AI: The Somnium Files is yet another winner from Kotaro Uchikoshi, expanding upon Spike Chunsoft's renown formula and pushing it in bold new directions. It can fumble in its visuals and mechanics, but look beyond a few of its weaker elements and there's a truly original adventure brimming with excellent ideas.
River City Girls is so much fun and one of the most enjoyable brawlers I've played in a long time. Developers Arc System Works and Wayforward have made the genre feel surprisingly modern with its anime aesthetic and sharp, tongue-in-cheek approach to dialogue and world design. It's self-aware enough that every joke lands, every location feels distinct and every musical track is an experimental banger. If you're after a charming beat 'em up – grab a friend and help Kyoko and Misako track down their boyfriends. You won't regret it.
Gears 5 is the series' most ambitious entry to date, bringing with it an endless wave of revolutionary ideas that the franchise has been in desperate need of for years. The Coalition's mark has finally been made, and it's one that focuses on narrative importance alongside bright, energetic mechanics that show that Gears 5 can happily stand alongside this generation's other blockbusters without fear.
Astral Chain is one of PlatinumGames' finest acts this generation, cementing itself as yet another stellar exclusive for Nintendo Switch. It doesn't reach the heights of excellence achieved by Yoko Taro's NieR: Automata, but can more than hold its own thanks to an excellent setting, experimental combat and so, so much style it hurts.
The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan is a solid beginning to what I hope becomes a memorable selection of virtual horror outings. The setting here didn't do much for me if I'm perfectly honest, but the memorable characters, razor sharp pacing and well-placed scares make it excellent fun with a few friends by your side.
Control is one of Remedy Entertainment’s greatest achievements. As a shooter, it’s lovingly satisfying to play, as all of its mechanics mesh to create a slick, supernatural explosion of paranormal powers and eclectic gunplay. Combine that with open-ended exploration and the package is nearing excellence. So it’s a shame the narrative can be needlessly muddled, stewing at a slow pace before rocketing towards a conclusion that sadly doesn’t feel earned in the end.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a triumphant RPG experience and one of the greatest games you can play on Nintendo Switch right now. It takes the series' formula and propels it forward with some fascinating new changes, and every single system works in tandem to create something rather stunning. Technical blemishes aside, Intelligent Systems has really outdone itself here.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is an excellent remake of a kart-racing classic, introducing the beloved PS1 mascot to an entire new generation of players. However, this might be a little too difficult for younger gamers, so they’d be better off jumping on easy mode.
In some ways, A Plague Tale: Innocence is a triumphant narrative adventure bursting with originality, boasting a setting that we really haven't seen in this space before. However, it's often held back by failing to capitalise on so much potential.