Monster Hunter Rise is the new standard for the series, and it's a delight to finally have it on PlayStation, thanks to the improved frame rate and visual fidelity over the original release. There's so much to it that there are still many things we haven't mentioned, like the new monster riding, sped-up collecting and mining, or the hunting helpers. It's a game this reviewer put over 100 hours in on the Switch, and we could be looking at 100 more on PS5. Monster Hunter's eternally satisfying gameplay loop is met with now-essential quality of life and traversal improvements.
River City Girls 2 is more River City Girls, feeling less like a full-fledged sequel and more like a RCG 1.5. Switch-related performance issues aside, it was still a great time to return to River City thanks to its phenomenal music and voice acting, sharp writing, gorgeous sprite work, fun new characters, and satisfying combo-based gameplay, but at launch it feels a patch or two away from greatness. If you loved the original as we did, you're bound to like this follow-up, and we hope the team at Wayforward gets more time and money to really expand the series for a third entry.
The main issue, however, is the game's performance, with some levels (such as the train) feeling like they play in slow motion at times. We also experienced crashes a few times throughout our post-patch playthrough — and we had to wait for the day one update thanks to the constant crashing of the unpatched version. Hopefully things will continue to improve over time, but if you happen to get a physical copy of the game, make sure you update it.
As we mentioned, the art style looks great and the game runs well in handheld mode, although it has the tendency to get a bit choppy when docked. We also ran into a few glitches over the course of the adventure, the most common causing Vivian to just slide across the screen while stuck in a crouch animation, and a soft lock later in the game in which the character would not stop walking right into a wall. By no means are these extreme and you would hope they'll be patched, but they got a bit frustrating over time. These issues aside, Sword of the Vagrant held our attention and, especially considering the modest asking price, is still worthy of light investigation if you're a fan of rough-and-ready hack-and-slashing.
If you're someone who heard "a new Gungrave" and got excited, this is a game for you. For what it's worth, it nails that. It genuinely feels like a lost PS2 game, and that's the kind of thing we love. Although, the original game had the benefit of only being around two hours long, while G.O.R.E. clocks in at about 12. However, we can't in good faith recommend someone to spend £45 on this, outside of those with an affinity for the series.
Rogue Legacy 2 is - to put it simply - a banger. While it's not a game-changing revelation, it manages to follow up on everything that made the original great and makes it bigger and better. Even once you've bested the bosses, you've barely scratched the surface of what this has to offer, considering the in-depth New Game Plus mode and the wealth of content contained across all available classes and options. Whether you loved the original Rogue Legacy or never played it but like a good roguelike, this is a game you simply can't afford to miss.
Sifu was one of the best games of the year when it launched on other platforms, and it's no different now on Switch. Its hardcore combat that pushes you to the limits of your skill, paired with a smart ageing mechanic, makes for one of the most satisfying gaming experiences in the beat 'em up genre. While the Switch port is obviously a bit downgraded from the PS5 version, it's still a more than valid option for Nintendo-only gamers and those keen to try this kung-fu brawler out on the go.
Aeterna Noctis has a lot of potential; however, it feels like the developer got a bit too ambitious. A game that was shorter and had more focus has the potential to be something fantastic. but it ends up being a bit of a slog for a lot of its runtime due to its sometimes-tedious difficulty, despite some great platforming segments. Long loads and some frustrating design choices mean Aeterna Noctis is a derivative but sporadically satisfying game that some players may absolutely fall in love with. It has clearly had a lot of love put into it, but we didn't quite vibe with it.
The mission structure of the game devolves into going to a place, doing a trick or route, strung along by forgettable story dialogue. The missions have a habit of being poorly explained, furthered by being unable to re-read text boxes explaining what you need to do. And rarely do the inputs needed for specific moves get shown during these prompts. For better or worse, Session is a game for the hardcore skater. While its dedication to realism is impressive, the frustration in the early hours is likely to turn most off.
While you won't find an Evo-calibre fighting game here depth-wise, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle R is miles ahead of your typical 3D-arena anime fighter affair. It would be a hard game to recommend to someone unfamiliar with the franchise, as without the fan service aspect you're left with a basic fighter with some barebones modes. However, for those who adore JoJo, it's an excellent example of how to do fan service right, and one where you can feel the love and adoration of the franchise's 35-year history flowing through every part of the package.
ANNO: Muatationem tells a strong tale with its core mystery, strengthened by beautiful visuals and satisfying combat. While its inspirations are a little on-the-nose, developer ThinkingStars manages to carve out its own space in the Cyberpunk genre. Some long loads and minor balancing issues take the shine off a little, but it's still an incredibly impressive effort from a small indie team who has created a world that feels as immersive as any £60 AAA RPG.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a great package. While not every game is a winner - and a lot of them are variants of other games in the collection - there's still lots here to love. It brings two of the most beloved beat-'em-ups in history to modern platforms, and is host to some hidden gems like Radical Rescue. This is all polished up with a host of great enhancements and the fantastic Turtle Lair gallery, which - for any TMNT fan - may be worth the price of admission alone.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a fun look Pac in time to an era where 3D platformers were far more prominent than they are today. While it doesn't quite outclass some of its contemporaries like Crash Bandicoot Warped and Super Mario 64, Pac-Man World isn't one to miss if you're looking for another solid 3D platforming adventure. Depending on how you view the new difficulty balances (or if you just really love Ms. Pac-Man) this is undoubtedly the best way to experience the PS1 classic.
Dusk Diver 2, like the first game, has potential; the cast of characters and storyline are both engaging, and the world could definitely host more interesting stories in the future. However, this sequel sadly fumbles things on the gameplay front, with a disappointing mixture of damage-sponge enemies and drawn-out encounters. While we didn't enjoy Dusk Diver 2 as much as we had hoped, there is something there - a kernel of potential as yet unrealised - and there are going to be people who absolutely adore it despite its faults. For us, a potential Dusk Diver 3 will hopefully boast combat engaging enough to match the writing on display here.
The game runs near-flawlessly on Switch aside from a few levels near the end (that being said, you’ll be in slo-mo for the majority of the game anyway). However, the two biggest issues with the game rear their heads here. Games like this typically have near instantaneous restarts to ensure the action is always moving. Severed Steel’s load times aren't obnoxiously long by any means, but just long enough to add to the frustration of losses. The other (and biggest) issue is the complete lack of gyro-aiming, which — especially for a game this fast-paced — feels like a large oversight. But still, we’re talking about a game where you can throw your gun at someone, slo-mo, dive over their head, steal another from their back pocket, then blast them with it. Which is pretty rad.