- The Last of Us
- God of War
- Mortal Kombat X
Little Hope’s namesake has somewhat of a dual meaning. It is the name of the town in the game and it’s also representative of the little bit of hope that Supermassive would learn from its mistakes and get back to making classic horror adventures. But its multiple thematic troubles, pathetic cavalcade of jump scares, and abysmal twist ending paint a dark future for The Dark Pictures Anthology, leaving little hope that it’ll ever recover from two disappointing adventures in a row.
And even though that world is a broken dystopian nightmare, Ghostrunner‘s gameplay is just the opposite. Slicing and sprinting through each dilapidated factory and string of sharply lit billboards is a rush because of how satisfying it is to control as well as how it, through its design, pushes players to play well enough to get the most out of its systems. A seasoned ninja strikes perfectly without any fatal faults; an apt summary of the gameplay loop and Ghostrunner as a whole.
The Ancient Gods Part 1 is a fantastic piece of DLC partly because of those narrative implications, but also for how it wonderfully continues and expands upon the base game’s legacy. Seamlessly dialing up the difficulty leads to more rewarding combat, especially with the banging metal soundtrack and horde of new hellspawns. Environments divulge from the typical Doom template, but are undeniably Doom and beautiful regardless. Part 2 has a lot to live up to, but if it’s anything like Part 1, it shouldn’t have a problem shattering high expectations .
Darkness in the Capital may seem like a typical expansion and it is in some sense, but that phrasing gives a short shift to how it builds on top of an excellent experience and remains a clawed fist that’s as sharp as it ever was. Its combat is fundamentally fantastic so adding new variables that maintain the same level of quality is only going to make that loop even more engaging. Darkness in the Capital’s array of bosses bring in another set of challenges and its new weapon encourages both thoughtful play and fast action. And in a game full of challenges and fast action, meaningfully building on top of that is still an accomplishment.
Crash Bandicoot 4‘s stellar level design, responsive controls, deep replayability, and superb animation all come together to create such an outstanding experience that not only brings this bandicoot back to life, but also removes it from the dusty shelf where all the other taxidermied ’90s platforming mascots go to be forgotten.
Mafia: Definitive Edition is tedious enough as it is by 2020 standards. Clunky gunplay and lousy vehicle handling make the shootouts as frustrating as the getaway drive. The promising setup can’t avoid getting whacked either as it disappoints through its inability to meaningfully execute on its multiple beats. The talented cast and better realized 1930s world outdo its 2002 counterpart, but the rest of its blunders come together and result in an offer that’s relatively easy to refuse.