Lonely Mountains Downhill is a game of two identities. One part sets you at ease as your cycle your way through beautifully designed bike routes, accompanied by the soothing sounds of churning tyres, chirping birds, and flowing streams. The other will leave your blood boiling as your crashes tick over into the hundreds. Yet it is that second part to Lonely Mountains‘ identity that meant I kept coming back, eager to trim down my run times and find every one of its hidden-in-plain-sight shortcuts. It is a deceptively full experience that will easily allow you rack up hours of playtime and leave you gripping onto your Switch as tightly as a pair of handlebars.
Twin Mirror is Dontnods first collaboration with Bandai Namco and was developed by a separate team of senior developers. It may seem unreasonable to cast blame on this diversion from its previous team, but Twin Mirror stands as a far cry from other Dontnod titles, failing in almost every degree by its unwillingness to fully commit to anything. It wants to be a classic mystery but never offers up any questions that truly need answering. Twin Mirror wants you to care about its characters but never gives you any reason to even like them. It wants so much to be about its setting but fails to even conjure up a fraction of the sense of place that Arcadia Bay achieved. Ultimately, Twin Mirror is an amalgamation of lots of half-baked ideas that become bruised and battered as they fall from the promising heights of Basswood’s nature trail. Maybe from up there, I can spot a better mystery to play through.
Swords of Gargantua is a short thrill ride of an experience that tries to stretch it out to a length it simply doesn’t have the legs for. Between momentary bouts of motion sickness, dull and uninspiring enemy variety, and a flawed form of gameplay that strays far from the supposed “hyper-realistic swordsmanship” that was slapped on its trailer, I became entirely deflated from my time with the game and simultaneously disappointed that I kept playing at all. Those early hours reminded me of why I love VR so much, and just how well those short burst experiences work for the format. Alas, Swords of Gargantua is like a once-great TV show that simply will not end.
Hitman III is a personal game of the year contender, and not because it is asking nicely with lavish graphics and large-scale levels. Instead, it has an ICA Silverballer pressed hard against my skull demanding to stand atop that list, with some of the best level design I’ve ever seen and a density that elicits a real challenge—and I don’t feel like arguing against it. Hitman III is a fun, addictive, and exceptionally satisfying gaming experience that highlights how we don’t need expansive open worlds—just a building full of bad guys, a slick-looking suit, and a tightly strung garotte wire. I would go on, but I’ve got some Emetic rat poison to serve and a trilogy to catch up on.
Destruction AllStars is like a well-oiled machine—it looks the part and does the job. However, once the thrills of landing the perfect slam or launching yourself from an imminent K.O. fade away, what is left is a relatively shallow experience that will struggle to keep you playing longer than a dozen hours. That may be fine for those swiping this up during its stint on PS Plus, but for anyone paying their hard-earned cash for this lacklustre experience, well… you’re in for an expensive ride.
Doom 3 VR Edition is a solid idea—a somewhat slower, more atmosphere affair that seems perfect for VR. Instead, we are left with nothing more than a quick cash grab. With its dated graphics, flat-screen cutscenes, and a lack of VR interactivity, Doom 3 VR Edition does so little to validate its porting into virtual reality that a few hours in I had a yearning to simply experience the game on a television. For any fans of this FPS then, sure, this is probably worth checking out, and with its relatively low £20 price tag coming with around 15-hours of content (including its DLC), it can’t be disputed that there is bang for a fan’s buck—especially as a VR experience. Yet Doom 3 VR Edition proves that the mere premise of VR isn’t enough to guarantee a fun experience. This is a game that deserved a more thoughtful repurposing to allow its players to feel a part of its world. Instead, I was left with an experience that made me wholly aware that I was wearing a bit of plastic over my face.
Life is Strange: True Colours features what really matters in a Life is Strange game: a likeable protagonist and a brilliant setting. It’s also received a massive visual upgrade this time around, which really makes the town of Haven Springs feel cosy, somewhere you want to spend your time.
Back 4 Blood features the hectic first-person combat and brilliant co-op camaraderie that made Left 4 Dead so popular. It’s no wonder that Turtle Rock wanted to emulate that success, and while there are a few compromises – the terrible bots if you can’t round up some mates, and the extreme jump in difficulty if you want to eke out some more playtime – this spiritual successor falls into the “worthy” category.
Guardians of the Galaxy’s power really came to fruition as the credits rolled. This is a linear and completable experience that takes you on a memorable, fun, and often hilarious ride through the stars. It doesn’t do anything for the third-person action adventure genre, that you won’t find in an Uncharted or Tomb Raider, nor does it have much reason to revisit beyond collectibles and slight variations in its choice system. What it does do though is avoid the typical pitfalls of padding out content and begging its players to keep playing. Instead, you are treated to an emotional, exciting and riveting form of escapism. This is a game that not only respects your time, but respects the material. Simply put, Guardians of the Galaxy is a flarking good time.
Riders Republic counters many of the issues live service games of the past have faced. It doesn’t feel like an unfinished game, nor does it feel like one simply padded out with mundane content. The base structure remains but without that dullness it becomes an easy experience to get on board with. You may have to endure some awful narrative flare, but there is a lot of game here for those looking for it. What’s better is that there isn’t just plenty to be excited about now, but so much more to get excited about in the future, giving Riders Republic some serious potential to remain as a solid continuing sports franchise. Undoubtedly, it’ll have some growing pains to face, as all live service games do, because there is a particular need to make some of its modes more accessible to casual players. However, it doesn’t demand too much of those that are playing more vigorously, making it one of the most casual experiences Ubisoft has developed to date. Whether you are in it for the races, tricks or the odd bit of co-op fun, Riders Republic is a live service game that feels less like a chore, and more like a fun-filled take on the Ubisoft formula.
Forza Horizon 5 checks all of the boxes that it should, but it is let down by a lack of innovation. You are racing the same types of races, with the same types of cars, across a map that looks different but doesn’t feel different. Developer Playground Games has leaned on what it does best, and that makes for a fast and fun experience, however, wherever the series takes car-lovers off to next, it will have to look much further into the horizon for inspiration.
Nonetheless, if you are tired of mindless co-op shooters and are on the hunt for something more engaging, there is nothing currently better than Rainbow Six Extraction. It loses some of its appeal when played solo or with a random voiceless squad, but with a full squad of friends, Extraction will have you screaming and commanding your way into a functioning unit. It is hardcore, deliberate, tactile, and tense, and if that isn't Rainbow Six, I don't know what is.
Dying Light 2 does little to shake up the open-world formula, because it could be so much more, especially after the initial reveals promised so much. With that said, if zombie decapitations, sick parkour moves, and true next-gen graphics are what you're looking for then Dying Light 2 certainly fits the bill.
It's as much a combat puzzler as it is a button-mashing beat-em-up, and has proven itself to be one of the best brawlers in recent memory. However, Sifu goes one step beyond that, offering an addictive, highly replayable, and all-consuming game that will undoubtedly stand among the best of 2022. Even after you've beaten this game, you'll feel the urge to go back, knowing you can do better.