Despite my minor grievances, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate - Daemonhunters is exceptionally fun. It’s a treat for the eyes, ears, and the bonce. It’s violent, gore-filled, crunchy, and full of charm. Underneath all of that is a wealth of depth and customization that begs to be explored. If you’re a fan of the setting then this is an easy sell. If you aren’t, then this is still a fantastic introduction to a wacky universe that’s well worth delving into.
If someone was to ask me how I’d describe Labyrinth Legend in a single word, it would be: underwhelming. This is a button-mashy dungeon crawler with next to no depth. The game feels clunky to play, and the content here simply isn’t interesting enough to hold much attention. That being said though, the music had me bopping along like a mad man. It’s almost worth a look just for that.
Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon won’t be for everyone. This is not the Shovel Knight you know and love, but to be fair, neither is Shovel Knight at this point. If you like Puzzle games, then you can’t go wrong with Pocket Dungeon. Yacht Club Games have belted out another home run, and I look forward to their next project.
Dusk is a game I simply cannot praise enough. It has managed to capture lightning in a bottle, fill it with viscera, and force the entirety of Louisanna to worship it as a deity. It doesn’t just bring Boomer Shooters back from a long hiatus - it actively takes steps to improve upon them. This isn’t just a throwback to Quake and its ilk - it’s the next evolution - the replacement. What few flaws Dusk has are so minor I forgot they existed - if they even exist at all. Pure perfection.
Gynoug is an experience. The gameplay is fine, it does the job and has just enough added gubbins to keep it feeling mostly fresh. The star of the show, however are the visuals. This game comes from a time long forgotten - where dripping, throbbing, scrolling, and pulsating was just an everyday occurrence. For that reason alone, providing the price is right, it’s worth a gander. Aside from that? If you are a fan of Shmups, then Gynoug should satisfy.
Panorama Cotton is a nice museum piece. It’s nice to look back and appreciate what the game was back in the day. It isn’t, however, a game worth playing. Its main draw is and was its visuals, and they simply haven’t held up. The gameplay isn’t as refined or as playable as Cotton’s 2D ventures, so all that really leaves is a good soundtrack and the occasional interesting boss. Give this one a miss.
Cotton 100% is alright. It’s a fun romp, but when put up against most modern shooters, and practically every other Cotton game released this year, it just feels a bit lacking. The existence of Cotton Reboot really invalidates this game’s whole shtick, and the fairly basic gameplay has since been expanded upon in games like Cotton 2. It’s not bad, it’s just there – it exists.
Knights of the Old Republic is still a fantastic RPG. Its best years are certainly behind it, but what it does well, it does better than most games released today. If you can look beyond the clunky controls and slightly janky systems, you will find a story and cast of characters that will stick with you for life.
Shin Megami Tensei 5 is a bastard to rate. What we have here is a game that, when everything is working in tandem, is possibly the greatest JRPG of all time. The depth, the mechanics, the loop – it’s perfect. The things it fumbles, however, makes getting to that greatness a chore at times, and it does serious damage to the overall experience. This is a 10/10 game, trapped in an 8/10 body – which is a real shame.
Diablo 2 Resurrected is a fantastic remake of Diablo 2, in the sense that it is Diablo 2 with prettier graphics. Outside of that, Diablo 2 feels dated at best, bland at worst. There are so many better games in the genre that outshine Diablo 2, and one of those games exists within its series. This is a nostalgia trip of the long-toothed foggies, and not much else. The bugs don’t exactly help either.
Gleylancer is a fantastic shoot-em-up that holds up to today's standards. It also puts the vast majority of classic shoot-em-up ports to shame. The game has no noticeable input delay, it has loads of options for play, it adds in quality of life features, and it even throws in a modern control scheme for kicks. Sure the scoring system is a bit naff, but everything else here is golden.
Raiden IV x Mikado Remix is a return to form for the flailing Raiden series. Age be damned, Raiden IV’s core gameplay still holds up - the additional content on offer here is just the cherry on an already scrumptious cake. Fans of the genre should jump on this release, and newcomers can gently slide into the game thanks to its myriad of accessibility options.
Far Cry 6 is just dumb fun. It has its issues, but I couldn’t help but jump in for an hour here and there just to mess around and have fun. The story was a hoot too, and honestly, grinding missions just to see more of Giancarlo Esposito was more than worth it. It’s not going to blow your socks off, but there is a lot to see, a lot to do, and most of it is pretty darn good.
Overall Monster Harvest is an average entry into a genre that, for the most part, is oversaturated with average entries. It tries to emulate the genre patriarch and does a respectable job in terms of the farming mechanics, overall feel, and presentation. The town, the folk, and the whole monster thing hold the game back, however. There is very little reason to invest your time and money into such a temporal vacuum when that game is merely adequate.
Metroid Dread is one of the finest games to release this year. It not only encapsulates everything that makes Metroid, Metroid, but it does so in a way that feels new and fresh. Dread stands on its own two feet and demands to be played. The genre has been missing its namesake for far too long now, so I am happy to say that Dread is a worthy crown-bearer. I hope to see more from Samus, Nintendo, and Mercury Stream in the future.
Xuan Yuan Sword 7’s biggest sin is that it’s boring. Really boring. It might look nice, sound great, and be steeped in culture, but actually playing is closer to a chore than anything else. It’s also really long, coming in at 20+ hours. The gameplay on offer here can barely sustain a game half – or even a quarter – of that length. This is scratching at the heels of mediocrity, and it’s not with the time.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is a roaring success and a fitting anniversary title for a mostly forgotten series. When it comes to fun, challenge, and charm, Banana Mania delivers in spades. It’s a crying shame about a lack of online, even if the leaderboards were a neat inclusion. I don’t think I have smiled, raged, paddied, and cheered this much in any other game this year. It’s a good time to monkey around, and I am excited to see what the future holds for the series.
Overall, The Medium left me with feelings of general frustration. Not at the quality of the game, or the mechanics themselves, but the length of the ride. The game is simply too long and the vast majority of my issues are a result of the core game growing stale, or the story being broken up by long stretches of nothing. All that being said, I had a good time with The Medium. It’s not something I’d recommend people rush out and buy at full price, but it’s certainly a game worth experiencing.
Overall, Monster Train is outstanding. The few issues I have with it are minor at best, and what the game delivers shines through with ease. This is not only the best Roguelike I’ve played all year, but quite possibly the best game. Period. It’s taken four long years for the genre to move beyond Spire, and Monster Train manages to stand beside that titan and carve its own path to greatness. This is highly recommended for any Switch owner.
Overall Islanders is a game that I was not expecting to like - at all. It didn’t take long for it to sink its hooks into me and gently coerced me down a winding path of tranquillity. Genre be damned, in a world full of elevated heart rates and perpetual soul-crushing stress, Islanders is a nice break from reality. Its gaminess can be a bit off at times, but for the most part, this is a fantastic hybrid of a game.