Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the sequel I've been waiting for, returning to the roots of what made the first game so special. It adds a handful of new and interesting mechanics to its tactical battles, nearly all of which improve the formula in tangible ways, but otherwise plays it fairly safe. The story can feel a little bit impersonal and disconnected from the rest of the series, but the way it makes even the smallest characters important and alive is remarkable. It's great to see the Valkyria Chronicles series back on track, as it's still one-of-a-kind.
Hollow Knight is a Metroidvania with a well of content to discover that's as deep as its labyrinthine caves. The world of Hallownest is compelling and rich, full of story that's left for you to discover on your own, and built with branching paths that offer an absurd amount of choice in how you go about discovering it. With such a high density of secrets to find and fun, challenging enemies to face, it's worth spending every moment you can in Hollow Knight.
Yoku's Island Express is a novel Metroidvania-pinball hybrid that stands out as something wholly unique. It blends those clashing genres with a beautiful island style, and its satisfying flippers and bumpers make uncovering its wide island a ton of fun. Retreading completed areas while hunting for secrets can occasionally get stale, but Yoku's Island Express has a refreshingly positive attitude that kept me smiling the whole way through.
BattleTech provides exciting strategic decisions and a compelling story, plus the slow-paced and meticulous fun of building up and customizing a mercenary company but suffers from the frustrating unpredictability of its weapons and procedural missions, and losing a favorite mechwarrior to a random head hit feels like it somewhat undermines the choices I've made along the way. Those frustrating moments didn't ruin my many hours with BattleTech by any means, but they did mean I wasn't rushing back for more after I beat the campaign.
Warhammer Vermintide 2 is a beautifully dark game, and I'm in love with its hard-hitting, meaty melee weapons. It's a gorgeous game with tons of fun play styles and customization options to uncover, even if most of the loot you earn for your efforts is a letdown. But thankfully you don't need to pay much attention to it to simply enjoy the hack-n-slash, Left 4 Dead-inspired co-op fun of bashing hordes of rats and zombies to a pulp.
Fe is a short-lived platformer that still manages to outstay its welcome in some regards. Its platforming is okay but unimaginative, and its best ideas, like the tree jumping and singing affecting the world, remain underused. It can be a beautiful game at times, especially with regards to its music and audio design, but not so much so that it hides its rougher edges and undeveloped concepts.
Rainbow Six Siege's focus on teamwork and strategy over just aiming prowess sets it apart in exciting ways, and the constant stream of new maps and operators have made it a wonderfully varied FPS. All that new content has made it harder for new players to catch up, and I wish more work had been done to address this, but smart play and good communication will still win you more games than having the newest operator. It's got some growing pains to sort out, but the future continues to look bright for Siege.
Opus Magnum is a collection of brilliant puzzles that I want to endlessly replay and re-solve, subtly encouraging my creativity as I hunt for better solutions. It's also managed to create a community around itself, one that encourages both competition and collaboration while ensuring Opus Magnum has no shortage of new challenges even after I had my fill of its campaign. It feels one-of-a-kind, and is without a doubt one of the best puzzle games I've ever played.
Golf Story's clever writing and sound golf fundamentals keep it entertaining, even through some stale moments. Despite its light-hearted RPG structure, there's a challenging and very real golf game here that's worth coming back to even after the story is over. But it left me wishing that more of the campaign focused on the golf itself, and less on the often repetitive side tasks.
It was wonderfully satisfying to have more Dishonored to play, even if Death of the Outsider doesn't quite meet the high bar Dishonored 2 set in story or mission design. Even though it's a shorter and slightly shallower game, there are some exciting new abilities and interesting changes to the energy system, and the freedom from consequences of Chaos further encourage experimentation and freedom. All in all, it's a worthy end to the story that began five years ago.
In its best game modes, LawBreakers manages to make simply moving around feel amazing. Learning how to fall with style in the most deadly way possible is a thrilling challenge. Getting stuck playing a weak mode and map thanks to the grab-bag matchmaking can be frustrating, but it doesn't ruin an otherwise fast and tense shooter that lets you gleefully propel yourself through low-gravity with rocket boots and miniguns.