Evil West's gameplay focuses around progression. It loves to introduce new elements like weapons, combat and enemies and then proceed to absolutely smash the player with an assortment of everything they have learnt by the end of each chapter. The constant change in how you play the game is overall satisfying, but its rinse and repeat formula of enemies and mini bosses became annoying the more time I spent with it. The location art and narrative is exciting, but I longed to be given more opportunities to explore and be rewarded for my endeavours based on the enticing nature of each area. Evil West is an exciting ride that will test your reflexes and ability to take on swarms of monsters which will either leave you feeling exhilarated, frustrated or like me, somewhere in between.
New Tales from the Borderlands could have played it safe by using characters from the well-established universe that people know and love. However, Gearbox Quebec's decision to create a whole new bunch of ragtag characters that connect so clearly with Borderland's existing humour, art style, and lore has really paid off. New Tales from the Borderlands isn't a gameplay-heavy game, but the visuals, narrative, and the way the character's personalities are so well-developed kept me riveted and surprised. With what Gearbox has created here, I wouldn't be surprised if we see even Newer Tales From The Borderlands in the future.
Serial Cleaners has taken the monotonous act of cleaning and spun it on its head by placing it in a gritty criminal world with characters that are eccentric and passionate about getting the job done. Though the gameplay can be repetitive and the dialogue may make you wince, the location art and the special abilities of each character makes up for the lack of "action" in this "action crime" game. Instead, the elements of dead bodies, shining pools of blood, and the game's dark colour palette brings the excitement as you clean up the carnage other games would usually have you create.
Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed is like a younger, more immature sibling of the original. Gameplay wise, it is bolder and more logically put together, but overall it lacks the comedic intelligence that the original presented. Sure, Destroy All Humans! wasn’t exactly an intellectual experience, but it did offer discussions on social commentary that had a lot to say about society as a whole and problems with 1950s America. It seems as though the developers spent more time on improving gameplay than they did on developing a script and story that would offer the same elements of satire and intellect as the first. Although the original was released in 2006, a very different time socially and politically, this remaster could have ironed out a number of the narrative problematic edges. Unfortunately, by sticking with the “nature and soul” of the original release, the world of Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed doesn’t quite feel right in this more progressive world of 2022.
Hindsight is an interesting analysis of the ways we can play with memories via the use of objects that symbolise important aspects of our lives. The game's mechanic that allows players to explore the protagonist's memories and piece them together will be something that most will connect with as our memories shape the way we see the world. However, it is the pace of these memories that lead to frustration and a disconnect from the story. The narrative, though beautifully written, is constantly repeating itself and becomes tiresome pretty quickly. Hindsight is an aesthetically beautiful game with fun and thought-provoking gameplay that unfortunately lacks in its narrative execution.
When Arcadegeddon does what it’s supposed to do, it’s a rollicking good time. Experimenting with the zany weapon types, getting my butt kicked in the Battle Modes, and interacting with the vibrant neon world is so inviting. However, all those bright and sparkling qualities didn’t matter when Arcadegeddon’s glitches became too obtrusive to ignore. It’s a shame, as the game has a lot of potential to be a fan favourite for those who love to squad up with their mates and have a laugh whilst being challenged. As it is though, I would wait a bit longer to sink my teeth into this co-op experience.
Eternal Threads, at its core, is a story of six people sharing a home and experiencing pretty day to day problems. However, with the added element of time travel and the game’s emphasis on nothing being insignificant, you become invested in the way the characters’ lives play out and the choices you make for them. I found myself cringing when the characters made a mistake, feeling bad when I chose a path that hurt them, and rejoicing when they finally found peace. Due to the way these characters are given believable backstories and personalities, I took the power of having their lives in my hands seriously and made sure that my six new friends received the past and future that they rightfully deserved.
The Serpent Rogue is a game that has a lot going on, which unfortunately has led to most of the game’s features feeling rushed and not fully executed. Keeping it simple would have been a good mantra for The Serpent Rogue to live by, but it instead tries to implement too many things with not enough finesse. The game certainly has interesting researching and crafting elements, with some other unique ideas too. However, it falls short with clunky mechanics and a lack of polish.
FAR: Changing Tides is a stunning atmospheric adventure that makes you feel the ups and downs of sailing through a world that has been destroyed by unknown reasons. It excels at making you feel a connection to your vessel as it develops into something bigger, faster, and stronger throughout your time with it. However, opportunities for a deeper narrative and more rewarding exploration weren’t taken, so this intriguing world never felt fully realised. The tranquil atmosphere and art of FAR: Changing Tides is superb, it’s just a shame the somewhat repetitive gameplay loop wasn’t able to match those same standards.
Sifu is a game that could have been something amazing, with its fascinating premise and superbly crafted and fluid combat mechanics and animations. However, the game’s frustrating need to make the gameplay ridiculously hard just left me tired and annoyed. Sloclap really needs to think about how they can make this game more accessible, possibly by including more shortcuts, an adjustable difficulty setting, or just lowering the impact of health lost from fighting your average foe. Hopefully they will bring in some patches that will address these issues, but as it stands, I’d wait before investing time in the world of Sifu.
Blackwind presents a sci-fi platforming world that is fun to smash through and fly around its desolate landscapes. However, it sticks with its formula of killing enemies and unlocking areas so tightly that it lacks spontaneity and becomes too predictable too fast. Repetitive music, awkward dialogue and unvaried landscapes all lead to a pretty lackluster experience that even the fun combat can’t fix. Blackwind needs more time taking risks and experimenting with the very versatile genres it encompasses in order for it to stand out amongst the crowded population of action games.
Crysis Remastered Trilogy is a collection of games that is a hell of a lot of fun and really is an important moment in video game history. For a while there, it was the benchmark for graphics in games, and it’s important that games like this are preserved and released in their remastered form not just on PC but for modern consoles as well. It’s a bundle for those who love their games to look gorgeous, have the autonomy to blow up stuff in a number of different and creative ways, and love FPS vibes. With all three games remastered and in one collection, Crysis Remastered Trilogy is a lot of big bangs for your buck, despite some shortfalls.
A Juggler’s Tale isn’t a long game, it will only take you a few hours to complete. However, its length is refreshing in a time where we are surrounded by massive open-world games that can leave us exhausted just by looking at their playtime... this puppet’s tale will make you realise that strength comes in all sizes, even in the shape of a little marionette whose only real talent is juggling.
Gamedec doesn’t seem to know the benefits of the phrase “less is more” and instead of trusting in the beauty of the world it created, stuck its fingers into too many narrative pies. What is left is a pie full of so many ingredients that it’s hard to tell what the flavour of it actually is; it’s tasty and looks good, but you may be too full to go back for seconds.
Hoa is one of the only games I’ve recently played where my 70-year-old, non-gamer dad felt comfortable enough to play. It’s because of its simplicity and how approachable it is that makes Hoa the kind of game that anyone can enjoy and feel the calmness wash over them. The platforming can be a little clunky and the game may not challenge seasoned gamers. Although Hoa definitely brings the wholesome content we need right now – a simple story about a little fairy that just wants peace in this crazy world we live in.
Though it may alienate some players due to its lack of gameplay, Last Stop has an action-packed narrative that doesn’t get stale. It beautifully juxtaposes the mundane day-to-day life of three characters against a bizarre science-fiction story. The fantastic voice talent brings a level of charisma and life that unfortunately isn’t matched by the rather stiff in-game animations, although that doesn’t stop the game from being a fun tube ride through an alien-infested London where weird stuff happens to pretty ordinary people.
Although it doesn’t bring many new elements to the Metroidvania table, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights kept me glued to my controller due to its gorgeous art style and its way of enticing players through exploration. The game is a bit of a contradiction – it’s relaxing yet challenging and damaged yet beautiful. Ultimately though, I very much enjoyed roaming the medieval fantasy world of Land’s End and seeing what spirits would join Lily and help her on her quest to cure The Blighted.
Retro Machina is a game that includes themes that have been explored countless times before, yet brings its own understanding and take of these views to the table. It is the care put into creating the game’s backstory and world that made me fall in love with this title and wonder just how horrible a world without humans would be…
Though running around in circles and fighting battle after battle with samey demons can be more yawn than yay, Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne is a classic that anyone who values the genre should check out, even if it’s merely to delve into the roots of this complicated, intriguing universe.
It’s fun, it’s bright, it’s beautiful, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and its constantly changing mechanics keep it from being repetitive. It’s easy to see this game as superficial due to its graphics and light-hearted humour. However, so many of the characters, bosses and environments have been painstakingly researched to make sure it connects with Celtic mythology.