Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is a fairly decent approximation of toy car racing, with the added bonus of being able to customise your car collection and design your own tracks. However the karting / arcade gameplay doesn't quite click in either direction, and the failure to make the game accessible for younger children adds to the feeling of mild disappointment which pervades the whole game.
On the face of it, Peppa Pig: World Adventures looks the part, immersing your little one in their beloved world from the TV show with loads of countries to visit. But then the black screens appear. And the aural scrapings. Oh the scrapings. And the inexplicable loading times. And the curious audio mix which buries the dialogue. And the strange appearing and disappearing characters. So on the flip-side of the face of it, it's time to bring home the bacon and NOT Peppa Pig: World Adventures.
Zen Studios clearly know what they are doing when it comes to Pinball, and this collection available to purchase via the new free to download Pinball FX hub is evidence enough. The tables now look and play faultlessly and have been rebuilt from the ground up for the current generation of consoles. The downside is that any previously purchased tables must be paid for again and amongst the vast array of superb tables available, there are some unremarkable and dull ones. However, as demonstrated by the one free table created by the developers shows, the original creations deserve to be played and the addiction factor is such that many an enjoyable hour can be whiled away in the company of Pinball FX.
Firefighting Simulator: The Squad has significant flaws with the single player AI who are practically useless at anything other than menial tasks, and there's a distinct lack of urgency involved in the missions once you realise the people inside can't die and the building never razes itself to the ground. Despite these glaring issues, it's actually a really enjoyable and rewarding experience with a zen-like quality akin to vacuuming a filthy carpet. There's a great deal of satisfaction to be had in extinguishing the wide variety of different fires across the city map, and completing the objectives with friends (or strangers) online only enhances the sense of achievement.
Codemasters have dutifully updated their F1 template with the new car designs and the up to date roster of circuits whilst ditching the Story Mode for an entirely unrelated and pointless avatar clothes shop featuring microtransactions. While the racing itself remains superb, there's an increasingly hollow corporate veneer which undermines the core of the well-crafted game engine. I'd be inclined to stick with F1 2021 until the nouveau riche supercars and furnishings are jettisoned for 2023.
A wasted opportunity to make a brilliantly crafted anti-grav racer remotely playable, with a difficulty level that has no learning curve and is thoroughly unrewarding. The visuals and innovative track design cannot be faulted and there's an enormous amount of content awaiting anyone with the patience of a saint and a metabolism of a teenager full of sugar. Otherwise, the aging but perfectly judged WipEout Omega Collection should still be your go-to anti-grav racer.
An old-school turn-based rpg with a charming visual style, plenty of deadpan ironic humour and many hours of content awaiting discovery. Unfortunately, despite the humour, there's a strange xenophobia to the representations of 'natives' and colonial plundering which makes the whole experience feel a bit grubby. If you can get over this, there's a satisfying and deep experience to be had.
A highly original puzzle-platformer from Lithuanian developers Flazm which combines an emotional time-travelling storyline with some intricate and very relaxing exploration filled with highly ingenious level design. Another indie gem which offers a very memorable and loveable gaming experience.
A unique and finely crafted take on the musical rhythm genre, with lovely animated pixel-art stills and a truly excellent soundtrack telling the achingly heartfelt tale of a group of poor but talented musicians striving for success on their first tour. It's a brief experience and the lo-fi indie sensibilities may not be for everyone, but if you err towards left-field art and music, it's highly recommended.
Faultless presentation, an absolute raft of superb vehicles across 9 categories, 130 brilliantly rendered circuits in 22 international locations and a 6 hour story mode alongside a huge career and promising online play. But there's nothing here that hasn't been done before and there's a soulless tedium involved as a result which begs the question - why?
A gentle and meditative story which combines simple platforming puzzles and some basic steam engineering to great effect. Beautifully illustrated and scored, FAR Changing Tides is a joyful experience for patient players who are happy to jump aboard this serene cruise through a flooded but gorgeously bleak post-climate changed world.
A thoroughly absorbing and compelling sci-fi adventure story which perfectly balances dry humour and gripping narrative. It's worth overlooking the slightly dated cel shaded visuals and the linear structure in order to enjoy a refreshingly original game from the justly lauded developers.
As whimsical and relaxing lo-res indie adventure games go, A Short Hike is up there with the best. It draws you in with its freewheeling 'go where you like' vibe, charms you with some beautiful artwork and music and offers up great pleasures in exploration as you stroll, climb and glide around the small mountainous island. You'll only be there for a few hours, but every moment is a chilled out pleasure.
Fancy working as a game developer, learning on the job? In VR, Probe just about succeeds as an educational experience which may slowly grind you down with its frustrating and time-wasting controls. Non-VR players should give it a wide berth as those control problems kill it stone dead.
A unique and highly original survival adventure inhabited by a host of outlandish creatures in which you constantly struggle to guide your hapless Trebhums to safety and away from The Cylinder. While the design and concept can't be faulted, the lack of direction and excessive busywork bog down the gameplay and detract from the experience to the point of patience testing. If you can handle a fiddly challenge which rewards a great deal of patience with some outstanding originality, it's recommended.
A breezy and relaxing puzzle game hidden within the veneer of a city builder which just happens to be highly addictive and rewarding despite the lack of visible Islanders. Easy to pick up and hard to put down, Islanders will appeal to anyone who enjoys meditative gaming.
A promising adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's novella is squandered with illogical solutions, childish humour and too many unsatisfying endings. Completists may enjoy finding all the content, but old school 'choose your own adventure' fans should look elsewhere for their fix of interactive fiction.
Relive the joys of discovering nature as a child with this beautiful but brief story of conservation and exploration set on an enticingly warm Mediterranean island. Highly recommended for kids with a nature conservationist bent, but also for adults who want to relax in the warmth of the sun in the company of an adorable cast of characters.
A charming, gentle take on the Wild West and stealth genres aimed at all ages, but with occasional spikes in difficulty which may trouble younger players. The art design and narrative are both captivating, so providing you have the patience for stealth and puzzles, it's highly recommended.