While its evocative graphics will attract players on this beautiful journey, the simple traversal puzzles and lack of emotional weight mean Planet of Lana is just not very memorable.
A bitesize Metroidvania with neat physics and magnetic walls galore, Teslagrad 2’s charming art style and streamlined gameplay are a treat to play. It’s a shame that fiddly controls and a lack of any real story hold it back from the heights its other elements achieve when considered on their own.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly is steeped in the same lo-fi chill atmosphere as its predecessor. Light touch gameplay gives way to heady and heartfelt conversations full of flavour, and despite little in the way of invention, it never lets the milk curdle. Savour it like a nice warm beverage, until you have to say that bittersweet farewell.
Redemption Reapers is a passable strategy RPG with a focus on tight squad-based tactics that’s probably too simple for genre veterans. Its campaign is disappointingly dull and does nothing to pull your attention away from its forgettable squad and stilted animations.
Vertical 2D battles in a giant tower are a great USP, but GrimGrimoire can’t reach the pinnacle with a battle system more bloated and complex than fun. Vanillaware’s beautiful signature artwork and clever narratives are as ageless now as they were back in 2007, but some design choices leave a bitter aftertaste.
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.