With Like a Dragon: Ishin seemingly in my rearview, I’ve completed every Yakuza game released in the West. This isn’t me bragging about being better than you. In fact, I would bet you would give me a good, old-fashioned Mr. Shakedown beating if we met in the Kamurocho streets. Instead, I want to set the table for what I’m about to say. Even with a story that ends with a bit of whimper and substories that feel stuck in 2014, Like a Dragon: Ishin is now my third favorite game in the series behind Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Judgment.
While it’s not breaking any new ground in the exploration-based gameplay, the core tenants of what makes a good Dark Pictures game are all here. The Devil in Me is one of the better page-turners in the genre, leaving enough room at the back of the book for the team to make it even better when Season Two kicks off.
For every vomit-inducing scene of body horror, you’ll also lose your lunch at the game’s technical and design issues. Like the creature and the protagonist, it just feels as if Scorn is fighting against itself at every step along the way.
To be clear, this is the Saints Row game you know and love (or hate). Sure, they’ve slapped a new city and introduced a new set of characters into the formula, but everything is rooted in that purple-tinted glow.
My time with Rollerdrome was filled with ups and downs. The core idea is great, but it took a while for me to warm up to an extreme sports game that puts pressure on you to juggle multiple things at once.
Cult of the Lamb mixes the base-building and economy of Stardew Valley, the combat of Hades, and a heaping dose of Lovecraftian horrors into one of the greatest concoctions of the year.
Hard West 2 takes the familiar tactical strategy genre and gives it just enough twists to keep things interesting. It also boasts some great artwork and a better story than many of its genre compatriots. Unfortunately, several technical issues take off the shine of what could be a phenomenal game.
Rogue Legacy 2 takes an already great formula and packs it full of new content to explore. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing and Cellar Door certainly flirts with that line, but House Rules keep it from fully crossing it.
If you look at WWE 2K22 as a foundational game for the future of the WWE franchise, then this is undoubtedly a step forward. The greatly improved in-ring action is not nearly enough to make up for ho-hum to poor modes that give you little reason to return to the actual wrestling.
OlliOlli World is everything a great skating game should be. It merges tight controls with a world you’ll want to explore and adds in an infinitely-listenable soundtrack and soothing visuals. The story might not blow you out of the water, but it doesn’t have to when the skating is this good. If you’re a fan of the sport or just like good action games, this is a must-play.
To some degree, this feels like an early access game in everything but the release schedule and pricing. It has its core down. It knows exactly what it wants to be. However, everything around that needs more polish before it’s ready for primetime. So, even though I didn’t really like my time with the game, I guess I believe in Dying Light 2? I truly think I’ll look back in a year or two — when memories have faded — and think past me was dead wrong for giving it such a low score.
Early in 2022, Nobody Saves the World seems like a must-play and the perfect evolution of nearly every idea Drinkbox Studio has developed since its founding more than a decade ago.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is Supermassive's best horror game since Until Dawn made it famous.
NBA 2K22 has the best offensive flow in years, matched by improvements to defense. Still, technical problems persist and microtransactions are hard to ignore in some modes.
MLB The Show 21 doesn’t quite knock this one out of the park. Instead, it’s one of the most well-hit doubles I’ve ever seen. The foundation San Diego Studios has cultivated over the years has allowed them to almost seamlessly transfer over to the next-gen and has me excited to see where the series goes from here.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond has a few faults; however, the excellent campaign more than makes up for it with over-the-top scenes galore.
Empire of Sin brings X-COM-style combat and in-depth strategy to 1920s Chicago in a package with tons of great ideas, but a lack of real focus.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered takes the franchise back to its roots while showing once again that Criterion Games is the master of arcade racing.
Spelunky 2 takes the ridiculously polished foundation from the first game and blows it out with new content, mystifying secrets, and big-time cave mole jerks.
FIFA 21 continues the recent trend of mediocre gameplay being held up by shiny features, new modes, and an overreliance on the Ultimate Team cash cow.