Children of Morta is strong in its apparent simplicity. By the end game the player is juggling multiple additional powers, temporary buffs, held items, and a vast array of enemy types, but since everything is introduced so smoothly and cleanly it never feels overwhelming. The game is brutal without being cruel, as each failure shows some granular hint of progress—it serves as a great introduction to the genre for newcomers, as everything is explained so well, and is also appealing for veteran players, showing a different approach to a well-known classic. A bit Rogue, a bit Diablo, and all class, Children of Morta will be remembered as the gold standard for years to come.
That Judgment drops the Yakuza moniker from the title is surprising, as the game feels like a Yakuza game through and through, with the signature sprawling open world of Kamurocho, combo-based brawling combat, and kooky sidequests. Yagami’s new detective abilities add some enjoyable variety into the mix, but the title would have comfortably fit into the main franchise. That being said, Judgment stands out as one of the very best in the series and serves as a perfect entry point for anyone curious about the Yakuza games.
The Blackout Club is a fascinating take on the stealth-horror genre. Balanced between genuine fear and co-op laughter, starring vulnerable yet capable protagonists, and featuring a creepy atmosphere and goofy characters, the game is full of contradictory ideas that somehow work together really well. Best played with friends, but also enjoyable solo, this unique take on a horror game has something for everybody.
Planet Zoo has some balancing issues and explains certain concepts poorly. Once the game is understood, however, it offers such loveable inhabitants and deep simulation that its shortcomings can be forgiven. The game shows how difficult running a zoo ethically can be, but also convinces the player how worthwhile that endeavour is by offering adorable animals at every turn. It is clever, complicated, and perfect for animal lovers.
The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a terrifying, well-executed fusion of survival horror and adventure game sensibilities. The game is extremely tough, but also rewarding, and will forever create an association between the sound of high heels and danger.
Despite its flaws, The Sojourn has moments of greatness. Weaving a web of dark tunnels or daisy-chaining angel statues to the exit feels wonderful. The game world is stunningly beautiful, and wandering through the vistas is quite peaceful. However, the poor communication with the player, nonsensical greeting card writing, and frustrating final act leave The Sojourn a mixed bag of great puzzles and crappy idioms.
Kunai is, for most part, a wonderfully complex Metroidvania. The colourful artwork, smooth movement, and clever level design are some of the greatest the genre has seen, but the high difficulty of the boss encounters will prevent some players from fully enjoying this vibrant world.
Fade to Silence contains many interesting elements, but they simply do not combine well. The mix of a meditative base builder with clunky combat and the stress of permanent death results in a gameplay experience that is certainly unique, but unfortunately not enjoyable.
Stranger Things 3: The Game is only for really big fans of the show. Even then, the title is hard to recommend since it is an inferior version of the television season. While the gameplay is not bad, it is too repetitive to be enjoyable on its own. The game would perhaps be best played just before season four comes out, as a novel way of recapping the previous season.
So much potential is wasted in The Great Perhaps. Puzzle design is solid throughout, but hampered with finicky controls. Art direction is outstanding, but the story that the game is trying to support flounders between ‘funny’ and serious, and is full of clichés. Offensive content notwithstanding, The Great Perhaps is a very run-of-the-mill time travel story delivered in a monotonous tone. Many adjectives could be used to describe this game, but ‘Great’ is certainly not among them.
Similar to how Ryo is eternally stuck in 1987, Shenmue III is trapped in 2001, when having an open world with many NPCs was more important than filling that world with anything interesting. The game tells a high-stakes plot at a snail’s pace, with terrible writing and acting. The clever combat system of the previous games has devolved into a button-mashing mess. The title does have moments of brightness: the actual story beats are great, the setting is fascinating, and it features the best forklift simulation on the market. However, with such incredibly dated gameplay, only the most ardent fans will enjoy Shenmue III. Even then, it is easily the weakest link in the franchise.