Steelrising is another gem from the mine that is Spiders. The choice of the steampunk, alternate history French revolution setting is amazing, and somehow the Soulslike formula works beautifully in tandem. Throw in a distinctive story and phenomenal assist mode, and Steelrising is a sleeper hit in a year where we could use another.
We do need to take a beat and talk about the bugs in Saints Row, and there’s plenty of them to go around. My gun flipped around and wouldn’t fire while facing the wrong direction. The car physics are more springy than a Super Bouncy Ball. Running over a fire hydrant will shoot a tank-sized vehicle upwards and onto a nearby roof with little effort. Vehicles disappear and reappear. I even had a moment during a mini-boss where Eli went down, and once resurrected stood there doing nothing repeating his lines for being downed. That and the boss wouldn’t get to his cooldown for me to damage him, and for whatever reason I wasn’t taking any damage. And none of that addresses the current state of cooperative play.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is one of the best superhero games of its generation, and the move to PC gives it an arsenal of new settings to play with. While the frame rate can fluctuate a bit, the fact that it hits the marks advertised and even exceeds them is good news for everyone that owns a computer and is worried they might fall short. Ray tracing is a dream, and while expensive shows the prowess of Insomniac and Nixxes. Even better, this game is available on the go, Steam Deck ready at launch. Just being obtainable would be enough for most, but the above and beyond approach taken in this project is one Peter Parker himself would look at and smile.
A delightful journey behind the whiskers of a fuzzy feline friend, Stray is a wonderful game for both cat enthusiast and indie enjoyer alike. The story, while simple, is enchanting with each new discovery – with some that may just make you shed a tear. Gameplay doesn't break new ground, but feels unique from the perspective of a cat, which is handled purrfectly. Stray is incredible, and one you should be playing right meow.
Outriders Worldslayer is more Outriders, and that's not a bad thing. While the story doesn't do much, the game as a whole is still one of the most fun third person shooters out there right now, with a feel to the gameplay that is a blast to play. The addition of the Trials of Tarya Gratar end game content is worth every penny, and the new gear, skills, and Apocalypse tiers ensure you'll want to stick around and grind for a good while.
Gas Station Simulator feels like a weird game to want to play, but you want to play it. Like most simulators, the tasks at hand are menial and repetitive, but it's generally a fun game to keep progressing through. The upgrades and tools are well placed to keep you from feeling like you're dealing with too much busy work, and the humor the game injects keeps things lighthearted. Although, if we could just get rid of Dennis, I wouldn't complain.
There's really no redeeming quality for the teams behind CrossfireX to look at and say, "We can build off of that". It's a bland shooter that doesn't do anything special, and now that I'm done reviewing it I have no plans to ever touch it again. Maybe if they drop another campaign piece I'll try it, but if I'm Remedy I'd get as far away from this one as possible.
It's not just that Horizon Forbidden West is bigger, it's better. Guerrilla had already crafted an incredible title in Zero Dawn, but they've graduated into building an immaculate one in Forbidden West. Its strengths are taken to new heights, tuned to being the best they can be, and what were once weaknesses transform into pillars the series can build on. Besides a few minor technical issues, Horizon Forbidden West is the perfect example of what you want a sequel to an already great game to be, and it's certainly a challenger for best game in 2022.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human may begin like the shuffling corpses you run into during the day, but evolves into the ferocious horde you encounter in the shadows of night. With an engaging gameplay loop of parkour and combat, the exploration of Villedor is something you’ll enjoy for hours on end, and with up to three friends at that. Yeah, it may take a little bit to get hooked, but once you’re infected, it’ll be all you can do to stay human.
Terminator: Resistance shows a bunch of potential, even if it doesn't always meet it. I was happily surprised with deeper than expected progression, and great dialogue and relationship building. But playing the game I feel stuck in the past, with visuals from yesteryear meeting good but standard gunplay. The worst part is watching the newest piece, the Annihilation Line DLC, take a step back. The Wolfenstein series does better in this sub-genre, but Terminator: Resistance is still a lot of fun to play, which says something about where it could go if Teyon gets another shot.
Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is an exemplary experience for anyone wanting to enjoy time with our eccentric investigator. The story behind Violet Holmes' demise will pull at your heartstrings, and the cases you'll decipher on the way there just make you appreciate Chapter One all the more. Yeah, there are some technical issues, and you're most likely going to get stuck at least once, but unraveling the best laid plans of the most conniving criminals is a delight to accomplish.
Unplugged is actually a pretty cool way to bring the Guitar Hero format to VR. I was really impressed with the hands tracking, and the setlist is largely good, with a few nice big name tracks along with some lively lesser known ones. I could deal with plenty less Satchel, and would prefer in his stead more direction on what I'm doing, but all and all Unplugged is a rockin' fun time.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is the biggest surprise of the year, and joins Marvel's Spider-Man as one of the best Marvel video games in the last decade. The Guardians themselves steal the show, depicted perfectly, with a movie/comic-worthy story that will leave you laughing and crying. The combat is a lot of fun with plenty of strategies to use, even if it can get a little repetitive, and the setting and locations blow you away in scale and how incredibly detailed and beautiful they are. This Guardians team absolutely stands on its own, and just like the movie I'm hooked on a feeling.
Alan Wake is a gold standard when it comes to telling an incredible story, and nothing has changed with that in Alan Wake Remastered. The gameplay still feels pretty awesome, even if it sometimes shows its age, but nothing about that detracts from one of the best games of the last decade which feels at home, for the most part, in 2021. Visually, this game is taken to new heights, and even if it doesn't look or play as good as Control, Alan Wake Remastered, like the Bioshock Collection before, will leave players remembering that wonderful day in May of 2010 when they dove into Cauldron Lake for the first time. Or is it an ocean?
I'm not sure how Ember Lab did it, but I walked away from Kena: Bridge of Spirits with my expectations surpassed to a much further extent than I could have imagined. The visuals are breathtaking, the gameplay evolves in meaningful ways, and the heart the story contains has no bounds. You'll find it hard to come across a more wholesome and beautiful game in 2021 than Kena: Bridge of Spirits, it's everything I wanted it to be and more.
The Big Con is a blast from the past in its setting and story. While the tools to get you where you need to go need a bit of work, Ali is an exceptional main character, and playing through her story is a lot of fun. It's short, yes, but it's definitely worth the price of admission for an entertaining jaunt through the '90s.
Fracked hits the slopes hard, slowing down at times to a frustrating degree, but doing so much right you keep on going. The gunplay is a lot of fun, the immersion is enjoyable, and the freedom of movement is surprisingly good, but I do wish the enemies spawned a bit slower and there was a bit more in terms of guidance. If you're looking to shoot up some grunts in a Borderlandsy setting while skiing, I can't recommend this one more.