- The Last of Us
- God of War
- Mortal Kombat X
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.
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.