The Gunk is a creative, witty, and charming adventure game, albeit a bit on the short side at only five or six hours in length. Still, the writing, world, and exploration more than make up for the short campaign as players will find themselves immediately immersed in the world and Rani and Becks' friendship. Unfortunately, a few technical problems plague the game, the most blatant of which – getting stuck on various items – becomes frustrating in later platforming sections. Still, The Gunk is an adventure well worth partaking in.
Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition is an overwhelmingly great package, stuffed with hundreds of hours of content, incredible replayability, a variety of distinct classes to choose from, a huge open world ripe for exploration, more loot than imaginable, and fun combat. Despite its age, Grim Dawn holds up incredibly well when stacked against more modern ARPGs and has made a fluid transition from PC to console with only a few minor slowdown issues.
The Last Stand: Aftermath is a rougelite with a unique concept which keeps each run feeling fresh. Each character, despite having nearly no dialogue, still feels distinct and gives you the sense that each volunteer who sacrifices their life in the name of the community is important. As you progress and unlock new and better equipment and upgrade your survivors, runs will become longer and unveil new story beats, constantly keeping players pushing to unlock the next upgrade, find the next supply cache, or uncover more of the world's lore.
The Grand Theft Auto series will always be seen as a cultural milestone in video gaming which led to the open world games that we cherish now, but the years have been a bit harsh on the trilogy and the complete lack of care put into what is essentially an afterthought of a remaster doesn't help matters much. The few updates made with controls, shooting, and lighting are nice, but not enough to justify the $60 price tag. The games are still worth revisiting, especially if you've never played the original releases, but only if you aren't playing on PC or the Switch as those versions seem to share the bulk of issues the game is currently experiencing. So far PS5 is the way to go for a hassle-free trip into Liberty City, just maybe wait for a price cut first.
Mario Party Superstars is the culmination of all that is great about the Mario Party series. Sporting many of the best boards and mini-games pulled from the series' long history and featuring multiple quality-of-life updates including online play, the ability to save and return to a game later, faster gameplay, a variety of different playstyles between the boards, a leveling system, and a ton of items to unlock, Mario Party Superstars may be the best entry yet in the long-running series. Here's hoping Nintendo supports this release and adds new boards in future DLC.
Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is a surprisingly unique twist on the puzzle genre, making incredible use of light and shadow. The dual character perspective is clever, and helps to create increasingly complex puzzles, which thankfully avoid crossing the line from challenging to frustrating. The short length may upset players hoping for a longer adventure, but helps keep the game flowing smoothly and prevents its core gameplay from becoming stale. Add in a beautifully crafted world and unique boss fights, and Tandem begins to stand out from other puzzler games currently on the market.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is a uniquely thrilling horror experience. Armed with only a camera and your wits, the tension is palpable and oozes out of every nook and cranny of Mt. Hikami and the surrounding areas. The camera serves to be as trusty of a weapon as a gun and adds a distinct tension to the action that few games could replicate. The atmosphere, level design, and story all work in tandem to create a surprisingly tense and beautiful experience, despite relying a bit too much on backtracking and having a rather thin story.
Pumpkin Jack is a retro-inspired platformer that features a great sense of humor, creative boss fights, a variety of levels, a few interesting puzzles, and some inspired on-rails sections. While the combat can border on frustrating and the game can be completed in 4 or 5 hours, there is still a lot to love – especially if you are a fan of PS2 era platformers.
Toy Soldiers HD allows players to live out the scenarios they once created as a child playing with toys on a rainy Saturday afternoon, while also providing a complex, stressful, and beautifully crafted strategic experience. I found myself eager to see what was next, to retry levels with better defenses after learning what to expect, and to hop into a multiplayer match (even if I couldn't at press time). I may not have played the original, so I can't compare the remaster to it, but if the original was half as good as the remaster then I am sorry that I missed out on this series for so many years.
While hilarious and fun for a couple of hours, Fisti-Fluffs players will be hard-pressed to find many reasons to come back after a night or two of entertainment. Still, the hilarious win animations, variety of modes, customization options, and killer metal soundtrack make for a good night in. While there are a few issues with slowdown and bots freezing, none of these ruins the experience enough to worry about in the long run.
In Sound Mind is a psychological horror game which borders more on tense than scary, and proves to be a unique look into the minds of struggling individuals. Having each tape/patient provide a different world, with the patient's inner torment essentially lashing out as the level's boss, is a unique twist on the genre. The juxtaposition between the monster trying to hurt you, but also expressing its doubt and fears, all while Desmond attempts to calm it and show that he wants to help, felt surprisingly fresh – and gave me much more reason to continue than a simple good versus evil fight would have. A sense of humor, large levels, and a variety of puzzles make In Sound Mind a game worth picking up for those looking for a new twist in an overdone genre.
F.I.S.T. Forged in Shadow Torch features complex combat, a huge and incredibly detailed map to explore, loads of secrets to find, a lengthy campaign, and gorgeous visuals. While I may have had a few minor gripes and do wish there was less required backtracking, I had loads of fun chasing down The Legion and its Iron Dogs and unraveling the mystery of the spark. F.I.S.T. is a must play for fans of the metroidvania genre.
WarioWare: Get It Together, despite its rather short campaign, features over 200 incredibly funny, absurd, and downright creative microgames for players to complete. You'll find yourself laughing your way through the experience, fighting with your friends over who failed a game, and savoring your triumphs over the late game's harder challenges. The addition of the Emporium, Break Room, Missions, Play-O-Pedia, and Wario Cup are nice and will keep the game fresh for many players well after they complete the story, but a few players may not enjoy the grind to unlock all the Prezzies available. As it stands, WarioWare: Get It Together is a great, though short-lived, game – perfect for a night in with a friend.
Tails of Iron is a fantastic, brutal, and gorgeous game. Placing rats at the forefront of an adventure game was a bold move, and serves the world that Odd Bug Studio has created immensely. The battle between the frogs and rats is intense, the combat is challenging - yet fair - and the wide variety of equipment is sure to make any RPG fan excited to experiment with new loadouts. I enjoyed every moment spent in the Rat Kingdom, and can only hope to see more from Redgi, his brothers, and this fantastic world.
The Medium proves to be an interesting look into the human psyche, one that attempts to figure out why individuals are the way they are, while still stating that your past does not excuse your current actions. I greatly enjoyed my time in Marianne's shoes, and found myself constantly impressed with the incredible graphics and unique mechanics. Bloober Team has made an impressive product, even more so on the PS5 with their willingness to make use of the PS5's controller's special features.
Quake is a seminal shooter that helped define the genre, but it's definitely starting to show its age. It's well worth experiencing the campaign, but its design and enemy placement can occasionally feel unfair. Just as well, the multiplayer is difficult to get into if you're not already familiar with it.
Trigger Witch is a surprisingly cute yet bloody homage to retro RPGS while also being an incredibly competent twin stick shooter. You can tackle the campaign solo or alongside a friend, adding much needed replayability. Despite the short length, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Evertonia. The characters, dialogue, backstory, and challenge left me satisfied and looking forward to a sequel.
B.ARK is a fun and incredibly chaotic shooter, one best played with friends. The levels move quickly and throw a variety of enemies and bosses at you, despite some of the bosses feeling a bit repetitive. Still, the lovable cast of characters, the quirky concept, the ability to rescue your teammates, and the push for players to be competitive all fuse together to create a fun, if short-lived experience that I found well worth tackling over a night with friends.
Last Stop was unlike any narrative driven game I've played. The stories were all unique, with fully fleshed out characters, great dialogue and voice acting, and a highly entertaining, if ultimately a bit of a letdown, story that finds satisfying ways to intertwine all three characters. Fans of Telltale's game series will find a lot to love in this mature narrative centering on life, love, loss, betrayal, and redemption.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Donuts 'N Justice and highly recommend it to anybody looking for a short but exciting shoot 'em up. The game is brimming with fun shooting, a goofy premise, and a good variety of unlockables that are sure to keep players coming back for a few more rounds after completion.