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.
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.
Strange Brigade is a formulaic action co-op that doesn’t break new ground as much as furrow a new groove in an already abundant genre. Does that make it boring though? No. Certainly not, and it’s actually quite brilliant. I haven’t really elaborated on the story, but not out of laziness or lack of understanding. There’s a dashing tale of adventure to be had, involving mummy queens and raided tombs. I just don’t want to spoil it for you. You may work out some tropes for yourself, especially if you’ve seen Brendan Fraser do his thing. It’s got some neat little jump scares in there, too.
There’s an absolutely brilliant side quest that’s so tongue in cheek, it’s in danger of bursting through it. It’s hilarious in its deadpan, fourth wall breaking delivery that makes up for its usage of the word “dank”. I won’t spoil anymore, but it’s a testament to Drinkbox that they can take this all in stride and poke fun at themselves, the fans, the toxic community and the power of internet opinions and leave the player grinning throughout.
But, get past those gripes and there is a competent, strongly put together first-person sneaker in there. Realised in some of the most beautiful locations to date, alongside a constant in game narrative with a ragtag team that is as adaptive to the change as you are, there is depth to Exodus.
Despite the faff and taint of shady modern practices, it is still a competent and well worked fighter. The length of moves and tricks at hand, as well as the wealth of extra skills to learn is staggering, coupled with a very strong roster of new and old favourites. Combat has been reworked and tweaked to suit a faster fight system, and there is enough customisation to suit most kinds of playstyle for each character. Push aside the flaws and embrace it for the legacy that Mortal Kombat has created for itself.
If you enjoyed the challenge that Cuphead, Sundered and all the others bring, then Valfaris is your next port of call. If you aren’t a fan of hard as nails throwbacks to older games, you may not like this. Or if you sit somewhere in between, you cannot go wrong with the heaviest, metal-est platform action game going.
Arc System Works have only continued to hone their craft and have offered this stunning, smooth and fast-paced fighter as a testament to that. I don’t think it’ll have as big an audience as other genre mainstays, but if you’re a fan of Guilty Gear or Dragonball FighterZ, this is well worth checking out.
Once you get your head around the time and patience aspect, Snowrunner is going to engross you. It won’t win any Game of the Year awards for being niche, but then neither does Train Simulator. If you can convince some friends to join you, then even better. But even as a solo experience, there’s some absolute joy to be had when you get stuck into it.
A cracking example of nostalgia done right, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is as worthy as any current-gen racer out there. It’s not easy to begin with, but once you’re practiced you’ll be flying across the finish line.