Uncompromising to a fault, Anodyne 2's sublime polygonal world and oblique writing will pull the player in, only to mire them in a slow-to-navigate open world bits and willfully opaque environmental puzzles. Feels almost too academic to fully enjoy.
Road to Guangdong is a barebones, unchallenging driving simulator that sneaks up on the player with its beguiling aesthetic and warmhearted nature. It will appeal to anyone looking for something very relaxing to wash over them, but don't expect to find a lot of interesting choices to make or inspiring gameplay.
Mortal Shell unleashes an astoundingly creative new combat mechanic in a brooding and strange world, but its meandering narrative, uninspired and confusing maps, and punishing-to-the-point-of-cheapness gameplay will test the patience of all but the most hardened of Soulslike fans.
Carrion's sickeningly animated protagonist and distinctive playstyle will sate the desires of any player who has ever imagined being a monster from a horror film. It is also a blast to torture faceless government workers with a buffet of slimy powers. Bland level design and a narrative that has the complexity of a paramecium keep Carrion from being something truly memorable.
A vast ocean of imagination and wit wait to be explored in Deadfire, but its boat segments can walk the plank.
Ultimately, Spelunky 2 is a game for platforming fanatics. It reminded me of my time with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which was another frustrating, but fine-tuned game that I kept playing almost to spite the game. It’s a game that can feel stagnant, random, and insurmountable, only to break once you sink your teeth into it and find a real opening. Those moments are truly cathartic, and there is always more to do and see. You’ll die a lot, but if you keep climbing up from Spelunky 2’s depths of despair, you’ll be platforming forever.
Paradise Killer may have bitten off more than it can chew. Weak courtroom mechanics, disappointing finale, and rudimentary dialogue system keep it from reaching the dizzying heights it aspires to and allows you to jump from. Yet every other part of the game is a joy, from the energetic soundtrack to the strange, alluring locales of Paradise Island. Let's hope the next one is Perfect 25.
Paper Mario is a hysterical and consistently gripping adventure that will keep you wondering what left turn it will take next. It's a game crafted with love and a willingness to subvert expectations, and its myriad charming moments will make you forget about its joyless and overly pushy battle system.
If Found... is a brief, distinctive, and deeply effective tale that will make you nostalgic for and reflect on some of the more troubling times of your youth. While its lack of interactivity may make it too niche for some, it is the perfect story for an afternoon in quarantine.