There are a lot of things to admire in Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, and when it works, it all comes together in a fantastic new way. Unfortunately, there are far too many instances of clues that perhaps made sense to the team that made it, but not the player. Just when you start finding your stride, a roadblock appears as you struggle to figure out your next steps. The jump to an open-world setting ultimately feels unnecessary and adds to the confusion. Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is not a bad game at all, but the experimental gameplay feels like a missed opportunity that a sequel could perhaps refine.
It may sound like we're being a bit down on this year's Call of Duty, but it's only because we know the franchise has potential. Warzone has proved it with multiplayer and Black Ops Cold War showcased it with its campaign. We hoped this would build upon those foundations, but instead it steps back into familiar territory. It's not a bad game by any means - in fact, even at its worst it's better than most first-person shooters out there - but as the games industry evolves, it's time for Call of Duty to bring something new to the table, and this isn't it.
Despite these flaws, Demon Turf is still an incredible platformer - one of the best in years. It's easy to learn but hard to master and is filled with content ranging from easy challenges to devilishly challenging gauntlets. With such a fine-tuned platforming experience, it's easy to overlook the boring combat and performance hiccups. While the latter will most likely be ironed out, the combat is here to stay, but if you can get past that hurdle, Demon Turf is a joyous throwback to the platformers of old.
While Echo Generation stumbles a few times, our time with the game was never squandered. It's a testament to how wonderful its world is to explore, along with its engaging RPG systems. You never quite know what surprise will be in the next frame of the game. Will it be a mysterious alien spaceship? Or will you stumble across the legendary monster in the woods? The intrigue never lets up, and while the narrative itself doesn't quite land as well as you may hope, Echo Generation delivers an exciting adventure that Xbox Game Pass subscribers are not going to want to miss out on.
If developers Ludosity and Fair Play Labs can stick with the game post-launch and build it up, it could end up being a completely different story in a year or so, but as it stands, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl feels like the shell of what it could be.
This being said, the adventure Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan took us on never ceased to put a smile on our faces. With a whole cast of memorable and loveable characters, a gorgeous world to explore with a fantastic art style, and a seafaring adventure that just begs you to explore 'one more island' - it's hard not to love what's on offer. It stumbles along the way and may not be for everyone, but ManaVoid Entertainment has crafted a special experience for those it does resonate with.
Despite its shortcomings, we were always drawn to come back for 'one more run'. It nails the roguelite gameplay hook and has a unique gameplay mechanic to support it all. While it at times feels as though the game's fighting against you when everything comes together, there's nothing quite like it. Clearing a room of monsters in time to the guitar shredding soundtrack never gets old and the constant progression of unlocking new characters and skills is an incentive to keep trying. It's not a home run, but those who buy into BPM: Bullet Per Minute's charm will certainly have a good time.
If you've never played Alan Wake, this is the best possible way to experience the game. For anyone who loves horror or Remedy's other titles, there's a ton to unpack here with an engaging narrative and stellar gameplay. The remastered enhancements bolster the game even further, giving it a place in today's gaming world, and while the gameplay doesn't perhaps hold up as well as it did in 2010, Alan Wake Remastered is still as joyous as it was back then and a perfect treat for the Halloween season.
Despite these missteps, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 surprised us with just how fun it was. It harkens back to classic adventure games from the early '00s, filled with all the charm of that era. Sometimes it's refreshing to play a game that knows exactly what it wants to be and accomplishes it with very little getting in the way. While there are some localisation issues, some presentation problems and a lack of challenge in its combat, we do hope Xuan Yuan Sword 7 finds an audience in the west, as it would be a shame not to see how the next entry can build upon these solid foundations.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania isn't going to win any game of the year awards, but it's undeniably fun. While it's perhaps not the entry that will put the series back into the mainstream, fans of the original will likely have a good time and newcomers will see what the fuss is all about. While there are some questionable design choices, such as a finicky camera and microtransactions that feel out of place, this is an enjoyable adventure with AiAi and his friends.