The Dead Space Remake is a stellar effort from Motive Studio that respects the source material but also makes just enough meaningful changes to gameplay to suit modern audiences and provide a fresh experience. It wasn’t an easy task, considering how the original is held in high regard, but the results cannot be denied, and they have indeed lived up to lofty expectations. One highlight of the game is its superb audio design, which keeps players on their toes, elevating encounters and maintaining tension levels high all throughout. Paired with chilling visuals and lighting that evoke an atmosphere of dread, the USG Ishimura is even more terrifying than ever before.
Overall, Monster Hunter Rise is another entry in the long-running series that does not disappoint. The core loop is as addictive as ever, and you'll find yourself grinding your way toward victory with improved visuals, buttery smooth frame rates, and the bells and whistles that come with the current-gen consoles. The only real fault with this release is that the Sunbreak expansion is not included. Add to the fact that crossplay and cross-progression are also not available, it does get the necessary minus points. Still, Monster Hunter Rise is a fantastic title that's made even better thanks to the improved hardware.
A Space for the Unbound is a narrative adventure that tugs at your heartstrings despite its simple presentation. The soundtrack of the game is stellar and really elevates the experience, going well with the ongoing scenes. The game deals with mature themes that may turn away some players, but all of it is handled with care and isn’t forced upon anybody. While some sequences tend to overstay their welcome, it’s a minor issue that can easily be overlooked.
Need for Speed Unbound is a great entry in the series that has been hard-pressed to find a successful formula for its past outings. While the visual mix of graffiti and realistic visuals may not be for everybody, it’s hard to discount the fact that the racing experience is quite solid. Online multiplayer could use some work, and the game is being anchored right now by its fun and engaging single-player mode, so fans looking to take their rides online might be slightly disappointed at the proceedings.
Chained Echoes is a fantastic game that hearkens back to the good old days of the 16-bit RPGs and adds its own flair to make it stand out from the bunch. The turn-based combat system is very involved thanks to the Overdrive mechanic, and the art style is simply eye candy, which is music to the ears of all old-school RPG lovers out there. The first few hours of the game can get a bit messy and confusing, events-wise, but really gathers itself and goes on to tell a solid and heartfelt story across multiple characters that is punctuated by stellar gameplay. The experience has been mostly bug-free and the game has simply been a surprise, as I’m sure many didn’t expect such a gem amidst all of the big triple A titles this month.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a stellar outing from Firaxis, and it’s a great choice for those looking for a deeply strategic game that has layers of systems working together to provide an engaging combat loop that will keep you looking forward to the next one. Depending on your tastes, the Abbey section may or may not be to your liking. Due to the fact that it was a section that required a lot of reading and dialog, the bad writing really struck a nerve with me and made the whole experience quite tedious. In the end, though, the fun of the combat sequences can make you overlook all of this, giving you that “one more game” itch to scratch.
Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a fantastic way to experience the classic, with a number of quality-of-life upgrades that make the game respect your time and commitment to it. Its visuals may be a hit or miss, especially to the HD-2D-loving crowd, but the voiced performances really bring the game to life. Hardcore fans of the series may not appreciate some of the changes made, but the game still keeps the same depth and strategic approach as before, offering a meaty package that can take over 50 hours to play through.
Overall, New Tales from the Borderlands is a great addition to the series, and despite switching developers, it hasn’t skipped a beat. Borderlands fans will certainly enjoy the many references that will get you past the fact that you can’t fire too many guns in this one. Even if you’re not a fan of Borderlands but enjoy story-centric Choose Your Own Adventure books and games, basically titles like any of the old Telltale releases, you’re in for a treat. The game feels distinctly more Gearbox now than Telltale – not necessarily for better or worse, but it’s a more refreshing version of the game genre that can easily get stagnant if not done right, and New Tales from the Borderlands is hilarious world-building and storytelling done right.
Gotham Knights does a lot of things right but keeps flying low and fails to push past the point of just good to great. Crime fighting is best done with another Knight by your side, and the untethered nature of its co-op play feels great until you experience the massive performance drops. Players will need to look past a number of things before considering the game, which could be a tough ask, especially with other big-ticket titles launching within its release window. It’s a shame, because Gotham Knights has some interesting ideas that simply suffer from average implementation. A lot of things in the game feels ok but not great, but fans of the Bat-universe can find quite a decent adventure that can easily entertain.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is a triumphant return for Mario and the Rabbids, offering a fun and engaging experience from start to finish that will be appreciated by both newcomers and fans of the first game. The changes made here are significant, providing players with a refreshing take on the genre all while bringing the familiarity that makes it easy to pick up and play. All of the systems in the game don’t feel overwhelming, and introducing each element is paced just right to get players onboard without much confusion.
NBA 2K23 is by no means a bad game. Year after year, the team has been adding tweaks and making changes to the formula that further solidify it as the best basketball game out there. The addition of the Jordan Challenge is a cherry on top of the cake that makes this content-complete package truly delectable. Once a highlight, it feels like MyCAREER has been relegated to the background in NBA 2K23. The lack of an engaging story is sorely felt, and this year, more than ever, the decision boils down to what mode you actually enjoy playing the most. Overall, NBA 2K23 feels like the most realistic it’s ever been, and that may be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask. While the gameplay remains fun and engaging, some parts of the whole feel like they have regressed in favor of others. There’s a definite give-and-take here that’s more pronounced than in previous years, and players will just have to pick their poison.
Return to Monkey Island is a delight for both fans and newcomers, showcasing the genius of Ron Gilbert and providing an unmissable experience from start to finish. The latest entry makes changes and upgrades to where it matters and keeps the personality of the series by still making it a point-and-click affair, resulting in a charming and heartfelt entry that surely makes the 30-year wait worth it.
Metal: Hellsinger is a smashing good time thanks to its unique mix of mechanics and heavy metal soundtrack that delights and excites. The pace is extremely fast, and players will have to manage by juggling many things at the same time, but its satisfying and rewarding gunplay is enough to keep you locked in. That said, the game is not for everybody, and less coordinated players will rue the lack of auto-beat matching options. The game has a decent difficulty curve, but some won’t even make it past the tutorial because of its rhythm mechanics.
It bears repeating that The Last of Us Part I is an absolutely essential experience. There are no two ways about it; the $70 tag will be a sore point for those who have already played past iterations, which merits waiting for a sale, but the quality and experience brought about by a Naughty Dog release are unmatched. The visual upgrades are truly noteworthy, upping the drama of each scene and doing wonders for an already stellar script. From the heart-wrenching opening scene with Sarah to the many tense conversations between Joel and Ellie, each line delivered hits harder, making for an unforgettable playthrough. The suite of accessibility options also opens the game up to a much wider audience. Not content with just copying from The Last of Us Part II, Naughty Dog has also improved on it by adding options like allowing the players to feel the emotion of the lines delivered through haptic feedback. Whether or not the game is worth the price tag will be a tricky argument that will persist long after its launch, but The Last of Us Part I is an exceptional title that can stand on its own merits and is the best version of a classic that will be enjoyed by a whole new generation of players for years to come.
Rollerdrome is made up of a smart mix of mechanics that gel together effortlessly, creating a game that's a blast to play while looking stylish to boot. With a boppin' soundtrack, slick visuals, and flawless controls, there's something here for the curious as well as the hardcore. While the difficulty spikes up in some of the later levels, which could be a source of frustration to some, the game offers flexibility in approach that can prioritize effectiveness over style but also appeal to those skilled enough to take on a challenge. Overall, Rollerdrome is another gem from Roll7 that will surely be a sleeper hit on many 2022 lists. There's very little that this title does wrong, all while creating a unique experience that makes it a must-play in between the big AAA offerings.
Spider-Man Remastered is an amazing experience that’s headed to a platform that can push it to its visual limits. While it is a full-priced affair compared to its console counterpart, a point of friction for some, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a must-play title.
Two Point Campus is a joy to experience thanks to its easy-to-learn but hard-to-master gameplay. Newcomers to the Two Point series of games will find a lot to like, and it is commendable how the developers have made the onboarding process easy to understand despite its very deep gameplay. Veterans will appreciate an engaging and immersive sim, with multiple systems layered on top of each other that promotes a highly-addictive gameplay loop. There’s a lot to uncover for those that want to dabble in the deep end of the game, which is sure to keep things interesting. Overall, Two Point Campus is another fantastic and enjoyable outing that will scratch your management sim itch. These types of games are few and far in between all of the action-adventure titles out there, but you can be assured that Two Point Campus scores high marks and deserves a place among the best of them.
Monster Hunter Rise is a success and Sunbreak just builds on top of the formula by adding more of the same of what made past installments great. Both Rise and Sunbreak are easy to love, easy to hook you in but hard to let go. Considering that Rise is arguably the easiest generation to get into for newcomers, Sunbreak really caps the experience off and massively upgrades the base game in more ways than one. Sunbreak isn’t really breaking any molds, but at this point in the series – it doesn’t have to, at least not yet. It’s an amalgamation of new and old Monster Hunter and a worthy capstone for Rise, in a so-tasty digestible package that’s just beckoning you to sink your teeth in it.
F1 22 is in a bit of a strange situation because while it doesn’t add drastic changes or updates to the game, it still is the best F1 game out there that’s as easily accessible to newcomers as well as F1-heads looking for a deep experience. One thing it adds is F1 Life, a lackluster experience when compared to Braking Point, which I would expect to make a return next year. Other than this, F1 22 will feel overly similar to last year, especially for casual players that won’t pay too much attention to the finer details and will simply enjoy the game for what it is – a fun and exciting racing experience. F1 22 is far from a bad game, but its current offering this year features a laundry list of changes that don’t do too much to change the overall experience unless you know what to look for. Some will like the consistency while others will rue the lack of updates, and it will really depend on how much these mean to you when thinking of that eventual purchase.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a great in-between game, something that can be greatly appreciated after the deluge of heavy and tiring games from the past couple of months. Offering charming gameplay that is simple to pick up and understand, players will find some respite here that is easily worth the price of admission. For some, the idea of countless fetch quests might be an immediate turn-off, and with such a simple core loop, the game does little to deviate or add something new to the mix. Instead, it doubles down on the basics, making it feel like a game that doesn't look like but plays similarly to previous console generations.