The original Turok 3 was released during an awkward time. Sandwiched between the tail end of the Nintendo 64 life cycle and right before the release of the PlayStation 2, it likely passed many players’ radar. However, like their previous offerings, Nightdive Studio did a tremendous job bringing back a forgotten gem to modern audiences. If you slept on Turok 3 in 2000, make sure to not pass up it again in 2023.
It’s been a while since we had an entry in the Forza Motorsport series. However, that time was well spent revamping the game’s pristine driving mechanics and physics for the current generation. All the while incorporating a modern leveling system and live-service features that keep the dopamine rush intact. Truly, the king is back.
Despite having an entirely different gameplay setup and sci-fi setting, Armored Core 6 is a Fromsoftware title through and through. The intricate mecha combat mechanics and challenging boss fights make for an incredible experience. Though there are some missed opportunities in terms of the graphics and story beats, it’s easy to proclaim that Armored Core VI is the best game in the long-running franchise.
No doubt Immortals of Aveum is an experience that you will not forget any time soon. Its graphical prowess and its combat and gear system are serviceable, albeit uninspiring. The star-studded cast will likely leave a lasting impression. But its overly linear loop and complete lack of meaningful side content hamper replayability while relying too heavily on typical AAA design choices. Immortal of Aveum checks off many lists, but it plays it safe for the most part.
There is some promise in Scars Above. The game presents solid foundations to build upon, and the fact that this is the maiden title from Mad Head Games is an achievement on its own. On the visual side, the game is a looker and performed admirably on PC. However it is hard to overlook its game design and technical shortcomings. While its use of repeated sci-fi tropes doesn’t do it any favors. Perhaps Scars Above will be the necessary learning experience that will likely enhance the studio’s future projects.
Despite its technical and QoL shortcomings, Atlas Fallen has me excited. The game is a testament to how far AA development has come in recent years. The game does take tired open-world tropes but adds that extra creative and unique layer that AA developers are known for. Atlas Fallen delivers a fascinating, albeit undercooked, world with solid combat and build mechanics. Undoubtedly, Atlas Fallen is another feather in Deck13’s cap.
Lego 2K Drive is a solid offering. It takes the best parts of Mario Kart, adds some vehicle transformations from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and borrows open-world game design from Forza Horizon, but with a Lego twist. Driving is enjoyable and the game’s performance is well-optimized. The mini-games are all sorts of fun and quite challenging as well. Lego 2K Drive is a solid foundation for a potential new franchise.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox is a frustrating experience. On one hand, the game has a beautiful art style and graphics, an intriguing plot coupled with serviceable combat, and fun puzzle mechanics. But its technical issues and unguided Metroidvania design choices let it down immensely. The only mystery left to solve is what could have been had the game had better-streamlined design choices
Somewhere deep inside Redfall, there’s a great game with interesting concepts. However, a multitude of technical issues from dodgy AI to texture pop-in and FPS drops are keeping it from its potential. Despite these glaring issues, I did manage to find enjoyable moments in the New England town, and the game made use of the power fantasy that many looter games provide. However, the more I ventured into Redfall, the more fatigued I grew. The lack of stealth kill/knockout options also feels like a major misstep that diluted Arkane Austin’s signature immersive sim foundations. No doubt, Redfall will remain a blemish for the studio, and I hope they find their footing once again.
Despite the short adventure, I highly enjoyed my time with Strayed Lights. Its atmospheric music and unique art style wonderfully set the game’s mysterious tone from the get-go. The game’s well-executed combat and boss fights remained engaging and satisfying throughout my playthrough. Despite some minor animation hiccups and repetitive enemy design, Strayed Lights is a wonderful journey from start to finish.
Forza Horizon 5 Rally Adventure is a wonderfully realized expansion. From the breathtaking vistas to the immersive rally vibes, the latest DLC adds to the Forza Horizon experience. And that’s precisely what expansions should do. Some might be disappointed that there is no franchise tie-in. However, Sierra Nueva is guaranteed to leave a positive impression.
Despite the game’s technical shortcomings and confusing mechanics, Wo Long was a tremendous journey from start to finish. The game sports intuitive and tight combat and has some of the most epic boss fights that will push you to your limits. Though not at the level of FromSoftware titles, Wo Long is a step in the right direction and is diligently carving its own place among its peers.
Pentiment did not give off the best first impression. But the more I played, the more I was engulfed with the game’s layered narrative filled with mysteries and intrigue. Dialogue choices were well realized, but the consequences didn’t garner the expected reactions. Despite being off-putting at first, the game’s visual and audio presentations complement its 16th-century art style well. Although the game’s limited scope is quickly apparent, Pentiment’s narrative design has a lot to offer and is another feather in the cap of Obsidian’s story-telling credentials.
Although rough around the edges, The Last Oricru delivered on what it intended to do. The game provided a decent souls like experience, with fun combat, great co-op, and an engaging premise. Best of all, this was all baked on top of a satisfying branching narrative system that truly delivers on player agency. The Last Oricru will likely surprise players, but expectations should be kept in check.
No Place for Bravery tries to carve its own place in a flood of Souls-like titles hitting the market to some success. Its excellent, yet tragic, story continues to resonate strongly with me and some of its set pieces were truly captivating. The combat was serviceable with a decent amount of enemy variety and always demanded my attention. However, the game was let down by its bland pixel graphics and technical hiccups.
As Dusk Falls delivered an enthralling narrative with solid characters to follow. The game’s original graphics and art direction were off-putting at first but grew on me over time. The soundtrack and voice acting were both excellent. Multiplayer was well realized and added a whole new dimension to the gameplay. Though the game’s ending was a huge letdown and felt cheap overall. Despite this, As Dusk Falls is a solid experience and is worthy of your time.
F1 22 has a lot of under-the-hood improvements that might not be obvious at first. Driving remains satisfying, engaging, and adaptable. While the AI is aggressive, it will likely add to your race experience. The game’s presentation remains impeccable and truly reflects authentic F1 coverage. There’s a ton of content to enjoy that will satiate F1 and racing fans. But its aging graphics and a lackluster F1 Life show that an overhaul is overdue.
Weird West is a strong debut for Wolfeye Studios. A lot of time and consideration went into crafting a fascinating setting and intertwined narrative. The game’s immersive sim mechanics are deep and truly reward player agency. The twin-stick combat works well enough as do the perks and abilities systems. Though the loot and leveling system were both underwhelming and the AI can act up at times. The cel-shaded graphics, while not groundbreaking, suit the aesthetics the game is going for and remain consistent all around. All in all, Weird West continues Devolver Digital’s strong pedigree of indie titles. Do not miss out on this wonderfully weird title.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Shadow Warrior 3. The game will never be the talk of the town, but not every title has to be. Gunplay is fast, frantic, and more importantly, fun. Those who enjoyed the DOOM franchise will feel right at home here. Maybe a little too much. Traversal sections are fun, though uninspiring. Graphically, the game looks great and complements its offbeat nature nicely. However, the bland level design, environments, flaccid Chi blasts, and inconsistent performance bring it down a couple of notches. But I can comfortably say that Shadow Warrior 3 will be one of the best-hidden gems of 2022.
Far Cry 6 is the culmination of everything Ubisoft learned over the years from the long-running series. Yes, the open-world formula is still there. But luckily, the publisher takes a few well-realized bit more risks to counter it. From the inclusion of an actual character protagonist to getting rid of the skill tree, and a complete gear and perks revamp, these new aspects paid dividends to create a fresh take on a long-running franchise. Far Cry 6 is one of the most thematically consistent entries in a long time. Graphically, the game is one of the best-looking games of this year. It also runs impeccably well at 60 FPS. Although there were a few technical hiccups along the path and some might be put off by the Ubisoft open-world formula, make no mistake, Far Cry 6 was treated with the utmost love and care and makes me excited for the future of the franchise.