Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is a fun, nostalgic hit of fast-paced racing goodness that offers players a number of ways to have a good time. However, if you look a little closer, you can see that some of the game's paint is peeling due to the janky nature of its gameplay elements and its over-reliance on player speed rather than quality tracks. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is full of charm but fans of racing games may feel that this isn't enough for them to stick around and get turbocharged with Hot Wheels cars.
Goodbye Volcano High is a fun, nerdy, queer narrative adventure that focuses on the last days of high school, and possibly, the last days on earth, for a group of quirky teenagers. Its narrative is full of heart and players will fall in love with its concept and characters. Some gameplay elements can be a bit hit and miss, though overall, you'll likely fall in love with the snappy dialogue and beautiful, wholesome relationship between these dino teens.
Venba is a love letter to many things, not just food. It beautifully depicts the story of two immigrants and their struggle to keep their culture alive in a Western society that does not seem to understand or appreciate it. Venba brings together incredible art, sound, narrative, and gameplay that is magnificently entrenched in Tamil customs, leaving the player with not only a deeper understanding but also a deeper respect for this underrepresented culture.
SOULVARS may have been a hit when it came out on mobile in 2022, but its PC version has not made enough changes for it to feel like it is meant to be played on other gaming devices. The game had an opportunity to increase its interactivity by including more explicit instructions, adding many more narrative elements and by spicing up the game's landscape. However, as it stands, I'd be sticking to the mobile version of SOULVARS as the ported version lacks a lot of soul.
Although Tiny Thor may seem like a pretty simple platformer when you first encounter it, is actually quite complex. You will need to become a master of Thor's hammer and find the most effective ways to use it in order to progress throughout Asgard. The game never feels stale as each level brings some new gameplay element to continue to challenge the player and offer opportunities to use Thor's hammer in creative ways. Whilst the level of difficulty and the lack of health is a bit frustrating, fans of fast-paced, ever-changing, cute platformers will find a lot to love in Tiny Thor.
LEGO 2K Drive is an exciting, colourful romp through the endearing world of BrickLandia where everything is breakable, colourful and the good vibes are turned up to 11. The game shows how LEGO is for everyone no matter your age as I was "oohing" and "ahhing" throughout my playthrough at the care that was put into developing a world not made from LEGO but also interesting to explore and race around in. Though the game does have some issues, such as the not-so-enticing Garage vehicle building mechanics, I had a pretty fun time cruising round' an open world where everything is awesome.
Showgunners creates a bombastic, colourful, chaotic world that incorporates elements of reality TV, turn-based combat, dystopian energy and characters that grow alongside a strong narrative. All of these elements combined could have made the game a messy experience, but the story kept me engaged, and I felt intrinsically motivated to conquer Homicidal All-Stars so that Scarlett can finally find peace. Showgunners is a successful mash-up, and Artificer's inclusion of various intertwining gameplay features make the game an ever changing, fun ride that made me excited along each step of the way.
Varney Lake tries to be a compelling thriller that obviously wants to keep its players guessing. The narrative lacked in its ability to keep me entertained and wanting to know what actually happened during that summer. What kept me interested was the way it looked, sounded and made me feel. It pulls off the "pixel" elements but very much fails to live up to the exciting, suspenseful narrative of the pulp fiction genre. If you're into game and audio design, or love the pixel artstyle , you may be able to forgive this, but if you're looking for a narrative that will have you clicking your mouse for more, best look elsewhere.
Though Mr. Saitou isn't a long game, it does pack a lot of punch into its three-hour runtime. It takes the life of a miserable, depleted man and shows him the wonders that he could be experiencing if work wasn't his main focus. It's a narrative that seeks to find the light in the darkness of mundane existence when life becomes routine. Mr. Saitou will leave you with a feeling of hope that fun and adventure are around every corner, we've just got to look a little closer to find it.
Ten Dates highlights the unspoken "rules" of dating and discusses what is needed in order for a date to go well. Though it does tend to follow a stereotypical heteronormative rom-com storyline, it gives the player enough autonomy to choose exactly what their character wants and doesn't want from their love life through each selection of dialogue. It's disappointing that the devs weren't forward thinking enough to allow players to decide on their character's sexuality and therefore force your Misha or Ryan to play as heterosexual. The way the game includes a chance flirty encounter with the same sex isn't realistic and makes same sex relationships seem lesser than heterosexual relationships, or an afterthought. Overall, Ten Dates is a good adventure to embark on if you like your choices to matter, your dialogue to be witty and your romance to be somewhat predictable.
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.