Katana Zero's blade isn't sharp enough to cut through its self-indulgent idiosyncrasy. Inventive action sequences that neatly divide improvisation and orchestration and a novel time-rewinding mechanic both suffer under an overwrought style miserably impressed with its own posture. Katana Zero works best when it's not auditioning to change its title to Edge Lords.
God's Trigger's grindhouse kitsch is effective because you can believe it was made by deeply inspired people who barely knew what they were doing. Blundering adrenaline has an unconscious authenticity which, by its nature, translates to a gnarly player experience. Misadventure is technically still an adventure.
Dangerous Driving bets that spurned fans of Burnout still want more Burnout made by the only people they would trust to make more Burnout. It's a skilled recreation, albeit one that forgets wild innovation and grinning novelty were as important to Burnout's identity as racing and smashing up outrageous cars. Dangerous Driving, ironically, is defined by familiarity and comfort.
There is no satisfaction in immortality. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice proves its thesis by matching the resolve of its protagonist with the potential of its player in a performance choreographed by agonizing lessons and industrious rehearsals. When it's showtime presentation seems instinctive and proficiency feels powerful. Sekiro demands immense competence, but, once its needs are met, the payoff is irresistible.
Hypnospace Outlaw presents a precise simulation of the apex of 90's internet culture. Separating anarchic innocence from hubristic malice is the objective while soaking in the garish spectacle of a lost time is its gratuity. Twenty years removed, Hypnospace Outlaw exposes the dividing line between the internet as a digital frontier and its current status as a corporate hellscape.
Lavish pop-goth theatrics and profusely ridiculous violence compose the bible to which Devil May Cry 5 remains unabashedly faithful. Whether engaging with micro-intricacies buried deep inside its three protagonists or simply opting for maladroit participation, both approaches are furiously consumed with making the player look and feel extraordinary. Devil May Cry 5 is flexible, confident, and genuine Devil May Cry.
Ape Out parades the alliance between thunderous jazz and an irritated bloodthirsty gorilla. Two unrelated objects defined by being out of control are both under your control in the form of a violent top-down brawler. Symbols crash when gorillas and humans clash and the performance is beautiful and preposterous.
FutureGrind forges, destroys, and rewrites neural pathways until gray matter is shaped to command its style of acrobatic vehicular platforming. Uniracers meets Trials is an easy shortcut, but it undersells the succinct density and progressive challenge of its level design. FutureGrind has the goofy novelty and formidable sincerity of what's expected from a platformer in 2019.
Like the pearlescent shimmer across its desert surface, Vane is difficult to observe and define with precise clarity. Its world presents either an invitation to wonder or a provocation to explore and it's often seized by the tension pulling in opposing directions. Vane can be brilliant and subversive or confusing and frustrating and it's impossible to separate its intentions from its misfortunes.
The Eternal Castle [REMASTERED] prevails through its devotion to the garish glitz and grime of its early 90's apocalyptic techno/retro-future. It's a complete aesthetic that romanticizes graphical antiquity and idealizes a parallel with the maximum of its era's volatile culture. The artifact of The Eternal Castle may be invented and artificial, but it's no less effective in proving its power.
Dark Souls serves Ashen's premise but does not define its conclusion. By instilling senses of community and devotion inside its narrative, Ashen proves Souls' discourse expands beyond punishment and brutality. Once separated from its inspiration, Ashen has plenty to show off inside of its common space.
Below's maddening edge is an open rebellion to its quiet sophistication. It's loaded with intrigue but resistant to modern methods of approach, creating a Rorschach test where losing patience with its internal contradiction is as credible of a reaction as relishing its idiosyncratic isolation and adversity. Ultimately, Below is a curiosity in which gratification is dependent on personal resolve.
Gris is watercolor wonderland fashioned to explore and confront elements of despair and anguish. Its communication through sound and motion paints visually arresting moments and creates intimately powerful movements. Concealed inside all of this is clever and versatile platformer, an asset Gris is confident to hold as collateral for the sake of its delicate heart.
Just Cause 4 lives in the mystique of a simulation that is concurrently shattering apart and performing as designed. Agency and Chaos are rival gods condensed into a single protagonist who uses the world's most outrageous toolbox to violently and preposterously address its most rote objectives. Limitations are explosive fuel for superpowers, somehow balancing the equation that allows Just Cause 4 to make sense.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight is the latest emphatic return to beloved characters and themes from Persona 3. While its energy is relentless and its rhythm mechanics are capable, it's hard to deny Dancing in Moonlight is a product picked, borrowed, and assembled from existing Persona games. It's a performance that moves but a show that doesn't go anywhere.
Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special is a friendly opportunity to visit with a videogame-about-a-videogames pioneer. As a six-stage shoot 'em up, Game Tengoku is stretched as far as $30 can take it. As a peak into the ultra-novelty of 1995's Japanese arcade scene, it may be priceless. It is both Important and Good that Game Tengoku is now somewhat localized and available.
Déraciné subverts Japanese horror tropes as easily as it conceals the limitations of virtual reality. By casting the player in an active and passive role in its narrative, it juxtaposes agency with accountability as it creates a tranquil, sinister story. Déraciné is a return FromSoftware practicing their talent inside of darkness, but mercifully away from Souls.
Tetris Effect is a euphoric balance of intensity and serenity. Rarely do games manage either with stability, let alone perform both in concert. Tetris Effect's audio and visual assault is as powerful as its score-chasing quest for order and perfection, leaving the player overwhelmed with raw optimism and kaleidoscopic emotion. Tetris never required a sequel, but it now feels inseparable from Tetris Effect's compliment.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! is a bright and cheery arcade drumming classic digitally packaged without the physical equipment normally used to play it, conceding a DualShock 4 as the solitary drum to bang across dozens of energetic pop anthems. It's a fun, albeit plain, rhythm game that you can imagine being even more fun with the hilarious drum controller that isn't included or available in North America.
GRIP: Combat Racing is a contemporary adaptation of Rollcage and its sequel Rollcage Stage II. This is a tremendous achievement for fans of Rollcage and a charming but narrow curiosity for everyone else. By splitting the difference between monument and movement, GRIP remains confident in its limitations.