Gaz and I have known each other for decades and have played a lot of puzzlers together over the years, but we both agreed that We Were Here Forever stood out as one of our most enjoyable experiences. The creepy fantasy theme is delivered in a great visual style and hammered home by some phenomenal voice acting, and each cut-scene dragged us deeper into the lore and kept us invested in what we were doing. The puzzles are well designed (for the most part) and require enough thought to be challenging without causing frustration that disconnects you from the game. Yes, some voice chat problems and a couple of broken puzzles did cause annoyance, but that wasn’t enough to turn us off from a fantastic experience – We Were Here Forever is an absolute must for puzzle and escape room fans alike.
Dorfromantik is a highly addictive puzzle game that rewards patience and attention to detail whilst also offering a laid-back experience; the challenges are there for the tackling, but only if you want to take them on. Pleasing to the eye and backed by a relaxing soundscape, this is a game you can pour non-stop hours into, or simply pick up and put down at your leisure, making it perfect for the Switch. Yes, the Switch controls are a little clunky, and I’d like some minor accessibility help in the visuals, but none of these are major problems and these improvements would only bolster an already stellar title. I can see Dorfromantik still having an army of fans in 10 years time - perhaps more than it does in its prime – it has an appeal that will prove timeless.
You Suck at Parking is a breakneck romp that manages to balance tricky gameplay with hilarity and good fun, resulting in a wonderful all around experience. It’s bright and vibrant, with an adorable visual style that fits the gameplay style to a tee, and while the limited audio tracks aren’t quite as engaging, that’s probably a nit-pick. With 100 levels ‘out of the box’ and many more to come for those willing to pay for the Season Pass, there’s a tonne of enjoyment to be had - especially with a manic, if a little laggy, multiplayer mode available too. Perfectionists and speedrunners will have a field day, but a word of warning to those players short on patience - this might not be the game for you!
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is an attractive but ultimately long-winded experience. The hand-drawn backgrounds are beautiful and, alongside the impressive sound effects, manage to build a wonderful level of immersion in the static environments. But with no combat to speak of and very little actual action, you’re forced only to run away from the host of spectres at an achingly slow pace. Stumbling through two disjointed stories is slow going since they hang on just a few scattered, but admittedly fun scares without much other meat on the bone.
Triple Take is a new school precision platformer with an old school vibe; fans of the 8-bit era will feel right at home with the blocky sprites, simple colour schemes and fun (but limited) soundtrack. There’s enough variety in the levels to keep you interested, though it does undermine the premise a little, and the physics aren’t as tight as I would personally ask for, but boy, does it deliver on storytelling. The plot of Triple Take carries so much more water than I expected from a platformer, and the immersive, fourth-wall breaking ride is an absolute treat. Whilst not without its flaws, I encourage platform fans to give Triple Take a go - it’s an experience that you’ll not forget quickly.
Overall, Splatoon 3’s single-player and tabletop modes are refreshing, but the multiplayer modes and equipment play things super safe. There is a bucket load of enjoyable tweaks to the game, and Splatoon 3 is undoubtedly the most accessible and entertaining entry so far, but issues dating back to the original Wii U version (like voice chat and the stability of the online experience) are yet to be addressed, and after 7 years, it’s starting to wear thin. But despite the negatives, Splatoon 3 is a fresh coat of paint on a tried-and-tested formula and a perfect starting point for those looking to squid-jump into the series.
Merging a roguelike and a golf sim should not be nearly as fun as Cursed to Golf undoubtedly is. The retro-inspired visuals and bouncy soundtrack belie a truly stout challenge that takes a lot of practice to overcome. You’ll rue every poor shot choice and curse every mistimed button press, but battling through the trials of Golf Purgatory is an incredible gameplay experience that will have coming back for more time and time again. The only real thing missing is a multiplayer mode, but even without it, Chuhai Labs has undoubtedly hit a hole-in-one.
SENSEs: Midnight manages to take all of the ingredients that made 1990s survival-horror games fun and bake them into a hellish experience with few redeeming features. There’s zero atmosphere to accompany you as you (slowly) backtrack across Ikebukuro Park, avoiding bland, almost-invisible enemies as you go. With a protagonist who is entirely inanimate except for her breasts, dizzying camera angles and a complete lack of quality gameplay, SENSEs: Midnight should stand as a warning of what not to do for developers looking to capture 90’s survival-horror nostalgia. This is a huge step back from an opening title that, while flawed, at least showed some promise.
With a magnificent setting, well structured social mechanics and a really effective upgrade system, Gamedec brings a lot to the table. While held back by a muddy middle act, moments of ropey dialogue and some swampy movement controls, Gamedec has other areas that shine - exploring the mega-city of Warsaw and investigating its residents is good fun, and makes wonderful use of the rich source material. The lack of hands-on action will make this a non-starter for some players, but fans of old school RPG’s like the Fallout and Baldur’s Gate will find that the intrigue more than makes up for the lack of dice rolls.
Voyage is a videogame canape – a delicious morsel of an experience that looks incredible and puts a smile on your face while it lasts. With gorgeous hand-painted environments and sweet animations backed up by an impressive yet subtle score, I thoroughly enjoyed my few hours trekking through the alien lands. While the gameplay doesn’t amount to much more than steering left and right, and the puzzles a simple collection button pushing, Voyage punches well above its weight and offers an enjoyable narrative experience that only asks you to use a little interpretation along the way.
Meet me at NooN is a unique and stylish puzzler that will be very popular among fans of the genre, particularly those who enjoy games at the higher end of the difficulty spectrum. It’s a pretty little game that will keep you on your toes with some very cleverly thought out mechanics, but the difficulty spikes and lack of variety in all areas might turn off more casual fans. Meet me at NooN has a great premise and execution but is ultimately pegged back by a repetitiveness that saps some of the enjoyment as things progress.
A wonderful blend of top tier pixel art, retro-inspired music and seriously gritty combat makes Souldiers an enjoyable, though sometimes prickly, experience. It’s a title that boasts some engaging (if not lengthy) levels that are underpinned by some inspired metroidvania mechanics and filled with a myriad of well designed enemies. While perhaps overfilled with unnecessary items and burdened by a few mechanics that can’t help getting in their own way, Souldiers offers a fantastic challenge throughout, and the vibrant world of Terragaya is an absolute joy to discover.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a playful and colourful depiction of a galaxy far, far away, and one that boasts about as much play time as you’d ever want to get out of a single game should you be willing to endure some significant repetition in order to wring every drop out of it. With hilarious retellings of all nine movies and some new gameplay elements, there’s a lot to like, but clunky camera angles and the head-scratching decision to leave out online multiplayer hurts the overall impression. This might just be the definitive LEGO Star Wars game that fans are looking for, but since only Sith deals in absolutes, I’ll leave that judgement to the will of the council.
Silt is a truly stunning game, with dark visuals that draw you in and impressive sound design that underpins a murky and sinister world. The simple puzzle solving acts more as a conduit for the artistic vision than to offer a legitimate challenge, but the experience is undoubtedly enjoyable despite the gameplay offering little in the way of difficulty. The story is a little vague and open to interpretation, but artistic-types will find it genuinely intriguing – the only real downside is that you’ll certainly be left wanting more, with the story reaching a haunting crescendo just when it feels like it could open the door to so much more. I would play another game set in the universe of Silt in a heartbeat.
While the controls might feel a little unwieldy for Switch players using Joy Cons, players using a pro controller (or playing on a console with more player-friendly peripherals!) will have a whale of a time blasting their way towards the tower to regain their memories. The risk-reward mechanics make every decision really count, and with a host of memorable bosses, awesome randomly generated encounters and boat loads of unlockables, it’s a title that you’ll be hooked on for hours on end despite some slight teething problems.
Superliminal is quite simply a masterpiece. Pillow Castle Games have taken an interesting premise and ridden it to a place that no developer has gone before, resulting in an impeccable game. The perspective-based mechanics are just incredible, and there’s a level of innovation in the puzzle design that deserves recognition alongside some of the greatest games of all time – truly, Superliminal is to visual trickery what Portal 2 is to physics. I cannot recommend this game enough.
A charming experience from start to finish, Onde is an odyssey through the abstract mysteries of the world that’s described with evocative imagery and thought-provoking music. The score and visuals beautifully align to tell a story without a single word being uttered, and it’s a credit to the developers at how immersive the experience is. The artistic nature of the game and its limited gameplay mechanics will not appeal to everyone, but that’s okay. I may not know art, but I know what I like, and I certainly liked Onde.
What Lies in the Multiverse is a playful and meandering adventure through time and space that manages to offer a real sense of drama alongside its simple puzzle-platformer mechanics. Shifting between universes to plot your route through each level is fun (if not a little easy), but there’s plenty of interesting tweaks to the gameplay to keep you interested throughout. The enjoyable story, while a little scattershot in tone, is carried by a quirky cast of characters that help make What Lies in the Multiverse an entertaining way to wile away an afternoon or two.
It’s been a long time since I played an RPG that I enjoyed as much as The Cruel King and the Great Hero. The mix of charming storybook visuals, memorable characters and sweet plotline is simply wonderful. In combination with a rapid-fire combat system and some quirky (if never groundbreaking) mechanics, and a host of interesting enemies, this was an experience that pulled me along from start to finish and I had me smiling all the way - I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.
Egglia: Rebirth is a fun, if repetitive, turn-based JRPG that wears it’s mobile origins with pride. With some pretty graphics, catchy soundtrack and simple mechanics, it’s easy to lose an enjoyable hour or so here and there between more substantial games. Had the dungeons had less of a cookie cutter feel and shown some gameplay (rather than just aesthetic) differences, it could have been a great little game, but the repetition turns things stale long before you’re finished. That said, I’d still recommend this to players who are fans of a mobile RPG and looking to transition to console with something familiar, or to younger fans who are dipping their toes into RPGs for the first time.