- The Last of Us
- God of War
- Mortal Kombat X
Wrath of the Druids has a lot of the same shortcomings as the main game. The story is too concerned with political intrigue that isn’t that intriguing, the landscape is mostly barren greenery that’s unexciting to traverse, and the overall game hardly hovers above the average baseline it rests upon, just to name a few of the overlapping problems. But Wrath of the Druids does leapfrog the base experience because of its relative focus that organically slices off the astounding amount of bloat inherent to a game that large. It doesn’t magically make Assassin’s Creed Valhalla a better game, but it does show that sometimes, a smaller serving can make a huge difference.
As it did with the PS3, Vita, and PS4, Housemarque has once again provided Sony with another launch-era hit and in doing so has created a rewarding, replayable, and revolutionary game that’s hopefully the foundation for other future AAA titles that are as clever with the roguelite blueprint.
Oddworld: Soulstorm took Oddworld Inhabitants over two decades to fully realize so it’s disappointing that it came out in the state that it did. Numerous bugs are just one part of the problem as its lack of a quicksave and unwieldy controls cause a lot of easily avoidable irritation. Solving its one-of-a-kind sneaky puzzles can be fairly gratifying at times and its impeccably animated cutscenes are nothing short of amazing, but this is a mixed batch of Soulstorm brew that deserved more time in the production factory.
Paradise Lost doesn’t have any gameplay systems to keep players engaged and loses some of its potential because of it, but it does use its space well for its storytelling. It creates an otherworldly setting designed to simultaneously wow and disgust players as they make their way through gorgeous, yet heinous structures designed for evil. The stories within these structures are elegantly told for the most part as they reflect and strengthen each other along the way. Shooting Nazis in the face is almost always a blast, but Paradise Lost doesn’t resort to violence to make its point. Instead, it explores these horrors and wraps that inhumanity around the tragedy of a grief-stricken orphan, a rarity in the medium that demonstrates that how gaming can portray such evil needing to shoot at it first.
Myths of the Eastern Realm is so repetitive because it changes almost nothing about the repetitive game it was based upon aside from the setting. This expansion could have been a chance for Ubisoft to address criticisms of that core experience by implementing a more varied toolset, moving away from block pushing, and allowing for more freeform exploration all while taking fulling advantage of Chinese mythology. Instead it makes all the same mistakes, which are more unforgiving this time around. Immortals itself was already awash with unoriginal ideas and Myths of the Eastern Realm is only following that trend, making it a derivative expansion of an already-derivative game.
The Ancient Gods Part 2 is the least impressive segment in Doom’s rebooted trilogy with its stages, level of difficulty, and slightly off-kilter story beats that all come in just below the previously established baseline. But it’s still one heck of a high baseline since the strategic, blazing-fast gunplay and ever-growing lineup of unique demons still have no equal in the first-person shooter space. The Doom Slayer was directed to rip and tear until it was done and now that it is indeed done, he has earned his rest even though his final showdown wasn’t his finest ripping and tearing.
Aside from annoying mega canids that can loop their stun-lock attacks and a handful of interesting weapons, Murder on Eridanos doesn’t add many new gameplay features to its arsenal. It’s mainly just more Outer Worlds, but that’s not a problem when the quality is this high. Interviewing witnesses and potential suspects is a chance for players to more actively engage with its branching dialogue systems and focus on Obsidian’s knack for writing bizarre, loveable, and hilarious characters that appropriately skewer corporate capitalism. It hones in on The Outer Worlds’ strengths and is an excellent way to send off one of the best RPGs in years.
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.