"Barring a few rare setpieces, Forspoken seems to prefer to tell rather than show"
The mystery at the core of Soul Hackers 2 is promising and its combat is solid, but repetitive dungeons combined with serious pacing issues make it tough to actually enjoy. The music and art direction are, as typical for Atlus games, stellar, but behind that style, there, unfortunately, isn't as much substance as one might hope that is worth the time invested.
If losing the cerebral, tactical piece-moving combat doesn't dull your interest – if that's not why you came to Fire Emblem in the first place – Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has enough of the franchise's DNA to satisfy. And in some ways, zooming across a battlefield while triggering abilities like Assassinate or Nosferatu seems more in line with the chaotic, war-torn battlefields of Fodlan than what came before. I might not go so far as to say that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is my ideal for what Fire Emblem could and should be going forward, but it is quite frankly a lot closer to perfection than it has any right to be.
Citizen Sleeper has captured my imagination in a way that few video games do. Thoughts of characters met and what could have been have percolated through my mind since finishing a playthrough after roughly five hours, which I did with an urgency not typical of me. If you're looking for something different, something that feels both fresh and timely and often beautiful and sometimes horrifying with its implications, Citizen Sleeper is all of those things and more.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is by no means a perfect video game. Ultimately, I was less interested in the story than the city it takes place in. I never quite found myself with skill points left unused, but the benefit of using them didn't scale particularly well as somewhere after level 20 it became increasingly incremental at best. And while it took much longer than it has for me historically, the game's open-world nature did eventually wear on me and I found myself skipping more optional content than at the start. It is, however, a perfectly fine video game, and an excellent example of what the PlayStation 5 can do in the right hands.
If you played and enjoyed Uncharted 4: A Thief's End or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy years ago because you enjoy the feeling of climbing wild structures and unearthing treasure, the good news is that's all still here in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection. If you played those two video games previously because the series is known for stunning locations and exotic locales, neither has ever looked better than in the new PS5 remasters. If you want something entirely new, well, this isn't that, but it also doesn't pretend to be. And sometimes that's more than enough.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a good game that wants to be, in Peter Quill's words, metal. It doesn't quite reach that mark, but compared to other recent Marvel video games that aren't Spider-Man, it succeeds more often than it fails. If you've liked other incarnations of the team's lovable misfits and misanthropes, you'll like what the developers have done here. And even if you're only somewhat aware of its Marvel background, there's a lot to love already here that a fresh coat of bug-fixing polish will only make better.
Life is Strange: True Colors grapples with some heavy emotions -- literally and figuratively -- and manages to stick the landing more often than not. The various chapters range from fine to great, with more being somewhere just above good than not. Its choices felt meaningful, its dialogue largely heartfelt, and I'm still thinking about the ending days later. It'd be easy to boil the game down to being a glorified empathy simulator, but the reality is that Life is Strange: True Colors is more complicated, more beautifully complex than that. And for a game in part about the manifestation of emotional resonance, it does end up being emotionally resonant. It's hard to ask for more than the delivery on that promise.
If you've downed Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal and maybe even Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight and still want more of the Phantom Thieves in your life, Persona 5 Strikers should absolutely be your next stop. Even without an overwhelming need to play it simply to see more of these characters, it still manages to be a solid video game with stylish art and action. That "action" doesn't always line up with the expectation of what a Persona title is and can be, but for a spinoff, it lands its beats more often than not. And it's not even the rhythm game.
Unfortunately for Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, the Nintendo Switch isn't exactly hurting for Japanese role-playing games, though few can match its breadth and width. If you've been curious about the title and managed to miss out on both the Wii and 3DS versions, picking up the Switch one is practically a no-brainer, even if it does feel like a bit of a throwback. If you've played it before and loved it, maybe Future Connected is plenty enough reason to return. But if you are just generally interested in games more broadly, there are probably better uses of your time. If they had seriously reworked the combat in some way, it probably wouldn't really be Xenoblade Chronicles any longer, but I imagine I also would have had a much better time with it.
At its very best, Sakura Wars made me feel like I was playing through a top-tier shonen or seinen anime, and while the lows certainly exist, they are infrequent and inconsequential enough to the core experience that it makes it easy for me to recommend the game to anyone with a passing interest. While it might be mechanically lacking in some aspects, it smooths over those rough edges with a ton of heart, and I'll always take an ambitious game that sometimes fails to reach the heights it strives for over a boring, middle-of-the-road title.
XCOM: Chimera Squad is by no means perfect, but a lot of what made my experience with it frustrating are the sort of things that are likely to get patched at some point in the future. Still, the vibrant worldbuilding and refreshed combat and strategy layer make for an exceedingly delightful time, and it's hard not to recommend folks at least give it a shot if they've ever been interested in strategy games.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus feels like one of those games that will get better with time, as the rough bits get smoothed over with future patches, but as it stands, it's only "pretty good" rather than "great." Thankfully, the core gameplay is actually a lot of fun, and punching folks feels and looks good with creative characters front and center. It's better than "fine," but just misses out on being a real champion of a fighting video game.
To be clear: The Outer Worlds is in no way, shape, or form a Fallout game. It has nothing to do with it. But it takes lessons learned from those games and implements them in a way only Obsidian Entertainment could. If there's to be a successor to that sort of game, an even more modern version, The Outer Worlds is a mighty fine candidate.
But that's ultimately a small gripe when considering everything else the game has to offer. The vast majority of Link's Awakening has an incredible foundation, and a new coat of paint helps the experience feel fresh and lively without heavily retooling anything. New and old players alike will find something to enjoy here, and the previous expectations from both -- the high of Breath of the Wild vs. the preconceived notion of what the game is and was -- will almost certainly be set aside to simply play and enjoy a sometimes unexpectedly charming, if not entirely new, Zelda game.
A joyride through other people's nostalgia
The Elder Scrolls Online combines the best of Elder Scrolls with the worst of the MMO genre.