Little Red Lie is a difficult game to recommend without qualification. It's uncomfortable, confronting, and just about the furthest thing away from a rollicking good time imaginable. And yet, if you're willing to go on its journey, sharp writing and a laser thematic focus will force you to re-examine some of the reasons you lie, and some of the things you lie about.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is just about as competent a Metroidvania game as you're likely to find in 2017. Its platforming and combat is solid, and its exploration is always a joy. What this fun sequel lacks in ambition, it makes up for in polish and charm.
Last Day of June is a beautiful rumination on the ways death and fate are indelibly intertwined. It's also a competent puzzler with a winning sense of style. Repetitiveness and a slightly predictable structure stymie the proceedings somewhat, but never enough to ruin what is an otherwise lovely experience.
Nidhogg 2 doesn't change the core gameplay of its precursor in any Earth shattering ways, but it does introduce enough tweaks and refinements to make it well worth a second trip to the cosmic worm's hideous belly. While the single player component isn't especially interesting and the visuals might not be to everyone's taste, as a couch multiplayer experience its immediacy and depth is utterly infectious.
The Silver Case is best enjoyed as an intriguing historical document: a statement of intent from a developer that would go on to bigger and better things. Removed from that context, however, it is difficult to recommend. An utterly glacial pace combined with often nonsensical dialogue means the experience is dull at best – and frustrating at worst.
It's hard to dislike Blackwood Crossing. It makes a valiant attempt at telling a tender story in an unconventional way, and for that its developers absolutely deserve credit. Unfortunately, its attempts largely fall flat. There are some striking visual and auditory moments to be sure but they don't make up for the predictable narrative and spotty voice acting.
2Dark tries to do too many things at once. Its stealth mechanics, while occasionally satisfying, are frustrating and pedestrian. Similarly, its attempts at horror, while presented well, are undermined by bad writing and repetitive gameplay. A lack of clear signposting and a terrible UI do nothing to help this maddening experience.
Loot Rascals is an intriguing and infectiously charming roguelike. Its central mechanics are tense and engaging, and the meta-mechanic surrounding them provide a satisfying gimmick. Unfortunately, its card-based stat system offers little strategic variety, and its procedural generation can be frustrating.
The Turing Test is both a thoughtful meditation on the implications of artificial intelligence, and a competent first person puzzler. Its systems are clever, its graphics make for unambiguous play, and its mechanical focus on logic is satisfying. Structural and pacing issues are certainly present, but they aren't egregious enough to meaningfully detract from the experience.
2064: Read Only Memories tells a haunting story in a stylish way. Its diverse roster of characters, intriguing world, and masterful soundtrack make for an engaging experience from beginning to end. While there are some minor storytelling and structural hiccups, it nevertheless successfully combines a classic genre with modern trimmings.
ABZÛ is a triumph of exploration and atmosphere. Its gorgeous underwater playgrounds are a joy to explore thanks to its perfectly tuned controls, awe-inspiring visuals, and beautiful sound design. A somewhat predictable story does little to hamper what is otherwise an utterly unique and rapturous experience.
Lost Sea comes painfully close to being a great experience. In theory, it features tense combat, satisfying exploration, and infinite worlds to explore. In practice, however, its combat is fun but shallow, its exploration is extensive but tedious, and its world is beautiful but repetitive. Most intolerable of all, though, is its stymieing lack of a save feature. A pleasant visual style and an interesting premise don't make up for this dull and disappointing gameplay.
Prison Architect is a fantastic simulation game. Its clever systems combine in interesting and intuitive ways to create an experience which is tense, challenging, and engaging. Niggling control issues aside, the title is a terrific example of how a traditionally PC-only genre should be ported to consoles.
Trials of the Blood Dragon is massively disappointing. Its story is muddled and confusing, its jokes fall flat, and its gameplay is frustrating. Fantastic presentation and well-tuned motorbike physics don't make up for what is ultimately a failed experiment.
Push Me Pull You is an outstanding party game. Its bizarre concept, hilarious gameplay, and hyper polished presentation mean that it is an absolute riot to play with friends. If you're willing to overlook the lack of mechanical depth – and are on-board with its peculiar premise – you're in for a genuinely funny and dizzyingly enjoyable multiplayer.
Enter the Gungeon is another in a long line of fantastic roguelikes. Its razor sharp twin-stick gunplay, huge variety of passive and active weapons, and clever world building make it an absolute joy to sink countless hours into. The lack of leaderboards or a daily run mode is a frustrating oversight, but you'll be too busy running, gunning, and dodge-rolling your way through its many caverns to notice or care.
Sheltered is a complex strategy and resource management game which gets a lot of things right. Its presentation creates a palpable atmosphere, while its many relatively simple systems interlock in ways that are both thematically appropriate and mechanically interesting. Unfortunately, those same clever systems sometimes rely too heavily on luck, which – when combined with the title's abysmal controls – often make the entire experience more frustrating than its worth.
Despite a very novel central premise, Screencheat simply fails to maintain attention. The title features a variety of weapons, maps, and modes, but its mechanics take too long to grasp for it to succeed as a party game, while being too shallow for it to succeed as a serious shooter. To be clear, there's definitely some fun to be had here, and the goofy visuals and music help emphasize this, but the entire experience reeks of wasted potential.
Action Henk is a slick and addictive platformer. Its mechanics and controls are perfectly tuned, and its momentum-based gameplay is somewhat original and fun, but a couple of visual hiccups, some slightly bland level design, and a few wonky power-ups mean that it never reaches its full potential. However, as an exercise in running and jumping, few titles match its physics-based prowess.
Beyond Eyes is an incredibly admirable game. Its aim of simulating the experience of being blind is buoyed by a clever central conceit, and genuinely breathtaking presentation. Unfortunately, an exceedingly frustrating pace combined with a lackluster story means that the title ultimately buckles under the weight of its own ambition.