Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden tells a compelling, emotionally charged story that's supported by a layered cast of characters and great performances. It does stumble a bit when it comes to combat and encounter design and the awful lip-syncing does undermine the otherwise stellar voice acting. But if you're someone used to AA experiences, the pros far outweigh the cons. For $49.99, you're getting a well-written, lengthy single-player campaign with a slew of engaging side content that may take you anywhere from 25-50 hours to knock off.
Sovereign Syndicate is a decent first attempt from Crimson Herring Studios. The setting and characters alone make it worth playing, especially considering the price. The game would have benefited from a tighter narrative and a more fleshed-out Tarot card system. Here’s hoping that the game does well enough so that the devs can implement partial voice acting (at least) and learn from its shortcomings to make an improved sequel.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is a mind-blowing platformer with extremely detailed control over the character for platforming as well as combat. Having such tremendous control requires a serious challenge which the game does not fear to give. The game however does fall short in providing a memorable story and soundtrack. Otherwise, you're looking at a major platformer of the year contender.
Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is easily one of the best W40K games out there right now, offering a decent story, rich role-playing opportunities, deep character customization, a servicable combat system and the chance to play as a uber-privileged space fascist. The boring space battles and generic companions do drag the experience down a bit and if you’re someone who has a low tolerant rate towards technical issues, it’s best to wait for the inevitable definitive edition that’s bound to come out soon. Glory to the Imperium of Man!
Valfaris: Mecha Therion is a blood-pumping, head-banging, monster-bashing sequel to an excellent game. Steel Mantis has graciously transformed Valfaris into a brutal 2.5D Shmup while keeping the identity of the original intact. It’s a different but, ultimately, familiar experience. I’m all up for a Metroidvania threequel now.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is one last hurrah for the Dragon of Dojima and the classic brawler-style gameplay. After the botched sendoff of Yakuza 6, RGG Studio has gone back to the drawing board and delivered a short but fun and emotional rollercoaster. While there is 15–30 hours of playtime to be had in Gaiden, SEGA’s regional pricing leaves much to be desired. Thanks to Gamepass, fans around the world can get into the head of Joryu at an affordable price. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a tribute to the legendary character fans should not miss out on.
RoboCop: Rogue City is the type of game you get when a developer stays faithful and respectful to the source material without compromising their vision to suit modern sensibilities. It’s a game specifically made with for RoboCop fans by RoboCop fans, and that shows in each and every frame. Rogue City embraces the essence of what makes RoboCop great - be it the social satire, or the power fantasy, adapts it into an entertaining gameplay loop and goes to town with it.
Jusant offers a therapeutic and heart-warming narrative about hope, struggle, reclamation and beginning anew conveyed through immersive and non-disruptive gameplay moments. The core gameplay is simple and fun thanks to the fluid controls and well-made animations. The lack of any sort of challenge and extremely basic puzzles does affect the catharsis, but Jusant is more than the sum of its parts and has enough substance, making it the perfect Gamepass material.
Ghostrunner 2 is a solid entry that builds on the foundation of the first game. Almost everything has been tweaked or expanded to provide a lengthier, more varied campaign that retains the precise platforming and fluid one-hit combat. While the PC performance is not optimal and some of the new additions disrupt the pace of the game, Ghostrunner 2 does enough to please fans of the first game and then some more.
Ion Fury: Aftershock is a must-play expansion for fans of the base game. Superior level design, better level variety, faster paced campaign, more firepower, more enemies, the awesome Road Ripper and the Arrange mode make Aftershock a noticeable improvement over Ion Fury. Those are some big enough reasons to grab the expansion at full price.
Pizza Possum is a well-crafted bite-sized game that largely succeeds in what it sets out to do- a stressbuster that you can play solo or with your spouse or kids in short bursts. Cute visuals, goofy sound effects, smooth animations, and a simple but engaging gameplay loop make this one a winner. Oh, and it’s reasonably priced too. The addition of more content will ensure that Pizza Possum gets more recognition than it does right now.
Remnant 2 is a massive improvement over its predecessor thanks to fine-tuned gunplay, build customization, the massive amount of content, and excellent co-op support. It’s been a while since we’ve played a co-op action title that feels like it deserves the asking price (looking at you, Darktide). Whether you’re a Souls veteran or a casual player, Remnant 2 has something for you in store.
Blasphemous 2 is the perfect sequel fans could ever ask for. The sequel doubles down on everything Blasphemous is beloved for, and then proceeds to add a slew of new features. The result is a beautifully rendered action platformer with challenging combat, varied character builds, rewarding exploration, a plethora of side content and some great music. I would have liked to see more epic screen-filling boss fights, some post-campaign modes and reasonable regional pricing, but I guess the last wish is not up to the developer. Team17, if you’re reading this, fix your prices. Blasphemous 2 is a gem of a game otherwise.
Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is hands down one of the best remasters ever made that will no doubt please all fans yearning for a sourceport. It’s one of the rare cases when the recreation outshines the original product. Rise of the Triad may be a divisive game, but there’s nothing divisive about Ludicrous Edition. Nightdive has once again upped the standards for remasters. If you’re a fan of the original, Ludicrous Edition is a must-buy at full price. If you’re wanting to try the game for the first time, try out the demo and see if it’s for you. They hardly make games like these anymore.
Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons is an appreciable attempt from a small team of devs who are well-versed in its legacy. Huge character variety, Tag system and the Roguelite elements are welcome additions to the long-stagnant IP, and it can be a genuinely fun game at times. However, it does not always hit the right notes. A criminally short campaign, the lack of additional gameplay modes and the TBA online co-op makes it a tough sell when SoR and TMNT have offer so much more at a cheaper price point. If I were you, I’d wait for some content updates before taking the plunge.
System Shock (2023) is a fantastic remake of the groundbreaking 1994 original with an eagle eye for attention. Above everything else, it’s a love letter to the original made by folks who knew the ins and outs of the Looking Glass classic. The striking visual design, rewarding exploration, challenging puzzles, and a menacing performance by Terri Brosius make System Shock not just a great remake, but one of the best games of this year. The wait was worth it.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a competently made FPS that’s exactly what it’s advertised to be – a no-nonsense, Boomer Shooter with tight controls and satisfying combat loop. The fact that it looks amazing is the Daggerfruit on top. While the game plays it safe and doesn’t deviate from the established formula, it nevertheless offers over 10 hours of entertaining gameplay. At the same time, there is plenty of room for improvement. Even though multiplayer is out of the question, the addition of an endless mode, extra challenges, and even a map editor will go a long way in ensuring that the game is replayable. Boltgun is a purchase retro FPS fans won’t regret.
Miasma Chronicles take the ideas introduced in Mutant Year Zero and polishes them to a shine. What results is a beautiful (though trope-ish) and lore-filled post-apocalyptic adventure with plenty of challenging handcrafted combat scenarios that will surely give master tacticians a run for their money. It goes without saying that if you liked its predecessor, you’ll surely love this one. There are improvements to be made in the performance and bug department to be sure. But, all in due course, I suppose. The ladies with beards have struck gold once again.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox bolster a stunning art direction, interesting puzzles and an engaging story. However, that’s just not enough to make it a worthwhile purchase. Clunky gameplay, unsatisfying combat and a general sense of aimlessness drags down the whole experience. The developers are said to be working on a patch that adds control remapping, performance improvement and puzzle difficulty rebalancing. But it’s a pass for now.
Darkest Dungeon 2 is not trying to replace the first game. It aims to occupy a spot right beside its predecessor. There are some things the sequel does well and some things it doesn’t. The streamlined (in a good way) combat, reduced grind and improved character dynamics comes at a cost of the removal of the comfy base management of the original.