We're so conditioned to expect sequels to cram in more features in an attempt to be noticeably different, but there's a quiet confidence to Grimrock 2 that is utterly beguiling. Bigger, bolder and utterly sure of itself and its intended audience, Almost Human may be looking to the past for inspiration, but it's created one of the best pure role-playing games of the year.
If it played just a little tighter, Apotheon would be brushing up against greatness. As it stands, it's stunning to look at and a pleasure to play, and what flaws it does have can be easily overlooked by anyone looking for something smart and stylish.
A shorter, sharper campaign would condense the high points more potently, and some better characterisation would make the plot twists hit harder. But if you're looking for a game that really sinks its teeth into what makes this iconic movie monster endure, look no further.
Consider this the last gasp of the old multiplayer model then. It's a fine swansong, especially when played on the most powerful platforms, and in particular if you treat the campaign as a free bonus feature. It's hard not to wonder just what DICE will be able to do when it no longer has to hobble its designs to suit ageing hardware, though.
There's a lot of balancing to be done in the long term, then, and the big hurdle for new players will be getting up to speed without losing interest in those stodgy early hours. The mid-point, where everything coalesces, is so liberating, so brilliant in its scope and possibility, that it's hard to be too upset about these wrinkles. For all its frustrations, you'll spend much longer in the sweet spot than you spend getting there. Elite: Dangerous demands much, but repays your devotion many times over.
In its current form, then, Titanfall is perhaps more of a step forward for shooters than a giant leap. But that still represents the most positive momentum seen in the genre for at least five years. Quite simply, if you feel like you're in danger of falling out of love with multiplayer shooters, Titanfall is the game to win you back.
If that sounds too much like hard work then you may be right and Hack 'n' Slash won't be the game for you. If the concept behind it elicits even the slightest flicker of interest, however, you should definitely give it a try. You may even learn something.
If you do like games that challenge you to work out the rules for yourself, to find the edges of the world by falling over them, then Fract is a unique and often remarkable experience, best savoured in the dark at full volume. Go on, get lost.
And yet if Abyss Odyssey stumbles, it at least does so while attempting a genuinely thrilling, high-wire juggling act of game design rather than simply milking obvious and proven gameplay features. For all its missteps, it remains utterly unique, absolutely gorgeous and delightfully eccentric. If you can stick around long enough to understand what's going on and what's expected of you, and make your peace with Abyss Odyssey's slightly over-reaching nature, you're left with a game that more than repays your patience.
But Pullblox World is also a sequel and a fairly timid one at that. If you've been following the series and hoped for a similar leap in design as the one between Pullblox and Fallblox, your enjoyment will be tinged with mild disappointment. There's clearly more that can be done with this concept on this hardware and it's a shame to see such a promising series tread water so early in its life. If the next entry takes a similarly cautious approach, it'll be time to worry. For now, enjoy what is still one of the best and most undervalued puzzle games around.
But then, low-level disappointment hangs over Rise of the Dark Spark in a constant fog. It is, at best, a functional shooter that asks little of the player and offers the bare minimum in return. Though it pains me to say it, if there's to be another Transformers game to coincide with the inevitable fifth movie, a little of Michael Bay's bullish mayhem would go a long way in livening up this increasingly dull formula.
For all its charm and ambition, Redshirt can't even come close to realising that goal, and inevitably ends up as a fairly flat and repetitive exercise in meaningless random text and mindless icon clicking. In that sense, it's arguably a perfect simulation of real-life social media, but it unfortunately doesn't make for an edifying game experience.
In Gods Will Be Watching, I feel bad not because of what I've done in the game, but because I feel like I'm the one at somebody else's mercy, and I have no idea what that person wants. This may well be deliberate, and if so this failure to communicate its intentions either makes Gods Will Be Watching a work of unusually cruel genius, or a work of astonishing clumsiness. Maybe even both at the same time. Either way, it's impossible to recommend to anyone but the most masochistic players.
It would have been nice to report that the underdog turns out to be a unstoppable champion, but that was never realistically on the cards. So instead we get this: a cheesy, silly, mindless romp in which hordes of identical bad guys get turned to sticky red paste under the furious gaze of your twitching gun barrel. It's certainly not a good game, but it is a game with zero irony. It's not being corny and schlocky on purpose, which means that for all its faults Rambo honestly taps into the spirit of 1980s action cinema more deeply than you might expect - not in spite of its rough edges, but because of them.
As a follow up to Dead Island, Dying Light represents an improvement on the technical front, but has lost some of its knockabout charm in the process. It shares its predecessors pace and shape, as things start on a relative high as you explore into the game's systems, but then tail off the hours tick by. Dying Light mixes up Techland's own recipe to enjoyable effect, but can't fully disguise its regurgitated flavour.
Advanced Warfare isn't the game to answer those questions. Much like the soldiers that populate its fiction, what strengths it has come from the technology bolted to the surface while what's inside looks more fragile and vulnerable than ever.
I just wish it wasn't so happy to sit in another game's shadow, and made more of the few fresh mechanisms that might distinguish it and move the genre forwards. Instead, it hews so closely to a proven template that it's basically a pretty good action-adventure by default. Yet as the game clock ticked towards 20 hours and beyond, I could never quite shake the feeling that I'd still rather be failing in Dark Souls than succeeding in Lords of the Fallen.
The package as a whole is still very much a rough diamond, but it's a definite improvement over its predecessor. The gruesome kill-cam remains a deliciously wrong thrill and the unifying force that holds the game together, but it's doubtful that it would be enough to paper over the cracks in a fourth game without a major overhaul of the AI and physics code. Even with its flaws, though, Sniper Elite 3 is a solidly enjoyable mid-tier action game. It may not hit the bullseye, but it's getting closer with every shot.
We've got a Watch Dogs guide that will help you beat some of the trickier missions in the game.
It's a shame Octodad leans so heavily on traditional gameplay tropes like boss fights and stealth sections in its second half, especially when the opening sections suggest something quirkier and more inventive - but taken as a whole, it's still a minor triumph.