Andy Johnson


29 games reviewed
93.1% of games recommended
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Dec 20, 2022

It seems clear that Need for Speed is in safe hands now that it has been passed back to Criterion Games. The British studio has taken what Ghost Games achieved with Heat, and improved on it in numerous ways. The refined handling model and tighter economy make for some of the most tense and exciting racing around, and it helps that the game is rock-solid on the technical side. Need for Speed Unbound is a surprisingly excellent racer, and one which will hopefully continue to improve in the months to come.

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Worth your time - Evil West
Nov 21, 2022

Evil West is a great antidote to today’s sprawling, open world “forever games”. Its refreshingly tight focus recalls classics from earlier generations. Vampire hunting in the Old West is simply a perfect framework for the gory but cleverly crafted combat which Flying Wild Hog does so well. Those with an Old West action game on their “most wanted” list need look no further.

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Despite its sense of familiarity and a few missteps, this is a sure hit for a series that needs one.

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Mind-blown - CULTIC
Oct 30, 2022

Today’s glut of “boomer shooters” is largely inspired by just a handful of classics from the original golden age of roughly 1993 to 1997. Any new game runs the risk of seeming too similar to one of these icons, of lacking its own identity. At first glance, Cultic seems sure to fall into this trap, given its evident similarities to Blood. In fact, Jason Smith’s fantastic first project uses Monolith’s 1997 game as a jumping-off point – and ultimately delivers one of the best retro shooters in years.

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Wait for Sale - Gotham Knights
Oct 27, 2022

Despite some frustrating design decisions in Gotham Knights, WB Games Montréal deliver a very playable twist on the Arkham formula.

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Oct 11, 2022

Despite an underwhelming story, this is a solid, accessible, and compelling take on the Soulslike formula.

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Liked - Dome Keeper
Oct 4, 2022

Dome Keeper is a labour of love for developer Bippinbits, a two-person team based in Dresden who are also a couple. According to publisher Raw Fury, it was in profit from day one and it is easy to see why – this is a simple game, but one made to a high standard. Its pixel art, wealth of upgrades, and clever sound design are all praiseworthy. Those looking for a deeper roguelike experience should look elsewhere, but ironically Dome Keeper is ideal for players in the hunt for something a bit more surface-level.

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Liked - Sunday Gold
Sep 23, 2022

Sunday Gold represents a bold effort to teach the old dog of point-and-click adventure games some new tricks. While there are some flaws and frustrations, BKOM Studios’ experiment has been broadly successful and players who would never normally touch an adventure game may well enjoy this one. In any case, Frank, Sally, and Gavin are likeable new characters who hopefully will get to humble the rich and powerful once again.

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Sep 21, 2022

Ultimately though, No Place for Bravery is so heavily indebted to its influences that it never carves out a real identity of its own. A game that should lean heavily on its combat, and on telling its story, instead becomes bogged down with frustrating traps and repeatedly going over the same ground. The reliance on opaque systems and too many written lore extracts also detracts from the accomplished visuals and sound. In a market increasingly crowded with games drawing from the same well, it isn’t clear that there is a place for No Place for Bravery.

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Worth your time - Circus Electrique
Sep 12, 2022

Neither of the two layers in Circus Electrique would satisfy on its own. Of course, neither needs to – Zen Studios have built a game where two connected sets of systems continually reinforce each other. The result is an engine which keeps generating new problems and possibilities, sustaining the fun for hours on end. The combination of management and tactical elements might appeal to a relatively niche audience, but for that crowd Circus Electrique may be just the ticket.

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Worth your time - Hard West 2
Aug 19, 2022

Today, XCOM 2 is still the gold standard for turn-based tactics and Desperados III is arguably the ultimate Western tactical experience. With Hard West 2, though, Ice Code Games have captured some of the greatness of these landmark releases. The fiction could be more compelling, and the challenge a little less unfair, but this is a trove of head-scratching shootouts that is easy to recommend to tactics fans.

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Aug 18, 2022

Cursed to Golf has such good aesthetics, and is based on such a fundamentally sound idea, that all of this could be forgivable – and some, no doubt, will relish the challenge. The roguelike structure, though, means that these frustrations have to be endured over and over again. Unlike, say, Nuclear Throne or Into the Breach, the game lacks the smooth and addictive core gameplay to make that feel worthwhile. It’s for that reason that despite taking a strong first shot, Cursed to Golf ultimately ends up feeling under par.

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Worth your time - Sniper Elite 5
May 30, 2022

Over the years, Rebellion have been the target of a lot of glib claims that they have merely “made the same game over and over” with Sniper Elite. While it’s true that the studio has never thoroughly overhauled their formula, the series has consistently improved with each instalment. With Sniper Elite 5, these enhancements are truly stacking up and Rebellion’s passion and experience shines through. While its thin story and demand for patience mean that it isn’t for everyone, this is an enthralling fifth entry in a series that has continued success firmly in its sights.

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Recommended - B.I.O.T.A
Apr 12, 2022

Games which work to revive the glory days of ‘80s platformers are a fairly common sight these days, and are a logical choice of project for developers like Small Bros. B.I.O.T.A. has the special qualities that are needed to stand out from the crowd. It summons up the memory of the run-and-gun games of yesteryear, but never becomes repetitive or frustrating as they did. Its modern conveniences, like save-anywhere and a flexible character system, turn the game into something more than just a retro revival. Games with a philosophy this obviously nostalgic aren’t for everyone, but anyone who digs this retro look is sure to enjoy a trip to Frontier Horizon.

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Worth your time - Forgive Me Father
Apr 8, 2022

Forgive Me Father can seem a little off the boomer shooter pace at times. While attractive, its aesthetics could be a bit more cohesive – for example, a pulsating Lovecraftian HUD would be much more appropriate than the flat comic book one that Byte Barrel went for. The level designs are certainly not as inventive as the ones found in the best of the genre. With that being said, the game has a lot to offer retro shooter enthusiasts and from time to time, it comes together wonderfully.

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Wait for Sale - Weird West
Mar 31, 2022

Ironically, though, Weird West is a game which could have been so much better had it been made by a much larger team with the resources to make good on its ambitious design. What has been achieved here is laudable, good and occasionally great, but WolfEye may have been better advised to take on a project of a more manageable scale. There is real imagination and talent on show here, but Weird West is not the best way to harness it.

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Recommended - Shadow Warrior 3
Feb 28, 2022

Over the last decade, Polish developer Flying Wild Hog has taken the Shadow Warrior shooter series originated by 3D Realms in 1997 and made it very much their own. With each new entry, the studio has felt free to make big changes. Now that the long-delayed Shadow Warrior 3 is finally here, it’s clear that the developers have given the formula its most aggressive rework yet. The result is a startlingly stripped-down sequel that focuses exclusively on its short but sometimes glorious single-player campaign.

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Unscored - Sifu
Feb 6, 2022

Combining a spectacular fighting system, a clever ageing mechanic and a boatload of style, Sloclap’s second game is a challenging triumph.

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Aiko’s Choice is a document of a developer at the top of their game, doing what they love to do. Fans of the original Shadow Tactics are sure to enjoy these new missions, particularly because of the way they expand upon and improve the main game. Currently, Mimimi Games are working on their next real-time stealth tactics game with the codename “Süßkartoffel” (or sweet potato in English). Before Shadow Tactics was released, the company nearly went bankrupt – now able to self-publish their next game, anything seems possible. In the meantime, Aiko’s Choice serves as a reminder of how enthralling real-time stealth tactics can be.

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Dec 3, 2021

It’s a longstanding truism that annual games are not well-suited to innovation. They tend to make only small, incremental changes but even these can thrill or displease the loyal year-on-year purchasers. Vanguard is exactly that kind of game in exactly that kind of series. What it does have is the extremely high production standards and level of polish that Call of Duty is known for these days. This looks and plays every bit like a game which cost many, many millions of dollars to develop. If you have ever enjoyed a Call of Duty game you will enjoy this one, too, and can expect to be kept busy until the next edition. 18 games in, that is about all we can expect.

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