For a free game that shows the first glimpse of what Konami is truly going to do with the franchise, Silent Hill: The Short Message is absolutely worth experiencing. That's not to say it's perfect. The "walk around and find the only interactable object in the room" gameplay brings nothing new to the table, and after being caught by the monster two or three times the escape room segments become far more tedious than they do scary (especially the final one). The dialog is a bit too on-the-nose, and all the social media references that seemed pretty important in the beginning are quietly shoved to the side once the real story reveals itself. That all being said, it's a far better start than it could have been, and it is undeniably the best new Silent Hill media since 2014.
At the time of this review, I have yet to actually beat Astral Ascent in full, so I can't speak to the game's ending. If it's anything like most roguelikes I've played over the years, though, it's not getting to the ending that matters; it's about how enjoyable the trip is. As someone who has put in hundreds of hours in Dead Cells, Hades, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Slay the Spire, and countless others, I really thought I was kind of done with the whole genre. Astral Ascent, though, is the first game since Starfield was released earlier this year that has hooked me. It's always hard to put into words what that "one more run" feeling is the best roguelikes inspire, but Astral Ascent undeniably nails it.
Resident Evil 4 Remake: Separate Ways is just as fun to play as Resident Evil 4 Remake was, although it's much shorter. There are some great set-pieces and moments of camp that you won't find in any other series, and it is nice that Capcom is at least giving Ada and Wesker to the base game's Mercenaries mode for free. But. This whole part of the game used to be free. This was an add-on, a bonus, something Capcom initially packaged in with Resident Evil 4 on the PlayStation 2. All you had to do was beat the game once - there was no extra money involved.
Armored Core 6 is one of the best mech games I've experienced in years, and it's one I expect to play through at least two more times. The story of Rubicon, and how your decisions as a mercenary shape it, is my favorite story in gaming this year, up to and including all the big releases that have come out so far. It's an exceptionally well-made title with few bugs, incredible graphics, great gameplay, and a thought-provoking narrative. I just wish it was a little longer.
We've had a great time playing Disney Illusion Island in multiplayer as a family, and I can't help but think that's the only "right" way to play it. It would be nice if there was a bit more voice acting, since the gameplay is simple enough that even kids who can't quite read yet are able to pick it up and play mostly effortlessly, but even considering these few flaws it's still one of the best family games of 2023. It's a well-made adventure that, despite the many assistance features and lack of combat, still manages to be entertaining and enjoyable to players of varying ages. While it probably won't be everyone's favorite Metroidvania of all time, it's absolutely worth playing if you have kids.
Resident Evil 4 Remake looks great on PS5, plays smoothly even with fancy hair effects turned on, has very few glitches, and is still a lengthy game that somehow gives you the urge to replay it as soon as it's over. It feels three times as large as the Resident Evil 3 remake, and is absolutely deserving of praise. It's also not as silly, not as unique, and not as necessary as the original. Resident Evil, RE2, and RE3 all benefited from an increase in graphical fidelity and modern controls. Resident Evil 4 didn't need it. Nor will RE5. Or RE6. Enough is enough, Capcom. Please stop.
For people who have been playing Dead Cells routinely since launch, Return to Castlevania offers a cathartic experience akin to your favorite author reading you their favorite book. For new players who love games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night but haven't yet tried Dead Cells, there has never been a better time.
With any roguelike game, the biggest problem is repetition. Hitman: Freelancer is in a strange place when it comes to this; the core gameplay loop and these levels have, in some cases, been around since 2016, and repetition is built into the game's framework. If someone has yet to play the recent entries, and with all three previous games wrapped up in one package, Hitman: World of Assassination is an incredible deal. As a free update for players who already own Hitman 3, it's absolutely worth jumping back into.
For situations where players have exhausted all their available options and brainpower, The Case of the Golden Idol also offers a fantastic in-game hint system. It doesn't overreach and offer solutions blatantly, but instead uses phrases like "consider the food on the dinner table, and everyone's personal eating habits" to point confused players in the right direction. None of the puzzles presented in the game are impossibly difficult (except for one late game chapter which suddenly threw maths in, but that could be my own personal shortcomings) and the story it tells about the golden idol itself is delightfully weird and fleshed out despite the game's short runtime. For anyone looking for 3-6 hours of cryptic crossword-like murder mysteries, The Case of the Golden Idol is a solid choice.
Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, and San Andreas are some of the PlayStation 2's best games and helped to both pioneer and define the open world genre. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition does not provide the best way to experience these titles, nor should this be considered the "definitive" edition of the games included. The Definitive Edition is often prettier and slightly more modern in its controls and presentation, but missing features and poorly optimized content let down what could have been ideal remasters. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition feels rushed - and after twenty years, that's disappointing.
From a fantastic opening credits scene performed by Puddles Pity Party to its final exciting moments, I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar delivers exactly what fans of the first game have come to expect - a campy spy adventure with increasingly deadly stakes, dramatically elaborate puzzles, and lots of physics objects to pretend to eat or simply throw across the room. For anyone with a fondness for James Bond stories or 1950's noir - and access to a VR headset - The Spy and the Liar is a fantastic choice.
Unavowed expertly blends fantasy and crime genres with stellar writing, acting, and artwork to create a game that is both memorable and entertaining, and should be experienced by anyone who thinks the glory days of Sierra On-Line are the only time period where great point-and-click games can be found.
Wasteland 3 takes players to a new location and presents them with equally unfamiliar challenges, yet still perfectly demonstrates all of the reasons why this series has had die-hard fans for over three decades, and is absolutely worth playing for anyone looking for their next post-apocalyptic fix.