Chances are, if you’re checking out a review for a sequel to the best Hot Wheels game to be released in the past ten years, you know why you’re here. You see tracks in the most normal locations and think about how fun an orange and blue retreading would look, and Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is right here, ready and willing to fulfill that fantasy, with a massive collection of cars to do it with. Simple mechanics compliment such a smooth racing experience, making for an easy to recommend, pick-up-and-play arcade racer just as tried-and-true as it gets. Seeing your favorite rides come to life in such a carefree and exciting way will probably release all the endorphins you think it will, even with the tunes and engine sounding a bit out of shape. If your diecast childhood dreams ever catch up with you, you can’t do any wrong picking up Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged, along with a few Hot Wheels cars while you’re at it (you know you want to).
Long Gone Days may not be the most engaging RPG in terms of its gameplay, but you’ll struggle to find another RPG this year with as much heart and passion for its subject matter. By focusing less on the huge conflict that serves as the backdrop, and instead focusing on the smaller, more touching tales of people going above and beyond to help one another through awful situations, Long Gone Days truly feels like nothing else I’ve played. Had the combat been a little more engaging, Long Gone Days would absolutely have been a better time, but even as it stands, it’s a title that excels enough in everything else it does and is well worth experiencing.
DLC can vary wildly in length, and just because the added content is short doesn’t always mean it’s not worth checking out. Cassette Beasts: The Pier of the Unknown is, unfortunately, far closer to the lean side. But beyond its brief runtime and some same-y boss fights, it still managed to tick off most of the boxes of things I was looking for. There are a few interesting new monsters to transform into, Archangels to battle, and some challenging platforming to make this eerie expansion a worthwhile experience for the spookiest month of the year. That said, here’s hoping this is just the first hint of potentially larger DLC to come in the future, because the short length certainly has me wanting more.
For all intents and purposes, if you want a blast from the past with a hidden twist all wrapped up in a tidy little package, I Doesn’t Exist is harmless enough that I’d recommend the venture. Just temper your expectations a bit and have some patience set aside for the text-input side of I Doesn’t Exist. After all, who knows when the next time will be that we’ll actually see someone using text-adventure gameplay again.
Ultimately, High on Knife‘s tale of a wayward Knifey was full of fun characterization combined with a brief but satisfying story. The new pinball-themed gun is a hit, and Knifey’s special upgrade needs to be seen and experienced for yourself. With any luck, we’ll see some more DLC down the road, and hopefully then, Harper will be left behind.
Horizon Chase 2 is, in its most distilled form, the perfect modern arcade racer. Its mechanics are scaled back but refined, the drop-in/drop-out multiplayer works well and never fails to excite, and the game has just enough customization to make every racer feel at home behind the wheel. While I’d love to see some more cheeky references thrown in to add to the fun and the game could certainly benefit from some DLC tracks down the road, it’s nevertheless filled to the brim with a charm and a love-letter to classic coin-op racers that’ll keep fans coming back for a long while. If arcades were still around and prevalent, Horizon Chase 2 would be my cabinet of choice any day of the week.
Remnant 2 captures that sense of wonder and mystery that drives the feeling of exploration; the kind that awards players who sink their teeth into the world around them. It feels like I’m always spotting something new, even after resetting the worlds, and I cannot emphasize enough what a great gameplay loop it provides. Sure, not every boss is fun, and there’s plenty I straight-up hate, and yet I keep on coming back for more. There are so many builds you can mess with, so many weird and wild guns, and a very solid blend of RPG elements and roguelite elements. The gunplay feels great, and while the difficulty can be challenging, you’re given more than enough tools to conquer these randomized worlds. With so much to explore, Remnant 2 will have you rooted in your seat for many hours to come.
I really want to emphasize that no matter what score I give, respect should be given to any developer striking it out solo, with Alex being no exception. The visuals are damn good-looking for an indie effort, and the core gameplay is shockingly solid for being a blend of FTL and XCOM. I see so much room for a game like this to grow and develop, and I’d even go as far as to say I’d gladly go another round if there were a few fixes for the lack of checkpoints, laggy ship transitions, and a bit more depth added to the gameplay. Sadly, Space Cats Tactics in its current form doesn’t stray much farther from general tactics roots, and the characters, while cute for the first few minutes, don’t evolve much more from there, either. If you can work around that and some rather irksome bugs and glitches, I really do encourage giving this a run for being something rather unique in its field, if not to give some support to a solo dev that really has passion put in his project.
While it is on the short side, what Viewfinder does is remind us that there are still universes of awesome new mechanics and concepts for gaming to explore. The ability to drop a 2D photo’s physical contents into any 3D space at any time and have it work flawlessly is something you have to experience yourself to understand. With gently ambient music, soothingly warm visuals, and a brief but thoroughly worthwhile story, you’ll be effortlessly absorbed into its magical world. Viewfinder has such a unique, well-executed premise, it takes the whole puzzle genre into the darkroom and develops it into something wonderfully new.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a lot of games quite like Invector: Rhythm Galaxy, and this is the kind of dopamine injection I feel the genre was in need of for a while. The feel of sweeping across alien landscapes with some sick tunes in the backdrop while handling fast and furious rhythm action all flows so well together… once you get the hang of doing it. If you’ve dived into ship-based rhythm romps like Audiosurf and Amplitude, you’ll be happy to know that Invector: Rhythm Galaxy is right up that same alley, and is absolutely just as much of a blast to play, doing exactly what these types of music/rhythm games do best.
Supraland: Six Inches Under skillfully dodges the “more of the same” problem, introducing a generous amount of fan-favorite tools and mechanisms while also offering a couple more additions that spice up the deep, cavernous dives you’ll be working your way through. The biomes are still as colorful and varied as the base game, and if you’re eager for more of Supraland’s toy-sized world, you’ll get that and then some, all wrapped up in about 8 to 12 hours of solid, fun gameplay that plays exactly like it’s advertised. Goes to show you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; just find new places where that wheel rolls. Just keep an eye out if the save system seems like it’s on the fritz, and do mind the cursor-based menu navigation. After all, it wouldn’t be a proper spelunking journey without a few hang-ups.
Sometimes, as a gamer, you long for a game that you can just let your hair down with. That inner child wants to get some fresh air from time to time, and LEGO 2K Drive is there for just that. Not everyone will be here for the numerous puns and hammy dialogue, but I think anyone picking this up won’t be disappointed in the classic fun of screwing around with a vat of LEGOs. While the vehicle editor has a bit of a spazzy camera and seems to be missing a couple of parts, it’s still so robust when it comes to bringing those childhood fantasies of racing your custom LEGO car to life that it can be easily forgiven. It’s just a shame the same can’t be said about the egregious microtransactions that are about as painful as stepping on a LEGO. Still, if you have a taste for arcade racers and a love for LEGO, or are maybe looking for a good first racing game for the kids, you can’t do any wrong taking a pit stop at LEGO 2K Drive.
Even though the game’s balancing and AI issues try their best to spoil the fun, ArcRunner still manages to deliver a satisfying cyberpunk roguelike experience. Despite its shortcomings—and they are plentiful— it can feel great to give into the temptation to jam to some synthwave and gun down some nameless bots for a few hours. It’s just a shame that, apart from the killer aesthetics, there isn’t much to compel players to return to its neon-saturated streets once they’ve finished their initial playthrough. That said, if you’re looking for an in-depth approach to the familiar roguelike formula, you might want to look elswhere. Which is a shame, since ArcRunner offers a fairly decent gameplay loop along with a striking cyberpunk playground to go with it. If you’re looking to soothe that very specific aesthetic itch ArcRunner scratches, by all means, go for it and indulge in the wavey synths and rain-slicked streets. Just know that your mileage may vary.
Bloodborne meets Legend of Zelda worked out much better than I would’ve ever hoped. The bosses can have quite the malicious edge to them, especially a supremely sadistic second boss, and the platforming can be, quite literally, hit or miss. Nonetheless, the combat is so fluid but focused that it’s hard not to fall in love with how it handles. Cleaving apart zombies, then immediately whipping around to pistol-snipe a wolf all set to a firm and punchy soundtrack is just icing on the cake, especially with the added flavor the better bosses bring to the table.
As long as you don’t let POST VOID short out your synapses, this really is one of the truest forms of FPS gameplay. If you long for a true drop-in, drop-out FPS game and don’t mind the wavey corridors and searing color palette, there’s so much fun to be had with just a semi-procedurally generated corridor maze, some wickedly warped baddies to kill as fast as you can, and a few RNG buffs here and there. POST VOID definitely won’t be a feasible trip for everyone, but if you can stomach the demanding gameplay and get a grip on the PS4 controls, you’ll probably wind up pretty hooked on this digital drug.
Alice Gear Aegis CS: Concerto of Simulatrix is welcome return to a genre long thought dead. And though this is still merely the first stepping stone, it’s going in the right direction, it just needs some room to grow and cultivate. The gameplay loop is quick but ever so fierce and memorable in design, and while not every one of the game’s playable Actresses is a star, there are more than enough for just about everyone to be able to sink their teeth into. So if you can forgive the game’s steep learning curve and are looking for the closest thing to Virtual ON to release in recent years, then look no further. Alice Gear Aegis CS will scratch that itch.
Little Witch Nobeta isn’t a Souls-like in the traditional sense, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like a cunning crone, developer Pupuya Games have skillfully combined seemingly disparate ingredients to create something magical. Still, genre veterans may find themselves put off by the lack of challenge to be found in the title’s beginning hours, and the stark contrast between its whimsical protagonist and the grim world she inhabits can admittedly, at times, be a bit jarring. If these things don’t bother you and you’re a fan of Souls-likes who’s looking for something more forgiving, or perhaps a bit cuter than what you’d usually expect from the genre, Little Witch Nobeta is sure to leave you under its spell.
Despite some horrible misgivings for the plot and characters, I do sincerely see some of our favorite classic Shock-like formula, tried and true, if not with a few extra red stars on the cover. If you can poke past the horribly paced and presented story, tedious and sometimes painful character dialogue, and bad design ideas for the open-world aspect, I can sincerely say that there is some legitimate Shock-like qualities in the better parts of the gameplay and in the awe-striking art style, to say nothing of the incredible music. If you enjoyed any of Bioshock‘s selections, or Arkane’s 2016 Prey, consider giving this communist dystopia a chance to show how close it got to nailing that Shock-like formula, even if you wind up coming out hating the phrase “Crispy Critters” as much as I do.
I’ll say it like this: I’m actually mad about how much I want to like this game. While the simple but effective personalities can be so-bad-it’s-good occasionally and the soundtrack certainly survived the sound check, this gameplay isn’t doing it any favors. I can’t help but feel the story might have worked better as an anime as the interactive element is what lets Wanted: Dead down the most. With some more work, Wanted: Dead could be that hilariously fun love letter to retro anime and games of the early noughties that I desperately wanted it to be. As of right now, it’s just far too short, clunky and directionless to be worth the price of admission.