Eastward is a great game. It’s beautiful, it’s a story well-told, and it’s very fun to play. But for me, the entire experience was tainted by what I quickly and inescapably perceived as racist and sexually exploitative depictions, which is just such a monumental shame of a thing to tarnish an otherwise incredible experience. I mean, this game has an entire virtual RPG video game built into it that you can play. But I simply can’t rate this experience highly with how tarnished my view of it all is. I love playing it, I recommend playing it, but I also insist you judge for yourself these character depictions and whether they meet the standards we should expect from games.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Flynn: Son of Crimson. It feels just different enough from its genre brethren with cool unlockable weapons and upgrades and a whole heckin’ dog to fight by your side. It’s nothing special, though, and despite a constant feeling of progression, the game’s basicness eventually wore on me. For fans of action platformers, though, it will be an enjoyable new addition.
While an older entry in the genre, Nuclear Throne is still creative and fun and feels totally fresh in the sea of bullet hells. It has just enough to it to keep you going, though, by comparison to more robust roguelikes, it has the potential to dry up after a while if you’re not mastering it fast enough. Nonetheless, it’s well worth a dive into, especially with its appearance on Xbox Game Pass.
If you’re patient and enjoy this game genre, you can certainly get a lot of fun out of Surgeon Simulator 2. With loads of unlockables, challenges, and basically unlimited levels, its concept is strong, its wit is impressive, and its style is very enjoyable. But if you’re looking for a tight and unstressful experience, either give the potentially less finicky PC version a try or skip this one altogether. However, it is free with Game Pass, so it’s certainly worth giving a shot for yourself if you subscribe to the service.
What Lake was for me was not a peaceful, slow-paced reflection on what matters most in life. Instead, it was an anxious and difficult exercise in letting go of things that don’t bring me joy, even if they might hold other values. And it was a reflection on queer experience and the radicalness of choosing what’s genuinely best for yourself despite others’ expectations. However, while some moments of my time playing was difficult, it was because of how I saw my own ongoing experience through Merrideth’s eyes. And if a game can make me do that through expertly crafted gameplay, a perfect soundtrack, and captivating characters and relationships alone, you can certainly color me impressed.
At the end of the day, Monster Harvest is a good game that a little too closely resembles Stardew Valley and does not execute its Pokèmon-like mechanics cleanly or uniquely enough. Fortunately, it’s mostly visually beautiful with nice music and more than plenty to do.
If you’re a fan of the base game, then Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Siege of Paris is more of what you’re already excited about. But it’s a weaker DLC than “Wrath of the Druids,” to be sure, despite higher levels of marketing hype.