As a whole, Skull and Bones is a very fun game, one that I genuinely couldn’t put down once the battles began. But that fun is uneven at best. Despite its long development cycle, the live-service element that is felt deeply throughout the game isn’t microtransactions. It’s emptiness.
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash isn’t bad, per se, but it is lacking. Maybe it’s hindered by the expectations associated with the IP, or maybe it’s just too much like every other arena fighter we’ve gotten. Either way, the lackluster take on the genre has a lot of jujutsu sorcery to learn.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a vibrant reimaging of ancient Persian myth. It’s a turning of the page for a traditionally Orientalist franchise, and it never sacrifices gameplay to do so. The Lost Crown is the right mix of difficult ingenuity and self-pacing that makes the Metroidvaia inspiration a perfect pairing.
Even with its faults, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a stunning visual achievement, much like the films on which it's inspired. Only here, a rich narrative pulls you deep into the Na'vi and explores more tangible means of fighting back against a colonial power that offers a cathartic experience... Blow up a pipeline, save an animal, and explore the vast world of Pandora. That's a heck of a way to close out a year.
As an anime fan who hasn’t watched Naruto in almost a decade and has never seen beyond one arc of Boruto, this game made me excited for the franchise in a way I honestly hadn’t felt in a long time. But my view of Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections as my own reentry is a subjective point that the game’s mechanics don’t necessarily do enough to overtake the nostalgia and stand on its own.
Justant is a testament to letting environments speak for themselves instead of relying on dialogue. Don’t Nod trusts its ability as developers to create a game that relies on experience, not words and it trusts its players to understand narrative subtleties. Jusant may be simple, but its layered vision of a world is timeless.
While some elements of the puppet aesthetics aren’t necessarily original, and those who have played Bloodborne will see similarities, Lies of P is a gorgeously grim experience that offers difficulty and magic through immersive and dynamic gameplay with enough content baked in to make replayability a must.
…The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a game that thrives on its dedication to not just replicating the Slaughter Family (which it does excellently) and planting easter eggs but on its goal to expand on it all. By using a unique storyline, the developers at GUN highlight the importance of honoring the source material and the necessity of making something unique from it.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals' story is moving, moody, and meticulously crafted in line with your choices. Immersive in every way, the gameplay is deeply tied to the game's narrative, never feeling disjointed even as you move from chasing frequencies to traversing the land, and all of that succeeds because of how you, as Riley, fit into the story.
Sumida and its urban legends come to life in PARANORMASIGHT in a way I didn’t expect from a 2D visual novel. I expected something artistic, yes, but I got something that engaged me, sent a shiver down my spine, and that I ultimately couldn’t put down.
I have never died so many times, and still been excited to jump back in and die again. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty may be my first completed soulslike, but it won’t be my last. If your game can launch someone into a new genre they used to avoid, it’s safe to say you’ve done something extraordinary—and Team Ninja has.