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.
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.
Mighty Goose is the most fun I've had all year. It’s loud, it’s explosive, and it’s 100% awesome. The game doesn’t take that long to ‘beat’, but comes with a fantastic NG+ mode that dials that 11 all the way to 12. What few niggling issues I have with the game pale in comparison with the fun that I had with it. It’s a blast on your tod, or with a mate, so there is no excuse not to get honking.
Cotton Reboot is a fantastic Shmup that is perfect for anyone new to the genre. It also has more than enough customization to make this a kickass title for genre veterans. A mixture of interesting mechanics, beautiful sprite work, tight controls, and bombastic, screen-filling chaos makes this game an absolute corker. It would have been nice to see an extra mode or two to add a bit of girth to the package, but there is plenty of high octane madness to go around in its current state.
Fly Together is a fantastic little game with hodds of content in both single-player and multiplayer. It ties it all together nicely with solid production values and good, old-fashioned, ale-ridden tomfoolery. Puzzle fans should get a kick out of this, and anyone looking for a new conversation starter during a games night should totally give this a gander.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overall Space Crew is a wonderfully addictive little gem. Whilst the games loop can be a tad repetitive, this is an ideal game to take on the go. I’ve sunk an uncomfortable number of hours into this one, and most of that has been in short bursts of stress-filled glee. Space may indeed be the final frontier, but Space Crew boldly goes into its boundless depths and invites you to come along on a jolly adventure.
I enjoyed my time with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The combat might be clunky, the stealth might be an afterthought and the game might be rougher than a scouring pad, but the game’s story, characters, themes, and world more than made up for these shortcomings. Eivor will go down as one of the better protagonists in the series, and her saga is one that is certainly worth experiencing…ideally after the game has had a patch or two.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of the Forest may have a run-time shorter than its title, it might fumble some of the characters, but it absolutely nails the landing. As someone who is relatively new to Visual Novels, it has opened my eyes to the potential of the genre, the scope in which the genre can encompass, and kept me engaged cover to cover. If you want less anime tiddies, and more gritty, grimdark monster mashing, then I cannot recommend this title enough.
Legend of Mana was a game that took a little while for me to truly understand. I went in expecting something, and it gave me something completely different. Heck, so different I can’t recall any game quite like it. It is captivating enough to play for hours on end, but it’s also bite-sized enough that short pick up and play sessions are ideal (hurray for Switch players). If deep mechanics and JRPG systems are what you want, Legend of Mana will disappoint. If a string of wonderfully crafted fairy tales set in a phenomenally realized world with secrets hidden around every syllable is your cup of tea, then Legend of Mana is an easy recommendation.
Blaster Master Zero 3 is a fitting end to a wonderful series of games. It’s not without its flaws, namely occasional bouts of brutal difficulty and controls that could have been tightened up a tad, but overall, it’s quite the romp. Fans of the series should absolutely check out the conclusion, and newcomers should totally give it a gander - although I’d still advise playing 1 and 2 first.
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.
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.
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.
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.