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.
Call of Cthulhu is an emphatic character sheet fed to a game deficient of opportunities for self-expression. Imagine if, instead of a dramatic exploration behind the power and poison of enlightenment, Lovecraft only wrote a flat outline. Call of Cthulhu is eldritch horror without emotion or agency, and its madness is entirely mundane.
This Missing is a heartfelt affirmation of identity expressed through emotional turbulence and macabre staging. Its performance as a puzzle-platformer—suspiciously slapdash and presumably exploitative—revels in instability, but finds resolution through a singular and concordant message. The Missing's pieces fit its puzzle, even if the player (and The Missing's protagonist) believe they won't.
Astro Bot Rescue Mission neatly unfolds platforming's trick and tropes with immunity from the traditional hazards of virtual reality. Immersed in Astro Bot's kinetic charm and engaged by its clever novelties, you're left admiring the medium's strengths rather than cursing its limitations. Astro Bot is a treasure for PlayStation VR enthusiasts.
Dead Cells is a cultured, clever, and collected fusion of roguelike canon and metroidvania doctrine. Discovering its wealth of secrets drives the player's curiosity while a proficient performance, derived from countless combinations of weapons and options, rewards their personal dexterity. Dead Cells, from any imaginable approach, thrives in a powerful cycle of surprise and satisfaction.
Tempest 4000 is a euphoria induction apparatus designed to simulate the mystique of vector display technology and the ancient magnetism of exotic electricity. It is overwhelming and it is hard as shit and it doesn't care. Tempest 4000's score-chasing energy, in the wild purity of a "video game," feels like a magical retreat.
Red Faction: Guerrilla is ostensibly an open-world action game. It is actually an escalation of opportunities for artistic demolition. Other aspects of Guerrilla—shooting, narrative, driving, logic—may be generously labeled as dated or defective, but rarely distract from the lure of explosive Martian terrorism. Re-Mars-Tered Edition is a convenient and good-enough way to treasure its spectacle in 2018.