Once again, One More Level has created a speedrunner's dream. For new players it might be somewhat hard to master, but once you get the gameplay down pat you'll experience one of the most rewarding and unique titles of 2023. It's so much fun to play, and the new abilities and changes are a welcome addition. The inclusion of the motorcycle, whilst somewhat janky, is a breath of fresh air to the core gameplay loop. One More Level has once again put their heart and soul into producing a fantastic game.
Homebody is unnerving. The puzzles are difficult, and it's extremely rewarding when you slowly chip away at them as you uncover the secrets of the house. Equally, it's immersive - you'll slowly morph into the player character's shoes and feel her fear of isolation. The only trouble with Homebody is it eventually feels less and less like a horror game, as you'll eventually realize that it's not all that scary - and quite forgiving.
We Were Here Forever is a step back from the rest of the series. It's hard to find the motivation to keep playing when you're completing the same puzzle three, sometimes four times. Quantity doesn't mean quality, and when you're in control of a unique genre like coop puzzlers you don't want to step on the quality of what made this series great. Plus, the lack of a compelling story is disappointing when it's the only thing that's meant to encourage you to keep playing.
Need for Speed Unbound is an arduous experience, and not one I'd recommend if you're looking for an arcade racer. The only good aspects are the refined handling system and the aesthetic customization of your cars, which is really brought to light via community creations. However, this experience is quickly overshadowed by the boring open-world, a meaningless collect-a-thon, unbalanced AI, and some of the cringiest story and dialogue I've experienced. It's The Room of racing games.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is one of those games that oozes fun, no matter how you play it. It lends itself perfectly to all playstyles, and has this natural way of immersing the player in its world. That might be from the unique RPG system, the insanely detailed environments that make you feel like you're really walking through this huge hellscape, or maybe it's just the gratuitous violence. Whatever the cause, it's doing a great job of keeping me hooked. Of course, the game isn't without its cons, and these do detract from an otherwise solid experience. Regardless, it's a game that I will absolutely be coming back to time and time again.
Overwatch 2 is so damn good. 5v5 has breathed life into the game, Junkerqueen, Sojourn, and Kiriko are a breath of fresh air, and the game's new high pace suits its competitive nature perfectly. The new maps are insanely fun to play, albeit with some needing tweaking, and the new Push gamemode only enhances Overwatch 2's core experience. The only downside comes from its cosmetic-locked, 9-week battle pass system, which will be costly to continually purchase.
Soulstice does an exceptional job of keeping the player engaged throughout its entirety. The amount of content just within the combat is jaw-dropping, so much so that it feels like Reply Game Studios aren't saving anything for a sequel. There's a lot to discover (and a lot to master) as you slowly trek through its massive world and uncover one of the most enjoyable detective-style stories that I've come to experience.
Metal: Hellsinger has absolutely kickstarted the boomer-shooter, rhythm FPS genre. Of the handful of issues the game possesses, they're all overshadowed by its insane amount of entertainment value. There's no doubt that The Outsiders have created something extraordinary, something that absolutely needs a sequel. Although very challenging and not without its critiques, its an extremely satisfying experience through and through.
Winter Ember is good, but could be better. The voice acting and script made me extremely disinteresting in the story, and combat is just so extremely dull. It doesn't help either when the soundtrack overheard in all areas of the game is equally as basic. These three things made the game lose a bit of its charm, but that's all mended together thankfully by the enjoyable stealth mechanics and moment-to-moment gameplay. As a pure stealth experience, this game fast became a highly enjoyable experience overall, and one that I'd recommend if you can get past its big issues.
Teardown tears down the fabric of what a demolition physics game can be, yet replaces that with too many restrictions. All your fun will come from the creativity of your imagination, but that satisfaction falls apart when you're limited by the tools the game has to offer. It's such a shame when this game can offer so much more.
Abermore is an immense disappointment. The bugs and glitches can be cataloged so extremely clearly that it's incredible that this game even got released, let alone past playtesting. Hell, was it playtested? Why did this game get released even if it wasn't finished? These questions stuck in my mind as I played through this dumpster fire. Maybe this game will see all its bugs patched? Sure, but that doesn't mean that there's nearly enough interesting, let alone unique, content throughout the levels to warrant any recommendation from me.
While Dread Hunger aims to freshen up a rather burnt-out genre due to the likes of TTT and Among us, there isn't enough reason to keep playing over and over again. Roleplaying is moreso encouraged than required, causing games to get repetitive quickly. Not only that, but the lack of story leaves this game ending on a disappointing note, especially since it immediately promises that it will play a key role throughout the experience.
The story is lackluster, the microtransactions are everywhere, but everything else is amazing; it's like being on a rollercoaster ride every single second you play. Ubisoft put its heart and soul into developing every location just so that each race and each moment feels immensely different from the next. It's an absolutely thrilling, immersive experience that does well to keep you entertained for hours and hours on end. If only you could spend more time racing people instead of bots, then it'd really feel like you're working to become the amazing triathlete Riders Republic wants you to be.
Aragami 2 is so ridiculously easy that you can breathe in its general direction and you've exploited some gameplay mechanic. It's great for those who like speedrunning, or those who might not have a lot of time in their day, but if you're hoping for the slow and methodical stealth gameplay of Aragami 1 then you won't find it in the sequel. Just like most developers (eyeing you Ubisoft over Splinter Cell) it seems working gameplay formulas mean bugger all.
Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos has a lot of obstacles in its way from becoming a solid gem worth your time. The first few hours are a bit of a drag to get through since the majority of this time you'll spend either hating the dialogue or hating the difficulty from the (more predetermined than random) RNG that this game employs. Trudge through this and you'll find that the learning curve gets easier, the writing simmers down a bit, but the difficulty still remains the same.
Maskmaker feels like it's going to give you full control over the game, then it takes it away from you and does it for you. The parts it gives you full control over, however, tend to be exceptionally tedious. The crafting system is great when the game wants it to be, and I loved exploring every nook and cranny that the game had to off, but in short, while the game feels like a bedtime story, ultimately it's just that --- there's not much lucidity that you'd expect from a VR game, and it feels more like an on-rails experience.
SWARM is a really difficult, yet immensely rewarding VR game. It's designed to stress you out both physically and mentally, but once you break that barrier and keep your rhythm going, nothing can stop you. The art style is pleasant, it lacks visual issues that plague many other Oculus Quest titles, and it's just overall incredibly fun to play for hours on end.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 for the PS5 is a great PlayStation game, but not necessarily a great PS5 game. It's still a ton of fun to play, with no noticeable bugs or glitches. However, the only utilized PS5 feature is improved loading times. Adaptic triggers and haptic feedback felt largely unused, so much so it felt more like I was playing with a PS4 controller. Nonetheless, that doesn't stop this remake from being amazing --- it's still a ton of fun to play, and for new players there's plenty of content to chew through that you won't necessarily be missing those missed DualSense features.
There are not many games that are marred with so many issues as Flow Weaver. The gameplay is boring, the texture quality is akin to a PS1 game, the story is barely interesting, and there are far too many bugs and glitches to count. Trudging through the mess that this game is, the only redeemable quality is the dimension-hopping --- a great idea that definitely needs to be implemented properly. As for now, Flow Weaver is not one I'd recommend getting your hands on.
Pumpkin Jack is a superb game, but its flaws come baring teeth once the glass shatters and you start to notice them. The combat is fun and rewarding, the writing and story are fantastic, but there are certain parts of the game that fall short. Plus, for no more than 3 hours of playtime to finish, that $30 price tag is pretty hefty. Putting that aside, every single moment of that short playtime is fantastic. I loved every minute of it, and there's no doubt that developer Nicolas Meyssonnier made something extra special here.