- The Last of Us
- God of War
- Mortal Kombat X
The Nioh Collection confidently slashes through these minor oversights because it is still a definitive duo of difficult classics that play, look, and feel better than ever before. Even though its sequel is easily the superior, more varied title, both are still genre-defining action RPGs that provide so many engaging encounters that crush players to a pulp as a means to make them work for their euphoric victories. Few games can master this balance and maintain it after dozens or hundreds of hours and this collection has two such titles, doubling the amount of pain while also simultaneously doubling the amount of satisfaction.
If Control was “weirdness, perfected” then Control: Ultimate Edition is weirdness, perfected and fully realized. Bundling all of its content in one place is a decent proposition as it was supported supremely well after its launch, but the technical advancements are what make this “ultimate edition” so ultimate. Its swift combat is finally stable enough to move at the pace it was supposed to originally move at. The immersive world is made even more immersive with its many visual upgrades. Control was so obviously built ahead of its time as these enhancements aren’t just surface-level touch-ups; they’re instrumental improvements that help this game become its fullest self and the best Director of the FBC it can possibly be.
“Disjunction” sounds like a made-up word, but it is used to describe something that has a “lack of correspondence or consistency,” according to the dictionary. And that is an apt description of this game that wears this word as its name. It attempts to blend two diametrically opposed gameplay systems — a novel concept — but does so sloppily, resulting in a disjointed, discordant, and disappointing experience that substitutes repetition for depth. Hotline Miami and Metal Gear deserve to be fused together to form some sort of upgraded cyborg, but the two have just been haphazardly fused into a mass of bloody flesh and rusty metal that’s better off left in either a biohazardous waste bag or the scrap heap.
Shovel Knight was an example of an indie platformer that did hold up its end of the deal on both ends and that comparison doesn’t work in Cyber Shadow’s favor. Its boss fights and soundtrack can compete with other modern indie greats, but the rest of its gameplay inherits many of the antiquated parts that have been stripped out in other thoughtful throwbacks. This dichotomy makes Cyber Shadow a lot like its protagonist as it is made up of parts both old and new. But unlike Shadow, Cyber Shadow is made up of obsolete pieces, resulting in a rusty, defective cyber ninja that’s stuck in the wrong time period.
Failing to hit previously established highs encapsulates a lot of Super Meat Boy Forever. Although the game oddly hides its interesting seeding system, its levels are designed well and repeatedly introduce new tweaks that allow for an even difficulty curve that always tries to spice things up. Fluid controls even make that difficulty curve a welcome challenge. But the light detachment intrinsic to the auto-running genre is more of a shackle than the key to a better game. Going meatless for an entire decade inevitably raises the steaks stakes for the next Meat Boy game, and even though Forever doesn’t fully meet those expectations set upon it, it does narrowly avoid meaty-ocrity through its tight controls and level structure.
The First Samurai is a lovely, if bloody way to wrap up the Nioh 2 saga. From its vibrant levels to its imaginative yokai to its crushing difficulty, this DLC does almost everything base Nioh 2 did but better aside from the superfluous storytelling. Team Ninja may have been honing its craft to get to this level for the final expansion, but in doing so the developer has saved the best for last.
Getting Doom on a new platform is inherent to the series’ DNA as people find more oddball hardware to run the classic game on. Playing Doom on a pregnancy test is not the most optimal way to play it, but it is possible. And Doom Eternal on the Switch is similarly possible but not optimal. The Switch port is still thrilling and has an addictive combat loop with incredible pacing yet it’s inherently held back enough by the platform’s weaknesses to make it the least appealing version. It’s a novelty to rip and tear on the go, but it’s questionable how, well, novel that novelty really is. It runs Doom… sorta.
It is not an unforgivable sin that Immortals Fenyx Rising does not live up to Breath of the Wild, a tall task that its upcoming sequel might not even be capable of doing. But it is quite disappointing that it only plays dress up with the hero’s tunic and misses what that green garment stands for. Puzzles sometimes have inventive solutions yet the good ones are drowned out by how often they repeat and how few tools Fenyx has. And the game’s colorful world isn’t a sandbox that needs exploring, but is more akin to a typical open-world map littered with repeatable, obviously marked activities. These shortcomings make it less of Ubisoft’s take on Breath of the Wild and more of a Ubisoft-branded “Breath of the Mild” that could have been so much more.