For all Rage 2‘s shortcomings, it’s worth stating again that whenever you find enemies, you find some of the best combat encounters in any modern shooter. It’s so good it makes the duller parts close to irrelevant. Would Rage 2 have been better off as a more linear shooter? Maybe, but I’d rather have seen a bit more refinement and polish to the open-world, and its driving, because by trying to be a bit of everything and not creating each aspect equally, Avalanche and Id has diluted a hi-octane shooter’s venomous sting with a beige paste of open-world busywork.
Days Gone doesn't rip up the rulebook for open world games, brings very little new to the tired zombie genre, and while its story is enjoyable, it's far from compelling. Yet that doesn't mean you won't have a good time with it. While the riding and horde dynamics elevate the dependable, yet humdrum, nature of the rest of the game, just remember that patience is definitely required for the stretches of repetition between the more interesting parts.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a great fighter, perhaps the best the series has been to date. It’s a visual spectacle filled with lots of ways to play for players of all skill levels, and features the most enjoyable fighting game story I’ve ever gone through. It also has some boring new characters, crippled further by the extensive customization suite, and a growing disconnect between the regular fighting and the fatalities. Small issues, but issues all the same. Still, you’ll probably be having too much fun to care.
What World War Z does well is provide straightforward co-op action that entertains and enthralls, even if it is just in the short term. It has plenty of rough edges, but developer Saber Interactive has been fairly clever about where it has allowed those edges to be. Being a zombie shooter in 2019 is probably the stalest kind of game to be, but World War Z proves that staleness needn’t matter if you ensure enjoyment is high on your list of priorities.
The Padre means well, trying to offer players the kind of Survival Horror experience that has been missing (for good reason in a lot of ways) for some time. It does sometimes capture the spirit of that well, but misses what made the games that it was inspired by into such beloved favorites. Whenever you’re dragged away from puzzling and exploring the mansion, things take a turn for the worse, with tedium and annoyance robbing the game of its atmosphere. The effort is appreciated, it just needs refining.
Learning to manage the game's many systems is the biggest potential stumbling block players will face. If you're the sort to revel in micromanagement and extreme challenge and enjoy the thrill of actually exploring and living in a place rather than wandering from objective to objective, then Outward could be something special for you from the get-go. It's a hard sell otherwise, with such overwhelming depth, occasionally misfiring combat, and rather grimy visuals. Then again, perhaps that might be the best way to deliver the purest form of Outward, a flawed, aggressive beast that requires time and patience. It would possibly lose something in being too refined. It makes adventuring into something different and intriguing, after all.
After over 70 hours I still want more of Sekiro, and happily, there is more to be done in this world after the natural end. Once the systems clicked, I was dragged deep into the game, and it filled my thoughts every time I was away from it. Sekiro is a beautiful, brutal ballet of butchery. It enthralls not only with its magnificent game world, but with a combat system that continually thrills as your understanding and mastery of it grows.
It’s easy to forgive Turok‘s shortcomings though because it’s still a pretty fun shooter, and its low-fi graphics are much more palatable in portable form. It’s not exactly an essential purchase for all, but as a playable piece of nostalgia, it’s been dragged into the modern era fairly successfully for fans to enjoy without many of its original frustrations and limitations.
Remarkably then, even through disappointing attempts at horror and puzzling, Conarium is just about compelling enough to warrant seeing through to the end. It’s not particularly mind-blowing from a narrative perspective, but it is engrossing and satisfying. If only it pushed harder for a sense of dread and terror, or even simply provided more of a challenge, then we’d be talking about something that truly stands out as a thoughtful, engaging horror game.
With Devil May Cry 5, Capcom tweaks the winning formula here and there to not only freshen up the most famous action hack n’ slash series around, but actually push it back to the top of the pile once again. Yes, it stumbles occasionally, and perhaps replay value isn’t quite as high as it could have been, but Devil May Cry 5 once again embraces the kinetic madness that made so many fall in love with Dante and his blood-spattered adventures in demon-slaying in the first place, and that’s truly what makes this a great game.
Coming back to how Oniken plays, it is clearly trying to be a loving homage to 80’s side-scrollers, but it misses the point in how it uses its challenge. Rather than have proper structure and reliance on muscle memory as the games of that era did, Oniken often relies on cheap and nasty death traps that are very much designed to be ‘tough’ instead of challenging. Yes, you can ‘beat’ it and muddle through, but there’s little warmth or enjoyment to it. On the upside, playing it on the Switch’s handheld mode in bursts does alleviate some of the frustration. The only problem there being the Switch already has plenty of 8-bit games of higher quality both old and new to play. So, pretty or not, it’s hard to recommend Oniken to all but the most ardent retro gaming fan.
Observer puts another horror string in the Switch’s bow. It remains an effective and compelling sci-fi horror trip that isn’t afraid to take things at its own pace whilst sticking firmly to its own rules. That does mean that it’s not going to be to every horror fan’s tastes, but it’s admirable that it stands by its convictions to deliver an unsettling and evocative experience.
I fully recommend The Shrouded Isle for anyone wanting an unconventional, horror-led take on the sim management genre. It really does go to some messed up places if your imagination is willing to back up the writing. The caveat here is that it's hard to recommend this Switch version if you're planning on playing it on the go. It's just about worth persevering with if that is your choice, but it's an unfortunate oversight nonetheless.
Book of Demons does interesting things with a genre dominated by stat-heavy grind titles with furious clicking/button mashing. The majority of the busywork is abolished in favor of ease of use and it’s honestly quite refreshing. As mentioned before, the setup of Book of Demons really could make it an accessible way into the genre for those not familiar with it/enthused by it, and for seasoned dungeon crawler fans it offers up something of a respite from the usual formula.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a positive step in the right direction for the future of turn-based strategy on a mechanical level, but it finds itself lacking in the storytelling department. Hopefully, we get more from this world. A bigger, deeper sequel is a must at this point because there’s huge potential for Mutant Year Zero to be a frontrunner in the strategy arena.
While Hitman 2 is, in many ways, more of an upgrade to the previous game than a full-blooded sequel, it’s crammed full of interesting interaction and now its topped off with a genuinely excellent multiplayer in the form of Ghost Mode and legacy content, it’s the best Hitman package ever put together.
There is a lot of promise here, but not quite enough of it fulfilled. The combat could have been done away with completely (rare as it is anyway) and the stealth either ditched or simplified. The strong suit of Call of Cthulhu is in its conversation/investigation mechanics. Sure the game would have been a little lacking in variety if that’s all there was but honestly, it would have been a much more consistently enjoyable and immersive adventure for it.
So the port itself is fine, but clearly not much more than that. While the games look great for their age, they’re simply not designed for modern televisions and it shows. A visual overhaul could have done wonders and truly made Requiem an essential purchase. Instead, we have fairly basic ports of one very good game and another that is in the pantheon of the greats. Given neither are on current-gen consoles before now, there’s merit to this collection for that alone, but it should have been so much more.