Shovel Knight Dig is definitely worth playing for both platformer and roguelike fans. The twist on the Shovel Knight formula makes Shovel Knight Dig feel fresh, despite the mostly unchanged controls from the original. The fair random elements and generous meta-progression make it a good entry point for platformer fans unfamiliar with roguelikes, whereas hardcore roguelike fans can enjoy the tough bosses and challenges required to get the True Ending. Although the main campaign may seem rather brief, it's a blast while it lasts, and an easy recommendation.
Soulstice is a truly great action game, which despite taking many cues from stylish action titles of the past, carves out enough of an identity to stand out on its own. The system of controlling both sisters and maintaining auras while slashing through foes is intuitive and simple to master. Although the plot leaves many threads hanging, the development of the central sibling relationship and setting were enough to draw me into Soulstice's world and want to see more. If you're a fan of challenging action games and can forgive a slightly annoying camera, Soulstice is definitely worth checking out.
I can see LEGO Brawls' appeal as a free-to-play mobile game, where its simple mechanics and repetitive game modes are more excusable. As a full-priced console game, standing up against feature-rich AAA titles and even free-to-play titles, LEGO Brawls just doesn't stand out in the slightest. Although a less complex brawler aimed at a younger audience might make sense, in this case it's TOO simplified, where every character behaves the same and the only strategy is to run at your foes and mash the attack button. Combine that with the lack of additional single-player content and glacial progression system, and it becomes difficult to recommend LEGO Brawls to anyone other than the most devoted LEGO aficionados.
PAC-MAN WORLD Re-PAC is a solid remake of a cult classic platformer from the genesis of the 3D platformer boom. Fundamentally, it demonstrates both how well PAC-MAN WORLD's mechanics, levels and boss design have mostly held up after 23 years, and how the experience is still perfectly enjoyable for someone who has not played the original release. On the other hand, it shows its age in other areas, including short length, lack of narrative and dated gameplay features. For platforming fans looking for a blast from the past, PAC-MAN WORLD Re-PAC as an experience still works well and is worth checking out. That said, don't expect it to stand toe-to-toe with other 3D platformers released more recently.
I appreciate what Scathe was clearly aspiring to be, but it doesn't reach those aspirations. Its sprawling, directionless levels were no substitute for a more tailored experience with a difficulty curve and intended order of obtaining new weapons and spells. Flooding the stages with enemies and hazards that appear out of thin air felt unfair more often than not, and the lives system and scarce health pick-ups only slowed down what is intended to be a fast-paced experience. If you enjoy DOOM and FPS's inspired by it and want to play it co-op with your friends, there is some enjoyment to be had, but there are better-designed co-op shooters on the market that are more deserving your time.
Lost Epic is not a bad game necessarily, but it struggles to stand out compared to similar 2D action titles. The application of Soulslike elements only serve to slow the experience down with dull backtracking and grinding for experience and upgrade materials. Although its combat can frequently be very satisfying and a treat to behold, the sheer amount you're forced to go through combined with limited enemy variety ensures that repetition sets in quite quickly. If you enjoyed Salt and Sanctuary, but wish its visuals were run through an elaborate anime filter, perhaps Lost Epic is for you. Otherwise, maybe wait for a sale.
Neon White is a truly unique first-person action experience. With its clever level design and Soul Card system, chaining together demon-slaying and platforming to get to the goal the quickest is a breeze. The game’s compelling cast and setting draw you into its story, and the wealth of side content and drive to improve on one’s scores will keep you coming back. Even its sluggish boss fights and somewhat samey visual style doesn’t do much to hold the game back. If you are looking for a truly unique indie action title, you should definitely check out Neon White.
Souldiers is quite good, but doesn’t quite reach the peaks that it aims for. However, despite its unbalanced and restrictive class system and frequent difficulty spikes, there is a ton to recommend, from its detailed and varied world, beautiful animations, and engaging combat. Souldiers is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re prepared for its challenges and looking for a deep and engaging metroidvania platformer to get into, Souldiers is worth the recommendation.
Wildcat Gun Machine has plenty of great ideas that come tantalisingly close to greatness. The general bullet hell moment-to-moment gameplay works well, propelled by its excellent soundtrack and memorable enemy and weapon designs. Unfortunately, the restrictive weapon carry limits and lack of incentives like new gameplay mechanics or plot progression turns to the game into a grind before long. Wildcat Gun Machine is far from a bad experience, but it may feel insubstantial for many bullet hell shooter veterans.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is what all of the LEGO games have been building towards, if you’ll pardon the expression. With its huge open world with side quests, puzzles and secrets galore, it’s a great adventure game for players of all ages. If you’re a Star Wars fan, then the nostalgia trip and mountains of obscure characters and references they manage to sneak in here is a real treat. While the unimaginative script and missing character creator does hold it back somewhat compared to previous entries, from a gameplay and content standpoint, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the most ambitious LEGO game yet, and a must-have for Star Wars or LEGO fans out there in the galaxy.
With Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Team Ninja has produced yet another rather good Final Fantasy action game. With its deep yet more forgiving combat system, it can appeal to those not seeking the challenging experiences of something like Nioh. Furthermore, with its complex mix-and-match Jobs system, it brings a uniquely Final Fantasy flair to the hack-and-slash genre. Unfortunately, its dull protagonist and plot may struggle to keep the attention of anyone curious about the backstory it is trying to create for the original Final Fantasy. The loot system could also do with some overhauls. Still, you can certainly do worse than Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin if you’re looking for a new multiplayer action game with some clever Final Fantasy twists.
Shadow Warrior 3 is an excellent FPS that fans of retro-style arena shooters are sure to have a blast with. Lo Wang’s quips might not land with everyone, and fans of the previous game’s RPG mechanics might resent the stripping down to basics with the gameplay, but Shadow Warrior 3’s efficiency is its greatest strength. By ramping up the over-the-top action with new traversal abilities and Gore Tools, Shadow Warrior 3 is the series’ most enjoyable instalment yet, and a strong recommend for shooter fans.
KINGDOM of the DEAD is a pretty damned good horror FPS with enough compelling ideas to stand on its own. The monochrome, hand-drawn visuals really sell the game’s Lovecraftian-noir tone, without interfering with gameplay. Plus, its varied additional mission objectives make its difficulty settings feel more multi-layered. Still, with its short play-time, minimal plot, and lack of unlockable content, it won’t be engaging for everyone. However, for those looking for some retro FPS fun, KINGDOM of the DEAD is a unique enough experience to be worth the recommendation.
Reverie Knights Tactics is a decent turn-based strategy RPG that fans of the genre will likely enjoy… for the most part. The Order vs Chaos system and optional side-quests provide additional depth to the game’s plot. Furthermore, the strategy gameplay fundamentally works very well, encouraging thoughtful planning and smart use of stage hazards. However, its balance issues, primarily the lack of post-combat recovery and limited character customisation and re-spec options, can lead to Reverie Knights Tactics’ gameplay wearing on you over time. It’s an imperfect game, but there are enough neat ideas to be worth checking out.
Aeterna Noctis is an amazing example of how a developer can mix together gameplay elements from many popular platformers of the past few years to construct something greater than the sum of its parts. While it owes a gameplay debt to games like Hollow Knight, Dark Souls, and Castlevania, Aeterna Noctis’ fascinating setting and enjoyable gameplay make it easy to appreciate on its own. Its beautiful world and gorgeous soundtrack make exploring Aeterna is a joy, even when its high difficulty is knocking you down over and over. If you’ve been seeking your next Metroidvania fix, Aeterna Noctis is definitely worth diving into.
The Last Stand: Aftermath is an engaging zombie-themed roguelike that unfortunately runs out of ideas too fast. The steady voyage across the zombie-infested post-apocalypse whilst scavenging for scarce resources is a tense and fairly enjoyable experience, but only for a while. As a game built around repetition and short playthroughs, The Last Stand: Aftermath recycles enemies and environments too frequently for the amount of time you replay them. The addition of mutations and new player equipment load-outs are a nice touch, but ultimately don’t do enough to mix up the experience. Rewarding progression and an engaging premise mean the game is certainly worth checking out for fans of roguelikes and zombie games, although it might not hold your attention for very long.
While a serviceable enough and technically competent action platformer, BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is a game from a decade ago that perhaps didn’t need to make a comeback. While the addition of voice acting and a more forgiving difficulty setting are good new features, it still doesn’t make it all that fun. There really isn’t much of a story or characterisation here for Laura Bailey’s acting to flesh out. Furthermore, while the lowered difficulty makes BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites less frustrating to get through, the simplistic combat, lack of enemy variety and clunky platforming make it hard to recommend for anyone aside from nostalgic fans of the series.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is certainly a worthy successor to Pathfinder: Kingmaker. With its highly varied moral choices, a tremendous number of race and class options, as well as the Mythic Path feature, players will have a ton to dig into. That said, the addition of turn-based crusade battles where you lead armies across the land doesn’t quite land as well, feeling sluggish and lacking many of the tactical nuances of the main combat mode. In all, however, despite the experience not being the most polished, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is a deep, challenging and highly enjoyable title that is an easy recommend for fans of RPGs.
Greak: Memories of Azur is a truly charming little title that fans of puzzle and action games will really enjoy. Its unique mechanics of controlling the three siblings at once paid off for the most part, even if it became more frustrating during boss fights. While the game’s restrictive inventory and lack of area maps wasn’t ideal, it didn’t prevent the gorgeous hand-drawn world and enchanting soundtrack from drawing me right into the experience. Greak: Memories of Azur is fun, very easy to like, and definitely worth checking out.