FOAMSTARS knows what it's doing following the Splatoon blueprint, but it's an easy pop that values its in-game economy more than fostering a community during the teething period of its release. I worry for the future of this one in the live service vacuum. While there are aspects that feel fun, this game still needs to prove itself in the market which is no easy feat. Locally, this is a tall ask but with server numbers untenable it really may be the writing on the bathroom wall for such a new multiplayer game – bubbles not included.
War never changes; trains are always going to be running late, though. Last Train Home lets players experience the trials of band of soldiers on a 9000km journey home. This management game is no walk in the park and considering the subject matter this is for the best. If you're familiar with RTS games then this is going to hit that sweet spot just fine. If you aren't familiar with the genre but find the narrative compelling then be ready to play stealthy and fiddle with the difficulty settings. Last Train Home requires time but if you're willing to persist and jump on the train, then this ride might find space within your real-time strategy game library.
Just like any night market, one is never quite sure what will be on offer. Nimeko's Night Market is a spin on the cosy genre with a sure footing and loads of potential. With such an interesting cast of characters inhabiting the island and a nifty protagonist, the game is definitely a successful narrative life sim. Where Mineko's Night Market fails to sell itself is in the menial grind. The idea of constantly crafting until you're onto the next objective falls a little flat even when you are invested in helping Nikko find their way home. If cosy games make your heart swoon, then the time needed on this one will be worth the investment. If you aren't a fan of the grind, order in and save yourself a trip to Mineko's Night Market.
As asymmetrical horror games go, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is on the shoulders of genre mainstays and still, it's an absolute ripper. Players are thrown in the deep end, which while frustrating at first leads to later games where things begin to click and make a lot more sense. Seeing iconic locations from the films and racing to find the way out as a chainsaw swings behind you is quite the thrill but it's as thrilling as it is unforgiving. Perks will aid you but understanding the perk tree is a little convoluted. Playing as the Family is a cruel spin on the game too for those feeling a little more sadistic. I do worry about how much runway the game will have into the future with limited films, not to mention the fate of the developer's other asymmetrical horror game. Perhaps this could see the game moving into more original content based on the IP it lives and breathes. And who knows? Maybe you'll be lucky and escape first try.
At its core, Amnesia: The Bunker is a monster of the week horror game that dips into the Amnesia lore pool but still feels more than accessible to someone who hasn't played or watched the games before. While the controls are rigid, the game shines in its use of atmosphere and survival elements which many will find enjoyable. The Bunker will have you running for your life in a deadly game of cat and mouse, even if the ending feels a little lacklustre.
Minecraft Legends is a fresh spin on a classic game that isn't afraid to boldly try something new. Come for the battles, but stay for the tender storyline that empowers the player with how their actions are affecting the game world as they take down the Piglin forces. This one feels like it's for Minecraft fans in one way, but in another it's all about battling and sadly this leads to player imagination jumping in the back seat. Regardless, it's either a fresh spin that will be your jam, or you'll be craving the freedom of the original.
Storyteller makes the player a would-be narrator, with a focus on finding the correct story under the guise of narrative independence. It's a polished experience that's very interactive and easy to pick up. The levels pad the game's length out nicely to create an experience that can be played in a single sitting if you don't get stuck. It's just a shame the replayability suffers when the player realises there isn't room for agency in a prewritten story.
Ghost Song is an aesthetic descent into sadness that could've been much more, yet stumbles on the final lap. The game explores interesting characters while filling out the game world with melancholia, acting as a love letter to the Metroidvania and Souls genres. The soundtrack brings a resounding presence to the game that really cements that overall vibe for the player, enticing them in for more. There is enjoyment to be had here, but players might find that wonder and mystery replaced with frustration when coming up against bullet sponge enemies and a game narrative that never quite resolves in a satisfying way.
It's hard not to love the adorable Dusty's capers in Justice Sucks. It's a fun arcade game that isn't afraid to tell a story as well. Each new area brings its own obstacles to face, but in the end, Dusty has all the tools to rise above the bad guys in this sentient robot action romp. Being so replayable works heavily in the game's favour. It's a great time for anyone keen to jump into a challenge-orientated arcade game packed full of chaos.
If you're after a simulation game that's a bit different than the usual genre mainstays, then chuck Arcade Paradise on the spin cycle. But be warned, despite packing in 35+ arcade games, it's not going to give you as much depth as other simulators. The early game suffers from a repetitive game loop that is only rescued by the happy grind to unlock new games in the arcade area. A worthy way to spend some coins and kill some time, Arcade Paradise at the very least lives up to half of its name.
Loot River is certainly a roguelike unafraid to explore new waters, but what it lacks is a refined loop. Constantly repeating the run, even in different dungeons, isn’t an easy concept to float. However, the game’s unique movement mechanics and visuals do a lot of work to sell the experience. If you’re looking for a roguelike that’s going to punish you, then check this one out, but try not to be too shocked when you realise there are no life jackets provided.
If you’re after a bell-bashing good time with all the style, boss battles, and even cooking, then this game is going to sing the tune you’ll want to hear. Anuchard is a hearty indie game with much to give to those who are looking for an appropriate mix of dungeon donging and puzzle-solving chaos. It might not be a genre cornerstone with some notable shortfalls, but it will still keep you ring-a-ding-dinging as you solve puzzles and traverse its dungeons.
As a puzzle game, Kombinera understands the assignment with ease. Conceptually, it feels familiar, easy to pick up, and perfect for handheld play, but it holds its own on a console as well. Where it falters is in its desperation to be something it isn’t. The game’s story is over the top and if anything takes away from the soul of the game. Similarly, the repetitive music can make the game feel underdone, which is a weird statement considering how polished the puzzles are.
Martha is Dead isn’t for the faint-hearted, though sadly that’s not for the right reasons. There are too many moving parts in this game that weigh the already poorly-paced story down. If this was a spooky investigative adventure that required you to take photos to unlock the brooding mystery hidden within, I’d be all for it, because that’s one part that actually works. But alas it’s instead left as an over-exerted mess that is more focused on a couple of key shock-value moments than anything substantial. This game needs a swift autopsy to dissect out the crimes before a merciful cremation.
Windjammers 2 is a great update to a nostalgic arcade wonder that many will welcome with open arms, just like they would a frisbee. Definitely take this one for a spin if you love air hockey-style games but crave that bit of extra button mashing. The characters, arenas, and soundtrack all hit the mark brilliantly. It’s not an easy game to master, allowing dedicated fans to hone their skills and improve. There’s a missed opportunity for better tutorialisation and a lack of a structured tournament/career mode is disappointing, though the game overall still feels like a nostalgic romp.
Farming Simulator 22 is a beefy farming game that brings realism at the expense of inexperienced player enjoyment. It’s a machine built on the agricultural industry that forgoes any story in favour of hard work. It’s a simulator game that understands the assignment but isn’t at all intuitive in how it allows players to begin new farms. With proper tutorials and allowances, this game would appeal to players beyond its dedicated niche. Once players are able to tackle the learning curve, they’ll discover enjoyment can be found through persistence.
The Lightbringer definitely brings some platforming joy to the surface but stumbles with uneven boss encounters. The game is easy to pick up with a gradual increase in platforming difficulty, though the lack of a checkpoint system may be a drawback for those less tried and tested to the ways of platformers. There is depth here if you’re after a challenge but The Lightbringer may end up leaving you a bit wanting.
There’s a lot of potential to Monster Harvest, but it falls short on delivering a farming sim game that comes close to rivalling others in the genre. Hopefully, with time, Monster Harvest continues to grow, but until then it feels like it’s missing what makes the hard work worthwhile. Honestly, this feels like an Early Access title that still needs more time before it’s ready for full release. It seems the phrase ‘third time’s the charm’ does not apply to game delays.
Come with the tribe and stay for the grind if that’s your thing though this isn’t for everyone. Much of the game is spent either gathering or fighting until your weapons break as you beg for more souls to make the necessary upgrades and repairs to the camp. While it does offer a battle pass that’s free I’d still proceed with caution. There is a real challenge here that requires strategy but it falls short with the settings available in Survival mode for those either looking for a more brutal challenge or an easy go instead. Tribes of Midgard is best played with friends but if you’re after a game that rewards persistence then maybe you’ll find the value in solo-play too. It’s got lofty ambitions, but it doesn’t quite manage to meet them – at least not yet.
As far as time loop games go, The Forgotten City has the Midas touch. It’s easy to see just how much care has gone into the story of the game so that it not only pulls the player in, but dares them to test the possible realities. The characters all feel real and they drive the player to find the truth before the Golden Rule is broken and the loop must reset. The developers have been careful to create a narrative that, while repetitive in practice, still keeps the player engaged in the wider narrative of the world through exploration and discovery. Combat in the game remains questionable, but the gold bow is its saving grace. If you’re after a game that will keep you guessing as you move closer to the truth, then The Forgotten City is fittingly worthy of your gold.