The best way to sum up Post Void in any meaningful way would be ‘if Quentin Tarantino had somehow developed Doom instead of directing films’. The game has all the hallmarks of the director’s early works; it’s ultra-violent, hyper visceral and littered with barefoot baddies in sharp suits. The arcade style of short, sweet and brutal gameplay, rather than producing a lengthy campaign is a bold choice, and while your mileage may vary, I felt Post Void was the perfect bite-sized shooter that offered up a lot of fun despite its short runtime. The gameplay is engaging and snappy enough to the point I didn’t care about the game only being an hour long, or the repetitive soundtrack pumping in my ears like a German discotech. All I wanted to do was run through the myriad of creatures with a shotgun and make it as far as possible before being sent back to the beginning. Even now I can feel myself being drawn back for just one more hop through Post Void’s grotesque world…
Thanks to its focus on the new powers, rather than progressing the story in any meaningful way, Lightfall ends up being a flat experience that leaves you wanting more. It doesn’t help that the Light vs Dark story, which has been building for the best part of a decade, is in its endgame. It also doesn’t help that the expansion has to live up to the incredible add-on that was released the year prior. There are good points to be found in Lightfall like the setting and the new Strand ability but as far as it being essential to the story, I’m not so sure.
Throughout my time with Bayonetta 3, it felt that the game was always on the cusp of setting my Switch on fire, but thankfully my house is still standing and the slick performance was intact. The story is as bonkers as the rest of the series, raising the stakes to a level that’s on par with the latest Marvel movies and while I do think that it is a little try-hard in some areas, we still have another great hack ‘n’ slash from Platinum Games. Bayonetta 3 might have taken a thousand years to arrive, but thankfully it's bloody good fun and is a fitting addition to the franchise.
The rest of the game is full of profanity to the point Limp Bizkit would have to call their mums to apologise, and at points, the excellent story pivoted into pure juvenility. I’m not sure if this was a mistranslation or if Suda51 intentionally tried to cause outrage, but in any case, it just feels like it’s trying too hard, which in my eyes is more offensive than actually offending the player by including boob jokes, or multiple F-bombs. It would have been more impactful if the game’s jokes landed in any way, or if there was a reason behind what was being said, but that certainly wasn’t the case. The 25th Ward: The Silver Case is a tale of two halves: the first being a well-written murder mystery that dives head-first into the surreal and is a joy to watch, and the second half is like a petulant teenager who is trying to cause a ruckus because they didn’t get enough attention growing up. The plot though saves the game and managed to captivate me enough to explore every single ending. Even though I had no idea what was going on half the time, I still had to play until it was complete to get closure on the story. The visual novel playstyle isn’t for everyone but if you can put that, and the crass humour to one side, The 25th Ward: The Silver Case is one hell of a strange game to behold.
Source of Madness is one game that stands out from the ever-growing roguelike crowd. The very nature of the genre means that there is a long grind in front of players but the team at Carry Castle has done an excellent job at making sure the gameplay is as engaging as it can be. Restarting over, over, over and over again never feels like a chore, rather it sets a target for you to beat. Sure, Source of Madness has its flaws, particularly the odd enemy design and vague story, but if you are in the market for something that is super accessible, easygoing and looks as gothy as a Tim Burton film, then Source of Madness is a game I’d recommend.
Terminator Resistance: Complete Edition ticks a lot of boxes, the story of what happens post-Judgement Day fills in some of the gaps left by James Cameron’s original works and the first few levels where you are stalked by the machines are absolutely brilliant. It’s unfortunate that the game quickly becomes a by-the-numbers shooter with its baffling AI, bland environments and dull gameplay. The included DLC does help matters a little, with the Infiltrator Mode being a short-lived highlight, but unless you’re a diehard Terminator fan, it’s probably not for you.
I can’t stress how satisfying Rayland 2 was while I was playing it, especially in the later levels, when multiple lasers of different colours were introduced and the difficulty became challenging. The trouble is that the game leaves you wanting more and not in a great way. The minimalist features are a little too bare bones, and the number of puzzles is simply not enough as the game can be beaten quickly. That being said, while it lasts, Rayland 2 has a simple concept that excels at testing the abilities of all players, and those looking for a tough-but-not-taxing puzzle game will definitely find it here.
Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine might be a spin-off, and it might be a bloodier version of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, but everything that made Super Meat Boy an enjoyable (?!) platform game is present here. The match-4 formula has been given a facelift to operate more like Dark Souls than Puyo Puyo, with numerous obstacles not only in your way, but actively trying to kill you. Those looking for a challenging puzzle game will be hard pressed to find anything more frustrating than Mean Meat Machine.
Thanks to the hard work of Sumo Digital’s student division, Zool Redimensioned polishes up the original game and introduces several additional extras that bring an excellent platformer back from the dead. For some, Zool Redimensioned might seem like a by-the-numbers platformer but that’s part of what makes it special. In an age when zipping left to right to get to the goal as quickly as possible, Zool made players explore their surroundings and collect a certain number of items to complete the level. Granted, despite each world having their own individual themes, they do feel out of place when examined as a whole but that’s a small point on an otherwise tight platformer.
Although my time with Tron Identity was brief, it was nice to return to the virtual landscape that makes up The Grid. The world inside has undoubtedly moved on since the events of Tron Legacy, but the world is as recognisable as ever. Much like how Disney have approached Star Wars by expanding from the small cast of Skywalker family, was a welcome touch that proves there is a real depth to what is essentially the inner workings of an ageing arcade machine. The trouble is that just as Identity was working towards a bigger story and finding its rhythm, I suddenly had the rug pulled and it just ended.
In 2003, Metroid Prime was an exemplary example of game design that was considered almost perfect, and a true example of how a franchise could navigate the transition to the third dimension while retaining the feel of the originals. Even revisiting my old save file on original hardware, I was still impressed with graphics that hold up, and twenty years later, Metroid Prime Remastered not only preserves what made the original so special, it fixes some outdated features and improves everything else. The control scheme is particularly worth noting as it is delightfully modern, incorporating both dual-stick and motion support in what is becoming the standard way of controlling shooters on the Switch. This allows Samus to be controlled with pin-point accuracy and even the smallest considerations, such as selecting the various visor or beam upgrades have been greatly refined. It’s safe to say Metroid Prime Remastered presents the best version of the best entry in the Metroid series and will tide us over until Prime 4 eventually releases.
Wanted: Dead looks back at the last twenty years of game design and manages to combine shooter and hack ‘n’ slash elements rather cohesively into one of the tightest melee/shooters I’ve played in a long while. Unfortunately, while I will scoop praise on the gameplay until the end of time, there are issues that can’t be ignored. When I wasn’t shooting things with gleeful abandon, everything else was trying to make me put down the controller. The wooden plot and lifeless characters are a given, but the strange minigames, awful level pacing and difficulty spikes left a bitter taste in the mouth. There’s no doubt this is a fun game and I can see a small section of players absolutely loving it to death, but outside a tight knit niche of fans, I’m certain that Wanted: Dead will sadly be quickly forgotten.
Neptuinia Sisters Vs Sisters feels more accomplished and, dare I say, more grown up than any of the other games I’ve played in the series. The humour remains as cutting and irreverent as ever, taking every opportunity to send up the video game industry and often hitting the mark. Likewise, the gameplay is just as repetitive, and although there is less of a grind this time around, I still felt fatigued after playing through some of the levels. At this point, Idea Factory certainly knows what they are doing when it comes to the series, and with over a decade developing Neptunia, they are still finding ways to surprise and delight players. I’d have preferred more varied environments to explore, though there are signs that future titles will look to take cues from the groundwork laid here. What took me by surprise is that the story is a more genuinely mature (and not lewd) affair, for a series that has often leaned on the fanservice aspect to hide its shortcomings and did make for an enjoyable experience.
Trek to Yomi is one heck of a game that sets out to pay homage to the great samurai films of the 1950s and it certainly achieves this and then some. With a bold art direction that perfectly resonates with mid-twentieth-century film-making, it is one of the most well put together games in the indie scene. Its breathtaking scenery and equally impressive soundtrack create an atmosphere that encapsulates the Edo era, with the only downsides being the most nit-picky of details.
OPUS: Echo of Starsong might not hit the mark in every area - mixing together the worst elements of a visual novel and a puzzle game might not sound like the most enthralling video game experience but it somehow just works. Sure, there are problems with some aspects of the game but sticking with Starsong will reward you with a story that, despite its fantastical setting, remains a very human affair that's full of feeling.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light is certainly a worthy expansion in the operatic space war. At this point it is given that there is a wealth of exotic weapons and armour to get to grips with, but the new Stasis powers are worth the investment alone. Throwing freezing walls at enemies adds a layer of defence that was sorely missing. These new powers change the tide of battle in such a way that just has to be experienced to be believed.
The Kao the Kangaroo: Oh! Well DLC is both a trick and a treat. The new levels may be short in length, but they certainly pack a punch, as they are both frustrating and irritating, but overall simply brilliant. I didn’t expect five of the hardest platforming levels I’ve played all year to be found in Kao the Kangaroo and I absolutely loved it. These extra levels are pound-for-pound worth it, just for the sheer delight I got for finishing a level after multiple restarts, and while the additional costumes are purely cosmetic, they round out the package nicely.
I wanted to like Kraken Academy!! more than I did. It’s a game that’s wonderfully strange, full of great ideas and has an engaging main story. While I was at the school, I was thoroughly absorbed into the rotting world, obsessed with cleaning it up and building out my friendships. The problem is that outside of the main story there was nothing to keep me past Wednesday, sure a few side quests are present, but they can easily be ignored. In fact the amount of time logged in our ‘At A Glance’ table is predominantly me collecting bottles, even though it was a pointless endeavour. Don’t get me wrong, I recognise this is an indie game and Happy Broccoli Games have done wonders with what they have created, but if the game had just a few additional classes, or something to work towards such as an alternate ending, it’d be a game I’d recommend in a snap. For the price, it is worth a look, so long as expectations are set accordingly.
Necrobarista: Final Pour is a heck of a visual novel. Route 59 has taken care to create a game that epitomises the genre, with a story that is funny, charming, and engaging throughout, and is wrapped up in a stunning package that is not seen enough in the world of VNs. While the shortcomings aren’t deal breakers, it would have been nice to see a few tweaks here and there, particularly showcasing other customers. I think having random pieces of text littered around the coffee shop did the game a disservice; if a few more of them had been animated in the same way as the two extra DLC stories, it would have created a real buzz within the Terminal to make it feel more alive. That being said, the main plot of Necrobarista is rare in that it kept me engaged all the way through and didn’t drop the level of humour despite what was unfolding on screen.
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia has every right to call itself a ‘soulslike’ game. It happily rips off every aspect of the Dark Souls series with gleeful abandon and with a giant smirk across its face. If you’ve played a Souls game, then it's all here; the controls, menus, and attack patterns are all where you’d expect them to be. The story is remarkably solid and never takes itself too seriously, and throughout the quest, random interjections from the Narrator consistently lift the mood and throw unexpected curveballs. I was left feeling like The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is an irreverent, self-deprecating, and above all else fun game that everyone should at least dip their toes into.