While its best ideas are held back by its lack of refinement, the adventure remains surprisingly compelling, even as you’re wasting hours away on levelling up your favourite monsters, and experimenting with battle tactics. It doesn’t quite live up to its competitors in the monster-catching genre, but it’s certainly a memorable game, and one defined by its devotion to being fun, silly, and wonderfully weird.
Ubisoft has made safe choices in its overall design, yet on the strength of its world design and exploration mechanics, Frontiers is able to shine as a sweeping, standalone adventure. For anyone longing to return to the world of Pandora, this adaptation is a wonderful salve to those clinically-recognised feelings.
Very few expansion packs for The Sims 4 feel like they overhaul gameplay entirely, but For Rent does just that, reimagining how your Sims live their lives, and how they interact in the real world. While there’s not a whole lot more to the expansion pack than that, its changes to rentals and the introduction of community living makes it a stellar addition to The Sims 4.
In balancing each of its aspects, Ubisoft makes a solid case for VR games to be far more ambitious in scope, going forward. From wandering through the Vault of Odysseus, to letting off fireworks in the heart of Venice, to solving interplanetary Myst-like environment puzzles and flinging yourself across deadly dungeon caverns, there’s plenty of awe-inspiring novelty in this journey.
While dated design means other parts of the tale don’t hold up quite as well as its biting comedy, Super Mario RPG remains a strong adventure with challenging combat, and plenty of unique quirks. By maintaining its spirit beneath a fresh lick of paint, Nintendo has created a welcome opportunity to experience or re-experience one of the most important games in Super Mario history.
Nostalgic about the past, and hopeful for the future, Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections is more than just a simple revisitation. While there was a fear it would tread water like its fellow side-story spin-off, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, this collection provides ample reason to revel in the past, reminisce about the passage of time, and look forward to a bright future.
Alan Wake 2 almost feels mad in its approach, with an overwhelming array of threads in the tale that threaten to collapse under pressure at any moment. Yet with clear and incisive logic, matched with a devotion to delightful absurdity, the team at Remedy has managed to craft a breathtaking story – one that plays out in clever, fascinating, and horrifying ways.
As a sequel to one of the most impressive games of its era, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was weighed down by expectations. But Insomniac Games has turned these expectations on their head, spinning a Spider-story that brims with confidence, style, and most importantly – an essential human touch.
While overtly silly and over-the-top at times, Detective Pikachu Returns effectively balances its light with its extreme darks, wielding its cuteness as a tool to tell an impactful and fairly relevant tale about corruption, felt throughout various cases.
While it leans heavily on spy genre tropes, and appears to be determined to separate itself from the wilder, futuristic ideas of its base game counterpart by focussing on more familiar, socially relevant political themes, Phantom Liberty is a compelling, cinematic story that expands the world of Cyberpunk 2077.
While the whole affair is over in a blink, the moreish adventure of this DLC, the first part of a larger story titled The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero, pushes you along with confidence. Short, sharp, and energetic, this is a DLC chapter with high stakes, and equally high reward.
It’s pure magic to bring up a quest line or character, and realise that you, and you alone, have stumbled onto their path by chance. It’s magic to realise just how far the game’s plot can stretch, and how it can account for even the smallest choices made along your path. In the same way Dungeons & Dragons allows you to live out a self-guided fantasy, Larian Studios has managed to capture and bottle a slice of that magic, in rare video game form.
With recent packs like Growing Together feeling genuinely essential to gameplay, and titles like Cottage Living already making up much of the ground that Horse Ranch covers, it doesn’t feel like an expansion pack that’s particularly necessary. The features it adds are mostly solid, and there’s plenty of mileage in adding a horse to your Sims family – but it’s fair to say its lack of meaningful innovation leaves it feeling like a second thought.
This is not the WWE 2K rival many assumed it would be. Instead, like its real-life counterpart, AEW: Fight Forever aims for something different. At times, it feels wild and cheesy, and strange art choices make it an uncanny experience. But equally, it embraces this cheese, elevating its action and storytelling with a welcome silliness.
While it is a simple farming simulator at its core, it’s also profound in its design, leaning heavily into a quiet philosophy that lends the action a sense of meaning and purpose. It’s a wonderful exploration of living, and while silly and simple at times, it understands exactly why the smaller moments are so precious.
As much as it inspires fun, the larger your theme park ambitions grow, the more Park Beyond throws extreme roadblocks in your way. There is still hope it finds a more wholesome balance in the future, but for now, the quest for the perfect park feels unfairly locked away.