masterclass in narrative convergence, the eight-fold seemingly disparate paths of Octopath Traveler II come together to form a tightly plotted and engaging whole. Though its gameplay is not ground-breaking, its battles are fun and rewarding and manage to cut out much of the grind of its predecessor, making it an essential JRPG experience.
Bleak Faith: Forsaken is a competent sci-fi soulslike with a beautiful and brutal new world to explore. It’s combat is serviceable, but its lack of explanations, narrative or even lore will leave many floundering without anything much to grab onto. This is one for the really dedicated Souls veteran who leans far to the extremes of the From Software design school.
A brilliant duet of simple-to-play, tough-to-master rhythm game, mixed with a snare-hit of nostalgia right to the face. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line is both a beautiful collection of incredible music and a fun battler that rewards your rhythm skills with satisfying progression.
Wanted: Dead trips over itself trying to tell a coherent story, but its intense blood-spattered limb-slicing combat is satisfying, rewarding and demands mastery. It's full of ambition and ideas, drenched in personality, but stumbling to deliver. Despite its quirks and failings, it’s got cult classic written all over it.
Forspoken is a fun action RPG when it gets out of its own way. Its linear narrative and heavy-handed first few hours sap the player’s goodwill, before letting you free and realising its true potential. Strong combat and traversal mechanics really shine, and by the end, even the story manages to rise, like Frey herself, to the challenge.
Midnight Suns is a revelation in tactics gameplay, ditching movement constraints in service of its superhero cast. Its story is well told and voiced, and in between combat there’s a wonderful hub to explore. Structured like a daily tasks Persona-type experience, it won me over with oodles of character and design smarts throughout, keeping me coming back day after day.
An incredible adventure from beginning to end, God of War Ragnarok is epic in scale and nuanced in character. Its combat and gameplay haven’t changed much but why fix almost peerless systems? Ragnarök is an absolute must-play on the PS5 and a worthy contender for Game of the Year.
A worthwhile entry into the DC/Batman game series, Gotham Knights can be a fun experience in single-player or co-op with its strengths lying in variety and its four-Knight team. However, its confusing UI, repetitive stripped-back combat, and lack of stealth options leave it unable to reach the glorious heights of the Arkham games.
A masterclass in narrative games design, A Plague Tale: Requiem is one of the most atmospheric and beautiful games you could ever wish to play. Amicia and Hugo's journey is powerful, evocative and downright disturbing and somehow manages to be greater than the original. Asobo Studio has crafted satisfying streamlined rat, light and stealth gameplay that perfectly serves the story it's trying to tell and only adds to the narrative intensity. A Game Of The Year contender for certain.
As a straight story of Stranger Things meets Sylvanians, Beacon Pines is written beautifully, drawn evocatively, and compelling to play. But as a deconstruction of narrative that lets you rebuild your own story from the pieces, it’s stellar, captivating stuff. An unfettered joy from start to finish.
Soulstice is a melting pot of things Devil May Cry does well and adds interesting demanding combat with two characters and situational countering. However, its predictable somber story and uninteresting world work hard to drain the fun out of things and its camera wants to be more enemy than friend.
A succinct and well-told story, Jack Move’s character-writing and dialogue are endearing, and its pixel art charms. It’s a short and satisfying bitesize JRPG of around 8 hours for players with a bit less time on their hands or perfect in between 100-hour behemoths.
A stylish, well-voiced, visual novel that tells a poignant and heartfelt story over five, one-hour episodes, We Are OFK is more interactive TV series than game. Let yourself drift away in its peaceful melancholia, but don’t expect much in the way of gameplay.
Pocky and Rocky Reshrined is a gorgeous run-and-gun shooter, lovingly and faithfully reimagined. It’s just as much fun as it was back in the nineties, but little in the way of extra content and decidedly old-school controls hold it back from greatness.
A charming, if simple, Zelda-like full of pot throwing and weirdness, Lila’s Sky Ark will fill a few hours, but fails to really differentiate itself in a crowded modern market.
As a cyberpunk adventure Anno: Mutationem lacks much coherent or satisfying plot but its responsive combat will stand out and entertain through its short playtime. It’s just a shame the overall package doesn’t live up to the promise of those stylish trailers.
Sumptuously animated, Greak Memories of Azur draws you in with its high-end artwork. However, the game is an exercise in frustration and bad design choices. A central mechanic of three characters controlled by one player with no co-op option, hinders platforming and renders combat nigh on impossible. I’m out here trying to forget Azur.
Chorus shines in its exceptionally fun flight chops and smooth handling. Dogfighting in space never felt so responsive or satisfying and the backdrops can be stunning. However its ambitious, heavy story and unsympathetic heroine will leave some cold, some confused, and others simply bored.
Pinchcliffe Grand Prix is a charming collection of minigames and races built around a point and click for kids. You’ll get a lot more out of it if you’re familiar with the source material, but as a pickup and play, it’s a wholesome time sink for young children, just not one that pushes any genre boundaries.
A graphical facelift will be appreciated by fans, and make it easier for newcomers to experience a cult classic. However the game itself has not been improved and shows its age across its dull repetitive combat, stilted animations and decade old ideas. The Remaster doesn’t shed new light on a game that might have been better remembered remaining in nostalgic darkness.