It may have some technical issues that highlight the indie budget, but the good in Winter Ember outweighs the bad. It has all the stealth trappings; the frustration, the patience, as well as the stickiness of the combat, to harken back to the olden days. It may not be original, yet it doesn’t matter when it looks this nice and plays like the classics.
What could have potentially been a good hybrid of walking simulator and multiple choice adventure is instead buried under boring gameplay and eye-straining visuals. Ashwalkers squanders any narrative replayability by being an all-round drab experience that is as uninspiring as the wastelands it’s set in.
If you have felt that spies have been portrayed in the media as too grumpy and serious as of late, look no further. Agent Intercept throws it back to the wacky Saturday morning cartoon antics of spies, paired with some old school racers too. It’s quite short, especially when the campaign’s done, but if you want ten hours of cars and gadgets, look no further.
Once the initial shock factor dies down, Martha Is Dead is little more than a walking simulator with a Fatal Frame-esque photography gimmick. It has too many ideas and threads going for it, whereas a focused main plot would have made it much more engaging. A few technical issues marred the immersion, and some of the worst English dubbing since Resident Evil. As long as you aren’t expecting Italian P.T., horror fans may still enjoy this psychological shocker.
Living up to its title, King of Fighters XV is a fantastic slice of 2D fighting action. Don’t worry if you’re not a long-time fan, there’s enough to get you started here. A massive cast of brawlers, plenty of styles to choose from, and a host of fighting modes make this worthy of fighting fan’s collection.
A modern, “retro-inspired” title in the shape of Shovel Knight and Ghost ‘n Goblins, Sword & Bones is clearly a small team’s love letter. Once that veil drops, however, it just devolves into a needlessly hard platformer that doesn’t feel like persevering with.
OlliOlli World is exactly what you want from an arcade game: it’s quick, it punishes mistakes, but it embodies the spirit of trying again. Pair with that with some Saturday morning cartoon visuals and characters, an overly-sweet level of charm, and the sense that Roll7 are having a fun time making this, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for frustrating fun.
White Shadows is a dark and oppressive experience, but don’t write it off. It’s reminiscent of Limbo and the like, but homages can be a good thing at times. It is criminally short, however, and would have really benefited from a bit more challenge and/or length in its puzzles. If you enjoy your misery in small bursts, this will be for you.
A visually impressive racer, Super Impossible Road is tough but fair. Randomised levels, frustrating “one more go” gameplay, coupled with a classic PlayStation-era soundtrack, there’s fun to be had here. It’s a bit bare bones outside of its Career Mode, but that is deep enough to keep players going. Or annoy them in equal measure.
A beautiful looking game with simple-yet-engaging sword and gunplay, it’s hard to think that this was made by one man. Yet Bright Memory: Infinite is proof of a passion project done right, even if it does suffer from a surprisingly short runtime, forgettable story and extremely linear progression system. Still, it’s better than this period’s AAA offerings.
What looks like a simple arcade affair, The Last Stand opens up into a much deeper roguelike adventure. It seems like it’s putting a lot of eggs in one basket, but once it pans out and you get used to it, it’s a very engrossing game. Just don’t get too fond of the volunteers, they don’t stick around long enough to form a bond with.
It’s fun on a basic level, but Bloody Rally Show doesn’t offer much depth after a fashion. The story holding it together is flimsy, as is the wonkiness with randomly generated tracks. However, for those that little simple visuals and lots of customisation, this cheap little racer will suffice.
Tormented Souls ticks all the right boxes in regards to old school survival horror. It’s paying respect to those that came before, but unfortunately also highlights the frustrations and nonsensical plot-driving puzzles that we’d left behind. Think less critically, however, and there’s a new experience in the genre. Survival horror is still surviving.
It may have a half-baked premise, but don’t let that put you off of Ghostrunner. The gameplay far outweighs it, and once you get your head in the game, it’s so utterly rewarding. Hard, yes, but oh so incredible when you grasp it. Lose yourself in the visuals and synthwave as you rise to the top.
What it lacks in narrative, Severed Steel makes up for it in the gameplay department. It’s fast, it’s frenetic, it’s vibrant and by golly, is it fun. There’s no greater pleasure in somersaulting over goons to air out their brain cases in glorious voxel violence. Switch off the lateral thinking and engage those cat-like reflexes.
Hot Wheels Unleashed is how you make a toys-to-life video game. Milestone have taken some of the finest collectables and made them photo-realistic, unleashing them on racetracks that will blow your mind with the level of detail and craziness in equal measure. Exemplifying the “kart racer” genre, it is the natural progression of why we fall in love with this type of racing game over and over. This is a love letter to both Hot Wheels and arcade racing fans.
GRIME brings nothing new to the Metroidvania tag, but it doesn’t have to. Challenging enough combat, with some RPG-like loadout elements make for engaging gameplay. That it’s gross and its bosses skin-crawling also work in its favour. If you enjoy your challenging platformers, you’ll enjoy this.
A concept that originally seems daunting, once you get into the central mechanic of Deathloop, it all makes sense. Be prepared to die again and again, remapping the same perpetual day out in a variety of different ways to hunt your targets. Arkane have refined their craft once more, delivering a densely packed world with so, so much to do. And as always, an insane variety in how to kill and look good doing it.
It has the occasional wrinkle of age, but don’t let that put you off. El Shaddai is a mad, colourful and beautiful adventure that, whilst not quite Devil May Cry levels of greatness, is still very entertaining. Don’t overthink it, go in and enjoy the pseudo-silliness of this over-the-top brawler.
Don’t be fooled by its cute visuals and simple looks, art of rally is deceptively challenging. But it’s the fun kind of challenge, that simple plug-and-play style of racing that will have players wanting to unlock the faster cars. Paradoxically paired with one of those most serene game modes, there’s a lot in here to keep gamers occupied for many an hour. Just watch out for the occasional tree popping in.