Tell Me Why offers a much-needed reshaping of the choose your own adventure games, moving away from cliffhangers and dramatic, distinct choices towards a more gentle and meaningful experience. The game features bouts of magic realism, but is most magic in its human moments. All the major choices shape your character's experience more than their actions, and while the first, introductory chapter occasionally feels shallow, later chapters are overflowing with depth.
Annapurna Interactive has a staggering back catalogue, but 2021 has frankly not been great for the publisher. Last Stop failed to leave any kind of impact, Maquette is a game with Bryce Dallas Howard in it and not much else, and Twelve Minutes, despite being loaded with star-power, wastes its time loop mechanic in service of a ridiculous twist ending that derails the entire game. With The Artful Escape, plus Neon White, Stray, and Solar Ash to come in the near future, it feels like Annapurna is back.
The only gripe anyone could possibly have about this game is that they personally prefer the narrative driven THUG and THAW games. I probably do too, but in terms of the raw THPS experience, this game has everything you need and more. Warehouse is the best opening level of all time, and you can spend hours in each park figuring out new lines. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 Remake is a magnificent game, and while the Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer the definitive version of the game, but it almost does, and that’s good enough for Jamie Thomas.
I’m not necessarily a fan of all of the design choices - it’s often both too open ended and too restrictive - but I understand them all, and I wish it was less of an exception to the rule. I can’t fault its narrative, or even its design, despite my disagreements. If someone told me they consider it a perfect game, I wouldn’t have anything besides personal preference to come back at them. But with the fiddly game design likely to block off even more players than the already niche themes, I can’t help but wish a game so focused on socialism could have been more welcoming to the masses.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a very good game that feels like it’s already been left behind by modern genre conventions. There’s nothing all that frustrating in that - we shouldn’t expect games, especially those made by studios the size of Ember Labs, to be constantly groundbreaking, but so much of Kena feels borrowed from elsewhere that it’s difficult to call it great. It’s a solid, enjoyable experience, and charming enough that you won’t care that you’ve played versions of it before. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a pretty nice wheel nonetheless.
FIFA 22 is just like any other FIFA game. It’s a very, very good football game, and with NBA 2K taking its eyes off the prize in favour of the State Farm drip, it’s left with a tap-in to be 2021’s best sports sim. HyperMotion makes a difference, create-a-club adds some personality, and everything else is the same. What more were you expecting?