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.
A sugar glider nature documentary as a video game, AWAY The Survival Series is an interesting idea for an hour. At that point its otherwise buoyant glide is dragged down by erratic camera, game-breaking glitches, poorly implemented combat and awful gliding controls. This one is better left in the wild.
An ancient Chinese character tale rather than an epic, Xuan Yuan 7 is a linear RPG that takes inspiration liberally from the best games around, but has no idea how to implement anything it’s stolen. Combat is farcically easy, systems are barely explained, puzzles feel decades out of date and there’s that stamina bar that does nothing. Sometimes there’s a reason you haven’t heard of a series.
With a beautiful new style, a more adult narrative, wonderful characters, and a modernised tone and feel, Tales of Arise brings the franchise smashing into the current era. It’s still got the tried-and-true Tales flavour, both good and bad, yet innovates with fluid combat that feels fresh. The best and most essential Tales game in well over a decade.
FIST is a by-the-numbers Metroidvania, elevated by its cast of anthro characters and its deep and interesting dieselpunk world. However, this doesn’t distract enough to forgive its unbalanced combat, very standard level design and a lot of back-tracking.
A post-apocalyptic action-adventure framed as a train journey through a cute heartfelt story of discovery, loyalty, and the bonds we form with others, Eastward shines like a diamond on the Switch. It’s wholesome, it's original, it's quirky, and it's full of that special ingredient that turns a little indie into a must-play. Eastward's graphics, narrative, and characters draw you in almost effortlessly and keep a tight hold until this train has come to a complete stop.
Clid the Snail is a passable twin-stick shooter with plenty of basic plot to keep you on your slimy path. But it is very rough round the edges. Simplistic combat, dated level design and a grimdark colour palette make it a little hard to see, let alone care what’s going on.
Road 96 is an atmospheric experiment in procedural storytelling that is successful more often than not. A dynamite retrowave soundtrack and some interesting characters don’t quite excuse a story that lacks a cohesive framework and too many minigames.
Hades is the new standard by which we measure roguelites. A stunningly modern narrative scenario told in bitesize morsels perfectly designed around roguelites, it also manages to have infinitely replayable combat full of constantly changing moves and powers. It demands your skill and a lot of your time, but it rewards you by providing meaning to the grind.
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.