There is no denying how Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are ambitious games, with Game Freak clearly attempting to reinvent the Pokémon formula with new features and fresh ideas. Although the studio certainly succeeds in some aspects, such as the open world design, new Pokémon, and multiple intertwining storylines; they certainly fail in others, such as the technical performance, graphical fidelity, and subpar sound design. As such, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are enjoyable games for newcomers and Pokémon fans alike, featuring a lot of potential and equal amounts of disappointment.
Admittedly, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is not a terrible game, but it is a disappointing one. It has some redeeming qualities, such as its cute characters, generous unlockables and occasional moments of fun, but they are overshadowed by numerous flaws and shortcomings. It could have been an entertainingly light multiplayer option, a title promising a dream buffet, but instead it serves as nothing more than a bland snack.
Despite Nintendo Switch Sports being a very average party game, it does open up more with its online mode. For the most part, it is a fun and nostalgic romp offering nicely-upgraded visuals and well-implemented motion controls, but the solo and party play leave a lot to be desired – relying on nostalgia over fun to power the game’s value. The online mode, however, does a much better job of adding value for players to enjoy. Alas, the mode lacks too many features needed to make the online portion worthy of the cost of entry. Ultimately, Nintendo Switch Sports is relegated to the realm of only being ‘sometimes relevant’ in situations of extreme boredom or when friends and family need placating. It could have been great with more content, variety, and solo options, but settles for being average in almost every sense of the word.
With its innovative gameplay mechanics and wonderful visuals, Kirby and the Forgotten Land captivates players from start to finish. Every level is meticulously crafted, presenting new challenges and surprises at every turn. The vast and immersive environments encourage exploration, rewarding players with hidden secrets and collectibles, whilst Kirby’s adorable charm is on full display, making the entire narrative experience delightful and endearing. The game strikes a wonderful balance between accessibility and depth too, making it suitable for both casual and hardcore gamers. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a testament to the enduring appeal of the franchise, setting a new standard for platformers in terms of creativity and enjoyment, and serves as a refreshing puff of air for the adoring pink mascot.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus tries to do a lot of things differently, and for the most part, it succeeds. It offers a fresh and innovative take on the Pokémon formula, delivering a more open and dynamic experience; something fans have been craving for years. It takes what players adore of the older games and revolutionises them for modern audiences, allowing gamers to catch, battle, and explore with Pokémon in new and exciting ways. The end result is a more immersive and engaging world, even if somewhat bland. It is clear where Game Freak is hoping to take the franchise, as there is a lot of potential and promise on show. Despite not being a perfect game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a worthwhile experiment and experience, where the ambition and innovation on offer are welcome, but let down by the execution and over all quality. Even so, Pokémon fans who temper their expectations will find a game worthy of their time.
Before We Leave is a great debut offering from Balancing Money Games. It takes the common post-apocalyptic tropes associated with RTS games and adds a unique mix of 4X gameplay to its fold. The result is a moderately fun and interesting title focussed more on the idyllic notion of civilisation advancement over the high stakes gameplay normally associated with titles in this genre. As such, it is a high accessibility title with fairly low stakes gameplay; which may be off putting to some RTS purists. Even so, the overall experience is enjoyable and certainly worth trying.
New Pokemon Snap offers one of the most complete and complex insights into a world with living breathing Pokemon ecosystems. It is filled with magical moments to enthral and delight, and has some of the most beautifully realised Pokemon ever seen on a Nintendo system. The Lental region is varied, detailed and gorgeous; but quickly loses its magic once the repetitive nature of the title takes hold. The result is an experience with an exceptional amount of promise, side-railed by ageing gameplay mechanics that eschew from the overall experience.
At its best, Mario Kart Live Home Circuit can be a truly novel and unique experience for young and old gamers to enjoy together. The way the augmented reality aspects help bring the real-world elements to life is incredible; and it stands as a brilliant ‘first generation’ product that will, no doubt, get better with time. Despite one or two caveats; the overall experience is decent and paints a bright future for what Nintendo might have in store for gamers going forward!
Sackboy: A Big Adventure serves as a wonderful solo debut title for this iconic PlayStation mascot. Although the narrative leaves a lot to be desired, despite a loveable mentor and interesting villain, and only offering fairly standard gameplay mechanics for a platformer; the game does shine in its own way. The truly gorgeous visuals paired together with the ever changing level design and wonderful use of music; seek to bring everything together to creatively craft a bespoke game experience that is well worth the price of entry.
Astro’s Playroom is a wonderful first romp into everything seemingly possible with the PlayStation 5. Serving as both a technological showcase of the system as well as a beautiful and nostalgic trip down memory lane for the PlayStation brand; it is clear the game was created with passion. Although it might completely skimp on narrative, it more than makes up for it in the sheer amount of unique gameplay to show-off the Dual Sense and the wondrous sense of luring players to discover and explore the vivid and delightful worlds on offer. In many ways, it feels like a product of a bygone era. A piece of software specifically built to showcase new hardware. However, this beautiful bundling of software and hardware to offer an experience unavailable on any other platform is ultimately what makes the game so incredible good, and why it will be remembered as a ‘must play’ title for years to come.
The concept of time is a core tenet of Quantum Break. It is the driving force behind the gameplay and the scientifically enthralling narrative that intertwines the game and accompanying television series. Despite the scientific complexity of using time as both a gameplay and narrative element, Remedy Entertainment has done a fantastic job of producing a compelling story that is not only engaging and filled with spectacular twists and turns, but it is also incredibly immersive – especially for players who take the time to find all of the extra collectibles. Complementing an unforgettable story are visuals and audio that defy what many think the Xbox One is capable of, for Quantum Break is an unmistakable technical marvel and one of the best looking games of this generation [thus far]. Coupled with gameplay that manages to inject a fresh spin on the typical cover-shooter genre, Remedy Games have managed to create a memorable game that deserves to be experienced, played and enjoyed. Quantum Break is, without a doubt, one of the best titles available for Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Overwatch on Nintendo Switch is a decent port. Sure, it might not have all of the visual bells and whistles as other platforms, but it is essentially the same experience. From a technical perspective, it is a less than optimal means of enjoying one of the best team-based online shooters available. Although the issues are noticeable, they never serve to ruin the game in a meaningful way.
There is a lot to like about Medievil. It features a likeable, if slightly dimwitted, protagonist who is doing his best to right the wrongs of the past. The visuals, voice over work and audio are all representative of a title crafted in 2019. Even so, it does a wonderful job of pulling all of the right nostalgic strings for gamers of the 90s who enjoyed the original. Unfortunately, it is this very same nostalgic charm that serves to hamper the experience.
Gamers who are happy to experience a truly sublime blast from the past, will be enthralled with the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. The title does a fantastic job of rekindling the fires of nostalgia. Allowing older gamers to re-live the 90s in the best way possible; through smooth and familiar gameplay and becoming familiar, once more, with the same magic that made Spyro's world so unforgettable all those years ago. Newer gamers, on the other hand, will be able to enjoy a classic experience made infinitely more accessible with a wondrous Pixar-like aesthetic. The title is a delightfully magnificent ode to a classic character, warts and all.
Control is an interesting title. It features some truly incredible gameplay, with visuals and audio to match; but disappoints in terms of providing an engrossing narrative. The puzzle like structure of the overarching story can be confusing and often lacks any real draw for gamers to continue pushing through the game's 20 hour campaign. At best, the draw to find out what is actually going on and to help Jesse's brother will keep players moving forward; at worst, there are a multitude of side quests and mini-bosses to invest in as players push toward the conclusion. Narrative aside, Control features superb level design that encourages exploration. The exploration coupled with the superb gameplay help mask the repetitive nature of the title, thus making the game genuinely fun to play. Jesse being a likeable protagonist, with her fourth-wall breaking moments of introspection, not to mention the often crazy and psychedelic level design, should keep players interested for some time to come.
Anthem is a game that requires patience and time to be fulfilling. It is more about the journey and experience of becoming a legendary Freelancer, than it is about being 'all-powerful' and grinding for the next piece of loot. With that said, there is no denying that the game has many flaws. From a lacklustre campaign, through to unusual omissions in tutorial management, many of the game's issues are inexcusable. Despite this, there is something truly special about Anthem. Perhaps it is the exceptional visuals and audio, coupled with sublime platforming like gameplay, that is addictive. It could also be the interesting and overarching narrative that leaves players yearning for more. Either way, Bioware and EA will hopefully take the time to make the game as legendary as it is trying to be.
Although Florence is a short and sweet look into the love life of a 20-something young woman, the experience is one that I feel is well worth enjoying. Granted, it features a story that will leave you wanting for more. Much like many of the most compelling artistic works, however, the feelings it elicits will forever be remembered and cherished.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission offers a level of interactivity and polish that has not yet been seen on the PSVR platform. It is quite clear that the game was built specifically for VR, and in so doing was obviously a labour of love for Japan Studio. Quite simply, the game offers the best implementation of PSVR yet seen on the platform. It features solid and refined gameplay and crisp Pixar-Like visuals; all of which are bundled together in a title with so much charm, character and charisma, that it would be a travesty not to experience. Without a doubt, the game is a true PSVR classic.
After five years, Crystal Dynamics' reboot of Lara Croft's origin story has come full circle with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The game successfully builds on the foundations left by the 2013 and 2015 releases in the rebooted trilogy, respectively, and does a wonderful job of fleshing out the final arc in Lara's 'origin' story. Although the overall narrative may not be as strong as in previous titles, it does offer enough to keep players engaged throughout.