Alan Wake II is Remedy’s most significant achievement so far, and if it can carry the same aura into the winding halls of the Bureau in Control’s upcoming sequel, then there is little doubt that Remedy Entertainment will deserve to be heralded in the upper echelons of single-player mastery with the likes of Insomniac, Santa Monica Studio, and Naughty Dog.
Mechanics and narratives thought too bold and bright for some have been transformed into mere child's play by Geometric Interactive in a strong contender for the title of the best indie title of the entire year, and the team has proven that Carlsen's strokes of brilliance in INSIDE and LIMBO were far from flukes. The streak continues, not only proving the dev team to be strong by itself but also making clear that COCOON is the start of something truly incredible. The game is a triumph, and if it's a benchmark of what to expect from the team going forward, then they're about to be the smartest video game team on the planet. The future is here, and it's being carried around on the back of a bug.
While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's longevity will likely be drawn into question - and only time will tell if it will stand tall in the genre six months from now - for now, taking up the mantle of victim and family is raucous and riveting. Maybe this won't be the last hitchhiker we pick up, after all.
Though there are flashes of fun in Tin Hearts, it ultimately fails to follow through on its promises to supply intriguing puzzles at the same time as telling an intimate story. Of course, there is still the VR version of the game to come, and while there will presumably be some positive changes, especially when it comes to camera angles and the slowness of movement, it's also hard to expect that Tin Hearts may become the next VR must-play.
We knew very much what to expect from Kirby's Return to Dreamland Deluxe, and it doesn't disappoint. Perhaps not the boldest Kirby title we've seen, especially on the Switch - but it's a chirpy, charming throwback that brings the core of what Kirby is all about to the Switch after the frustrating misstep that Star Allies proved itself to be. For fans of who Kirby is, what Kirby has been, and what Kirby may become, Return to Dreamland is potentially a precursor to a new, changing era of the pink puffball, and may very well be the last of its kind as Nintendo looks to the future of the series. It's good news, then, that it's such a rosy treat.
With a post-game this rich and a roster of characters this bizarre, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the galactic sandbox we've been waiting for. Quirks aside, this game is the one that TT Games were always destined to make, and the benchmark for each of their titles going forward. And if the rumoured LEGO Doctor Who game is actually in the works, and will be following suit, we need not worry, because it'll be in safe hands.
Solar Ash combines complex ideas with simple and exciting gameplay in a way that few games are able to, and the final product is nothing short of remarkable. The visual style and soundtrack create the atmosphere, and the excellent writing of Rei and her journey use it to tell a story of grief, and how we can use it to build something better. Heart Machine's passion is clear, and Solar Ash is a triumph that manages to be incredibly fun despite its deeply emotional core. The game's world may be cold and unfeeling on the surface, but that'll only make you want to connect with it more. Solar Ash is an example of Heart Machine's exciting, compelling, lightning-in-a-bottle brilliance, and more than deserves to be considered among 2021's greatest games.
You might be able to stick around for long enough to choose your own main (mine’s Oblina, just FYI), but once you’ve done that, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl will have nothing else for you. Even playing with friends can’t manage to make the game exciting or engaging, and chances are, it’ll end up at the bottom of your gaming pile before you can say “smashing!”.
PixPil deserve to have a stellar career ahead of them following the release of this game, and as long as they can keep releasing games that have even half of Eastward’s visual individuality, compelling narrative and satisfying pan-smacking action, then the studio will be without a doubt one to keep an eye on. The apocalypse might be old news now, but Eastward shows other games exactly how it's done when it comes to presenting dystopia in a charming, fascinating light-hearted way.