Embr manages to be a hectic, yet methodical co-op game about firefighters that can also be enjoyed solo. Its replayable nature through a variety of enjoyable modes keeps the game burning bright when many other party games would have long fizzled out on dead wood.
In the end. Gears Tactics has the heart, body, and soul of a true Gears of War game that makes it shine in combat with blood-pumping action despite being turn-based. The repetition and linear focus make it a few cogs short of being a Marcus Fenix instead of a Carmine. Fun and lovable, but destined to die quickly.
The fast-paced nature makes Jupiter Hell stand out from the crowd alongside a retro-style interface that’s nostalgic while incorporating all the modern conveniences we have come to expect. The shallowness and repetition hit faster than I would like, but there’s no denying that Jupiter Hell’s combination of rip and tear with chess-like flair is a mixture Doomed to succeed.
The simulation and management elements are almost non-existent. The few that are present tend to be obtuse and poorly explained. Yet, the game within a game is brilliant and will really test your ability to think about strategy in a different way. The fact that champions get nerfed and buffed based on how tournaments play out is clever beyond description. I just wish the rest of the game received the same loving attention.
As you put the hours into Wildermyth, you craft fable after fable that is unique to you. You build up a legacy of heroes that can grow by picking them up in other campaigns. You bond to these characters because they can stay with you forever, even if their stories don’t always have a happy ending. Every path you watch them take feels special, and there’s always a new story to be told.
To put it simply, I adore everything about the game. It’s variety between classes, the balance of resources, the meaningful meta-progression, and breadth of content. Slay the Spire and Monster Train are some of my favorite games, but they can have a seat at the round table and bow before the throne at which Tainted Grail: Conquest now sits.
I may not have any desire to return to the game, but I enjoyed my time with Biomutant. I think most fans of the genre will too, jank and all. Its world is a beautiful one worth exploring, even though it’s a bit static. Evolution wasn’t entirely kind to it, but Biomutant still grew up to be a respectable but flawed fur-filled adventure.
Legend of Keepers nails the gamblers high of unpredictable randomness while putting the player’s agency at the forefront to actually use that randomness in a meaningful way, that’s the hallmark of a good rogue-lite game.
The reality is if Insurmountable were a real board game, I’d be interested in picking it up, and the price would be much steeper due to the physical pieces. The digital experience it offers is a unique one worth having for any fans of slower-paced strategy games, even if its freshness is shorter-lived than I would like.
Returnal’s shooting mechanics are solid, the game is gorgeous, the enemy variety is nice, and the boss fights are stellar. So, it’s a shame that literally everything else kind of falls apart. The rogue-lite aspects are sub-par at best and outright bad at worst.
Outriders is still a great game. In a lot of ways, it’s the absolute best iteration of the looter shooter genre out there. The repetition is a bummer, but the combat, class, and loot system are worth riding it out for. The amount of playstyle customization you have access to is a true anomaly.
It doesn't stray far from its inspiration but still delivers key improvements with stronger replay value, better visuals, and an experience that's fresh enough to feel new while staying true to itself. If it could have ditched some of the flaws that plagued the original it would have been perfect. Regardless, Evil Genius lives To Die Another Day
For Sparta is a small but mighty game with a ferocity to honor its namesake. The gameplay is fantastic, and it very cleanly side steps the repetitive pitfalls the genre sometimes falls into. Its laser-focused direction does it a lot of favors. It’s not a long-term grinding game with a billion things to unlock, and it doesn’t try to be.
The phobias themselves have a fantastic aesthetic design and animation too. The rigid and puzzlelike nature gives the game a unique playstyle that’s a lot of fun to solve. The lack of polish is very apparent, however. Between the bugs, strange design choices, and lack of cohesion the game feels like it needed more time in the oven, and maybe some focused direction.
Space Otter Charlie is cute, fun, and easy to play with, clever but simple puzzles, enjoyable old-school boss fights, and plenty to explore, find, and craft. It’s a game aimed at a more casual demographic that I’m really not a part of, but that’s okay. I still found a lot to appreciate.