While Don’t Nod is no stranger to titles that focus more on exploration and emotional pull, they rarely do so with such Annapurna levels of “indie”. Yet that is exactly what Jusant is: a silent, emotional, walking sim where the true puzzles are collecting all the remnants of the civilization that has been lost, and the mystery of what exactly happened. In this, Jusant is as beautifully presented and told as any before it, but I just couldn’t escape the feeling that I have already played this game, five other times, every year.
Quantum Error still has the chance to become something, if the developers can take a step back and learn and grow. There is love and there is passion, you can feel it, it just outweighs the skill. So, I ask, what are you? Are you a generic asset flip or are you one of the better remasters, an homage if you will, of a never released game from the early 2000s I never had a chance to love?
Crossfire Sierra Squad stands out for all the reasons it may push you away; its PvE missions focus, its sim/arcade hybrid mechanics, and its separation of acts into individual helpings. I’m sure it’s me, I’m sure I am the exception and not the rule, but if reading this, you get a sense that you may also be an exception, then you should have a great time in Smilegate’s world.
As I said, this is a collage and combination of its parts and period. The true joy of Pixel Ripped 1978 is this combination of its firm grasp of years past, what made them stand out, and its combination of all its ingredients. It isn’t just an homage to a past and fantastic Atari titles; it is a reminder of what it was like to play these. It is the difference between emulating and celebrating. I see you, ARVORE.
Star Trek: Resurgence absolutely shines when it shines. In many ways, it is the Star Trek game I always wanted; an outstanding Star Trek story, walking the halls of a starship with its crew, enjoying new races, and exploring the outskirts of space. But because of everything that doesn’t fall into those categories, it feels this voyage was ten years too late.
Afterlife VR falls nicely into the B-tier Horror niche and does a decent job for doing only that, but is too afraid of being anything more. Unknown protagonist goes to unknown location with an unknown connection to an uninteresting story with an unsurprising twist ending. In the end, I have seen Afterlife VR 100 times, basically when my 6 year old watches a random spooky game playthrough on YouTube.
Horizon Call of the Mountain is absolutely a must-own, whether you are a carryover fan from Zero Dawn and Forbidden West or not. It is a good Horizon title that introduces you to characters and a story you hope to see more of, mixed inside a fantastic experience that showcases PSVR2 like no other title on the market. Just jump in knowing this is experience first and a game second, albeit a very close second, and not PlayStation’s answer to Half-Life: Alyx.
A surprise inclusion into PS VR2’s launch lineup, along with Firewall Ultra’s unfortunate exclusion from, Pavlov is the de facto title to grab if you are looking for a true multiplayer FPS on PS VR2. Even if it weren’t, Pavlov stands on its own two feet, as a highly competent entry (or re-entry) for anyone looking for a competitive shooter experience. If you were wanting and quick paced arcade shooter, Pavlov might feel like a baptism by fire, but it quickly translates for fans of both simulation and arcade.
Switchback VR begins as everything I wanted from a follow-up to Rush of Blood. By the end of the first track, I was sold and ready to sign off on it for anyone interested. Then it slowly took one step back for every two steps forward. Atmosphere is creepy and tense, but it isn’t all that scary. Environment is so fantastic and awe inspiring, but that screen door effect. Graphics and character modeling are outstanding, but those fire effects. Switchback VR is a fantastic game, and you should grab it in case you own a PSVR2, but there is always small “but” hindering it from becoming perfect.
All this said, I couldn’t help but be pulled from my enjoyment. As fantastic as a puzzle experience it is, as many flowers as I see it deserves, I was often left wondering, “Isn’t VR past this?” Like the VR Experience games before it, hasn’t seven years worth of progress been enough to move on from Escape Room puzzle games, or Food Simulators? These are great for introductory games to virtual reality, but The Last Clockwinder isn’t presented as an introductory experience, it’s presented as a premiere experience.
2MD VR Football Unleashed All-Star is not meant to replace Madden. However, it is so confident in the experience it is, they put it right there in the title. You aren’t going to spend two hours in the game, playing through an entire season, nor are you meant to. But two minutes? Two minutes to become a legend? Two minutes to become a football all-star? Yeah. I’ll take that. You aren’t going to stop from being in the zone, staying loose on your toes, using your hand to wave your WR open, pump faking, nothing that is actually a move inside the game, and that’s ok.
I get that this review, when taking the pure scoreboard statistics out of context, sounds overly harsh. Please allow me, then, to add the context. When you take simple toy avatars, drop them in a child’s playset, introduce catchy music and a theme song that gets stuck in your head, and you deliver simple and repetitive gameplay, all in two minute long levels that keep you moving along, then something wacky happens. You end up with something extremely fun. You end up with What the Bat?.
Describing SEASON: A Letter to the Future to a colleague, their reply was, “sounds boring”, and that is totally fair. In description, it does sound boring, but it is so in the same way that a puzzle is boring. Watching someone hunt for pieces and slowly make progress can be boring, but not nearly so for the person putting it together. Looking for a piece where there may or may not be one, discovering that one you need, figuring out how the picture forms, building snapshots of key areas that later become this bigger world. That is Season‘s sweet spot. That’s its letter to the future.
Just like the Marvel Cinematic Universe iteration of the franchise, no one expected anything from this game, from this group of miscast nobodies. This isn’t the Avengers, they aren’t perfect, but that is kinda their thing. All this time, I wanted more Guardians of the Galaxy in me. Who would have thought? Sometimes, I guess it is the B-Sides that make or break an album.
It isn’t that SkateBIRD is bad, there is just nothing there to make any part of it more than ok. It feels as if Glass Bottom Games spent all their energy high fiving each other over the idea of putting tiny birds on tiny boards and making real world environments into skate parks. There just wasn’t anything left in their tank to make the rest of the game as interesting.
The end result of Foreclosed is, as I said, “ish”. It is a mixed bag, a good little game that stumbles to some fantastic moments. It’s an interesting game with some overall design issues. You breathe in a visually stunning world, both in design and in execution, but struggle to care about the who and why with a story that doesn’t pick up much after the opening act. Foreclosed is a game that absolutely has moments you will enjoy, but it will be deleted from your data banks not long after.
Insomniac did something great in reminding us that the best of games can still just be fun. That doesn’t mean to toss away narrative or to do without seriousness, but that a game doesn’t need to rely on them. PlayStation has been knocking them out of the park this gen, yet somehow Ratchet & Clank finds itself standing a Rift Apart of the competition.