Overall, Dark Alliance needs a lot of work to truly warrant a playthrough and can only be recommended in its current state to massive fans of the book series who just want to know what happens in between books 1 and 2. The game itself is a masterpiece to look at, but falls short in the gameplay department, making this a tough sell for anyone who wasn't already going to pick it up and play simply based on its source material.
It's hard to fully recommend Don't Give Up: A Cynical Tale. There is an interesting story here and fun characters to chat with, but overall the game comes up short. With its linear paths and lack of interactivity for the player, Don't Give Up ends up feeling more like a visual novel with a battle system than an actual RPG adventure.
Overall The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a fun multiplayer game. There is a lot to love here and with it being brand new the additional possibilities of DLC are exciting to think about (House of 1000 Corpses anyone?). There were some framerate issues in the pre-release PC build, especially when a Victim was being killed, but these have been noted by the designers and should be ironed out shortly after release. As a fan of asymmetrical horror games, and looking for something new to scratch that itch, this is absolutely a must-play, though it comes with a fair number of issues that might turn off people from returning over and over the way some other online multiplayer experiences actively encourage.
Overall Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 is a solid upgrade to the CMS series. All of the updated items and graphics will be a welcome addition to past players and a perfect place to start for new ones. It certainly isn't a game anyone would want to binge over a weekend, but any car repair fan will enjoy this one for years to come - or until the next instalment in the series, if it continues to evolve and adapt towards more detail-oriented play.
Overall, Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground is a decent outing for fans of the tabletop miniatures game. It creates a solid "one more time" gameplay loop that keeps players constantly trying to find better units and gear to max out their potential. The story for each faction is enjoyable, despite its constant mid-battle interruptions, and the consistent difficulty level makes for a solid challenge, even if the overall package is unlikely to resonate with anyone who isn't already keen on either the genre or the IP.
Wrestlequest is a lot of fun, and there is clearly a strong nostalgia for wrestling here, as well as the old-school style of roleplaying games. This is both a blessing and a curse. Wrestlequest does its best to keep the player engaged, and the story is a delight even if you aren't a wrestling fan, but the slow pace of old-school RPGs can quickly wear on modern players. However, if someone is yearning for the old 16-bit Final Fantasy style of gameplay, Wrestlequest will absolutely scratch that itch: ooooh Yeah!
There is a lot to enjoy in this year's WWE2K23, and the amount of new content should please those who've already put so many hours into the last installment. There are still some bugs within the actual gameplay elements that have plagued the series for years, but with much fewer mistakes than WWE 2K22. The increased Creation options, the addicting blind packs and new online multiplayer of MyFACTION, and even the separate storylines added into MyRISE for women and men wrestlers. There is a lot going on this year and WWE2K23 is a great version for veterans and new players alike.
Overall, LEGO Bricktales, much like the similar LEGO Builder's Journey, is a great little puzzle game that provides a real sense of LEGO building to the player. The customization and cute story keep the game interesting and the sandbox mode is a great way to practice building real LEGO sets. There is never just one specific answer to a puzzle and mixing things up makes for a fun and enjoyable game that would work for LEGO fans of any age.
Overall, Arcade Paradise does exactly what it set out to do, it creates the nostalgic feelings of an old 90s arcade. The aesthetic is well-developed, and each of the 35 arcade games are enjoyable to play on their own. If owning and running an old-school arcade is something you've always dreamed of, this game will provide that, with much less maintenance cost.
Overall, Happy's Humble Burger Farm is successful in creating a dark and mysterious world that begs to be explored. The horror elements play well into the aesthetic, and the jump scares can be quite effective. For players who just love to cook, there is an unlockable Endless Mode after beating the game which allows just that. Any fan of the horror genre will easily get their money's worth with this one.
Overall, Escape Simulator is a great way to experience an escape room without leaving the house. The smooth gameplay and realistically solvable puzzles make for an enjoyable experience. Player-created rooms will undoubtedly only add to the value and make Escape Simulator an easy purchase for puzzle fans.
Overall, Floodland is an absolute must-play for fans of the survival simulator genre. The game runs smoothly, controls well, and has enough depth in it to keep players coming back for more. The bleak world of this post-climate change disaster is immersive and beautiful looking, and Floodland is also a great beginner-sim for players who may be new to the genre, with its classic research trees, simple mechanics, and well-crafted tutorial are easily understood at any skill level.
Overall The Jackbox Party Pack 9 is an excellent addition to the series. There is definitely more good than bad in this edition and fans will be pleased. The only real missing piece is a strong drawing game; there is a round of drawing in Nonsensory, but it's not the focus and definitely doesn't hold a candle to past games like Tee K.O. or Jackbox 8's Drawful: Animate.
From the tiniest details in each item to the massive story told through simple gameplay, Unpacking is a fantastic indie game. The relaxing gameplay and chill music create a nice getaway experience. It's easy to disappear into Unpacking and complete the entire game in one playthrough, but the experience is so satisfying that players will want to do it again and again.
The constant ebb and flow of Disco Elysium's storyline makes for one amazing adventure that can easily be replayed, tackling problems in different ways each time. The Nintendo Switch is a great fit for this kind of game, and the adjustment of the controls was handled well by the team at ZA/UM. This is a perfect rendition of Disco Elysium for new players who are interested in the game, or returning players who want to relive the fever dream on a portable console.
The true success of In Sound Mind comes from the atmosphere that We Create Stuff has crafted. The puzzles are smart and well-thought-out, the jump scares that the game utilizes don't feel forced or cheesy, and the drastically different style of each tape shines through to create a spooky, complete-feeling game. With creepy sound design, and original music by The Living Tombstone, In Sound Mind is a fantastic single-player horror game.
Overall, DC Super Hero Girls is a very solid kids game. Nothing is new or revolutionary, but the game feels incredibly well put together. The story is enjoyable, the voice acting is exceptional, and the world feels fleshed out. With so many recognizable heroes and villains in a high school setting, it's hard not to enjoy some time with this happy slice of the DC Universe.