If there was one word to describe It Takes Two, it would be charming. The journey me and my partner experienced was at times silly, hilarious, whimsical, tragic, gorgeous and, above all else, always fun. Not since the days of Portal 2 have I been so blown away by how well a co-op focused title committed to the idea of partnership so fully, never once being afraid to present the wackiest ideas it has up its sleeves. It Takes Two may lack a mature narrative to allow the simple tale to really nail an emotional landing, yet what it lacks in storytelling it more than makes up for in gameplay, making for one of my favourite gaming experiences in recent memory and one I am desperate to re-visit as soon as possible.
Yet the real beauty of Planet Coaster is that it has something for everyone. You may be inclined to a more task-oriented game, hoping to save the worst parks from the brink of bankruptcy, or you may rather splurge cash on everything and anything to make the wackiest park ever. Even if, like me, your creative design choices go as far as “make coaster go very fast and high,” you will still find yourself giggling away as you make ridiculous business decisions with little consequences like some crazed tycoon monster (charging $111 for a decaf coffee is just oh so funny). Despite a learning curve on the control scheme and the tragic fact that guests may not ride your coaster if it is absolutely insane to the point of traveling warp-speed, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is a blast and a worthy port of an already excellent title.
With Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition, you are getting exactly what it says on the tin; this is the complete edition, with no real added bells or whistles. The original DLC is included, which adds Knives and Wallace as playable characters, along with a few bonus modes that offer some decent distractions from the main story, yet there is a real lack of legacy content here to make the title feel like a true celebration. Regardless, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition remains the same blast of a game that it was over a decade ago, whether you are playing alone, locally via co-op, or even through online co-op, it is a game that will appeal to most, and is a must-have for those who are fans of the source material. Now, let us just pray that Ubisoft doesn’t have to take this version off the store in the future too!
The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners may well be the very best single-player game available on the Quest right now, as well as already being one of the best VR games on the market period. While the dull narrative presentation does make the story elements a real slog, once you get past them (or skip them), you will find a game that understands everything that makes a VR gaming so special—and I doubt zombie killing is ever going to get more fun than it is here.
Myst in VR really took me by surprise. The cryptic nature of the puzzles was at times frustrating, but also immensely rewarding when completing them. It is a game that feels as if it was born to be in virtual reality, which is no easy feat considering it released back when VR was only a pipe dream. If you are up to the challenge, Myst will really get its hooks into you, thanks to the often haunting atmosphere and the way it allows you to escape into a world that lets you take things at your own pace and explore at your own free will. Hopefully, we will see the many sequels get the same treatment in the future.
With what we have at launch, Demeo is still an absolute blast. The feeling of conquering a dungeon with your team does feel like an accomplishment, and if my eyes could handle longer sessions of VR, I would likely jump into numerous games one after the other. Yet once those extra maps are introduced and perhaps even a difficulty option to increase the challenge for experienced players, Demeo may find itself as a must-play for VR gamers in the coming months.
Arizona Sunshine is at its absolute best when it takes a step back, places you in an enclosed environment and turns off the lights with one stage entrapping you in a pitch-black mine, with your only light source for some stretches being a single flashlight. It is easily the standout moment of the game, creating an unsettling sense of dread that shows the team have a real knack for the more horror focussed roots the genre has. In 2016 it was understandable that such a title would become a favourite among fans, and it is great to see a VR game sustain momentum for this amount of time. Yet with the likes of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners also finding their way onto quest, offering a far more refined and in-depth experience, it is hard to get super excited about it. What Arizona Sunshine does provide is a fun arcade zombie shooter, and while it may not keep your attention for hours on end, offers a solid blast of undead killing action.
For a free upgrade, the next-gen patch is a real blessing here and it is certainly a great step for the game to take in its attempts to gain a second chance at becoming a new regular in your play cycles. Your engagement with the endgame aspects of Avengers is going to be solely down to your preferences and your tolerance for an intense, grinding style of game as seen with the emergence of the “live service” game, with even my short dip into the online field matching me up with players who out-ranked my power level a substantial amount. However, I have no desire to search for loot, to make my characters as powerful as possible, or even grind for some cosmetic skins, as ultimately the core hook just isn’t enough to keep me coming back. What is here is mechanically solid, but it never manages to be gratifying enough to keep me invested past an hour or so—and with the grind the game requires, that is just not enough time to get engrossed with the elements at play here.
If you can avoid these performance issues, thankfully there’s a great deal of fun to be had with The Climb 2. While in many ways it does not feel like a massive leap in content from the first game and still somewhat feels a tad tech demo like for a game released in 2021, for fans of the thrill of free-soling and finding enjoyment in besting others in time records, it will be sure to please and keep you coming back for hours. Perhaps we will this gameplay engine implemented into a larger scope title down the line from Crytek.
2020’s iteration of the long-winded franchise is once again a mixed bag, which sadly has become the norm with the series. A campaign that, while widely entertaining and for the most part interesting, is cut far too short to have any real substantial worth, a multiplayer mode that tries to do some new things but ultimately feels far too same-y with the old frustrations rearing their ugly head, and finally, a fantastic Zombies mode that entertains when playing alone or with friends adds up to a package that feels disjointed. The sooner that Activision decides to allow consumers to purchase elements of the game as separate entities the better, as the Zombies mode alone is worth a spin, just not at the full asking price.
Yet even with these massive issues, I would be telling a lie if I did not find the whole thing addictive. Perhaps that is the most frustrating part, what is here is great in concept, and there is so much room for improvement that it raises frustration that there was not more time taken to expand upon the mission format and game mechanics to make the game something truly unique. In fact, I was so checked out with the repetitive nature of it all that nine hours later the Platinum Trophy popped, so that must count for something. With it being free on the PS5 as of writing with PlayStation Plus, then there are zero reasons not to check it out and see if it scratches an itch you might have. Past that, hold your breath for a potential sequel that could make Maneater a real stand-out title and an easy one to recommend in the future.
Watch Dogs: Legion is a promising step for the franchise in so many ways, continuing to push further away from the over-the-top seriousness that was present in the famously dull original title. While Ubisoft has certainly aimed for some interesting mechanics to provide the player with exciting prospects and new ways to tackle the gameplay, mission variants are almost non-existent, offering the same tired format that is a plague on the open-world genre. Combine this with the uninspired narrative and downright terrible performance, and you are left with a game that, while at times offering some fun chances for freedom in gameplay, does nothing to justify a full-price purchase.
There is a lot to appreciate here: the atmosphere and general presentation are super well done and were just enough to ensure that I was never fully against my time with the game. Yet the story did not do anything for me, and if you’re not into the story with a walking sim it is for sure a recipe for a bad time. There is an audience for In Rays of the Light, with the two endings providing a small reason to go back (as well as looking for some notes to expand upon the narrative), fans of the genre will be right at home here—while others may find the experience swiftly forgotten upon the credits rolling.