Setting aside it coming from such a small team, I think The Ascent is miraculous in a couple of ways. First, the detailed world-building, environmental storytelling, and atmosphere are maybe the best expression of the cyberpunk aesthetic I’ve ever seen in a game. Second, the developers have seemingly cataloged every annoying mechanic in RPGs and action games — from death to rapid travel to inventory management — and found a way to make them less onerous or disappear altogether. The Ascent is not an easy game, either mechanically or thematically, but it is completely engaging if for no other reason than to see into a very convincingly realized future.
Hell Let Loose is built for hardcore multiplayer shooter fans with a desire to move away from the casual and sometimes irrelevant teamwork that makes easier games well, easier. Hell Let Loose demands commitment, cooperation, and enough patience to learn the game through several hours of painful, frequent death and have a genuine willingness to contribute to a squad instead of being a lone hero. Meet these requirements and you’re in for a singular and memorable battlefield simulation.
Chernobylite certainly has ambitions beyond being a rote shooter and although not everything meshes and the gears of its systems sometimes grind, the setting feels authentically haunted and foreboding. There’s a lot going on in Chernobylite, and sometimes the melancholic love story at the center gets buried under unnecessary game play complications, tepid combat or shifts of tone. In other words, it’s all still a bit messy but interesting and worth playing for shooter, RPG or horror fans, especially those fascinated by this particular moment in modern history.
It is not often that a game attempts to fuse elements from so many genres. Usually, the result weakens the overall experience but Tribes of Midgard is that rare exception, a game in which all the disparate parts resonate and reinforce each other. The early levels can grow a bit repetitive but exploration, crafting, and combat continue to engage throughout. Tribes of Midgard should appeal to fans of action RPGs, survival games, co-op PvE and of course, the rich tapestry of Viking combat, lore, and culture.
Choices matter, both in life and in The Forgotten City, which uses ancient Roman beliefs about morality, ethics, and law to subtly comment on our present-day conflicts. But it’s never heavy-handed and what you’ll mostly pay attention to are the characters and their needs, your own objectives, the mysterious city, and the clever way time loops and puzzle-solving work together. Whether you play it once or try for the multiple alternative endings, The Forgotten City is a unique adventure.
What appeals to individual gamers is, of course, subjective but I’ve long felt that Elder Scrolls Online is the best MMORPG on consoles thanks to its world-building, lore, quests, story, and ability to reward both solo and group experiences equally. The recent introduction of companions made a solo-friendly game even more inviting. With the Enhanced Version, Elder Scrolls Online definitely steps up as the best looking and smoothest running MMORPG you can find on the PS5, and no longer feels in any way inferior to the PC version.
I can’t imagine anyone so desperate for content that they would find value in this only marginally improved ten-year-old game. Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is and has always been, awful and no HD remaster will fix its terrible story, lackluster combat, primitive graphics, and creepy tone. Some games are broken or bad in a kind of fun way, but Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed isn’t broken, it’s just bad and decidedly, aggressively not fun at all.
For anyone who has even the slightest interest in Formula 1 racing – and thanks to the Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive there may be many with their curiosity piqued – F1 2021 will become their new sports gaming pastime. Catering to both casual newcomers and the most exacting simulation-seekers, F1 2021 offers a mind-blowing amount of polished and entertaining content, whether your preference is to race alone or with others. With the new Braking Point single-player story and improvements and expansions to just about everything else, F1 2021 is that rare instance of an annual sports game that has managed to continue to get better with every release.
Old World clearly shows its origins, coming from a small team of developers intimately connected with 4x strategy games. It adds several new mechanics to an established genre, some of which are clearly brilliant and others that seem less significant. Old World succeeds in giving genre fans a clear alternative to their favorite games, but it seems unconcerned with welcoming the uninitiated, thanks to a fussy interface, lack of patient tutorials, and a focus on a fairly narrow slice of history and culture. Fundamentally, Old World both honors a tradition and gently pushes it forward.
To dismiss Boomerang X as little more than a tech demo would be unfair, but it is also hard to ignore that the game skimps on a lot of elements that would give it depth and replayability or really make the player engage with something more than throwing a weapon to kill waves of enemies, no matter how initially satisfying that can be. Not everyone is going to love the attention-getting and specific art style and level of abstraction, or the bare minimum story or lack of interesting characters. That said, a game that knows how to balance its strengths with just enough story, gameplay, and challenge is worth playing, and Boomerang X definitely knows its strength.