Imagine Earth is a sometimes overly complex management sim with a laudable penchant for sustainability and green tech, even while it forces you through all the bad tech to get there. It lacks much life and personality, but if you need a new coloniser sim in your life, it’ll scratch that itch.
Samurai Warriors 5 is a fresh reinvention for a series that was beginning to feel familiar. A story focussed on Nobunaga’s early years takes the bold choice of ditching many series mainstays. However, the combat and overall presentation haven’t received the same level of new blood and remain as over the top and ridiculous as ever. If you’re a fan, SW5 is as fun as it’s ever been.
Cris Tales is a stunningly gorgeous indie, with art that’ll make your jaw drop. However many of its time mechanics are relatively skin deep, and it lacks the kind of depth its art inspires. It’s also not the epic it claims to be. It’s a love letter to classic RPGs, if within that same analogy those classics are the full novel.
An inventive isometric slasher, Death’s Door feels like all the best bits of Souls-like structure and none of the bad. Its Zelda-inspired combat and systems are firmly at the challenging end of the spectrum, but are also pretty addictive, and mix well with a bleak yet unique story.
A 2D slash-em-up that’s as instantly forgettable as a ninja flashing past in the night, Within the Blade succeeds at fast-paced kills and decent bosses, but fails to design for stealth or differentiate itself in a genre full of superior experiences.
A triumphant new IP from Bandai Namco, Scarlet Nexus is probably the best RPG of the year so far. Its compellingly dark story will keep you guessing through two necessary playthroughs, while its engaging psychokinetic combat is in a class of its own, albeit with exceptionally streamlined progression. Throwing your toys around has never been so much fun.
Stonefly is a strong indie featuring tiny humans in tiny mechs vying with the bugs of the forest canopy for resources. Its tale is enough to drive you through a 10-hour campaign with little embellishment, and its mech-customisation and mineral-gathering systems are satisfying, intuitive, and purposeful. Pacifist bug combat is fast and frenetic, but also plagued with fiddly controls and a few too many abilities to be comfortable.
Beautiful Desolation may have some gorgeous pre-rendered backgrounds, but its impenetrable plot, two-dimensional characters, maddening indirect quests, and cryptic puzzles make it very hard to recommend to anyone but diehard fans of obtuse point-and-click adventures.
Pathway is a serviceable roguelite built around the fun idea of tailing Nazis across the desert in a jeep. However it lacks personality, character and narrative worth getting invested in. Its combat will satisfy for a time but quickly becomes too familiar for genre fans, and too dull for anyone else to jump aboard.
Biomutant is an ambitious animal populated open-world with so much to do most players could spend 60-70 hours exploring without seeing everything. However, size is its downfall. The player will get lost, and bogged down in the morass of thousands of side quests, thousands of superfluous items, before they realise there’s not much plot to hang it all from. Add a number of glitches at launch, no lock-on in combat, and a narrator that will drive many players to distraction, and sadly Biomutant does not live up to its lofty ambitions.