games yet and an excellent example of the possibilities of virtual reality.
Super Mario Party is a wonderfully presented game packed full of excellent minigames; it’s just that the means to play them are disappointingly uncomplex. Mario Party mode is finally a step back to what fans have been yearning for, but the boards are small and straightforward. Partner Party, River Survival and Sound Stage are superb new additions, but having them limited to certain types of minigames means they get repetitive fairly quickly. Challenge Road is a great attempt at some single player stuff, but it feels a little undercooked too. Everything in Super Mario Party is good; it just consistently restricts itself in ways that keep it from being the great game it could have been.
Insomniac Games are my favourite developers, Spider-Man is one of my favourite characters, and comparable games like InFamous and Arkham are among my favourites of all time. Even still, Marvel’s Spider-Man impressed me greatly. It’s not without its flaws, but swinging around, shooting webs and building up combos feels so good that they’re hard even to notice. Spider-Man’s story is exciting and hits hard at its biggest moments, while excellent writing, performances and presentation meet the high standards of the game’s magnificent mechanics. Marvel’s Spider-Man has great strengths on many fronts, and plenty of substance well worth swinging through.
Guacamelee 2 is a nifty little Metroidvania that flies by despite being packed with stuff to do. It cuts straight to the good stuff and keeps things continually moving to create an engaging, succinct playthrough. The tricky traversal and tight, purposeful level design account for some wonderful platforming that feels worthwhile regardless of how tough it gets. On the other hand, however, the story belittles itself to a nagging extent, the sights and sounds are indistinguishable from the last game, and there are more than a few more little annoyances I have with Guacamelee 2, but they’re not enough to hold it down. Any issues I have here are much easier to look past than the much more explicit successes that make Guacamelee 2 a great time.
Mario Tennis Aces is an exceptional tennis game at its core, with fun additional layers to keep things interesting. The inclusion of Adventure Mode is also very much appreciated, adding a good little set of more varied objectives to reach. The limited levelling system and frustrating difficulty issues of the single-player, on the other hand, leave it falling short – albeit on a great trajectory. For anyone who’s into Mario Tennis or even just likes the idea, this is a great one. For anyone who isn’t sold, I can’t see this changing their mind.
God of War is an exceptional game that modernises an antiquated formula while carrying forward and expanding upon the conventions that gave the series its own identity. Everything God of War is known for is here, but in brand new, elaborately constructed ways. Such reverence is given to the series’ history without fear of reinventing it, and the result is an incredibly high-quality experience far surpassing those that came before.
Metal Gear Survive builds off of an excellent game to create something fundamentally different. Journeying through the dust and uncovering more of the map piece by piece is a rewardingly dangerous progression system, not unlike the save room style of Symphony of The Night or Resident Evil. Earning stronger and cooler gear while fitting out your base with bigger and better defences and resources is equally engaging, with new challenges consistently arising to replace those you’ve outgrown. It’s not a Kojima game, and it’s not a Metal Gear Solid game, but it’s a lot of fun and never fails to reward the time you put into it.
Moss is a lovely little game that applies VR in ways I’m excited to see develop. The simple platforming, puzzling and fighting aren’t anything fantastic on their own, but together in a precious little storybook world, and elevated by a VR perspective, they’re a delight. It’s a shame Moss feels a little cut short, but what remains is an endearing adventure that’s a joy to take part in. A healthy mix of interesting puzzles and satisfyingly, simple combat make Moss a stand out PSVR game and a beacon for the potential of third-person games in the virtual realm.
I want to be clear that Dragon Ball FighterZ, at its core, is a great game that does so much right by Dragon Ball. At the best of times, this is essentially a perfect DB fighter. Outplaying an opponent in such a rapid, intense exchange is extremely rewarding and learning to best different techniques and approaches is a fulfilling process. It’s just a shame that these moments feel like as much work to reach as they do. If you want a basic, button mashing fighter that looks really cool, FighterZ is a great pick, but if you want a deep and engaging combat system, then prepare to dig through the former to get to the latter. An annoying lobby system and meandering story keep DBF from feeling like a wonderful package across the board, but the beautiful, faithful art and animation alone is worthy of much praise. Dragon Ball FighterZ is successful as a traditional fighting game in the world of Dragon Ball, even if it places more than a few hurdles in its own path.
The Inpatient is a slow, unengaging walk through hallways with mechanical characters and irrelevant choices. It’s an incredibly disappointing execution of a nice idea that could have become so much more. When we have full games that operate successfully in VR, games that utilise the headset to inform mechanics, and games that present believable, engaging worlds, I can’t recommend The Inpatient.