With its many surprises, Darkwood is a title with immeasurable depth that will keep horror fans gripped until the very end. An important focus on narrative-driven gameplay kept me hooked and desperate for answers. A horrifying aesthetic with spooky soundscapes plays with our instincts and terrifies the senses. When the title boasted "a horror game without jump-scares", I initially rolled my eyes. Most titles incorporate some kind of jump-scare to get a cheap reaction out of players. Even tastefully done jump-scares feel cheap to me because I'm not actually "scared," I'm just surprised. Darkwood succeeds where many other titles fail. It's a heart-racing experience that any horror fan worth their salt should attempt to survive.
While Salt and Sanctuary is truly its own game, with themes and elements appealing to fans of the genre, there were moments when it was too similar to its predecessors, and some unnecessary mechanics were added in an attempt to separate itself from the pack. Sometimes, paying homage to something can get caught up in the fine line of copying. However, it is a title that fits well with a "pick up/put down" pace and gives players a lot of choice in how they wish to play. Salt and Sanctuary provides ample replay value in a fun title that is fast-paced and challenging enough for anyone seeking a "Souls-like" game.
By creating a timer feature that tracks how much time we're away from Quinn, Stay extends its memorable experience beyond our gaming monitor and asks us how long we're willing to stay away when it has negative consequences. With great narrative and relatable content, the title falters in creating far too complex puzzles that transform the game from Stay into Stuck. However, Quinn's story (and our story) create solid and thoughtful gameplay that keeps us coming back for more. If one can overlook the puzzling mishaps, Stay is a title that reaches out to all of us and creates a worthwhile experience.
Observer is a beautifully crafted thriller from Bloober Team that creates a riveting story by blending the horror and cyberpunk genres. Its captivating narrative serves as an excellent vehicle for detective work and puzzle-solving. The cyber-noir aesthetic is upheld by character development, rich world-building, and convincing voice-acting. Whether you've played it before or are playing it for the first time, Observer is deserving of your time and money. However, the Nintendo Switch port falls short in comparison to other versions of the game because of its frustrating graphical resolution when docked. While Observer is highly enjoyable in handheld mode, not being able to fully enjoy it when docked eliminates half of the Switch's format. If a Switch is all you own, then absolutely look into Observer. For those with other consoles, I'd recommend grabbing the game on PC, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One first. Overall, Observer still manages to shine through as an excellent addition to the horror genre.
Despite these flaws, Override: City Mech Brawl is a funny and lighthearted brawler title for everyone, and it's another multiplayer option during a time when consoles seem to be shying away from local cooperative play. It's a title that doesn't take itself too seriously, and it does a solid job of bringing lighthearted giant robot fun to consoles.
Gris is a beautiful explosion of color with a touching and emotional journey. Hand-drawn visuals show that it's a title crafted with love. While the story is loose and can leave players feeling a little lost, there are emotional cues that symbolize this as a journey of loss and healing. The excellent soundtrack, level design and commitment to themes make Gris a memorable title for all. With fun, adventurous platforming and puzzles that are both challenging and intuitive, its playstyle keeps things simple by placing player cognition at the forefront. Gris is a true work of indie art that prides itself on attention to details. Fans of works of art and video games will find a relatable home in Gris. Although this is Nomada Studio's first title, it has hit every possible note out of the park.
Despite the gameplay issues, Bendy and the Ink Machine is a fun and creative survival-horror title. Its excellent graphical design and tense atmosphere create a solid backdrop for horrifying shenanigans. An intriguing story motivates players to keep going and find out what's happening next. Bendy delivers fun, and it delivers scares with a tasteful "less is more" formula that builds up the horror as we go. Unique puzzles and collectibles encourage exploration and advance the story to keep players engaged. It's an unorthodox type of horror game, but Bendy and the Ink Machine utilizes two opposite genres that complement each other to create a solid title. The use of cartoon characters in a horror atmosphere blends the purity of animated characters with the terrifying ideals of a scientist gone mad. As we progress, we learn sad truths behind the animation team that led to the spiraling downfall of innocent people. Bendy and the Ink Machine may be a sleeper hit, but it's worth any survival-horror fan's time.
Despite some gameplay flaws, Wasteland 2 gets a lot of things right for the genre. Fans of isometric, hardcore RPGs will find a detailed world to explore in the title. inXile Entertainment provides deep attention to detail on an awe-inspiring level. Creation of independent currencies and social hierarchies in the game create a living environment. Fully fleshed-out NPCs with voice-overs add to the detail of the wastes and make characters more than just placeholders. Interacting with the environment may lead to new clues and options for gameplay. Wasteland 2 is full of player choice and replayability that will keep players busy for a while. With gameplay easily exceeding 80 hours of content, Wasteland 2 is not for the faint of heart. Those who appreciate challenging experiences and detailed world-building will find Wasteland 2: Director's Cut an important installment in their RPG library.
Moonlighter creates an excellent dungeon-crawling experience for fans of the genre. It combines rogue-lite elements with procedurally generated dungeons to create an adventure that's packed with surprises. Collecting loot to sell in the store adds a new side to dungeon-crawling experience that we don't often see. Selling in the store is multi-dimensional, as we must take supply and demand into consideration. Sometimes by trial and error, we learn the true value of things to assist us in our progression. Progression can be slow due to clunky combat that causes us to die frequently, and a lot of grinding is required to achieve better upgrades. Moonlighter does an excellent job of getting the player to want to delve deeper into the dungeons, since venturing further yields greater rewards. Intricate details and visuals give Moonlighter a memorable style. Enemy designs provide an ample challenge for the risky adventurer, but the story falls short because the narrative isn't memorable.
Despite its flaws, Hitman: Definitive Edition is a solid installment in the Hitman franchise and serves as a quality introduction to a reboot of a classic title. The Definitive Edition is a great way for players to pass the time until Hitman 2 launches.
2064: Read Only Memories INTEGRAL is a charming and captivating visual novel. It's a title that fits seamlessly with the Switch and makes clever use of the console's functions. The added touch of HD Rumble and touch functionality offer deeper gameplay options exclusively for the console. Additional exclusive content makes this the best version of ROM for first-timers or veteran fans of the title. While the core game is untouched with its gameplay flaws, it still brings a lot of love and attention to detail to the visual novel genre.
Yet, despite Secret of Mana's technical blunders, this new version is a faithful re-creation with a lot of reverence for its source material. For those who may have missed out on Secret of Mana the first time around, it also serves as a solid introduction to a classic from the Golden Age. At a time when local co-op is difficult to find on most current-gen consoles, it gives a fresh option for those wanting to play with others. Secret of Mana'sremasteroffers a magical, vivid tale for the current-gen library.
True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 provides a compelling story and atmosphere for fans of both the horror and point-and-click genre. A mysterious story with intriguing twists and turns will keep players invested for hours to come. The title will challenge players to rely on intuition, since a variety of puzzles make up the core gameplay. The variety adds diversity to the gameplay while allowing players to feel accomplished upon completion. There is more to the game than just puzzles, as secrets and collectibles keep players invested in the environment and grant opportunities for exploration beyond the main plot. True Fear excels at elevating the point-and-click genre through genius design layouts and storytelling. While the gameplay and plot will keep players interested, some pacing issues and lack of horror elements weaken the title. The issues are not enough to outshine True Fear's excellent features, however, as the title creates a memorable experience. A major cliffhanger at the end creates excitement for Part 2 as players are left wondering, "What will happen next"? True Fear: Forsaken Souls – Part 1 is a must-play for any fans of the genre.
Overall, Surviving Mars is a solid building simulator. Its numerous options for gameplay leave room for all kinds of play styles. Player choices maintain key roles in how they wish to shape their societies. A vast array of technology makes room for endless infrastructure combinations with a wonderful level of detail. A lack of content really brings down the game a few notches because the gameplay begins to feel repetitive after a while. Although the title has a lot of awesome details with science fiction flair, it doesn't bring any new surprises after a single playthrough. Whether players are seeking a challenging simulation or a chill Martian sandbox, Surviving Mars is a title that is worth a try.